Thaizer: Hotel Review, Anurak Community Lodge
Roy Cavanagh is a former stand-up comedian who now works as a freelance writer. Passionate about Thailand and Thai culture, Roy also runs a network of travel websites. Thaizer is his blog site. Roy visited Anurak Lodge in 2015 and wrote this article. Roy is from the UK.
A sublime setting, a homely atmosphere and a business with a focus on sustainability all combine to make Anurak Community Lodge an excellent choice for visitors looking to explore Khao Sok National Park in comfort. With stunning views of the jungle and mountains of Khao Sok, the accommodation at Anurak Community Lodge is subtly designed to complement the natural surroundings. The word ‘anurak‘ has a few different meanings in Thai. Depending on context, anurak can mean conserve or it can mean a protector (similar to a guardian angel) and is an apt choice for a community lodge that seeks to conserve and protect nature and the environment.
Rooms and facilities
Anurak Community Lodge is an ideal base to explore Khao Sok for those that want to experience nature, but want to do it with some style and not in tents or basic bungalows. To describe Anurak as a hotel doesn’t really do it justice. Their own description as a community lodge sums up perfectly the style of accommodation and the ethos behind this delightful jungle retreat in Khao Sok. Accommodation at Anurak Community Lodge is designed with sustainability and nature in mind, but with comfort very much to the forefront. In keeping with the natural theme, the rooms at the lodge are named after Thai fruits with wooden plaques declaring gluai (banana), mangkhut (mangosteen) and farang (guava).
Set amongst the verdant green surroundings, all rooms are raised on stilts which adds to the privacy and assists natural ventilation. Rooms are equipped with ceiling fans and, if you need it, air-conditioning. Large sliding doors open on to a private verandah with the doors fitted with mosquito screens to allow the doors to be open in the evening to enjoy the cool air but still keep out those pesky mozzies. Decor is simple but stylish with bamboo blinds, wooden floors and a large, comfortable bed which also features a mosquito net.
My recent mini-break in Khao Sok saw me cram a lot of activities into a short space of time and it was lovely to come back to Anurak Community Lodge and just enjoy doing nothing but read and enjoy the tranquility of nature when I got back to the room. I liked the fact that there are no TVs and after a few initial misgivings, soon found it was a pleasant change not to have wi-fi in the room. Although there are no TVs and no wi-fi in the rooms at Anurak, there are plenty of electrical sockets for charging appliances. I did use the wi-fi briefly a few times in the reception and bar area and the signal worked well when I needed it, but for the most part it was a release to actually unplug from the digital world and enjoy the serenity of the surroundings.
Sustainability and responsible tourism
What really impressed me during my time at Anurak Community Lodge was the priority given to sustainability and responsible tourism. It’s something that Thailand is slowly getting better at, but sadly there are still too many businesses in the country that don’t take these important issues seriously enough.
The lodge prides itself on being part of the local community which means employing local people wherever possible and supporting local businesses. Anurak offer various tours and activities which enable guests to interact with local people amidst the stunning scenery of Khao Sok. One of the highlights of my trip to Anurak Community Lodge was a visit to see a local family who care for an elephant called Somboon who was rescued from the trekking industry. Visitors are only allowed to see Somboon twice a day and numbers are restricted to a maximum of five people in the group. It’s this type of responsible tourism that Anurak encourages. Other trips available from Anurak include a day trip to the outstandingly beautiful Cheow Larn Lake and Ratchaprapa Dam. Guests also have the chance to do some exploration by themselves by using one of Anurak’s bicycles or by hiking along the clearly marked jungle trail close to the lodge.
The lodge has established a garden with organically grown vegetables, fruit and spices which are used in meals served to guests. With a focus on the environment, guests are encouraged to leave plastic bottles at the lodge which Anurak then recycle. They also use kitchen waste, garden clippings and leaves to make compost which is then used within the grounds of the lodge.
Food and Drink
One of the many simple pleasures during my stay at Anurak Community Lodge was making the short walk from my room through the tropical gardens to the Hornbill Restaurant where breakfast and dinner is served. The views are simply stunning and despite seeing plenty of rain during my stay, the low clouds and mist added to the atmosphere. The adjoining Mountain View Bar is also a lovely place to relax at the end of the day with a cold drink. Food was plentiful and with a good choice of options for breakfast and evening meals. Visitors can choose from set menus with a selection of Thai dishes or order a la carte.
How to get to Anurak Community Lodge
Anurak Community Lodge is located in a secluded spot east of the main entrance to Khao Sok National Park. If you haven’t got your own transport, Anurak can arrange transfers for you from either Khao Lak, Surat Thani, Krabi or Phuket. Contact them directly for prices when you make your booking.
If you are travelling by public transport, you will get dropped off at the main entrance road to Khao Sok National Park which is close to Khlong Sok village. You can try asking the bus driver to stop closer to Anurak (they are at the 91km marker on Highway 401), but it is not a designated bus stop and whether you can get the bus to drop you off there will depend on the weather, your ability to speak Thai and the mood of the driver. For most visitors it will be easier to get off the bus at the main drop-off point outside Khlong Sok village. From there it’s a 15-minute drive further on to the lodge so you’ll either have to make arrangements with one of the drivers who meet the buses or contact Anurak Community Lodge. Transfers to and from the lodge aren’t included in the room rate.
Approximate journey times to Anurak Community Lodge:
To/from Khao Lak: 1 hour 30 minutes
To/from Surat Thani airport: 1 hour 15 minutes
Anurak Community Lodge is one of the better equipped and more comfortable accommodation choices in Khao Sok making it ideal for those that want to experience nature, but don’t want to rough it. If you are going to stay anywhere in Khao Sok you need to be open-minded to the experience and embrace nature. You are in the jungle and the occasional bug or chingchok may enter the room, but that’s all part of the experience. Eating breakfast with sumptuous views of the rainforests and mountains means a few bugs are a small price to pay to enjoy such breath-taking beauty. Pack some insect repellant, a rain poncho and a sense of adventure and enjoy this gorgeous part of southern Thailand.
Text and pictures by Roy Cavanagh. Roy Cavanagh is a former stand-up comedian who now works as a freelance writer. Passionate about Thailand and Thai culture, Roy also runs a network of travel websites. Thaizer is his blog site. Roy visited Anurak Lodge in 2015 and wrote this article.