Cheow Lan Lake – Khao Sok National Park , Khao Sok National Park is by far the most beautiful park in Thailand and there is no doubt that its main attraction, Cheow Lan Lake, is absolutely amazing. As the Cheow Lan is the national park’s main attraction, I have decided to dedicate this article to it, in addition to my previous article about Khao Sok National Park. The lake is so pretty that it is sometime called Thailand Guilin.
Located in Khao Sok National Park, Cheow Lan Lake covers 165 square Km. As the visitor center at the park’s entrance is approx. 65 Km. away from Cheow Lan Pier, you might be under the impression that these are 2 separate parks, however, this is not the case.
As can be seen on the map, the lake is located north to road number 401 which leads from Surat Thani in the east to Takua Pa in the west. The road to the lake goes through a small town called Ban Tha Khun. This is the only entrance to the lake. It leads to the heart of the national park.
General information about the park and lake and a bit of history:
Road number 401 was built in 1961. As I wrote the road connects Surat Thani to Takua Pa. The new road allowed for transportation in the area.
Some big energy companies showed a lot of financial interest in the local mines and woods which could have damaged the wild nature.
In the 70’s a big group of democratic students with high awareness of nature preservation fled from Bangkok to hide away in the national park evergreen forests. During the 7 years they lived in the forests, (1975-1982), they prevented each and every attempt to damage the park’s wild nature. Even the Thai army could not get them away from the forest.
Their persistence was finally successful when the Thai government enacted a new low to prevent the forest destruction. On 1980, after a thorough research, the area was announced a national park and its preservation has become a national task.
During that time the Thai electric company decided to build a dam in the area due to rising electricity demand. In 1982 Rachaprapa Dam was built on Pasaeng River and Cheow Lan Lake was created. The new lake covered 165 square Km.
Cheow Lan Lake nowadays: the lake is considered Khao Sok National Park’s main attraction. It is one of the prettiest lakes in the world.
The huge limestone krasts rising out of the water to a height of 1000 m serve as a wonderful decoration to the lake and remind me of Halong Bay in Vietnam and Guilin in China. Just for comparison sake – the huge limestone krasts of Phang-Nga Bay are only a third in height of Cheow Lan lake limestone krasts.
In addition to its beauty, Cheow Lan lake makes it possible to go into hidden parts of the national park as it has Fjord like fingers all over the park area. The other park entrance, where the visitor center is located only offers a few relatively short treks.
Cruising on the lake allows for reaching far away areas of the park. There are walking treks into the heart of the national park while watching its wild animals and other activities such as swimming, kayaking and fishing.
There are cruises to a few very pretty caves in the area. The most famous cave is called Namtaloo, (which means a river runs through it). Walking there is a bit of a challenge. Apart from the cruise a visit at Namtaloo cave includes an easy trek to the cave. The river runs through the cave – hence its name. a visit to the cave includes some swimming in the cave and even swimming along ropes on the cave walls.
It is forbidden to enter the cave when rain is expected. I advise you to go to the cave with a group and an experienced guide.
Another famous cave is Pakarang Cave which is also called The Coral Cave.
On top of Cheow Lan Lake beauty and the abundance of activities offered by the national park, there is another very special adventure there – an overnight stay on the lake. There are many floating resorts on the lake where you can enjoy a special overnight stay.
Overnight stay at the lake: please take into consideration that most floating resorts are pretty much substandard. I have searched the lake over and over in order to find a better resort. I found only 2 comfortable resorts, one even had air conditioning, (which is where I stayed), as can be seen in the picture. No doubt this was a special adventure so I suggest you pick your resort carefully in case you plan an overnight stay.
How to get to Cheow Lan Lake: the lake is part of Khao Sok National Park and there is an entrance fee just like in any other national park in Thailand. The nearest airport is located in Surat Thani and the lake is about an hour drive away. You should take road number 401 and entre the park via a small town called Ban Tha Khun, near Rachaprapa Dam. Next to the dam you can find Cheow Lan Pier where you can rent a boat.
As I wrote the one-day tours from Phuket to Khao Sok national park are pretty much a waste of time as it takes at least 3 hours each way (without taking into consideration pick up from the hotel), so there is not enough time to enjoy the park and Cheow Lan Lake.
I highly recommend an overnight stay on the park in one of the better resorts. The only alternative to an overnight stay in the park is finding a resort in Khao Lak area which is relatively close by.
Khao Lak area is one of the best places for a holiday in Thailand – it offers great beaches, plenty of hotels and resort and vibrant nightlife. Click here to read more about Khao Lak area.
Please Note: Khao Sok National Park and Cheow Lan Lake are included in our best quality southern Thailand tour programs and in the ultimate Thailand experience, our Coast to Coast tour.
As always, here is a short video I prepared for you about Cheow Lan Lake of Khao Sok National Park.