Khao Sok national park – magical experience in Thailand, including a trip to Cheow Lan lake

Two years ago, when we were in Thailand we hadn’t known about the existence of this place but having read about it a few months ago – I knew, when planning our trip in January, we would end up going there for sure. The national park is beautiful with many different attractions such as oboes, hiking trails and more – But, most of all, we fell in love with Cheow Lan lake which looked absolutely magical in photos.

How to reach Khao Sok?

The simplest method is a domestic flight to Phuket or Krabi, then a private cab or bus from there. We flew to Phuket, spend a few days there then took a private cab to Khao Sok which cost 2800 Baht and was about 3 hours long (Depends on the part of Phuket you’re in). A bus ride takes around 5-6 hours and costs about 180 Baht. There’s also an option to arrive from the other side of Thailand, from Koh Samui, by shuttle and a bus, but that’s a longer trip and takes about 8-9 hours.

Where to stay at Khao Sok?

There’s the option of staying at the park itself (Either as camping or a hotel) but most lodging is situated a 5-25 minute walk away. There are restaurants, cafés and shops in the area. You can also stay at more isolated locations where you feel more “at nature”. For instance, we stayed at Blue Mountain. A familial place with several bungalows surrounded by nature, with a family restaurant. It took us a 15-minute walk to get from there to the more touristic areas.

What Is there to do in Khao Sok?

One of the nice attractions are going to the park itself and hiking along a trail. The park is filled with marked trails, anywhere between 2 and 7 kilometers, and you can go hiking at your own pace. (Entry to the park costs 300 Baht). Additionally, there are many attractions you could do like Oboes, a nighttime jungle tour, Bamboo rafting and more. Overall, all lodging places offer the same attractions at the same prices. There’s also a central area with restaurants, bars, café, massage parlors and some shops.

The main attraction is an overnight tour to Cheow Lan lake. Because the lake is absolutely stunning and sailing in it feels like a dream. Beyond that, you stay at floating huts on the water!! Which is one of the most special and relaxing things we got to do on our trip. It’s a no cell-service zone, so you’ll be disconnected from everything and free to enjoy nature and the quiet.

The trip to Cheow Lan lake

The trip itself began with us being picked up from the guesthouse in a minibus which went on to pick-up the others who signed up for the trip. From there, we drove on to the lake’s pier, stopping at a little market on the way. From the pier we boarded a boat and sailed across the beautiful lake. The guide told us about the place and asked the man steering the boat to stop every now and then so we could take photos.

Floating cabins on the lake

After about two hours of sailing we arrived at huts on the water. It was a compound with quite a lot of huts, shared bathrooms, a food-table area and the lake all around. There’s nothing within a radius of several kilometers except the lake and the jungle. The huts themselves are really basic, Just a hut with a mattress inside.

But what else do you need? As soon as we arrived, we dived into the lake’s waters and swam. The waters were warm, and we didn’t feel like getting out. There are also Kayaks you can row. Then we had lunch, we were brought many different center-table Thai dishes (There are so vegan options). The food is also constantly refilled, so you don’t leave the meal hungry.

Vantage point over the lake

After the meal we had some time to rest, then sailed a boat to the mountain – where we hiked up to a vantage point. For the most part, the hike is a relatively simple climb, except for the final 20 minutes which were very difficult and even kind of scary.

If you have a fear of heights, this is probably not the track for you. The view from the vantage point was breathtaking and allowed us to look down over the whole lake area. Crazy! I had a hard time focusing on the view, as there wasn’t much sitting room and we had to huddle on the cliff. I was a little scared at the time, and the climb back down was pretty intense as well. In conclusion, this is a unique experience but isn’t for everyone.

While we were taking a break from the track (Which we used to swim some more), came dinner – we were served fresh fish, which was excellent. After the meal we stayed at the table and spoke with the other members of the group. We had a super cute group, including a Norwegian couple, a Canadian couple and some folks from Germany. We all got beers at the place’s little Kiosk and spend the night playing silly party games.

The sleeping conditions

Sleeping at the cabin was nice and challenging. Since it’s on the water, you feel as if you’re sleeping in a boat (People prone to sea-sickness should be aware of that). The toilets are relatively far from the cabin, so you’d be best served not having too much water before bed. The place itself is run by generator, which gets turned off at 11PM, and there are no lights afterwards.

Day2 at Cheow Lan Lake

Those willing to wake up early can go on a short sailing trip and watch the park’s animals. We got to see monkeys and all manner of special birds. Afterwards was a light breakfast with pancakes and free time to go swimming and rowing kayaks (Those who’re well versed in rowing can get to the nearby islands).

We returned to the guesthouse we were staying at in Khao Sok at around 15:30 (After sailing back to the pier and riding a minibus). This was one of the trip’s most special experiences and we got to meet some great people, as well. The lake is indescribably beautiful. I think the pictures and video aren’t enough either, as this is one of those places you have to visit to fully appreciate how perfect it is. If you’re traveling in Thailand, you should definitely come visit Khao Sok – And whenever you’re in Khao Sok, making the trip out to the lake is a must. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.  

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