It’s common to go from Koh Phangan, Koh Samui or Koh Tao to nearby hotspots like Phuket or Krabi, but did you know that you will pass a beautiful national park on the way? Why not make a stop over in Khao Sok? It’s just as straightforward and worth your time. Here’s how to make the journey.
Getting from Haad Rin to Thong Sala Pier and checking-in
We stayed at Asia Blue The Tavern Hacienda, located just over a kilometer (0.6 miles) to Thong Sala Pier just over a kilometer (.6 miles) away from Thong Sala Pier. Taxis are minimum 100 Baht ($3.24), even for a short journey. Even if we could have bartered the price down, it would have been more effort than what it’s worth. So, we walked.
The Lomprayah booking offices are unmissable. You can’t walk onto the pier without noticing them. We found our carrier, Lomprayah, which was highly visible amongst the rest. But because we booked online, we had to check in at a different location. Thankfully, that location was only 3 minutes away at Tambon Ko Pha-ngan, Amphoe Ko Pha-ngan, Chang Wat Surat Thani 84280, Thailand.
Checking-in was a breeze. We got our tickets and luggage stickers and waited for the free shuttle to take us back to the pier to board the catamaran. There were many people waiting for the shuttle, so we decided to burn a little fat and walk the 200 meters (656 feet) back to the pier ourselves. The walk from the pier to the boat was the most scenic part of the whole trip. Clear blue waters and islands dotted in the distance.
All aboard the catamaran!
We waited about 10 minutes before the boat started boarding people, and another 10 minutes waiting in the long queue. Not a problem. It’s to be expected. Everybody’s bags were stacked at the front of the boat, which we knew would be a nightmare for us to dig back out. Luckily our bags are easily distinguishable by their fluorescent rain covers.
The boat journey was a smooth sail. It took 3 hours in total but felt like much less with our eyes closed. Seats are separated by fixed metal armrests, so if you’re traveling as a couple or a family, there’s no cozying-up to anyone. If you’re as unlucky as Jake, try not to sit underneath the air con fans, that drip-drop cold water every now and then. Don’t expect a 5 star experience, as the boat is a little beaten and worn, but there is the opportunity to nibble on snacks from the small kiosk on board.
Alighting the boat took just as long as boarding, as the boat was at near full capacity with a mixture of backpackers, families and locals. Grabbing our bags from the huge pile of luggage was easier than expected thanks to the help of the crew. We set set foot onto land to the sight of a row of buses and minivans, ready to cart tourists to their final destination; whether that was the Surat Thani International Airport, Krabi, Phuket or for us, Khao Sok.
The scenic minivan journey to Khao Sok
Our minivan seated 12 people, including the driver. We were on the road in less than 10 minutes after leaving the boat, which was great! Seats were comfy, the temperature was just right, the leg room was sufficient, and the on-board entertainment was taken care of (my iPad). The scenery was overshadowed literally by the poor weather.
Clouds blocked the view of the mountains and the rain beat down onto the windows. Thankfully, we knew we would be taking a portion of this journey again when we would be driving back from our hotel to the entrance of the national park. Fingers crossed we get a second chance at the green scenery.
Left stranded in the rain in Khao Sok
Two hours went by and we were dropped on the corner of the main road leading towards the town of Khlong Khao Sok, our accommodation, a bus stop, a convenience store and a nearby tour office. We waited 10 minutes for our hostel’s free shuttle service that was signposted at the bus stop. However, it didn’t arrive, so we didn’t mind walking the 1 km (.6 miles) to our hotel, which is located along the budget backpacker strip. It was a scenic walk, despite the rain, and it was nice to see the locals go about their day on the farms and construction yards. They spared a few seconds from their busy day to smile and wave back to us.
Overall, the journey was 5 hours long, but felt like much less. Everything ran quickly and efficiently. Minor trivial details prevented it from being perfect, but it got us from A to B in no time, so we were more than happy.