We left at about 3pm on a rainy day. I’ve always thought the best way to spend a rainy day in the jungle is to get in the water: this way you don’t mind getting wet along the hike because you’re going to get wet anyway!
Here’s how you get there:
As you make your way on the dirt (or mud depending on the time of year) road, go left at the T-intersection, follow the road as it curves right until it ends at the main road running through town. Once you’ve reached the main road, take a right and walk just a few minutes to reach Khao Sok National Park Entrance and Headquarters (fee is 200 baht per adult, 100 per child).
Once you’ve signed in and paid your fees, continue to the left until you pass the second ranger station and the hiking trail will continue on your left. This part of the trail is wide and easy to walk, though it can get pretty muddy in the rainy season.
After about 25 minutes going up and down the sloping hills with Pandanus, Palm and Bamboo, there will be an informational plate on your left describing the bamboos commonly found on Khao Sok treks.
Just five more minutes down the path, you will see a sign designating the beginning of the side trail that leads to Wang Pai Ha, the first swimming hole in the park. This track, as you would expect, gets a bit more narrow than the main path. Although the trails are regularly cleared, make sure to watch for vines above your head and around your feet.
Once you’re off the main path, wildlife become a bit more common. Keep your eyes peeled for Horned Dragon Lizards, interesting insects, and monkeys.
Five to ten minutes from the main path, you’ll find the swimming hole. Unlike most other places in Khao Sok, there’s enough water to swim here year round. It’s quite calm during the dry season (December – April) and has a current along the far bank of the river during wet season. Fortunately, the water is always quite slow moving near the bank and the current is easy to spot.
Regardless of the weather, it’s nice and refreshing getting in the water after an hour’s hike. In the dry season, the banks provide a great spot for sunbathing as well. Even if you want to hike further into the park on your Khao Sok trek, this can be a good place to take a quick dip and cool off before continuing since it’s not too far from the main path.
Since it was already 4:40 or so by the time we were done swimming, we decided to head back. Way up in the trees, we spotted a female temple viper. Females are typically at least one and a half times as large as males, and this one was quite large. Lucky for us, these snakes are nocturnal and arboreal. They are apparently quite slow even when they are awake, though their prehensile tail gives them pretty decent climbing skills.
We get back to the resort as the dawn begins to gently tint the cliffs across the river.
Not too tired, we take a second plunge in the river to clear the mud off our legs and refresh ourselves once again.
All in all, Wang Pai Ha is a hike well-suited for those who want to do a short unguided Khao Sok trek, and the swimming hole makes it rewarding whether or not you spot any wildlife.