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Cheow Lan Lake Khao Sok National Park, floating raft houses
Cheow Lan Lake Khao Sok National Park, floating raft houses

Image: ThailandMagazine.com

CHEOW LAN LAKE (KHAO SOK NATIONAL PARK)

The beautiful Cheow Lan Lake in Khao Sok National Park consists of emerald green water with a delicious temperature of about 28 degrees. That sounds good right away, doesn’t it? But that’s not all! The lake is surrounded by immense limestone cliffs, the highest of which is 960 metres high! These limestone rocks are overgrown and surrounded by beautiful green lush jungle in which special animals and birds like gibbons and hornbills live. Wild elephants are also still seen here.

In these beautiful surroundings you can swim, canoe, relax, make jungle treks to waterfalls, caves and spend the night in raft houses.

By now, you’ll probably understand why the lake of Khao Sok National Park is so popular!

YOU CAN ALSO BOOK A TOUR THROUGH THAILAND MAGAZINE
You can also book a tour on Khao Sok Lake (Cheow Lan Lake) through us. There are many possibilities, such as spending the night on the lake in a luxury or basic rafthouse or making a daytrip with a group or private. You can reach us by mail, Facebook or Instagram.

Limestone cliffs in Cheow Lan Lake

Image: ThailandMagazine.com

Location

The Khao Sok Park National has two entrances, one where the small village of Khao Sok is and one at Cheow Lan Lake. Cheow Lan Lake and Khao Sok village are about an hour’s drive from each other. When you book a tour to the lake transport by minibus is included in the price. The longtail boats leave from the Ratchaprapha Marina Pier, this is near the Ratchaprapha Dam. At the embarkation point there is a supermarket, restaurant, toilets and a parking place for if you come by scooter or car.

Ratchaprapha Pier Khao Sok Cheow Lan Lake

Image: ThailandMagazine.com

Rent a longtail boat by yourself

You can rent a private longtail boat at the Ratchaprapha Marina Pier. The costs are around 2,000 baht for 2 hours and 2,800 baht for 3 hours, regardless of the number of people. You do pay 300 baht park entrance per person. There is no guide on the boat and no jungle trekking. You do make a nice boat trip on the lake and visit a raft house where you can swim and possibly eat something. You can try to share a boat with other people. But if you are unlucky you may have to wait a long time because many people come here with an organized tour.

Possibly you can make a call in our Khao Sok Facebook group to rent a longtail boat together.

Cheow Lan Lake longtail boat in blue water and limestone cliffs

Image: ThailandMagazine.com

Cheow Lan Lake Tours

Cheow Lan Lake can be visited as a day tour or as a multi-day overnight tour. During the day tour you will make a nice trip on the lake and visit a raft house, these are cottages that float on the lake. There is also a floating restaurant where you will have lunch, kayaking and swimming. Depending on the season you will make a trekking to a cave, waterfall or viewpoint. More info about the climate and weather in Khao Sok you can find here.

Cheow Lan Lake, Longtail boats and floating houses

Image: ThailandMagazine.com

Overnight lake tour

You also can choose for an overnight lake tour, this tour is absolutely(!) preferable for us. Even if you pay, for Thai terms, a considerable amount of money. During the 2 days and 1 night tour you do part of the same as the day tour, with one big exception… You stay on the raft house like the others and sleep in a floating house on Cheow Lan Lake! You have all the time you need to swim, kayak and enjoy the special surroundings!

Cheow Lan Lake, floating raft houses on Lake Khao Sok National Park

Image: ThailandMagazine.com

When dusk sets you go on the lake with a longtail boat in search of monkeys, birds and other animals. If you are very lucky you can even see wild elephants. The next morning you will go looking for wildlife again with the longtail boat. Set your alarm clock very early because waking up with the sunrise and the sounds of the jungle is really a fantastic and memorable experience!

Gibbon Cheow Lan Lake Khao Sok

Costs Cheow Lan Lake tours

Day tour with a group

Price: 1.600 + 300 baht entrance park per person
Included in the price: Boat trip on the lake with a group of 10 to 12 persons, lunch at a raft house, water / coffee / tea, use of kayak at the raft house, English speaking guide, 2 activities on or around the lake with the guide, transport by mini van to and from Cheow Lan Lake to and from your hotel near the village of Khao Sok Park.

Cheow Lan Lake overnight tour / 2 days and 1 night

Price: 2.500 + 300 baht entrance park per person
Included in the price: Everything from day tour + overnight stay in floating house, dinner and breakfast at raft house. During the evening safari and the morning safari you will take the longtail boat to look for animals, this is probably one of the highlights of your overnight stay on the lake! On the day of departure you will often do an activity at the lake.

Cheow Lan Lake. Yellow warning sign beware of wild elephants.

Image: ThailandMagazine.com

Private tour

The cost of the private tour starts around 7,000 baht. You will have a private guide with longtail boat all to yourself and your travel companions. You sleep in a simple or more luxury floating house on the lake. All meals and activities like the group tour are included. You also go out with your guide for a number of activities on and around the lake. You can discuss with your guide where your interests lie and what type of floating cottage you want to sleep in.

Cheow Lan Lake, elephant on the shore of the lake , Khao Sok

Spending the night on Cheow Lan Lake

There are 19 different locations across the lake where you can spend the night. There are floating huts that are very basic and cottages that are quite luxurious. There are also some variations in between. What the cottages all have in common is that they float on the fantastic beautiful lake! When you book an overnight tour all meals include water, coffee and tea. You also make a few excursions on and around Khao Sok Lake which are included in the price.

Cheow Lan Lake, sunset on Lake Khao Sok

Once-in-a-lifetime?

They say a visit to Cheow Lan Lake is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but we didn’t think once-in-a-lifetime was enough! We have slept on the lake two times now. The first time we went with a group tour and the second time with a private tour. With the group tour we slept in basic floating cabin and during the private tour we slept in a luxury floating cabin with private bathroom and air conditioning. We are sure a third visit will be there at one of our favorite places in Thailand as well!

Of course you can also book a private overnight tour and spend the night in a cheap floating cabin. If you book a private tour, in most cases you decide that yourself. That means you can discuss the possibilities with your guide and / or tour organization in advance. Sometimes there will be floating huts full or they are too far from an activity you would like to do.

Longtailboat on Cheow Lan Lake at raft house

Image: ThailandMagazine.com

Our personal experiences

Basic floating huts

The basic raft houses only have a (thin) mattress on the ground, yet it wasn’t very hard because the bamboo surface is a bit springy. There is no fan or air conditioning in the cabin, but because the walls next to the hatches all have small holes it isn’t much warmer inside than outside. The huts are therefore super noisy, you can hear your neighbors talking and if someone on the jetty walks past your hut crackles and squeaks the whole thing. 

Image: ThailandMagazine.com

The toilets and showers are shared and in a separate building. If you have to go to the toilet during the night it is a small business and you probably wake up some people unintentionally. The showers only have cold water, so most people just take a dip in the lake instead! In the restaurant there are a number of power outlets and you can charge cell phones and cameras if there is still a free outlet. There is only electricity at certain times, usually between 6 and 11 PM.

Cheap floating raft houses on Cheow Lan lake

Image: ThailandMagazine.com

Cheow Lan Lake basic floating raft house , Khao Sok

Luxury floating houses and water villas

Our second visit we slept in a more luxury cottage with a real bed and a private bathroom with a cold shower and toilet. If you would like to know  where send us a message).  Also at many other luxury houses on the lake there is only cold water from the shower. Our cottage had a glass sliding door which we could close with a padlock. The walls were pretty well closed so it wasn’t very noisy. This also made the house warm up faster. In the evening there was electricity and we could turn on the fan and air conditioning. This made it nice and cool.

Our small porch had a bench and a little privacy. All the cottages, the restaurant and the decks were very neat and well maintained and the meals were carefully prepared and very tasty.

Cheow Lan Lake Luxury floating raft house, Khao Sok

Image: ThailandMagazine.com

The part where this floating houses are located is very quiet and beautiful! There is a covered yoga room where regular yoga retreats and health seminars are held. In the months December to April, the floating houses are often fully booked. At this location on the lake there are also floating cabins without private bathroom. The very neat and brand new bathrooms are located next to the yoga room. Behind the houses the monkeys played during sunset on the banks and roofs of the houses.

Cheow Lan Lake floating raft house  luxury

Image: ThailandMagazine.com

The most luxurious cottages, are the ones from Panvaree The Greenery Resort and 500 Rai Floating Resort. 500 Rai is the most luxurious one on Cheow Lan Lake. It has the only water villas with hot water and even a bridal suite with whirlpool and private pool. Yes, you read it really well a private pool on the lake!

Our opinion about sleeping on Cheow Lan Lake

If your holiday is mainly relaxing in luxury, the luxury floating house or water villas are really something for you. Even if you’re really afraid of insects and bugs, the more luxurious cabin could make you feel a little better because it’s better closed off. But we haven’t seen an insect or something like that in either cabin, but unfortunately we can’t give any guarantees! It’s nice to have your own toilet, but a private shower is not a must as far as we are concerned. The shower water just comes from the lake so you might as well splash in the lake.

The more luxurious cottages are of better quality and less noisy than the basic cabins. You can really see and hear that clearly. If a good night’s sleep is important to you, you are most likely to get one if you sleep in a luxurious floating cottage.

The basic cabins are really very simple but if you set up in advance this is part of the whole experience of sleeping on the Cheow Lan Lake. If you are physically healthy and flexible of mind you can have a night without luxury right?

Night on Cheow Lan Lake, Khao Sok

Image: ThailandMagazine.com

Which tour to book?

If you book a private tour it’s good to know that it is still possible that there are other groups at your chosen raft house. You eat in the same restaurant at the same times. Only the group eats together at a table and you eat separately. If you travel alone and like to meet other people, we definitely recommend the group tour.

The morning safari and night safari on the lake with a longtail boat we found very special to make alone with a guide. The fact that you don’t see or hear other people made it very special for us.

Safari on Cheow Lan Lake with a longtail boat

Image: ThailandMagazine.com

A big advantage of the private tour is that you can often discuss what kind of floating cabin you want to spend the night in and/or what activities you want to do on and around the lake. For example, if you are especially interested in birds, the tour can be adapted to this. If you only book a floating cabin yourself, for example via booking.com, you can often book separate activities on the spot for a fee. Check if the longtail boat tour to the raft house is included or if you have to arrange this yourself.

A big advantage of the private tour is that you can often discuss what kind of floating cabin you want to spend the night in and/or what activities you want to do on and around the lake. For example, if you are especially interested in birds, the tour can be adapted to this. If you only book a floating cabin yourself, for example via booking.com, you can often book separate activities on the spot for a fee. Check if the longtail boat tour to the raft house is included or if you have to arrange this yourself.

Cheow Lan Lake, clouds and sunbeams

Image: ThailandMagazine.com

Activities and tours on the Cheow Lan Lake

There are a number of activities on and around the Cheow Lan Lake, you can visit caves, climb a waterfall or hike to a lookout point. Some activities are seasonal and depend on the weather in Khao Sok. For example, if it has been very dry for a long time there is not much left of the normally spectacular waterfall. Also the location of the floating house where you are staying often has an influence on the activity you are going to do.

PLEASE NOTE!
All activities around the lake are only allowed with a guide, you are not allowed to make them on your own. Kayaking and swimming in the lake is of course allowed without a guide.

GUILIN VIEWPOINT

The Guilin Viewpoint is very popular, you can see it on almost every picture when it comes to Cheow Lan Lake. And that’s not for nothing because the surroundings are incredibly beautiful!  The Guilin Viewpoint consists of three large limestone cliffs that tower out of the water. A perfect place for an Instagram moment and you can also take a refreshing dip there!

Guilin Viewpoint is a regular part of the tour on Cheow Lan Lake, no matter if you took a day trip or stayed overnight on the lake. You will always visit this location!

cheow Lan Lake 3 special rocks

Image: ThailandMagazine.com

CHEOW LAN LAKE VIEWPOINT

A brisk walk and climb to the top for breathtaking views over the lake! Cheow Lan Lake is 763 square kilometres and from the viewpoint you can see quite a bit of the lake at a glance! If the weather is good you can even look all the way to Ranong Province! On the way to the viewpoint you can also look for animals, birds and insects.

The climb to the viewpoint is regularly part of a day trip to the lake, but also if you sleep on the lake it can be part of your overnight lake tour.

CHEOW LAN LAKE MORNING SAFARI

The morning safari is one you don’t want to miss! It’s a bit early to get up but that’s more than worth it! When the sun rises you go with a longtail boat and a guide on the lake. The longtail boat sails to several places on the lake and then turns off the engine. The murmuring water, the first sunbeams, a bird concert and in the background the whoop whoop sound of the Gibbons!

The morning safari on Khao Sok Lake is an unforgettable experience, if you want to experience this you have to stay in one of the floating houses on the lake. This activity is usually included in the price of the overnight lake tour. Often on the first evening you will also make a night safari with the longtail boat.

CLIMB THE BANG HOI WATERFALL

With the longtail boat you will sail to the Bang Hoi waterfall near the shore of Cheow Lan Lake, from there you will climb the waterfall, literally! You climb over rocks, tree trunks and use the natural steps of the waterfall. A wet suit is guaranteed! Of course you can swim in the waterfall in some places.

Along the way you will also come across a huge tree in which you can stand, a perfect place for beautiful Instagram pictures!

CORAL CAVE

To visit the Coral Cave you make a trip of about 45 minutes through the jungle to a lake in Cheow Lan Lake. From here you go on a motorized bamboo raft towards the Coral Cave. This cave is over 10.000 years old and in the cave you can see special rock formations.

Because the trek to the Coral Cave is not very strenuous, this is also a fun activity for families with children.

NAM TALU CAVE

To get to the Nam Talu Cave you first have to make a spicy but very beautiful trekking through the jungle, crossing small streams. The route is 2.5 kilometers long and takes about 2 to 3 hours. During this jungle trekking you have to be prepared for more than just wet feet. Nam Talu Cave means freely translated water cave and the water in the cave is at some points at chest height. You will use a headlamp to look for the small nocturnal animals that live in the cave. But discovering the cave is also a very special experience!

The Nam Talu Cave Tour cannot be visited in the rainy season, because the water in the cave can be too high due to a lot of rainfall.

KAYAKING AND SWIMMING

At the raft houses there are kayaks you can use for free, you can paddle on the lake without a guide and make your own mini safari on Cheow Lan Lake, very fun to do! Of course a dip in the lovely warm water of the lake is also part of the fun! On some raft houses they have built scaffoldings and such from which you can jump off.

Officially you are required by National Park rules to wear a lifejacket when swimming or on the boat, but most raft house owners don’t check this very strictly. In any case, life jackets should always be present.

Limestone cliff comes out of water, Cheow Lan Lake, Khao Sok

How and where to book a tour

If you stay in the village of Khao Sok you can arrange a day trip or an overnight stay on Cheow Lan Lake at almost every travel agency. But what we heard from travellers around us was that it wasn’t possible to book an overnight lake tour for the next day because the floating huts on the lake would be full. This was in July and August. But when we slept on the lake not all the floating huts were full! Unfortunately we did not find out exactly how this happened.

If you really want to sleep on the lake of Khao Sok during the high season, we advise you to book at least a few days in advance (also possible via us). Especially if you have a tight itinerary. If you need help with booking, please contact us or become a member of the Khao Sok in Thailand Facebook group. We can introduce you to a guide with whom we have had very good experiences.

DID YOU KNOW?
You can also book a tour with us. A good friend of ours (and local) is a guide and we are happy to help him! Would you like more information? Send us a message via Facebook or Instagram.

Khao Sok, street of village Khao Sok

Image: ThailandMagazine.com

Spending the night in Khao Sok National Park

If you want to go to the Cheow Lan Lake for a daytrip or want to spend the night Khao Sok village. Travelling on the same day is sometimes possible, but we don’t recommend that. Nearby and in the national park of Khao Sok are many more fun activities to do. Travelling in a hurry gives you a lot of time pressure that you don’t want to have after such a nice time on Cheow Lan Lake!

Check our list with favourite accommodations in Khao Sok.

Cheow Lan Lake

Our ideal itinerary for Khao Sok:

Day 1
Arrival at Khao Sok near Khao Sok National Park – Relax and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.
Day 2 and 3*
Overnight lake tour of 1 night where you sail over Cheow Lan Lake, do trekking(s) and activities, take a dip in the lake and eat and sleep in a raft house on the lake.
Day 3
After you are back in the village of Khao Sok around 14.00 hours you can go for a tub on the river or make a night safari in the super beautiful Khao Sok National Park.
Day 4
On your way to the next beautiful destination in Thailand? Read here how to travel on to your next destination.

* You can also choose to do a day tour only or an extra night’s sleep on the lake if you do an overnight lake tour.

Cheow Lan Lake
The pool of the Montania Lifestyle Hotel in Khao Sok

Luggage, where do you leave it and what do you take with you?

When you book a day or overnight lake tour to Cheow Lan Lake it is not necessary to bring all your luggage. The accommodations in Khao Sok know that it isn’t convenient if you have to take your complete luggage with you on the longtail boat. That’s why you can often leave the luggage you don’t need in a safe area of the place where you sleep or slept. Usually this is just a service of the hotel, sometimes you pay 100 baht per item.

What to bring to Cheow Lan Lake

For the day trip: Swimwear, towel, water shoes or sneakers that may get wet during a trekking, poncho, drybag or plastic bag, sunburn, mosquito repellent, power bank, camera/telephone and your sunglasses.

If you stay asleep, this will be added to the list:  Flashlight, toiletries, set of clean clothes, something to sleep in, some cash for snacks and drinks, long pants, socks and a long sleeved shirt if you like.

Morning fog on Cheow Lan Lake

Image: Annick Simoens

DID YOU KNOW?
Because the Thai language is often difficult to translate, you can find Khao Sok Lake under a large number of spellings! Here are a few of them: Chiew Lan, Chiew Larn, Cheow Lan, Chiaw Larn, Cheow Larn, Chiaw Larn and Chieow Laan.

Good to know when visiting the Cheow Lan Lake

  • On Cheow Lan Lake there is only internet and mobile phone connection near the dam, if you are far away from the dam you can’t use your mobile phone, at most raft houses you can’t use internet.
  • You can’t exchange money or withdraw cash at the raft houses, so take enough cash with you.
  • The basic raft houses cannot be closed properly and there is often no safe you can use.
  • The raft houses don’t have mosquito nets, according to the locals there are not many mosquitoes on the lake (that’s how we experienced it). Bring your own one if you like it better.

Hotels, restaurants and other fun things to do in and around Khao Sok can be found in the info box below!

Want to know more about the best accommodations in Khao Sok? Check this article.

  • Pawn’s Restaurant | In the center of Khao Sok TIP
    Our personal favorite! Try the Massaman curry here and you’ll see why!
  • The 99 km Coffee House Khao Sok | 10 km from Khao Sok
    Maybe the best coffee from Khao Sok! Wake up with phenomenal views and a nice cup of coffee!
  • Bamboo Bistro Khao Sok | In the center of Khao Sok
    Bamboo Bistro is run by a very friendly man who speaks very good English, let’s put it this way, his English is as good as his dishes – very good!
  • Chao Italian Ristorante and Thai Food | In the center of Khao Sok
    For pizza you have to be at Chao’s! This restaurant is also known by locals as the best pizzatent! Ciao bella ciao!
  • Wind Song Bar & Restaurant | In the center of Khao Sok
    Top place for a bite to eat and delicious cocktails. That sounds like music to your ears!
  • The Misty Restaurant | In the center of Khao Sok
    This restaurant belongs to the Khao Sok Morning Mist Resort. Eating in a restaurant with an amazing view of the limestone cliffs of Khao Sok.

Read more about our favorite restaurants in Khao Sok.

Read here how to travel to Khao Sok the easiest way (yourself) in our article “Travel to Khao Sok“.

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