With its two different camp locations, Elephant Hills in the Khao Sok National Park offers families a unique and immersive way to experience all the region has to offer. From Khao Sok Elephant Hills, visitors can conveniently enjoy the activities provided within the jungle and the lake of the Khao Sok National Park.
Known for being one of the ethically managed elephant camps in Thailand, the highlight for most coming to Elephant Hills – Khao Sok National Park is spending time with their rescued elephants. Time at their Khao Sok elephant camp is provided with all their tours.
Elephant Hills offers a range of multi day experiences, including a wide array of fun activities, so no matter what your family’s interests are or how much time you have to spare – there is the perfect tour option for everyone.
Depending on what tour you book, as well as elephant encounters, other activities include guided kayaking, trekking, exploring caves and loads more.
We were recently invited to spend a wonderful few days with Elephant Hills on their three day jungle and lake safari, where we got to experience both their jungle and lake camp. It was an unforgettable experience and one I know any family with a sense of adventure will absolutely love.
If you’re considering taking the kids to Elephant Hills, this article will cover everything you need to know. It covers information about the two camps, getting to the camps, the range of activities on offer, meals and more.
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Elephant Hills Khao Sok Review
Below we provide a full review, covering all you need to know about taking the kids to Elephant Hills in Khao Sok.
Is Elephant Hills one of the ethical elephant camps in Thailand?
Before we start, let’s start with what should be everyone’s first question when considering any interaction with wildlife – is Elephant Hills ethical?
No organised animal encounter can ever be 100% ethical and while some people believe no wildlife animal in captivity is, Elephant Hills is about as ethical as it gets.
Many of the elephants at the sanctuary have been working in the logging industry (which was banned in 1989) or mass tourism industry for decades.
Given these gorgeous creatures eat over 200kg of food per day – a profitable activity needed to be implemented to ensure these animals can peacefully live out their lives – as being returned to the wild is not an option for most.
I’m pleased to say Elephant Hills don’t offer elephant riding or bathing with tourists. The only interaction you’ll get with these gorgeous animals is feeding them.
But don’t take my word for it, I invite you to do your own research on Elephant Hills before deciding to visit. During my research, I was pleased to see they were awarded the Thailand Green Excellence Award For Animal Welfare for four years running.
Plus, Wanderlust Magazine gave the camp a ‘highly commendable’ rating for animal welfare. It has also achieved a Level 5 rating from Global Spirit for animal welfare.
Just being close to these magnificent animals at the elephant sanctuary Khao Sok offers is an incredible experience and is one where you can rest assured does not harm the animals.
The elephant experience at Elephant Hills
Most people come to Elephant Hills to experience a close encounter with these gorgeous elephants Khao Sok has.
The only way you can take part in an elephant encounter is by booking one of the Elephant Hills tours – and all tours do include an elephant interaction.
These interactions last a few hours, where guests are driven to the elephant sanctuary, just a short drive from the jungle camp.
There are no ‘forced’ animal / human encounters at Elephant Hills. Instead, visitors get a close up view of the elephants having a mud bath or playing.
Before or after, guests prepare a basket of fruit and vegetables, which they feed the elephants during one of their usual daily feeding times.
After this elephant experience Khao Sok offers, the elephants are released back into their large free roaming pen, and guests can watch them play, interact and graze in their natural environment.
Elephant Hills tours
As mentioned, Elephant Hills offers a variety of tours to suit all time schedules and budgets.
All tours include accommodation, food, activities, guided tours and transfers to and from most places around Southern Thailand, including Phuket, Khao Lak, Phang Nga, Krabi, Surat Thani or Koh Samui.
Please note that tours are unsuitable for children under four years of age, and AUD rates were correct at publishing.
Let’s take a brief look at the various tours on offer.
2 Days Jungle Safari
Your day starts with an Elephant Experience, followed by a guided canoe safari down the scenic Sok River.
You will then settle into the rainforest camp before enjoying dinner, a cooking demonstration and traditional Thai entertainment.
After breakfast the next day, you will do a guided jungle trek before having lunch back at the camp.
This tour is a good option for families who are short on time.
Price starts from 13,875 THB ($591 AUD) per adult and 6,938 THB ($295 AUD) per child (4-15).
3 Days Jungle Safari
The first day of this 3 day tour is the same as the first day of the 2 day jungle safari tour mentioned above.
You will start the second day with a longtail boat trip on Cheow Larn Lake followed by lunch at the Lake Camp. You will then have free time to explore the lake by kayak before returning to Elephant Hills for dinner and a second night of entertainment.
On the third day, you will do a guided jungle trek before enjoying lunch back at the camp and starting your onward transfer.
Price starts from 20, 475 THB ($872 AUD) per adult and 10,938 THB ($465 AUD) per child (4-15).
4 Days Nature Safari
Day 1, 3 and 4 are the same as the 3 day tour detailed above.
You will start day 2 with a speed boat tour of Takuapa’s incredible fig tree channel before switching to a canoe to explore the mangroves. The tour will break for a traditional lunch on a Burmese Junk boat before returning to camp for a movie presentation about the park and more dance performances.
This tour is ideal for people who want to immerse themselves in nature and the jungle.
Price starts from 25,765 THB ($1097 AUD) per adult and 12,883 THB ($548 AUD) per child (4-15).
3 Days Jungle and Lake Camp Safari
For those wanting to spend the night on the lake – and I highly recommend you do – this is the tour for you!
This is the tour we did, so you can read more about it below. It essentially involves staying at the rainforest camp on the first night with the elephant experience and a guided kayak trip during the day.
On day 2, you take a longtail boat to the lake camp, with a rainforest trek in the afternoon. You then spend a lovely night in a tent over the lake.
Day 3 starts with a guided kayak tour around the lake to spot wildlife and lunch at the lake camp before heading back to the mainland.
Price starts from 23,980 THB ($1021 AUD) per adult and 11,990 THB ($510 AUD) per child (4-15).
Our Itinerary – 3 Day Jungle and Lake Camp Safari
While I’ve only done one tour with Elephant Hills – I really think it’s the best one as you get to spend a night on the lake – which is just so special!
I cannot recommend this Elephant Hills jungle lake safari Khao Sok offers highly enough! Check out any of the excellent Elephant Hills reviews online if you want further reassurance.
I take you through our itinerary in more detail below.
At 10 am, we were picked up from our hotel in the Khao Sok Village by minivan and driven to Elephant Hills Camp. This was just a short 10 minute drive or so.
At the jungle camp
On arrival, we were offered welcome drinks and sat in the dining area, where we completed paperwork, were provided with some brief information about the day and then given our room keys.
We were in tent 2 which was super convenient as it was just a short walk from the dining area, yet so private and peaceful – it was like our own little oasis – see more about our accommodation below in the Jungle Camp section.
We had some free time before lunch, so decided to hit the swimming pool. Surprisingly, for the most part, we were the only ones there.
Lunchtime was at 12 pm, which was an amazing buffet of different Thai dishes – but don’t worry there was other food for little fussy eaters – see more about that below.
At 2 pm, we jumped in some cool little jeeps and took off for our afternoon activities.
First up was an hour guided kayak safari down the Sok River. And when I say guided kayak tour – this included the guide doing the paddling, so all we had to do was sit back and enjoy the ride.
Seeing the jungle from the river provides a totally different perspective. The dense vegetation and the dramatic views blew me away. The limestone cliffs that jut out all over the place are absolutely spectacular!
During our kayak safari, we saw stacks of gorgeous little monkeys playing in the trees, a few snakes, birds, and even a frog! The guides are awesome at spotting wildlife.
We then headed for what I had been looking forward to most – the elephant sanctuary Khao Sok National Park experience.
Our experience started with hearing about the stories of the 10 elephants, including their age, what industry they had worked in and any lifelong injuries they had – such as one of the elephants being blind.
Next, we each prepared a huge basket of food for them. These guys eat over 200kg of fruit and vegetables a day! So it takes quite a lot of food to feed these guys.
We each took our baskets and fed the elephants – it was a fun experience!
The elephants are so greedy, shoving their huge trunks into your basket, trying to get as much off you as possible. I had elephant salvia all down my front by the time my basket was empty!
There was also lots of time for pats and cuddles with the elephants. But none of them were made to stay – they were free to come and go as they pleased. But luckily most choose to stay close to us.
Afterwards, a few of the elephants headed into their mud bath. It was so lovely watching them roll around in the mud and spray themselves in water. They are such gorgeous animals.
We were then taken to a cafe at the elephant sanctuary where we could buy drinks or snacks if we liked and watched a short documentary about elephants in Thailand.
Back to the jungle camp
We returned to the jungle camp around 5 pm, which gave us time to relax and freshen up before dinner.
Hot Tip: there is yummy free popcorn in the dining room before dinner – make sure the kids grab you a bag when they get theirs!
At 6.30 pm, they played another documentary about elephants (very general though and I’d probably give it a miss), followed by a dance performance by a few girls from a local school.
Dinner was served at 7.15 pm and once again, it was delicious!
Breakfast was served between 7.30 am and 9 am so that it could be had at your leisure.
Heading to Cheow Larn Lake
All bags needed to be packed and ready to go at 9 am as we were headed for Cheow Larn Lake.
It was about an hour’s drive to the pier for Cheow Larn Lake – but just before we stopped off at the Viewpoint. This was a high point with incredible views across the lake and pier. There were also snack and souvenir shops as well as toilets if anyone needed to go before getting on the longtail boat.
It took about an hour to reach the lake camp – and boy was the journey spectacular!
The lake is full of towering limestone cliffs draped in greenery and their sheer verticality creates a landscape that needs to be seen to be believed. Then you have the majestic grandeur of the surrounding rainforest and the constantly changing colours of the water from crystal clear to a deep emerald green – the whole landscape is simply breathtaking.
We arrive at the lake camp at 12 pm, and while lunch is being prepared, given how hot it is, we jump into the water directly from the floorboards of the floating dining area.
The water was beautiful and refreshing – not overly cold – which is ideal for a Queenslander like me, who only swims on the hottest of hot days!
Soon after, we sat down to yet another delicious buffet with loads of different Thai dishes and, of course, some more basic options for the little fussy eaters.
After lunch, we settled into our gorgeous little tents perched directly over the lake.
The afternoon is either at everyone’s leisure or you can join a rainforest hike and explore a local cave. About half of our group decided to stay back and swim, kayak or lounge around the camp while we decided to do the hike.
We left the camp at 2.30 pm by longtail boat and cruised for about 10 minutes to another section of the lake.
The entire hike took about 2.5 hours and was quite a steep and challenging walk. You’re given a hiking stick that does help, but it is still hard and I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone with even the slightest bit of mobility issues. Make sure you have shoes with a good grip – we wore our hiking sandals which were fine.
Our guide was able to point out plants and insects I never would have spotted on my own – we even saw a monkey. However, the highlight of the hike was the huge cave we went in and explored.
The cave was amazing! There were awesome stalagmites and stalactites inside the cave and plenty of wildlife. We saw two gorgeous bright blue snakes, spiders, bats and even a scorpion.
Back at the Lake Camp
We were back at camp by about 5.30 pm, where we could relax and have another swim before dinner was served.
It was so amazing sitting out on our own private little deck right over the lake as dusk set in. Being in such a remote location was so peaceful – a real highlight of the entire tour for me.
Another scrumptious dinner was served at 7 pm, and then a documentary about the region was played.
It was so amazing waking up to the peace and quiet of the lake. We made some cuppas around 7 am and spent the morning sitting on our private deck, just soaking in the atmosphere.
I never wanted to forget the view or how it made me feel. I wanted to imprint this on my mind forever!
Breakfast was served at 8 am, and afterwards, we joined a guided kayak tour – this time, we had to do the paddling ourselves!
We went in search of some wildlife and were lucky enough to find various monkeys swinging through the trees in a few different locations. I could just watch these cute little things forever!
Back at the Lake Camp
We were back at the Lake Camp by 10.30 am and we had a little bit of free time before having to check out of our tents by 11.30 am. This gave us time to get in one last swim, shower and pack up our things.
Lunch was served at 12 pm and then by 12.30 pm – we were saying our farewells to the staff at the Lake Camp and getting on the longtail boat, making our way back to the pier.
Once back at the pier, our group was divided into different minivans depending on where they were going. We were heading back to Khao Sok village which took just over an hour to reach. We arrived around 3 pm.
The Jungle Camp Accommodation
With the property surrounded by gigantic limestone cliffs jutting from the ground and topped with lush greenery, from the moment you arrive here, you’ll be captivated by the beauty of the landscape – not to mention the modern and luxurious conveniences of the property itself.
This Elephant Hills camp Khao Sok has offers glamping style accommodation. There are 66 luxury tents that are all the same size but offer different bed configurations.
I found the tents at Elephant Hills rainforest camp Khao Sok to be spacious. Each tent has a huge king size bed or two single beds, a wooden floor, solar electricity, a fan, and a kettle so you can make tea and coffee. There is plenty of space for your bags, but keep in mind the tents do not have air conditioning.
The ensuite is pretty amazing, considering it’s basically connected to a tent. It has a flushing toilet, a shower with hot water, a fan and a hairdryer.
Outside each tent is a deck with two chairs, a table, two hammocks and a bit of a yard, so the kids can run around if they like.
Each tent has luggage racks, a storage chest, a desk and a dressing table. Black out blinds and mosquito net linings keep out the bugs and the early morning light.
Family tents sleep up to 4 with one child sharing the adult bed and another in a rollaway bed.
I promise you will be surprised at the standard of the tents at the Elephant Hills tented camp in Khao Sok National Park.
The Lake Camp Accommodation
The Lake Camp accommodation at Khao Sok Elephant Hills camp uses the same tents as the rainforest camp. There are only 20 tents here, each floating on a raft over the lake.
The best part of these floating tents that you don’t get at the jungle camp, is each one has a private deck area from which you can jump straight into the lake!
The food at Elephant Hills Camp Khao Sok is plentiful and delicious – you will not go hungry here!
Breakfast is Western style with a good choice of cereals, fresh fruit and yoghurt. There is freshly baked bread, cheese and eggs (cooked to order) to fuel you for the active day ahead.
Lunch and dinner are buffet style and consist mostly of traditional Thai dishes. But you won’t get bored of the Thai food, because there’s always something different. The kids are taken care of too, with food items like pizza, chips and nuggets.
Elephants Hills caters well for vegetarians and vegans but it is important to let them know in advance if you have any dietary issues.
Tea, coffee and water are provided, but all other drinks have an additional charge. Both camps have a fully stocked bar though, with spirits, beer, wine, soft drinks and juices.
Getting to Elephant Hills
Transfers to and from Elephants Hills Resort Khao Sok are included in each package tour. There are scheduled pick ups and drop off to local transport hubs such as Surat Thani train station, Surat Thani airport and Phuket airport.
There are 10 pick up destinations in total, which cover all the principal tourist locations in southern Thailand. You can even arrange a transfer from as far away as Koh Samui to Elephant Hills camp in Khao Sok.
We came from Khao Sok Village – which is just 10 minutes up the road. We flew into Phuket the day before and paid for transfers from Phuket airport to Khao Sok Village.
In hindsight, we should have taken full advantage of the included transfers with Elephant Hills and had them pick us up from Phuket Airport the day before – starting our tour a day earlier. Then we could have spent time in Khao Sok Village after our tour. Or vice versa.
What to Pack
It is important to pack carefully for your Elephant Hills experience.
Make sure you pack light, quick drying clothing that allows you to sweat in the humidity and will dry quickly if you get caught in the rain.
You may also wish to consider wearing long sleeves and long trousers for your jungle hikes to avoid getting bitten – although I prefer just to wear short sleeves and ensure I have plenty of mosquito repellent on.
Speaking of mosquito repellent – ensure you bring plenty of it for everyone in the family. You’re in the jungle after all and you will be wearing this all the time.
Pack a hat to protect your face and neck from the sun during the activities. Also, bring plenty of sunscreen, and if you plan to swim in the lake, please consider using a reef safe or animal friendly sunscreen.
Sturdy, supportive shoes with good grip are essential for hiking in the rainforest (we prefer hiking sandals), and pack flip flops or boat shoes to wear around camp. A light rain jacket is also useful and don’t forget your swimmers.
I also recommend bringing a reusable water bottle. Free refill stations are all over camp, as staying hydrated in the humidity is important, particularly for kids.
It is also a good idea to bring a small waterproof back bag. There is nothing more disappointing than getting caught in a rain shower and all the belongings in your bag – including your camera – getting waterlogged.
Tips for visiting Elephant Hills
My biggest tip would be to pack well, be prepared to get wet and muddy – and to have the time of your life. You will not only visit the best elephant sanctuary in Thailand but you will have a unique lake and rainforest experience.
Also, one thing to note is that if you do the combined Jungle Lake tour, you cannot take big bags on the longtail boat to get to the camp. You need to leave your large luggage at a secure holding facility provided by the camp and only bring a small backpack for your overnight lakeside stay.
It is much easier to prepare this overnight bag before your trip rather than repack your smalls in front of the rest of the tour group!
Please note that we were guests at Elephant Hills, but this has in no way shaped the above article in any way, shape or form.
Hopefully, you found the article on Elephant Hills helpful. Other articles you may be interested in include things to do in Khao Sok with kids (coming soon), other places to stay in Khao Sok with kids and things to do in Khao Lak with kids (coming soon).