One of my all time favourite places in Thailand. I have shot so many photos here, but never made a post out of it. So here you go, Cheow Lan Lake Thailand. 🙂
Cheow Lan Lake is one of the largest national parks in Thailand and is bordering to Khao Sok National Park. That is also why people call it Khao Sok Lake. Only the wet surface covers a stunning 165 square kilometres. Cheow Lan Lake is partly in Phang Nga Province but the greater part is in the Suratthani Province.
How to get there
From Bangkok: take a bus or train to Surrathani and then a local bus to Takun. This is the main town before Cheow Lan Lake. From there it’s easy, take a taxi service (About 15 min ride) to the pier. From there you can rent a boat.
From Phuket: This is more complicated since there is no train service. So only option is a bus. Take the bus to Surrathani passing through Khao Sok National Park. This is very important, because otherwise you go on the bus taking the Express Way and you end up in Suratthani and need to take another bus to Takun.
Prepare before you go
Do your research online. Cheow Lan Lake is immense. There are possibilities to do multi day tours, overnights, visiting caves, doing jungle walks, go fishing, kayaking, etc. Accommodation is spread out all over the Lake in floating raft houses. Prices from cheap and basic to very very expensive and luxury.
In the last couple of years, the Lake has grown immense popular. There is plenty of information on the web to prepare your trip. Also nearly every tour office/counter offers tours and packages to this fantastic place.
A couple of websites that I can recommend:
Wikipedia.com (for background info)
On Cheow Lan Lake there is NO electricity only at certain hours during the evening. Electricity is provided by generators. If you depend on your phone, sorry, there is nearly no network coverage on the Lake. Don’t do stupid things, the nearest hospital is a very small local hospital in Takun and it takes you up to 3 hours to get you there, depending on your location.
Landscape & Wildlife
Cheow Lan Lake is known for its abundant wildlife. In the Northern part of the Lake there is a wildlife sanctuary called Klong Saeng. Here you can spot wild elephants, tapirs, white sock buffalos, eagles, vultures, snakes, spiders, etc. If you plan to go there, contact one of the floating bungalows. You need to bring a Ranger with you. Go for at least 3 days. And those 3 days will be camping so prepare !
The landscape is just stunning. Limestone rocks going up in the sky for more than 300 metres. Lush jungle overgrown limestone rocks surrounded by emerald green waters. If you are into Landscape Photography like me, you never get enough of this place. There is just so much to see and to do. Speaking about that: you can also visit one of the caves. The nicest one is the Nam Talu Cave. You need to swim, wade, walk and climb through the cave. So bring a very good waterproof headlight (at least 2500 lumens). Other caves like the Pakarang Cave and Krai Phet Caves you don’t need to swim and offer huge stalactites and stalagmites. When planning your visits here, make sure you take bungalow with a central location because there boat rides can be long and also pricey 🙂
Other things to see are the Viewpoint and the 2 waterfalls. The viewpoint is very nice and is a steep 2 hour jungle walk up the mountain. You will be rewarded with stunning views. 🙂
When to go
Best times to visit Cheow Lan Lake is in November, December and January. In the hot season (Feb to end of April) the water in the basin is low and hot too. (33 degrees celsius !), Actually you can visit year round and in rainy season it is very nice too. But jungle walking can be a pain, because the tracks been washed out and it is very slippery. Not to mention the leeches. Also some caves can be closed due to high water levels.
If organising and planning it is all is too much for you, I recommend you take a tour. I recommend to do at least a 2 day / 1 night tour and if you can spare the time, a 3 day / 2 night. you have time enough to see it all and not in a rush. There are day trips available but you only see a small part of Cheow Lan Lake. Besides that, it is also a long ride up and down when doing a day trip.
There are plenty of tour offices offering different programs and length of stay. Also you have a wide choice of accommodation (and prices) at various locations on the Lake.
Click to enlarge.