Cheow Lan Lake is a tourist attraction in Thailand that was established in 1987 and is growing in popularity. Cheow Lan Lake is in Thailand’s Khao Sok National Park. This lake is located in the Ban Ta Khun District of Surat Thani province, 78 kilometers from Surat Thani city.
Introducing Cheow Lan Lake
Cheow Lan Lake, also known as Cheow Lan Dam, Ratchaprapha Dam, and Khao Sok Lake, is one of Surat Thani’s tourist attractions. This lake has attracted tourists due to its turquoise waters, limestone, and attractive surroundings, and its vista remains a piece of heaven. The porous and green limestone cliffs of the lake rise several hundred meters above the water. The fog on the lake and the clouds above the trees add to the view, but they vanish when the sun rises. One of the few sounds you can hear in this place is the sound of monkeys among the bamboo trees.
At the beginning of the lake’s construction, there was no infrastructure around it; for this reason, many native families were allowed to open a guest house on the shore of the lake. These guest houses consist of bungalows built with bamboo wood on stilt and located next to small floating restaurants.
In recent years, the number of visitors has increased with the increasing popularity of the lake. Although professional climbers often came to this place in the past, nowadays, people mostly go to the area for one or two nights.
History of Cheow Lan Lake
Khao Sok National Park is estimated to be about 160 million years old, and it is believed that the rocks of this area were formed at the same time as the Himalayas. Cheow Lan is an artificial lake whose construction began in 1982 and was completed in 1987. It took a year to fill its 185 square kilometer pond with river water. The lake was given the new name “Ratchaprapha Dam,” which means “Light of the Kingdom,” at the time of its opening.
Cheow Lan Lake was launched as a multi-purpose project for power generation, tourism, irrigation, and fishing. To build the lake, nearly 400 families were relocated, and then about three hectares of land were given to each family for housing and agriculture, and they were paid 30 dollars per month. In this way, families had more wealth, better health, and easier access to education; but some of them preferred to stay in this place and live in poverty. Today, the hydroelectricity produced by the lake provides sustainable energy for large parts of southern Thailand; besides, it has created employment for local villagers to make a living by fishing or working in tourism industries.
Although the creation of the lake first had a negative impact on the animal population, now it plays a significant role in its reverse process. More insects that feed the little forest species are present wherever there is water, and these critters, in turn, offer food for the larger creatures, continuing the food chain and the cycle of animal life.
Cheow Lan Lake Attractions and Entertainment
There is no beach, city, or sand in this place. The only sound that breaks the silence of the space is the sound of motorboats, and when it turns off, absolute silence prevails. The boats moving on the water are decorated with colorful and bright fabrics and double the pleasure of boating on the turquoise waters. The cost of renting a boat (in 2022) is about 2,000 baht ($52) for two hours and 2,800 baht ($73) for three hours, regardless of the number of people.
This area has Limestone Mountains, whose main star should be considered “Khao Sam Kler”; the three peaks that come out of the water and, with their strange appearance, amaze every viewer.
A bird called “Hornbill” is one of the attractions you will have the chance to see while boating in the early morning. This bird, which flies singly, in pairs, or groups, is considered one of the most beautiful birds in the region. As a result of Cheow Lan Lake’s abundance of freshwater fish, which serve as a vital source of food for the region’s bird population, you might also be able to view local birds while boating.
Swimming and kayaking
Swimming and kayaking are recreational activities you will get if you use accommodation units. Make the most of your time in nature with these activities; most of the time, there is no phone signal.
Excursion in the caves
In the lake area, there are many caves, such as Tham Nam Thalu and Tham Prakai Phet. The beauty of the stalactites and stalagmites of the caves will delight you.
Khlong Saeng Wildlife Sanctuary
Khlong Saeng Wildlife Sanctuary is located at the source of the dam. In this place, you can have the opportunity to learn about the life of wild animals.
Kraisorn Viewpoint includes a hiking trail of approximately two kilometers, which is not easy due to the sharp limestone rocks, but when you reach the top of the hill, you can be greeted with a panoramic view of the forest, mountains and Chiu Lan Lake.
Phat Sian Waterfall
Phat Sian Waterfall, hidden among the lush trees of the forest, is a limestone waterfall and the perfect time to visit the waterfall is from September to October. There are four pools of water at the bottom of the waterfall that are suitable for swimming.
Khao Sok National Park
Khao Sok National Park, often known as “Thailand’s Secret Garden,” is a tranquil and ideal holiday destination, particularly because you may engage in a variety of activities there.
Elephants, tigers, bears, wild boars, and deer are among the many wild creatures, amphibians, birds, and insects that live in the national park; however, visitors will primarily observe long-armed monkeys, macaque monkeys, and a small number of the park’s 300 species of birds. It is interesting to know that by traveling to this area, you can see the world’s smallest deer up close.
Every viewer is astounded by the spectacular and vibrant landscape of this area, especially when they learn that it is much older than the Amazon jungle.
Where should we stay when traveling to Cheow Lan Lake?
There are 19 different places around Cheow Lan Lake where you can spend the night. These places range from very basic to completely luxurious cottages. What all the cottages have in common is that they float on the lake!
Definitely, resting in floating houses during the night will be attractive for everyone, especially since some of them, such as 500 Rai Khao Sok Floating Resort, provide guests with all the facilities of a four or five-star hotel.
Keeree Warin Chiewlarn Resort is another option in front of you that has a wonderful view of the lake and treats guests with local cuisine. If you wish, you can choose Praiwan Raft House, which is located in the heart of the forest and is a very peaceful place to stay in nature.
Ordinary and basic huts have only a thin mattress on the floor, and there is no fan or air conditioning in them; However, due to the existence of holes in the walls of the hut, the air inside is not much warmer than outside. These huts are very noisy, and you can even hear your neighbors talking. The toilet is also located in a separate building that is shared.
Cheow Lan Lake Visiting Hours and Tickets
In 2022, to enter Khao Sok Park, you need to pay 300 baht (about eight dollars) per adult and 150 baht (four dollars) for children.
The National Park is usually open from 8:00 morning to 5:00 afternoon, which can change throughout the year.
The Best Time to Travel to Cheow Lan Lake
The rainy season in Khao Sok National Park is between late April and early December, but the highest rainfall occurs from May to October. For this reason, the best time to visit in the dry season can be considered between January and March. The average temperature throughout the year is usually between 22 and 36 degrees Celsius.
Access to Cheow Lan Lake
To go to the lake, first enter Khao Sok National Park.
Take route 401 from Surat Thani town to the Ban Ta Khun District. Before reaching Ban Ta Khun Hospital, the entry will be at kilometers 57-58. You will reach Ratchaprapha Dam after turning in and driving straight for another 12 kilometers (New name of Cheow Lan Dam).
There are many buses from Surat Thani to the lake. For this purpose, use a bus that goes to Ban Ta Khun area and allows you to get off the bus at the entrance of the lake. Then take a taxi for the rest of the way.
Every day from 6:00 morning to 5:00 afternoon, a van departs every hour and goes to this National Park from Surat Thani City.
After entering Khao Sok National Park, you will need to take a boat to your accommodation at Cheow Lan Lake.
Tips for Visiting Cheow Lan Lake
- Internet and cell phone antenna are only active near the dam, and if you move away from the dam, you cannot use your phone. There is no internet in most of the floating houses.
- The floating houses do not have mosquito nets, and although, according to the locals, there are not many mosquitoes in the lake, you can carry a mosquito net with you.
- Do not take all the luggage with you on a short trip to the lake; it isn’t easy to transport them by boat.