We arrived at Anurak Community Lodge in the Khao Sok National Park after a short flight from Bangkok and then a long and confused drive from Surat Thani Airport.
The first thing to note about Anurak is that, whilst located within the National Park, it is a good 20/25 minute drive from the visitor centre. This confused our driver somewhat and when he couldn’t find the hotel, we started to panic about what we’d booked and whether the place even existed! I think our companions in the minivan felt a bit sorry for us after they were dropped off at the visitor centre and we continued our search. I think we got the last laugh!
The area immediately around the National Park visitor centre is like a small village of hostels, hotels, bars and restaurants. There’s certainly a lot going on, if that’s what you’re looking for. Anurak is very different.
Anurak’s location is what makes this place so special. The setting of the resort is beautiful, right in the heart of the rain forest jungle but on its own, away from crowds. The views from the rooms and from the bar/restaurant are breath-taking from dawn until dusk. We booked a king deluxe which was a detached hut on stilts with a wraparound balcony in the tree canopy. There’s no phone, TV or WiFi in the room so it’s easy to go “off grid”. It was fabulous! The outdoor shower had hot water and bugs weren’t an issue.
Whilst a short drive from the main area of the national park, the team at the lodge can book various excursions in and around the local area. We did a half day hike through the jungle and spent some time bathing and feeding elephants. I’m not a huge fan of riding animals but it was a great experience to get up close and personal to such incredible creatures. The elephants appeared to be well looked after, weren’t chained or had any abrasions on their skin. I’d always exercise caution when booking this type of activity, however, to ensure fair treatment of the animals.
The hike through the jungle was great fun and our guide, Chok, took us “off road” and deep in to the jungle to spot exotic plants and wildlife. He pointed out things that we would easily have missed, although I could have done without poking around a tarantula nest! We saw gecko, giant monitor lizards and 2 breeds of monkey. One family of monkeys were very inquisitive and came very close to suss us out.
After a day out in the park, it was great to return to the calm, relaxed atmosphere of the lodge. The sunsets were spectacular and I loved watching thousands of bats appearing from their caves as the sun fell.
We booked a half board set dinner package but they also have an a la carte option. The food was amazing if a little repetitive over the 3 nights we stayed. It’s also quite pricey by Thai standards, but you are a captive audience so that should be expected.
Breakfast was a simple choice of cereal, fruit, French toast with bacon and eggs with juices, tea and coffee.
The staff at Anurak make the place feel more like a homestay than a hotel. They were so attentive and really work hard to ensure you have an enjoyable stay. Yes, there were a few issues in booking our return transfer to Donsak Pier in Surat Thani, but that’s more the language barrier than anything else. It wouldn’t put me off staying here again.
Date of trip: February 2017
Price paid: 20,000 THB including half board, both excursions as mentioned above and transfer to Donask Pier for 2 people.
Points earned: approx 2500 Virgin Flying Club points for booking through Booking.com.