Day 4 - transfer to KHAO SOK NATIONAL PARK
After 4 nights / 3 days in Bangkok we took an early morning private minivan transfer to DMK for the Air Asia flight to Surat Thani. This flight was the first think booked/ paid for in our whole itinerary as I had just happened to browse the AA site and saw flight for 555 THB each!!!
As we have 5 in our party (all with cases!), I was not sure we would be OK in a regular taxi. I could find details about buses from Surat Thani (via the station!) to Khao Sok - but I wasn't sure if this was from town centre or airport!!
Not wanting to be stranded with kids and luggage I opted for the private minivan transfer arranged via our accomodation.
We were met and driven all very efficiently, to the Rock and Tree House Resort near Khao Sok National Park, where we had 2 Flora Bungalows. This time the kids were to be in a separate building form us!!
We had very mixed feelings about this "resort" which although more than adequate didn't quite deliver what we had wanted/ expected - however we did all enjoy the stay here.
After settling in our rooms the manager showed us how to get down to the river and we spent a couple of hours swimming and playing. The kids loved the jerry rigged rope swing - somehow attached to the cliff face above the the river - that swung them from the rocks into the river. Natural, simple fun in the great outdoors - surrounded by stunning cliffs and rainforest!
In the early evening the manager gave us a lift into the village and recommended a couple of resturants. The village had a good selection of eateries - all reasonably priced.
After the early start and the traveliing we were all a bit tired and and found it very humid! The first time walked back to the Rock and Tree House it seemed like a long way - and I was wishing that we had booked somewhere more central to the village and Entrance to the National Park - but by the end we got used to it!
Day 5 - Self Guided Hike in National Park
After breakfast (not great at this place!) we walked to the National Park Entrance and followed the short trail to the waterfalls.
On the way there it did seem a lot further than the advertised 3km and took us a good while to get there. The trail is easy to follow without a guide however it definitely is not flat!!
Although hot the kids enjoyed the slow hike to the swimming place and the "waterfall" (which at this time of year when water levels are low proved to be a bit of a grand description!)
We had to hot foot it back when we realised that it had taken us over 2 hours to climb up there and it was approaching 3pm - you need to sign out of the park by 4 pm - otherwise I guess they send out the search parties!!
Just as we were exiting the park we stopped for some fabulous fruit shakes - watermelon for the kids and mango for me - yummy, refreshing AND healthy!! They became a real fave while we were in that area!
Just outside the park gates we stopped and had some fried rice and some more drinks. These simple, tasty filling meals cost less than a tenner for us all (GBP) and took us out of an rain storm just in time.
We hiked the long way back to the Treehouse!
After our day walking in the stifling heat - we were very grateful for a lift back to the village for dinner and also to find and book a tour to the dam for the next day.
Day 6 - Dam / Long Tail Boat/ Lake/ Cave!
9am pickup to go to the Dam. After an hours journey we boarded the longtail boat (with canopy) for the fantastic trip to the Khlong Toei ((??) Raft hous - v. basic -"jungle toilet" - complete with bees nest in "gents".
Our guide (POM ) was fascinating explaining that he had been born in the jungle, and could not read or write - but he spoke great English - and was full of interesting facts about the Dam and its history and also knowledge about the jungle and the caves.
The boat trip was just over an hour and the scenery was stunning. We arrived at the raft house and had some time for swimming and kayaking before lunch. Afterwards we set off to do the trek through the rainforest to the Nam (something !) Cave.
Pom was concerned that rain was coming in and so he took us through the cave in the opposite direction to normal. He was worried that the water levels in the cave would rise quickly if it rained and so wanted to get these parts out of the way first. It seems most trips exit through the deeper waters. He expertly guided us through these caves often taking my daughter (8) on his back to get through the deeper sections. She is a confident swimmer and would have managed but he wanted to keep the pace up and her cautiousness would have slowed us.
The pace of this trek and cave walk (at times chest deep in water!) was quite brisk - and was at least 2.5 hours.
returning back to the raft house we had some light snacks (sticky rice and banana and sliced fruit) and more swimming chances before boarding the longtail boat back to that minivan. Got back at 6.30pm
The whole trip for 5 of us was 5000 thb including park fees and we booked with the lady at the KS Green Valley resort. She was very helpful and accepted payment by credit card (+3%).
The adult prices of the trips were broadly similar at all the tour agents in the village but the big difference was with the pricing for the kids. In the end we paid for 3 adults with 3 kids being charged 1 adult price. Our accommodation would have charged us half price for the the kids and one of the operators charged full price for the 10 and 12 year old only offering half price for the 8 year old. Another was half price for the older 2 and a flat 200 for the youngest "for dinner".
Back to the village for dinner - a very tasty Pizza!!
Day 7 - having been very pleased with our tour we booked to see the Elephants the next day with the same agent who again only charged our party of 5 the price for 3 adults (2400thb)
the kids loved the short trek on the elephants and my son was thrilled to ride on the neck of our elephant on the return journey.
We had lunch at the Rock and Tree house - a very tasty yellow fried noodle dish before our minivan transfer down to Khao Lak.
Days 8-11 Chilling at the Khao Lak Laguna Resort
After a hectic week in the city and the jungle trekking it was wonderful to be able to do "not a lot" all day. The Laguna has a great beach front location and a wonderful swimming pool - what more do we need with 3 kids.
Days were largly spent by the pool with a break to walk down the beach to the beach cafes for some (late) lunch or a massage on the day beds under the palms to the sound of the waves and the birds! (me - not kids!)
The kids did a couple of the free workshops run by the hotel - including towel folding !!
In the evenings we ventured out to the shops and restaurants along the main road.
We all very much enjoyed Khao Lak. We loved the hotel with its large airy traditional rooms and the stunning beach/ rainforest views whilst being able to be in the pool!
The town - although not the most scenic - provides a good variety of resturants and shops without being too busy. I walked the length of the beach beyond the Sands - and would have enjoyed being slightly nearer to this end and the greater choice of eateries.
We found the beach uncrowded (almost empty) and I was never once hassled by a seller of any description - in fact saw no sellers on the beach.
Day 12 - transfer by Minivan to Krabi (long way but flights much cheaper by time I booked!!) for flight to BKK.
On the way we stopped at the Naval Golf Club to see the Turtles. There is not much there and this was OK to visit as we were passing. We had wanted to stop at a temple also but our taxi driver was not very accurate with timings and we thought we were running out of time to visit and get to airport. In the event we had plenty of time and ended up sitting at Krabi for an extra hour - but we didn't want to miss our connection to out international flight!
We tried to book a snorkelling tip but unfortunately we need to book a bit further in advance so should have got onto this as soon as arriving in resort.
We all loved both of these destinations and did some amazing excursions and also had some great relaxation time.
Both locations provided a plentiful choice of resturants needed when feeding a family as well as some excellent accommodation choices.
Can't wait to return........... just waiting for LHR - BKK routes to be released for April 2015 on more airlines!!!Edited: 01 May 2014, 01:18