Cheow Lan Lake in Khao Sok National park is one of the most spectacular places you can travel to in southern Thailand, a 165 km2 body of water that is part of Khao Sok National Park, the largest area of virgin forest in southern Thailand and the remnant of a rainforest that is older and more diverse than the Amazon.
While the park’s pristine biodiversity has existed since time immemorial, Cheow Lan Lake, which covers just over 20 percent of the park’s 739 km2 area, was formed a mere three decades or so ago, following the construction of the Ratchaprapha Dam in 1987. Despite this, the lake has become a key attraction of the park and today seems as timeless as the craggy fingers of limestone rock that soar up out of the landscape.
At Anurak Community Lodge, which lies on the edge of Khao Sok National Park, only a 30-minute drive from the lake, we offer a number of packages that include overnight trips to Cheow Lan Lake, staying in one of the lake’s floating raft houses, where you can take part in a whole range of exciting outdoor activities, like kayaking, swimming, trekking in the Khao Sok jungle and visiting some of the lake’s spectacular caves.
However, one of the most popular ways to explore Cheow Lan Lake is a one-day trip, as it’s possible to pack many of the experiences you do on an overnight tour into a full day – freeing you up with more time to do other activities, like our Elephant Experience, Cycling Adventure, or perhaps our Anurak Jungle Dinner and Organic Farm Cooking Experience, to name just a few.
On a typical day trip to the lake, you begin your adventure with a long-tail boat journey from the Ratchaprapha Marina, taking you out over the waters into what is almost a fairy-tale landscape, where over 100 islands can be found with their own little jungle ecosystems. It’s not uncommon to see gibbon and hornbill in the old-growth jungle trees at the water’s edge in some parts of the park, especially in the remoter northern areas.
After about an hour’s ride to the north of the lake, passing between spectacular limestone cliff faces, your long-tail boat drops you and your guide off at the northern tip of Klong Long where the Coral Cave trail begins. After a scenic 45-minute hike through the jungle you arrive at another inner lake, known as 500 Rai. From this point, Khao Sok National Park rangers ferry you on a motorized bamboo raft to the spectacular 10,000 year-old Coral Cave.
Once inside, you’ll be stunned by the incredible coral-like formations, including stalactites and stalagmites that have formed over millennia in the cavernous interior. Your guide will explain the local geology and point out to you some of the more spectacular formations. Visiting the cave is especially fun for families and is a thrilling nature experience for children of all ages.
After Coral Cave, you continue to a floating bungalow resort, where a nutritious Thai lunch is served in the raft house restaurant on the lake. Following your meal you will have time for swimming, kayaking, or just simply relaxing and enjoying the stunning lake panorama. You then head back by long-tail boat to Ratchaprapha Marina where a car will be waiting to take you back to Anurak Community Lodge, or your next destination.
Day tours can be flexible and while they usually involve a trip to one of the many floating bungalow resorts for lunch and water-based activities (like kayaking or swimming), depending on the amount of time you have, cave visits can be combined or replaced with other activities like visits to waterfalls, or short treks through the jungle.