Khao Sok national park
Being the most popular mainland national park destination in South Thailand, Khao Sok is a rainforest with great diversity of plants and wildlife. It is one of the few bigger national parks in the country relatively easily accessible by public services from nearby Phuket, Krabi, Khao Lak, Surat Thani, Ao Nang (Railey Beach). The main attractions of the park are iconic limestone hills, waterfalls accessible by hiking through the lush jungle, raft houses sperad over Khao Sok lake, caves, few waterstreams of which Sok River is the most popular one.
Covering 2168 sq km, Khao Yai is the third largest National Park in Thailand. It incorporates one of the largest primarily intact monsoon forests in South East Asia, which earned it the status of a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is one of the best places to spot wildlife in Thailand and to get a taste of what South East Asia has to offer in terms of biodiversity.
My first trip to the park was very impromptu – I didn’t do any research and didn’t really know what to expect. I just caught a bus from Bangkok to Pak Chong and picked a guest house with the cutest name – Green Leaf. Little did I know, it was run by the best guide in Khao Yai National Park – Mr. Nine.
Ang Thong National Marine Park
2 islands comprise this protected archipelago. If you’re picturing a “park-park”, replace picnic benches in your mind with, oh, three dozen more islands. 41 of the islands are uninhabited. Sea gipsies are said to live on one, living as traditional fishermen.
Why visit Ang Thong Marine Park? Even if you’ve spent time in other beautiful corners of Thailand – this place has extra-special all over. It’s remote, a few hours’ boat ride from Koh Samui (depending on the boat), though the islands’ composition looks even further removed. (Mountains and rock faces are limestone, as opposed to Koh Samui’s rich, orange-red, earth). The trip’s highlight is Emerald Lake at Ang Thong which you’ll likely recognise from the movie The Beach.