Tourist’s guide to Cheo Lan – a beautiful man-made lake in Thailand

Cheo Lan Lake is a unique man-made reservoir formed in the province of Surat Thani in southern Thailand. The place is very different from the usual Thailand for us with resorts on the sea coasts, snow-white beaches, corals and crystal clear waters. There are no all-inclusive luxury hotels on its shore; public transport does not go to it.

Cheo Lan Lake

Cheow Lan Lake is surrounded by mountain peaks and is located in a difficult tropical jungle, so getting there is not so easy. However, from the first moment, the lake catches the traveler with its picturesque views, their funny inhabitants, walks to the caves. And an overnight stay in a houseboat will help to relax both your soul and body.

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Cheow Lan Lake: general information and history

In the Khao Sok nature reserve of the Thai province of Surrattnahi, Lake Cheo Lan is spread out. The age of the reservoir is a little over 30 years.

Khao Sok National Park, Cheo Lan Lake

Half a century ago, there lived people who were engaged in agriculture, and on this place lay the route of the trade route from the Gulf of Thailand to the Andaman Sea. The uniqueness of the Cheow Lan is that it is formed by people and is a flooded valley in the fault between the karst mountains.

Until 1982, there were two small villages on this site, but according to the royal decree, the construction of a dam started on the Khlong Saeng River. Provincial villages, a school, a Buddhist temple – everything in this area was in the midst of flooding. And the reason was the construction of a dam called Ratcharpapa (royal light or kingdom light) and a hydroelectric power station. Residents of the flooded valleys were resettled in new lands and, as compensation, were given exclusive rights to conduct tourism business on the lake. Thanks to this, such an unusual place for relaxation appeared.

Dam Ratchaprapa

Cheo Lan Square is 165 km sq. The reservoir, surrounded by limestone cliffs, is sandwiched between them in the literal sense of the word, and the widest place here is no more than a kilometer. The depth of the reservoir varies from 70 to 300 meters and depends on the landscape of the flooded area. In one place above the expanse of water you can see the pipes of the houses of the former village of Ban Chiew Lan.

Rock in Lake Cheo Lan

Over Lake Cheo Lan in Thailand, straight from the water, cliffs and hilly slopes randomly rise. Their height sometimes reaches 100 meters. The most famous of them are Three Brothers – three protruding rocks above the surface of the lake, not far from Guilin Bay. This is the so-called visiting card of Lake Cheow Lan. There is a legend that there were really three siblings who competed with each other to win the princess’s favor.

Best time to travel

The high season in this part of Thailand is from November to early April. This time is the dry season when air temperatures on popular islands like Phuket or Phi Phi range from 27 to 32 ° C. The weather is clear and sunny. But it should be noted that in the vicinity of the lake the air temperature is always cooler by a couple of degrees.

Trip to Lake Cheo Lan

Going from late spring to early autumn is not a good idea, because then the region is dominated by a capricious monsoon with heavy rains and strong winds, which does not contribute to a successful outdoor recreation. Moreover, during the rainy season, the most interesting caves are closed for visiting.

Entertainment for tourists

The entire territory of the reserve Khao Sok is under the protection of the kingdom of Thailand. The highlight of this place is reunion with nature, relaxation from the excesses of the modern world: expensive restaurants, noisy shopping centers, five-star hotels and much more. The contrast of the peaceful surroundings of Lake Cheo Lan and Phuket with the fashionable attributes of civilization in the neighborhood is striking.

Lake Cheow Lan Lake

Holidays on Cheow Lan Lake are a good choice for ecotourism lovers, as well as fans of exotic South Asian landscapes. One of the main types of leisure is boat trips .. Thickets of rattan and bamboo, palm trees of Elegance type, overgrown vines and other flowering exotic not only pleases the eye, but also hides wild animals.

  • To take a closer look at the ubiquitous monkeys, wild nocturnal cats, colorful birds, monitor lizards, you can go on a walking tour along the nearby tourist routes of the reserve.
  • If you wander deep into the jungle, there is a chance to find tigers, bears and wild boars, so you need to realize that only trekking routes with a guide are safe.
  • Observation platforms will be interesting, from which, in fine weather, a gorgeous panorama of the nature of Thailand’s national park opens.
Elephant trekking

To bring memorable photos from Lake Cheo Lan, you can visit the nearby village of elephants. Riding on elephants will give a vivid impression, in addition, they can be fed with bananas. If the jungle ride route passes through a pond, then the tourist is provided with a refreshing shower from the trunk.

Elephant trekking

A half-hour ride for one person will cost about 800 Thai baht, which is equivalent to $ 25, ride two people. For entertainment, there are no age restrictions, but, for obvious reasons, this is prohibited for pregnant women.

Caves near Cheo Lan

Most often, tourists visit one of several popular caves of the Khao Sok nature reserve in Thailand: Nam Talu, Coral or Diamond.

In Coral Cave Cave
Coral cave

Coral Cave is very interesting for its stalactites, stalagmites, stone-limestone walls. It is small in size and is located a 20-minute walk, not far from the dam. It can still be reached on a bamboo raft. Diamond Cave is the closest and least extreme, which will allow you to visit it even without special training.

Nam Tulu Cave
Nam tulul

The most interesting and unusual is a wet cave (or Nam Tulu). To get to it, tourists have a long way to go. First, he lies through the Cheow Lan Lake in a boat to a certain place, from which begins a walking tour through the jungle to Nam Tulu (about an hour and a half). Active recreation does not end there. Inside the cave lies a river bed, along which you have to walk in water up to half a meter deep, and in some places even swim. Thousands of bats live in the cave, which can be found traveling in the dark along the winding passages between the rocks.

What else to do

In addition to all of the above, these types of outdoor activities are popular here, as in the rest of Thailand:

Fish swims in the lake
  • diving;
  • kayak alloys;
  • safari;
  • fishing.

Fishermen, both amateurs and professionals, can boast of catching tropical perch, catfish or snakehead. Divers examine the remains of flooded villages, numerous underwater caves.

Kayaking and river rafting in Koa Sok costs from $ 15.5 per person, depending on the route chosen and its duration. Rafting on single and double kayaks on a stormy river will appeal to physically prepared tourists. For a more relaxing outdoor activity, kayaking is possible within the lake.

Boat ride

Long boat trips for up to 10 people are popular here. You can look closely at the “three brothers” and take a photo as a keepsake. You can rent a boat for a three-hour ride for $ 60 or $ 6 per person in the general group.

The entrance ticket to this reserve costs $ 9.4 for adults and $ 4.7 for children, valid all day.

Hotels on Cheo Lan

On Cheo Lan there are no usual multistory hotels. All hotels are represented by rafthouse complexes – stilt water houses.

Primitive bamboo bungalow

There are several types of raft houses to choose from.

  • Primitive bamboo bungalows, which have a mattress on the floor, and a shared bathroom for the whole complex. Such housing costs from $ 25 per day per person (not per “room”). The price most often includes three meals a day in a common dining room.
  • Updated bungalows with a private toilet in the room. Here, the cost of living increases in proportion to the quality of amenities in the room and can reach $ 180.

However, neither the first nor the second option is available on the booking site. They can be found only through their own hotel websites, or travel agencies in Phuket. If you could not book a rafthouse – do not despair, you can rent a house on the spot.

Modern bungalow hotels. The maximum demand is two main:

Resort 500 Rai Floating Resort
500 Rai Floating Resort
  1. 4 * hotel “500 Rai Floating Resort”. Elite bungalows with an outdoor pool, a floating restaurant. Each room has a bathroom, balcony, air conditioning. Located at: 21/5 Moo3, Khao Wong, Suratthani, 84230 Ratchaprapha, Thailand. The cost of a room per day with breakfast is from $ 500 and above, depending on the type of room.
  2. 3 * hotel “Keereewarin”. A complex of wooden bungalows, each with a private bathroom and a fan. Located at: 21/9 Moo3, Khao Wong, Suratthani, 84230 Ratchaprapha, Thailand. The cost of a room per day with an American breakfast is about $ 205.

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How to get to Cheow Lan Lake from Phuket

Lake Cheo Lan in Thailand is located 175 km north of Phuket, but getting to it is not so easy. Here tourists have a choice of two options.

You can visit Khao Sok National Park and Cheo Lan Lake on your own.

Rent a Car
  1. On a rented car. The cost of the service is from $ 20 per day, excluding insurance. Companies charge about $ 250. Please note that for driving under Thai laws only local rights are required (in the case of verification with Russian documents, the case ends with a fine of $ 16). Highway No. 401 leads to the lake. You need to go to the sign “Takua Pa”, then turn off and after 15 km you are there. Near the dam there are parking lots, costing about $ 1.2 per day.
  2. You cannot get directly to the dam by public transport, but you can take a bus from the bus station in Phuket to Surat Thani. You need to go to the stop “Ban Ta Khun”. Tickets cost $ 6.25. From the track to the dam you will have to travel in passing or by taxi for $ 10.
Ticket office

The best and easiest way to visit Lake Cheo Lan from Phuket with a guided tour. The tour can be purchased in the village of Khao Sok. Its price includes a guide who knows Russian, transfer, insurance, lunch.

The program minimally includes:

  • boat ride;
  • kayaking;
  • visiting one of the caves.

The cost of such day excursions is $ 45, without an entrance ticket to the park.

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Useful Tips

If this is your first time going to visit Cheow Lan Lake, here are some helpful tips:

  1. Money should be changed in advance – the exchange rate in Phuket is more profitable, and payment by card or phone on the lake is not provided.
  2. Bike rental
  3. Those who decide to travel on their own should pay attention to the most popular vehicle in Tai – a bike.
  4. Stock up on portable batteries, the extra power bank in your bag will not drag you down, and charging your numerous devices can be problematic (electricity in rafts happens from 18-00 to 06-00 – only at this time the generators turn on);
  5. Tourists with a group excursion to Lake Cheo Lan are recommended to pay attention to packages lasting more than 1 day – because the night in a floating rafthouse will give an unforgettable experience.

While relaxing in Phuket, you should definitely take the time to visit Lake Cheo Lan. Togetherness with wildlife, visiting caves, walking through the jungle and getting to know the locals is the perfect unconventional vacation that many of us dream of.

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