Forget the Beach, Stay on the Lake! – Khao Sok National Park, Thailand

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While we had already spent a couple nights in Southern Thailand’s Khao Sok National Park, we weren’t done here just yet. After spotting the rare and magnificent giant Rafflesia flower, we decided to venture deeper into the park and spend a night on the lake. And when I say “on the lake” I mean it! At Khao Sok the National Park has built a serious of amazing floating bungalows, allowing visitors to literally jump out of their front door and into the beautiful and serene waters of Chiao Lan Lake.

We left our large packs at our resort in the Khao Sok village and boarded a minivan for the hour and a half drive to Ratchaprapha Dam. This large dam, built in the early 1980s, is used to power a hydroelectric station which supplies electricity to most of Southern Thailand. The huge Chiao Lan Lake which was created by the dam is now surrounded by towering limestone mountains.

Chiao Lan Lake, framed by tall limestone cliffs, is a large lake in Khao San National Park.Chiao Lan Lake, framed by tall limestone cliffs, is a large lake in Khao San National Park.
Chiao Lan Lake, framed by tall limestone cliffs, is a large lake in Khao San National Park.28-Feb-2012 10:50
 

Our group met our awesome guide Jack and piled into longtail boats at the dam and we made our way across the lake, towards our floating bungalows. The ride was incredibly scenic, and we asked Jack to stop a few times so we could go crazy snapping photos.

Awesome scenery on the longtail boat ride to the bungalows.Awesome scenery on the longtail boat ride to the bungalows.
Awesome scenery on the longtail boat ride to the bungalows.28-Feb-2012 10:39
 

Soon, we arrived at the bungalows. They have to be one of the most unique places we have ever stayed!

Floating bungalows in Khao Sok National Park.Floating bungalows in Khao Sok National Park.
Floating bungalows in Khao Sok National Park.28-Feb-2012 13:21
 

We were a little worried about the structural integrity after noticing missing and loose planks, nails sticking out, and parts of the walkways which were sinking under the weight of passing guests.

It was fun navigating these loose planks at night on the way to the bathroom!It was fun navigating these loose planks at night on the way to the bathroom!
It was fun navigating these loose planks at night on the way to the bathroom!28-Feb-2012 13:26
 

Putting aside these fears, we tucked into a nice lunch, dropped off our bags in our bungalow, and jumped into the lake. The water was warm, clear, and absolutely perfect. I kept on saying to Heather, “I can’t believe this is a lake!” Definitely the best lake swimming I’ve ever come across.

Beautiful tranquil water for swimming.Beautiful tranquil water for swimming.
Beautiful tranquil water for swimming.29-Feb-2012 09:49
 

That afternoon, we followed Jack on a hike. He told us to bring our headlamps, swimming suits, and good water shoes (thank God for Keens!), as we would be heading into a nearby cave.

Entrance to the cave.Entrance to the cave.
Entrance to the cave.28-Feb-2012 15:05
 

Inside the cave, Jack pointed out the bats clinging to the ceiling.

Bats hanging from the ceiling.Bats hanging from the ceiling.
Bats hanging from the ceiling.28-Feb-2012 15:20
 

We also saw a lot of spiders.

Scary looking spider.Scary looking spider.
Scary looking spider.28-Feb-2012 15:32
 

And of course there were a lot of interesting rock formations.

Glittering rock formations inside the cave.Glittering rock formations inside the cave.
Glittering rock formations inside the cave.28-Feb-2012 15:36
 

Soon, we entered the freezing cold water. At first it was possible to wade, but then the water got deeper and deeper, and soon we were paddling.

One of the last pictures before we stored the camera in a waterproof bag and began paddling!One of the last pictures before we stored the camera in a waterproof bag and began paddling!
One of the last pictures before we stored the camera in a waterproof bag and began paddling!28-Feb-2012 15:39
 

Eventually, we made it through, spotting the light at the far end and crawled back out into the jungle. While we re-acclimated to life above ground, Jack told us about the tragedy that occurred in that same cave a few years before. At that time, a flash flood swept through the cave, filling it completely with water while tourists were doing this hike. Sadly, many people did not make it out, including two guides. Our guide Jack helped out in the rescue operation.

Guides are instructed not to enter the tunnel if rain clouds or thunder are spotted.Guides are instructed not to enter the tunnel if rain clouds or thunder are spotted.
Guides are instructed not to enter the tunnel if rain clouds or thunder are spotted.28-Feb-2012 16:44
 

We walked a little longer through the jungle before heading back to the bungalows for dinner, featuring a fried fish caught from the lake. Then, we headed out in the longtail again for a night safari on the lake. We didn’t spot much, but it was still fun.

Longtail trip around the lake.Longtail trip around the lake.
Longtail trip around the lake.28-Feb-2012 10:50
 

Back at the bungalows, we had a cold beer and chatted with our groupmates, before retiring to our bungalow and calling it a night.

Inside our floating bungalow.Inside our floating bungalow.
Inside our floating bungalow.28-Feb-2012 21:31
 

The next morning, we awoke to the amazing sight of mist rising over the lake. Heather and I grabbed one of the complimentary kayaks and paddled around, taking in the beautiful and serene scenery.

Morning mist burning off.Morning mist burning off.
Morning mist burning off.29-Feb-2012 07:29
 

There was one more nature walk scheduled, and before we knew it, it was already time to say goodbye. We could have easily stayed many more days on the lake, but unfortunately we had to keep moving. We’re so glad we made this stop at Khao Sok National Park and would encourage anyone visiting Southern Thailand to check it out!

8 thoughts on “Forget the Beach, Stay on the Lake! – Khao Sok National Park, Thailand

  1. Zanne

    Thank you for this wonderful description – can you please tell me how to book a stay at this amazing place? Much appreciated and thank you in advance 🙂
    Best wishes
    Zanne / Denmark

    Reply
    1. Erik Post author

      Hi Zanne! You can make the arrangements with any guesthouse in Khao Sok Village. It is a standard 2 day, 1 night package.

      Reply
  2. Eric Cx

    Awesome pictures, don’t suppose you have the phone number or any contact details? I am a teacher in Surat Thani and want to get a larger group across – as such I need to confirm a booking in advance.

    Many thanks.

    Reply
  3. Wouter

    An overnight stay at Cheow Lan Lake is highly recommended because you will be able to travel deeper into the National Park where there is a bigger chance to spot wildlife. In Khao Sok I stayed at Riverside Cottages (http:///www.khaosok.net) and I booked my lake tour there as well. We had a really knowledgable guide named Boo.

    Reply
    1. Erik Fantasia

      Hi Lena, we booked these when we arrived at the national park (Khao Sok). I don’t think they need to be reserved in advance, the standard tour everyone does seems to include a stay here. Have a fantastic time!!

      Reply

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