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A beautiful day on the Cheow Lan Lake in Khao Sok National Park

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Southern Thailand

Joanna Horanin

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Last updated at 16/06/2024, 10:30

Hi, I'm Joanna, the author of The Blond Travels. In the worlds of Thailand and Portugal, I feel like a fish in water - and it's no coincidence! I've been exploring Thailand for over a decade, and I've settled in Portugal for 6 years now. My mission is to support Dreamers - just like you - in discovering these fascinating countries and helping those in love with them find their own place on Earth, preferably for good! Let's uncover these unique corners of the world together.

When I think of Thailand I don’t just have images in my mind of the north and Chiang Mai, or paradisiacal white sand beaches. Often the views from Khao Sok Park appear before my eyes – sandbars protruding from the water, covered in virgin jungle and blue water. This is what I’ve been wanting to see for years and I finally did! I cruised across Cheow Lan Lake in Khao Sok Park. This blog post will tell you in detail how such a cruise is done, what you’ll see on it and whether it’s worth going at all.

A lot of people going to Thailand on holiday specifically visit to Khao Sok Park to see the beautiful Cheow Lan Lake. My expectations for this place were not high – somehow I didn’t expect to be wowed by it. I wanted to go and see if it was worth it, but I thought it would just be very touristy and not very interesting. Fortunately, I was very wrong.

Want to see Cheow Lan Lake in Khao Sok Park? Here’s how you can do it.

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    About Cheow Lan Lake

    Joanna sits on a boat on cheow lan lake.
    This is truly a spectacular spot on the Thailand map.

    Cheow Lan Lake is not a natural lake. It was created as a result of a dam being erected in the area in 1987. However, this did not prevent nature from creating something absolutely beautiful here.

    The lake is 71 square metres in size, surrounded by sand hills and jungle-covered cliffs. The forests here are said to be older than the Amazon. They are inhabited by rare species of birds, mammals, reptiles and plants.

    You will also find numerous caves in the area. You can visit some of them.

    The whole-day trip on the lake

    I was picked up from my accommodation after breakfast, around 9. The organiser was a local tour company. Included in the price, for about BHT 2,000, we had an air-conditioned van ride to the park, a boat for the day, lunch, jungle trekking, cave entry, and 2 hours free time for swimming and kayaking.

    boats on khao sok lake
    Views like these are only on Khao Sok.

    The tour was not large, consisting of maybe about 10 people, including me and Pyś.

    When we arrived at the park, we had to pay a fee of 300 BHT per person to enter the park. It is worth remembering that admission is not included in the price of the tour.

    Our boat was a typical Thai boat – a long-tail boat. It had a canopy, and quite comfortable seating areas. We were given a kapok at the entrance and were instructed to always wear it when in the boat.

    First impressions from the boat

    The views from the boat on Cheow Lan Lake were beautiful. The sun was just starting to shine, which had an amazing effect. The light reflected off the blue water, dominated by yellow-green sandstone. It was beautiful!

    Views on Cheow lan lake in the khao sok park.
    The first sights were stunning.

    The first stop on our way was a viewpoint where 3 rocks stick out of the water. This is where many tourists take photos. I also had to have one as a souvenir.

    Trekking in the jungle in the Khao Sok Park

    A group of people trek in the khao sok park, in the jungle.
    The trekking was a great addition to the tour.

    Before lunch we were taken for a quick trek along one of the trails. There were children and elderly among us, so the trek was easy and not too strenuous, although some were gasping heavily by the end. It was muggy and hot in the forest and this certainly didn’t make the walk any easier.

    While we were wheezing from the heat, our guide was cheerfully skipping ahead and telling us about the plants and animals to be found in the forest. We didn’t get to see anything all that interesting, but the forest itself was very impressive.

    Joanna swims in the khao sok lake, behind her there is a small hut on the water.
    We could swim in the lake after lunch, but not without life vests!

    When it was time for lunch, we stopped by the floating huts. On Cheow Lan Lake, you can rent a bamboo or wooden hut that is set up on the water. I really dreamed of staying there, but unfortunately, I didn’t manage to book one. There are very few of these huts, so places are limited. If you would like to stay overnight on the water, I would recommend the dam near Chiang Mai and the lake there. It is almost as beautiful.

    Floating houses on cheow lan lake seen from above.
    There are a couple of floating bungalows on the lake.

    Lunch consisted of fish, vegetables and curries, and juices. In addition, food and drink was homemade. Everything was tasty and healthy.

    After the meal, we had 2 hours free. Me and Pyś went kayaking and swimming. Others stayed on the rafts, sunbathed and drank coffee.

    Visiting a cave

    At the end of the tour we were taken to one of the nearby caves. At the entrance, monkeys were gambolling on the other side of the bank and hawks were hovering above us in search of food. The rocks that surrounded us created kind of acoustics. No sounds reached us, apart from the cries of the birds.

    Rocks and cliffs on a rainy day in khao sok park.
    One of my favourite places during the trip.

    The cave was very dark and small. One of the tour participants had a panic attack at the sight of a spider (which was not that big) and the guide had to lead her out. We stayed inside, watching the spider sitting in the darkness.

    I’ve been to a lot of caves in Thailand before and this one wasn’t that special, but just the entrance and the surroundings made up for the fact that it wasn’t that impressive.

    We were driven back to the hotel in the late afternoon. We spent the next day driving around the area, visiting the Thai Amazon and the town of Ta Kuapa.

    The tour itself was great. Although Cheow Lan in Khao Sok is a touristy place, it doesn’t feel as much like the tours around Koh Tao, for example. Over the course of the trip I relaxed, rested, saw new places and learnt a bit about the park. I think it’s definitely worth a trip if you dream of seeing such a beautiful place in Thailand.

    How to get to Cheow Lan Lake?

    A small island and some huts in khao sok park, cheow lan lake.
    I am totally in love with this place. Look at these views!

    Trips to Cheow Lan are organised by local tourist offices. You can stop at Khao Sok Park, Phuket, or Koh Yao Noi or other nearby places.

    From there, you can make a trip to the lake. Then it’s best to book an excursion with an agency.

    I travelled to Khao Sok Park from Koh Tao, stayed not too far from Cheow Lan and bought a tour from my hotel.

    You can also get to the site on your own. Hire a car or scooter and drive to the entrance of Cheow Lan Lake.

    There is also the option to hire a driver. You can do through 12GoAsia.

    Where to book the boat trip?

    I bought the tour at my hotel. I decided on it as soon as I arrived. I made the payment when I checked out. The cost was BHT 2,000.

    You can book your tour in advance online. I recommend you GetYourGuide, my reliable tour partner. You can also try with TakeMeTour, who organise tours with local, independent guides in Thailand.

    Accommodation

    Floating houses on the Khao Sok lake.
    Spend the night in one of these little huts.

    On Cheow Lan Lake in Khao Sok, you can stay. There are a few groups of cottages on the water, but there are a limited number. Book your accommodation in advance.

    Recommended for you:

    And if you can’t manage to book, stay at Khao Sok Home River Resort. I just stayed there. It is a beautiful place, but miles away from everything. The hotel organises transport and taxis, and rents scooters.

    What to take with you?

    You’ll find many things on site, but it’s definitely worth taking:

    • Cash – 300 BHT for admission per person, plus extra cash for snacks or drink.
    • Water bottle – Water is often provided by the carrier, but it’s also worth taking something else to drink.
    • Sunscreen – The sun in Khao Sok is harsh, even when it’s behind clouds.
    • Mosquito spray – You will be particularly annoyed by mosquitoes in the forest.
    • Swimsuit, towel – There will definitely be time for swimming.
    • There are toilets available on the trip – the van stops en route to the park and then you will have the opportunity to use one before getting into the boat. Another toilet will be available at lunchtime, about 2-3 hours after the boat has departed.

    I highly recommend you take a trip to Cheow Lan Lake in Khao Sok Park. It really is a great day trip and will be a beautiful addition to your Thailand holiday.