Cheow Lan Lake – Khao Sok
Travel Update Summer 2020: Most destinations, sites and parks reopened with limitations. Check the official websites and read our crucial ‘BEST TIME TO GO' and ‘AVOIDING THE CROWDS’ tips:
The best time to visit this fantastic region is the dry season from December to late April. It’s Thailand’s wettest region with an annual rainfall of 3.500 mm. The reason is the limestone mountain range from north to south. It gets hit by the monsoons from the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand between late April and end of November. In the rainy season, it’s very rare to spot wildlife at the lake. Trails are slippery; it’s cold and wet on the one or two hours boat rides. The famous Nam Talu Cave is closed in the rainy season since it got flooded and people died.
The boat tours which are usually offered are for bigger groups, and it takes around an hour to get to one of the raft houses. These groups visit the easy accessible Coral Cave (Pakarang Cave) mostly as we did instead of the adventurous water flooded Nam Talu Cave. Ask before booking! Overall these trips are utterly worth to do to get an idea of the immense size of the lake. The price p.p. in a group for one day visit is roughly 1.500 Baht / 40 € / $ 45 plus 300 Baht / 8 € / 9 $ National Park fee.
The dry season lasts from December to late April. Anyway, showers can also occur in the dry season and especially in the rainforest. The hottest months are March and April with temps up to 34°C and even more and high humidity. The rainy season starts roughly late April until the end of November. Most precipitation from May to July and from October to November.
The lake pier is always crowded, but as soon as the longtail boat leaves the dock, the crowds disappear. There are plenty of boats with tourists, but they have good timing not too many people visit one of the caves at the same time. Lunch is served on one of the many floating raft houses. It was very well organized that people can enjoy the marvellous scenery.
To experience the amazing rainforest, wildlife, and birds it's recommended to book a private tour far to the north-west. To get there, it takes a minimum of two hours by boat. The only available accommodation is basic and running by the National Park. Early morning you may spot wildlife by boat along the lake. Of course, independent tours are expensive and need to be booked in advance. Another option book a combined tour where the Khao Sok and the Cheow Lan Lake are combined. You get a pick up from your hotel in Krabi, Phuket, or Khao Sok and experienced guides will show you the amazing rainforest and lake. You can relax and enjoy this fascinating landscape.
Cheow Lan Lake is man-made and surrounded by mountains and rainforest. It was made by the flooding of a large valley in 1982 for the hydro-electric power station. The Klong Saeng River was dammed by the Ratchaprapha dam and villagers had to be resettled. All families got compensation for it. The lake is 165 km2/64 mi2 huge. Access to the lake from the east side by longtail boat. It is one hour drive from Khao Sok village. The boat rides with the breathtaking scenery of the limestone karst formations, and the emerald green water is spectacular.
Around the lake are floating raft houses of different standards. Anyhow, if you like to stay on those houses leave behind modern expectations and get reconnected with nature. Don’t expect mobile or wifi connections. Kayaks are offered for free for day visitors and overnight visitors. Bring bathing clothes for swimming in the lake. Meals are always included, lunch with fresh fish out of the lake. If you like to experience the lake's atmosphere at day and night, the Panvaree Resort has the highest standard for an exceptional stay in outstanding scenery. Another option is the 500 Rai Floating Resort deep inside and far away from the Ratchaprapha Marina Piers.
The Khao Sok rainforest is home to 48 different species of mammals, more than 300 different species of birds and more than 30 species of bats.
elephants, tigers, leopards and clouded leopards, sun bears, tapirs, civets, deer, dusky langurs, gibbons, macaques, pangolins and many more.
First of all, famous for the different species of hornbills, different species of kingfishers, crimson sunbird, blue-winged pitta, bulbul, drongo, paradise flycatcher, black and red broadbill and more.
The lake is almost mosquito-free.
Burrow from the night-active tarantula
Accommodations Khao Sok
Most people stay in Khao Sok and visit the Cheow Lan Lake on a day trip. There are plenty of accommodations around the Khao Sok National Park. At least spend three nights in the area, one for the Khao Sok, one day for Cheow Lan Lake, but there is so much more to explore. Chose the lodge or hostel close to the entrance of the park in walking distance. Check their payments first. Some don't accept credit cards just cash.
- The Khao Sok Riverfront Resort offers beautifully located cabins all with lots of privacy next to the river. We went swimming each afternoon and enjoyed the cold bath in the Sok river.
- The Khao Sok Jungle Hostel almost in front of the National Park entrance is the perfect location for budget traveler.
- The Montania Lifestyle Hotel offers a high standard with breathtaking scenery and an excellent restaurant.