Image 01 Image 01 Image 01 Image 01 Image 01 Image 01

After our amazing first day and night at the aptly-named Elephant Camp, we woke up raring to go for the second and third days of our adventure with Elephant Hills in Khao Sok National Park.

Rainforest Camp at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

Elephant Camp, with its luxury tents set in the jungle, was already quite the departure from reality. Rainforest Camp, the sister property nestled even deeper into the wilderness, took an even greater leap into getting away from it all — no internet, no phone signal, not even solid ground beneath your feet — the twenty tents that make up the camp all float peacefully atop Cheow Larn Lake.

But first, we had to get there. Waving goodbye to Elephant Hills, we piled into decommissioned Thai military vehicles and made our way to a local market in Takhun. I’ve seen more than my fair share of markets in Thailand, but I still enjoyed having a brief wander and stocking up on snacks before the next leg of our journey.

Rainforest Camp at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

Rainforest Camp at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

Next up, a quick stop at the Ratchaprapha Dam, where we got our first glance of Cheow Lan Lake and started to learn the insanely fascinating history of the region.

Rainforest Camp at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

And then it was onto the lake, where we hopped into a traditional long tail boat to sightsee.

Rainforest Camp at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

After a gorgeous ride admiring the jungle and the towering limestone karsts that define the lake, we caught sight of our final destination — Rainforest Camp!

Rainforest Camp at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailandso distracted by our welcome drinks, we could only manage a silly iPhone selfie

Rainforest Camp at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

Rainforest Camp at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

Rainforest Camp at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

Opened in 2011, Rainforest Camp is still one of the only floating tented camps in the world. Powered by solar and wind energy and using a unique waste management system, the camp is a model of low-impact accommodation.

And we had the wild neighbors to prove it. We might have left the elephants behind at Elephant Camp, but we still had monkeys prancing in the jungle behind our camp and fish darting around and below our tents. And there was way more going on than what we were lucky to see — just lookwhat gets caught on Elephant Hill’s !

Rainforest Camp at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

Rainforest Camp at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

Rainforest Camp at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

Inside the tents, however, was a human-only zone. Somehow, thought I didn’t think it would be possible, I loved these tents even more than the ones we’d spent the previous evening in.

Rainforest Camp at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

Rainforest Camp at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

And we got right down to the business of enjoying them.

Rainforest Camp at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

Rainforest Camp at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

Rainforest Camp at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

Rainforest Camp at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

After a few hours of chill time, those who wanted to join for the afternoon’s jungle trek were rounded up and set off in boats bound for the shore.

Rainforest Camp at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

Rainforest Camp at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

As we touched down on land again, our guide began to elaborate on the fraught history of the land beneath our feet.

The story began in 1944, when a deadly epidemic wiped out almost the entire population of the Khao Sok region. The village became known as Ban Sop, or Village of the Dead, lying in the shadow of a nearby mountain known as Khao Sop, or Corpse Mountain. The morbid name was later rebranded to Khao Sok.

In 1961, the region was forever changed by construction of the 401, the first and only highway connecting Phang Nga and Surat Thani Provinces. Needless to say, the untouched wilderness of Khao Sok suffered.

In the 1970’s, tragedy struck Khao Sok again. In Thailand, October 6th, 1976 will always be remembered with sadness — it was the day of the military government’s fatal attack on student protesters at Thammasat University in Bangkok. The forty one recorded deaths are suspected, in fact, to be a low estimate. In response to the massacre, hundreds of students fled to Khao Sok, fearing for their lives. The deep, untouched forest provided cover for the newly-formed insurgency groups who buried explosives and patrolled the area with gunfire. The very caves we were hiking through provided shelter from air raids by the Thai military.

Rainforest Camp at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

Rainforest Camp at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

The rebels formed an unexpected sanctuary for the environment — they may have been aiming to keep the army away, but they also scared off loggers, hunters and miners for the seven years they controlled the area. In 1982, the government changed hands, and the students slowly returned to their lives. Allegedly, the last of the rebels left Khao Sok in 1989.

Thanks to the unintended protection of this unlikely ally, Khao Sok staved off development and exploitation long enough for the National Parks Division to take notice. With many rare species of flora and fauna (including the spiders I was very unwillingly sharing the previously mentioned caves with), Khao Sok was announced Thailand’s 22nd National Park in 1980.

Rainforest Camp at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

Rainforest Camp at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

Rainforest Camp at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

But the area wasn’t done changing. Around the same time Khao Sok was applying for National Park status, EGAT (the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand) discovered that Khao Sok was the largest watershed in southern Thailand. And so, before objections could be raised by the area’s newfound status, a massive portion of the National Park was intentionally flooded to create a 165km2 reservoir for generating hydro-electricity. Today, this reservoir is known as Cheow Larn Lake.

The flooding was a tragedy for wildlife. Many animals, including elephants, were forced into islands created by the rising water levels, and EGAT attempted the largest rescue in Thailand’s history… which was, unfortunately, largely unsuccessful. Of 1,364 “rescued” animals, the majority died of stress and the rest were relocated into areas overpopulated by other refugees.

It was a rocky, controversy and scandal-paved road that led Khao Sok to where it is today — 739 square kilometers of protected land that is a popular eco-tourism destination, and a sustainable source of hydro-electric power for much of Southern Thailand.

Rainforest Camp at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

Rainforest Camp at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

Back at camp, we marveled at an absolute stunner of a sunset and the fact that we could leap off our porch into its reflection in the water, if we wanted to. It had been the perfect day.

At Elephant Camp, the lush surroundings hid the fact that there was indeed a highway not quite too far away and at night,  you could hear the occasional truck passing by the main road. But here a Rainforest Camp, this, this was pure peace.

Rainforest Camp at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

In the morning, we sprung out of our tents for one final breakfast. I have to give kudos to Elephant Hills for being super accommodating to various diets — I had marked on our intake form that I eat no seafood and there was always plenty of variety for me, and others in the group with special dietary needs were also well tended to.

After, we had a bit of free time to go for a final adventure — a kayak down a snaking arm of the lake. We were kicking ourselves the entire time for not reserving the four day tour, which would have tacked on another night at Rainforest Camp, along with 24 hours to pretty much just kick around at your leisure. If I have one piece of advice for anyone heading to this particular experience, it’s to make room in your budget and itinerary for one more night!

Rainforest Camp at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

Rainforest Camp at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

At around 20,000B (about $560) for three days, this experience is not for those on a shoestring budget. However, when you consider the , and use Khao Sok as a stopover between Thailand’s two coasts, it represents pretty great value. The only things not included are soft drinks, alcoholic drinks, tips, souvenirs, and extras like the foot massages offered at Elephant Camp (heck yes I had one!). The included transfers will pick you up and drop you off door-to-door in Phuket, Khao Lak, Phang Nga, Krabi, Surat Thani or even from Koh Samui.

When to come? Well, basically, whenever you have a trip planned to Thailand. “Green season,” as Elephant Hills optimistically refers to Khao Sok’s monsoon, lasts from May to October, and comes with cooler temperatures, lush green foliage, and higher chances of spotting wildlife. The least busy months are May, June, September and October, so book then if you want to have the place to yourself!

Rainforest Camp at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

Rainforest Camp at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

We had so much fun on this trip that we made a little video! I’ve hardly been giving my
the loving it deserves lately, and so I was super excited to bring it along on this trip. It’s hard to switch back and forth from photo to video mode (for me at least!) but we got some really fun shots and I laugh every time I watch this video — and not just because an elephant tried to eat my camera.

As filled with natural beauty as Thailand can be, it can also be a chaotic and overwhelming place. Our days in Khao Sok were so refreshing and recharging, I left feeling more connected with nature and myself than I had in months.

It was a reminder of something I wish I didn’t have to be reminded of so often — sometimes there’s nothing more important in the world than to unplug, disconnect, and listen to water lapping against your tent, monkeys playing in the trees, your best friend laughing at a story, a paddle hitting the surface of a lake, or best of all — the rare and beautiful sound of nothing.

Rainforest Camp at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

Rainforest Camp at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

And with that, we were back to home sweet home — Koh Tao!

3-devide-lines

I was a guest of Elephant Hills in order to write this review. As always, you receive my honest opinions and thorough recommendations regardless of who is footing the bill.
3-devide-lines
 .

Pin It!

Rainforest Camp at Elephant Hills: A Review

Rainforest Camp at Elephant Hills: A Review

Rainforest Camp at Elephant Hills: A Review

3-devide-lines
 .

Special Announcement!

If you follow me or , you’ve probably already heard my big announcement: I’m going to Bali!
Best of all? You can come with me! I vowed that I wasn’t going to travel anywhere in March… but then I got an offer that was just too good to refuse. I’m incredibly excited to be attending an immersive coding retreat with  from March 3-13th. For ten days we’ll be staying in a gorgeous villa, waking up to poolside yoga, digging into some delicious website creation, and exploring Bali on our breaks! After years of having to turn to a developer for every little issue on my blog, I cannot wait to feel empowered to just do it myself!

Want to join? (Who wouldn’t?) There are still spaces available for the retreat I’m attending, so check out the details  and shoot me an email if you have any questions. Ahhhhh… I literally cannot wait!

3-devide-lines
YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY
35 Comments...
  • Cate
    February 24 2017

    Ahhhhhh this tour looks amazing! I love the idea of a floating tent- so original. You are so right about the unconnecting- everything these days seems to be about instagrams and the perfect photo and keeping up with news, and sometimes it just gets to be too much! Thank you for writing these beautiful blog posts even when you would rather disconnect and travel freely, they are so worth it! Oh, and your video was really great too, nice transitions.
    Cate recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      February 27 2017

      Thanks Cate! I really need to get into the habit of doing video more often! I get so consumed by still photography, I forget how fun a little video can be 🙂

  • Vanessa
    February 25 2017

    Wish I was back there now we enjoyed a stay at the beginning of February.What an amazing place it is ,will remember it for ever xxx????

    • Meihoukai
      February 27 2017

      Ah, that’s lovely to hear Vanessa. It was indeed magical!

  • Wanderlust Us
    February 25 2017

    Loved your post on Elephant Hills, we were there on our Honeymoon in November and absolutely loved it. We also blogged about the trip if you were interested in reading our review too?

    Happy and safe travelling!

    Daniel & Niki (WU) x

    • Meihoukai
      February 27 2017

      Taking a look right now! Glad to hear you enjoyed your stay too!

  • Dominique
    February 25 2017

    What grim history for such a beautiful place! Everytime you write another post and show us those beautiful pictures of Thailand I’m reminded how a one time visit to this country is definitely not enough! I need to make my way back there
    Dominique recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      February 27 2017

      Indeed, one could never cover it all! Oh man, I’ve never tried counting up all my various trips to Thailand… it would be quite a few at this point, me thinks!

  • Kristin
    February 25 2017

    I absolutely LOVE the idea of staying in a floating tent! So much fun to just jump off the back into the water, and those water tours look wonderful! Love the video, too.
    Kristin recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      February 27 2017

      Thank you Kristin! It’s always so much fun to post videos… if only I remembered to shoot footage more often 😉

  • I hate that my first thought when I see this camp is to wonder about bugs (the creepy crawly kind, not mosquitos) – it looks amazing, though! That sunset!!!
    Leigh | Campfires & Concierges recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      February 27 2017

      Well, they’d have to be able to fly there 🙂 I’d say less bugs than most places in Thailand that are land-based, actually!

  • Joanne the crazy woman
    February 26 2017

    Oh what awesome photos, looks like fun was being had and relaxing done as well
    Joanne the crazy woman recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      February 27 2017

      Check and check! We had an awesome time!

  • Arianwen
    February 27 2017

    I loved Khao Sok. Those caves are something else though! I was surprised how far in they let us go without even asking first if we could swim! I’m sure your tour guides were more responsible than ours 🙂
    Arianwen recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      February 27 2017

      Actually, the caves we went in were dry caves! No water around!

  • Philip
    February 27 2017

    We did this tour in December – two adults and three kids – 16, 14 & 11.

    Our thought after Elephant Camp was that we may be disappointed by Rainforest Camp and we headed there with a good deal of uncertainty.

    We need not have feared. If anything this magical place blew us away even more than the wonderful elephants.

    I look at posts like yours and almost cry at the beauty of the place and yearning to return.

    We are all lucky to have experienced their hospitality.

    • Meihoukai
      February 28 2017

      I know how you feel, Philip! I loved Elephant Camp but it was Rainforest Camp that I was truly heartbroken to leave. Would have loved another night!

  • Andrew
    February 28 2017

    A gorgeous place with an unexpectedly tragic story … I’ll definitely have to make this to see this place next time I am in Thailand!

    • Meihoukai
      March 2 2017

      Right? The history is one of my favorite things about this place… it’s so fascinating!

  • Sea of Wanderlust
    March 1 2017

    This looks amazing! Especially the caves 🙂

    Kelsey |

    x
    Sea of Wanderlust recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      March 2 2017

      Gorgeous, right? We were tempted to skip the hike and hang at the tents — so glad we didn’t!

  • Yeeling
    March 3 2017

    This looks like such an epic adventure with so much to do! You definitely look like you had a lot of fun and thanks for sharing these! Thailand is so amazing. I’ve been visiting literally every year since 2012 and still can’t get enough.

    Love from Singapore,
    Yeeling

    • Meihoukai
      March 10 2017

      Me too actually… since 2009! Don’t think I’ve missed a full year yet, though I could be wrong 🙂 I’m still not out of things to do!

  • Caroline Eubanks
    March 7 2017

    That is my kind of glamping!
    Caroline Eubanks recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      March 20 2017

      Any “camping” in which a hot showing is involved is a-okay with me 😉

  • kevin Ngoc
    March 14 2017

    What a good time you have. I love traveling with my friend or my family. The caves’re so amazing! ;))

    • Meihoukai
      March 21 2017

      The caves were gorgeous! Thanks for reading Kevin!

  • Rachel
    March 24 2017

    This place looks amazing! I’ve been following your blog for a few years now and I have a question for you: What’s your favorite off-the-beaten-path destination in SE Asia? Would you mind if I included your answer in an ebook I’m writing about the region?
    Rachel recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      March 25 2017

      Oh man, that is a tooooouuuuugh question Rachel 🙂 I’ll have to mull that over! Mind shooting me an email with the number of words you’re looking for and other details? 🙂

      • Rachel
        March 26 2017

        No problem! Already sent 🙂
        Rachel recently posted..

  • Marni
    April 14 2017

    This is amazing!! Is it possible to stay just here and not Elephant Camp, or do you have to do both?
    Marni recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      April 18 2017

      They have all sorts of packages, but I do believe they all require one night at Elephant Camp. I’d get in touch with them though if you’re interested — they may do a custom package!

  • Tich
    June 19 2017

    Hey, I never comment but I thought I’d give it a go after reading this post. I thought I recognized you on this blog and that’s because I’ve seen you multiple times on koh Tao! (I used to work at Blue Water back at the end of 2015, when it was still new and been back and forth on koh Tao since 2008). I find your blog really entertaining and inspirational – ever since my sister recommended your blog to me ive been hooked!

    Anyway, except me writing to praise your blog it was especially awesome when you wrote about the October 6th, 1976 because my father was actually one of them rebels. He was one of the leaders that had to flee the government and hearing him recounting the tales of that time are some of my favorite stories!
    One of my favorite bits of the tale is when the government got seized and they were trying to get in with all the leaders and they sent a helicopter to pick him up and he recounted that the helicopter had no doors (Thai standards I guess 😉 ) and the inside didn’t really have seats it was more nets hanging about. They sat down on the hammocks/nets and the soldier in front of him offered him a Coca Cola and that was the best Coca Cola he had ever tasted. After living in the jungle and hiding for years, that was one of his strongest memories, haha. Having a father that did all of that make sure me proud and a bit hard for me to try to beat his adventures of his youth and I am very grateful he “fled” to Sweden and gave me the opportunity to travel the world. Keep up the good work and thank you for inspiring me to travel more.

    • Meihoukai
      June 23 2017

      Hey Tich! How fun that we’ve run into each other on the island before. Wow, what an amazing story you shared! That is fascinating — how cool that your family is a part of Thailand’s history. Happy travels and maybe I’ll see you again someday on Koh Tao! Say hi if we do!