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Khao Sok Floating Bungalows on Cheow Lan Lake: Travel Guide

In this travel guide, we detail the experience and give travel tips for staying in a floating bungalow on Khao Sok's Cheow Lan Lake, one of the coolest things to do in Thailand.
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Arijana & Matej
Arijana & Matej

Croatian-Slovenian full-time travel duo, photographers, bloggers and travel journalists for over 4 years. We write in-depth travel guides about destinations we have personally visited, providing practical travel tips and recommendations.

Floating bungalows, Cheow Lan Lake, Khao Sok National Park

Khao Sok National Park was at the top of our list of things to do for our first 3-month visit to Thailand. And it was something that we didn’t want to miss, no matter what!

About Cheow Lan Lake floating bungalows

The Cheow Lan Lake of Khao Sok National Park was artificially created in 1987 when they dammed the Pasaeng river to generate energy, control floods, and supply water for the region.

Cheow Lan Lake is known for its stunning water color, high limestone cliffs, and floating bungalows.

Floating bungalows Cheow Lan Lake, Khao Sok National Park

The iconic limestone cliffs coming out of the water at Cheow Lan Lake remind us of Ha Long Bay in Vietnam

It’s a great natural preservation, where many animal species can be found, from birds, wild boar, monkeys, fish, black bears, and even elephants if you’re lucky.

Since they had to relocate a few villages during the creation of the lake, those villagers and their families are now the only ones that have the right to set up accommodation on the lake.

So that’s why there are only a few private floating bungalows, and most are government-operated.

It took a few years for the area to fill up with water. And although some animal and plant species died at first because of it, it was a great idea to dam the river. Now, this stunning lake is again booming with animals and vegetation.

Khao Sok National Park is one of Thailand‘s most beautiful and diverse natural areas. Located in the Surat Thani Province, it covers an area of 739 km² and is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including elephants, monkeys, and many birds.

Three Brothers Guilin Rocks, Cheow Lan Lake, Khao Sok National Park

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Khao Sok National Park Entrance Tickets

To enjoy Cheow Lan Lake and everything that Khao Sok offers, you need to pay an entrance fee.

Tickets

The entrance ticket to Khao Sok National Park costs 300 THB or $9 per day for a foreign adult and 150 THB or $4.5 per day for foreign children.

On top of the entrance fee for the Khao Sok National Park, you also need to pay the pier service fee, which is 20 THB per person (about $0,60).

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Tip: If you buy your ticket for the Khao Sok National Park after 16:30, you can visit the park the next day with the same ticket. That’s what we did. We bought the ticket for our night safari in Khao Sok Village and then the next day used it again on Cheow Lan Lake.

Ratchaprapha Marina of Cheow Lan Lake, Khao Sok National Park

Best time to visit Cheow Lan Lake 

The best time to visit Cheow Lan Lake and stay in a floating bungalow is from December to April in the dry season.

Beautiful landscape of Cheow Lan Lake, Khao Sok National Park

Although the rainy season at Cheow Lan Lake is also okay to visit, as nature is very lush and there are even more animals.

So essentially, you can visit Cheow Lan Lake anytime and have a great experience with plenty of activities to enjoy.

Beautiful nature of Cheow Lan Lake, Khao Sok National Park

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How to visit Cheow Lan Lake

1. Overnight Cheow Lan Lake tour package

The most common way to visit Cheow Lan Lake and stay in a floating bungalow is to book the overnight tour package for 2500 THB (70 USD), which includes transportation, food, and activities like wildlife safari, hiking, and kayaking.

The easiest way to organize these tour packages is with your accommodation in Khao Sok or at any of the local travel agencies. And you can choose your raft house depending on the activities you wish to do.

We organized our overnight stay at a floating bungalow on Cheow Lan Lake through our stay at Our Jungle House and Our Jungle Camp (sister properties).

And along with the local tour package, you can also book a Cheow Lan Lake overnight tour package online.

2. Stay in a private floating resort

You can choose to stay in a private floating resort like 500 Rai Floating Resort and Panvaree Resort and organize any extra activities with them.

This way you can choose your accommodation easier and opt for something more luxurious than the simple government-run facilities.

Some of these resorts have quite luxurious options and even have rooms with a jacuzzi, on-site massages, and similar.

3. Day trip to Cheow Lan Lake

There are plenty of daily tours to Cheow Lan Lake, each offering something a bit different.

But most of the day trips include transportation, food, and activities like a longtail boat ride, hike, and kayaking.

Schedule

You can book a day trip to Cheow Lan Lake at Khao Sok Village or the lake marina for about 1500 THB (43 USD) per person.

And you can book the daily tours online in advance.

There are many daily tours to Cheow Lan Lake from Khao Lak.

Unfortunately, as of January 2024, the daily tours that used to run from Phuket are still not operational.

But there are a few daily tours from Krabi.

Cheow Lan Lake overnight tour package itinerary

Most travelers to Khao Sok visit Cheow Lan Lake on the “official” tour package that includes transport, meals, an overnight stay in a floating bungalow, and activities.

Khao Sok National Park Tours Map

This is the usual itinerary you can expect:

  • Pickup from Khao Sok hotel in the early morning
  • Drive towards Cheow Lan Lake
  • Stop at a market to stock up on snacks and similar
  • Reach Ratchaprapha Marina and board the longtail boat
  • Longtail boat ride around Cheow Lan Lake scenery
  • Check-in to the floating bungalow
  • Lunch at the floating restaurant
  • Hike to a viewpoint or cave
  • Return to the floating bungalow
  • Short time off
  • Sunset/evening safari or kayaking
  • Sleep in the floating bungalow
  • Morning safari or kayaking
  • Breakfast
  • Free time for kayaking or swimming
  • Longtail boat back to the marina
  • Lunch
  • Return to Khao Sok or continue the journey elsewhere

Cheow Lan Lake, Khao Sok National Park

Top things to do on and around Cheow Lan Lake

The main attraction and the biggest drive of most tourists coming to Cheow Lan Lake are its floating bungalows.

And some of the top things you can do there are hiking, exploring caves, going kayaking, and swimming.

Kayaking on Cheow Lan Lake, Khao Sok National Park

1. Go swimming in the lake

The top thing to do while staying in a floating bungalow on Cheow Lan Lake of Khao Sok National Park is to go for a swim!

Use your chance at the lake to cool off in the water, which is not really cold.

It feels like you are on the seaside, and it reminded us a lot of Ha Long Bay in Vietnam. But you will notice that you’re not on the seaside when you jump in the water, and you do not float.

Arijana Tkalcec swimming in Cheow Lan Lake of Khao Sok National Park

2. Visit the famous Guilin Rocks – Three Brothers Rocks

Something that’s on every Cheow Lan Lake itinerary is a short visit to the famous Three Brothers Rocks, also known as Guilin Rocks, because of the similarity to Guilin in China.

It was our first stop before checking in at our floating bungalow.

Three Brothers Guilin Rocks, Cheow Lan Lake, Khao Sok National Park

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3. Kayak around the beautiful lake

Among the absolute top things you can do on the lake is to take one of the kayaks and go explore the beautiful scenery.

Kayaking around just before sunset and right after sunrise was the highlight of our Cheow Lan Lake experience.

Note: You might need to pay a deposit to rent the paddles for a kayak. So make sure to have some money with you!

Sunrise kayaking on Cheow Lan Lake, Khao Sok National Park

4. Wildlife watching on a night or morning safari

Khao Sok National Park is home to a wide range of wildlife species, making it the ultimate destination for wildlife safaris.

Taking a boat ride around the lake at dawn and dusk is the best way to spot several animals as they approach the lake to drink water.

Falcon in Khao Sok National Park
(Photo by: Our Jungle House)

Most overnight trips to Cheow Lan Lake include a morning or night safari to see animals like monkeys, many variations of birds, wild boar, and deer. And, if you’re super lucky, free-roaming elephants.

Of course, you must be lucky to see the big animals, but at least you might be able to see some monkeys.

During our visit, we decided to skip the night and morning safari because, on arrival, our guide told us that elephants moved to higher ground and away from the lake’s shore.

We instead used our free time and went kayaking both at sunset and just before sunrise.

But we heard the elephants while we were kayaking!

Elephant at Cheow Lan Lake
(Photo by: Our Jungle House)

Did You Know?

Cheow Lan Lake is one of the only places in Thailand with free-roaming elephants.

5. Hiking and trekking around Cheow Lan Lake

There are quite a few hiking trails around Cheow Lan Lake that you can do, like the Nam Talu Cave hike, the Coral Cave hike, and the hike to Kri Sorn Viewpoint.

TIP: Try to decide which hike you want to do beforehand as that may affect in which raft house you’ll stay.

NOTE: Some hikes around Cheow Lan Lake require buying an additional ticket, like the Coral Cave hike, which costs an additional 200 THB or 6 USD per person.

5.1. Hike to Coral Cave

The Coral Cave hike in Cheow Lan Lake is an easy, 40-minute hike suitable for all ages.

The Coral Cave hike takes you through a beautiful forest trail where you can learn more about the flora and fauna of this area. This is perfect if you didn’t choose to do a night safari in Khao Sok Village, as you can see and learn more about animals here.

The hike leads you through a forest towards a lagoon tucked in between mountains. And then, you board a bamboo raft that takes you to the cave’s entrance.

The total duration of the hike to Coral Cave, the bamboo ride, and exploring the cave lasts between 1.5 and 2 hours.

Coral cave, Khao Sok National Park

5.2. Kri Sorn Viewpoint hike

Kri Sorn Viewpoint hike is a challenging 1 and a half hour climb up to a mountain that offers a stunning view of Cheow Lan Lake.

Viewpoint of Cheow Lan Lake in Khao Sok National Park
View of the lake from Kri Sorn Viewpoint (Photo by: Marius Herrmann @ Our Jungle House)

We didn’t manage to go to the Kri Sorn Viewpoint this time, as you can only do one activity if you stay for 1 night. But we would definitely return for it!

5.3. Hike to Nam Talu Cave

The hike to Nam Talu Cave is another challenging hike perfect for adventurous souls. It leads you inside the cave, where you’ll have to wade and swim in the water.

Wading through a wet cave in Khao Sok
The water level can go up to chest level! (Photo by: Our Jungle House)

The hike to Nam Talu Cave should take around 3 hours in total.

NOTE: The Nam Talu Cave hike is usually available only in the dry season. And it’s not suitable for non-swimmers or children under 12 years old.

5.4. Hike to Bang Hoi Waterfall

The 2 to 3 hours hike to Bang Hoi waterfall is easy and suitable for all ages.

NOTE: The hike to Bang Hoi waterfall is recommended in the rainy season when there’s more water flowing down the cascades.

How to choose your floating bungalow on Cheow Lan Lake

Choosing the best floating bungalow on Cheow Lan Lake is hard because it depends on what you want to do on your visit.

For example, if you want to go on a hike, you need to be closer to that trail’s starting point.

Floating bungalows, Cheow Lan Lake, Khao Sok National Park

You can stay in a government-operated floating bungalow or one of the few private ones.

To choose the best government-run one, you need to speak to your travel agency or accommodation in Khao Sok if you’re booking through them.

Please note that the bungalows at Cheow Lan Lake are pretty basic. Though clean, the beds aren’t the most comfortable, the bathrooms are shared, and the power supply is usually limited to 12 hours from 6 pm to 6 am.

But we didn’t mind the basic accommodation.

Sunrise in a floating bungalow, Cheow Lan Lake, Khao Sok National Park
Sunrise view from our floating bungalow.

On the other hand, if you want a more comfortable stay, there are some luxurious floating bungalows on the lake, the most famous being the 500 Rai Floating Resort and Panvaree Resort.

IMPORTANT: If you want to explore some other parts of Khao Sok during your stay in a floating bungalow on Cheow Lan Lake, it can cost quite a bit of money and add a lot of travel time.

This is because you would first need to get a boat ride back to the lake’s marina and then another ride of about 1 hour to Khao Sok Village, where most other spots worth visiting are.

Are there restaurants on Cheow Lan Lake?

On Cheow Lan Lake, all the floating bungalow accommodations have on-site restaurants, providing you with breakfast and lunch.

The food at our floating raft house was basic but pretty tasty, and we were quite happy with it.

They also have options for vegetarians and vegans or other dietary requests. But just make sure to let them know in advance.

How long to stay on Cheow Lan Lake?

Most travelers to Cheow Lan Lake stay for one night in the floating bungalows as part of an organized overnight trip involving activities.

Cheow Lan Lake, Khao Sok National Park

But we would highly recommend at least 2 nights in a floating bungalow on Cheow Lan Lake to have enough free time to swim and kayak around.

That way, you can do everything from the regular tour itinerary, like hiking to a cave and a morning or night safari, but with more free time.

The nature at Cheow Lan Lake is just phenomenal. And on our return, we wish to stay for at least a few nights on the lake. And do some other activities we haven’t on our last visit (hike to a viewpoint!).

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Travel tips

If you arrange an overnight tour through your stay in Khao Sok village, you might be able to store your big bags with your accommodation. And then you can only take a day bag to your overnight stay on Cheow Lan Lake. That’s what we did, and it was a lifesaver!

And when we came, we couldn’t choose our rooms (unless we paid for an upgrade beforehand). Instead, we got them assigned by ‘lottery’ – picking a paper with the number of the raft house on it.

Floating bungalows, Cheow Lan Lake, Khao Sok National Park

Make sure to take some money with you. On the way to the lake, there’s a stop at the store if you wish to buy anything for your lake stay. Our raft house also had a small shop with some essentials like candy, chips, soft drinks, and even toothbrushes.

Our raft house didn’t have enough kayaks for every bungalow, as many were out of service. Usually, there should be one kayak per bungalow, which wasn’t the case at ours.

That meant that we needed to plan our kayaking accordingly. If this happens to you, make sure to be the first one to kayak after daily activities. Otherwise, you might miss it!

Also, you might need to pay a deposit for the kayak paddles (we had to).

Kayaking on Cheow Lan Lake, Khao Sok National Park

Keep in mind that overnight tours to Cheow Lan Lake usually have a pretty packed schedule.

You’ll likely have little time to peacefully enjoy the scenery at your raft house. Of course, you can always skip some activities like we did if you wish. Or try to arrange a 2-night stay on the lake if you can. 🙂

Longtail boats, Cheow Lan Lake, Khao Sok National Park

If you’re finishing off your visit to Khao Sok with the overnight trip to Cheow Lan Lake, you can continue your journey from the Ratchaprapha Marina (if you have all your bags with you).

You can book your private transport right there for about 1600 THB to Surat Thani Airport, 2800 THB to Khao Lak, 3000 THB to Krabi, or 3500 THB to Phuket.

But we highly recommend booking your transport in advance online.

Packing list

While there are different seasons in Khao Sok National Park, the packing list is about the same for all seasons.

1. Prepare for water activities

You will likely partake in at least one water activity. So we recommend bringing your swimming suit and a towel for drying off later.

Also, it’s always smart to bring clothes that you are okay with getting wet or that dry quickly.

Jumping into the water at Cheow Lan Lake of Khao Sok National Park

As we were around water a lot, especially on the lake, we had our waterproof bag to put all our valuables like our camera gear, drone, and money.

Our overnight trip to Cheow Lan Lake was organized through our accommodation at Khao Sok Village. So we left all the baggage we didn’t need with them. And we only took our waterproof bag and one smaller daypack.

2. Protect your skin

2.1. Sunscreen

For your trip to Cheow Lan Lake, we highly recommend sunscreen as you will be in the sun for quite a bit.

It’s very likely that on the boat ride, you will be sitting somewhere where there will be sun directly on you. And since the boat ride can be up to 40 minutes long, you can quickly get sunburned.

As always, we highly recommend taking a reef-safe sunscreen. And yes, even though there are no reefs or corals here, it’s a lake that we should preserve. And reef-safe sunscreens are the best choice.

2.2. Mosquito repellent

Cheow Lan Lake is located in the tropics, and you’ll be on the lake and around the jungle and rainforest. So make sure to bring mosquito repellent (natural if possible).

Although when we arrived at our floating bungalow on Cheow Lan Lake, they said there were no mosquitos on the floating rafts for some reason.

So we actually had no problems, but we might have just been lucky. In places like this in our home countries, there would be thousands of mosquitoes, and we would be eaten alive.

3. Take light, breathable clothing

We traveled to Khao Sok National Park with our favorite clothes from Unbound Merino, which were great because the material is warm but still thin and light to pack.

Bamboo rafting on Sok River, Khao Sok, Thailand
Arijana’s favorite merino shirt! 🙂

And the best thing is that all our clothing from them is breathable. And if we get wet, all pieces dry fast. Plus, the clothing doesn’t smell, even after wearing it many times. So we can reuse clothes a lot before washing them.

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4. Bring your camera

Remember to bring an action camera like a GoPro to take some cool photos and videos and not worry about it getting wet. Or simply take a waterproof phone case.

Also, bring at least one power bank to charge your phone or camera batteries if there is no power on the lake. And take a universal plug adapter, as you might need it once the power is on.

5. Other useful things to take

Make sure to bring sunglasses, as when the sun is out, the glare from the lake is powerful. And you will be squinting your eyes so much that your head will start hurting (talking from experience).

Next, we also packed our trusted raincoats that fit a camera bag underneath. But we didn’t need to use them in the end.

And we took our reusable water bottles to refill them and did not rely on the small plastic bottles the whole time.

Finally, if you wish to do a lot of night wildlife watching, take a headlamp. However, you will be provided one by your tour guide on your night safari.

Frequently asked questions

Do floating bungalows on Cheow Lan Lake have electricity?

Yes, all floating bungalows on Cheow Lan Lake have electricity, but it’s mostly limited to between 6 pm and 6 am.

Is there wifi or mobile reception on Cheow Lan Lake’s floating bungalows?

There is no wifi in the floating bungalows of Cheow Lan Lake, and phone reception is very limited. The only network available is AIS, and even that is quite limited to only a few spots.

Is Cheow Lan Lake a hidden gem?

No, Cheow Lan Lake is no longer a hidden gem and is frequently visited by both local Thai and foreign tourists. But it’s true that it’s still very far from being as busy as other Thailand hotspots.

Can you visit Cheow Lan Lake independently without a guide?

Visiting Cheow Lan Lake without a guide is not possible.

Is Cheow Lan Lake kid-friendly?

Yes, children of all ages can have a great time at Cheow Lan Lake.

Cheow Lan Lake, Khao Sok National Park

Is Cheow Lan Lake safe to visit?

Visiting Cheow Lan Lake and staying in a floating bungalow is safe for all travelers.

The longtail boat ride is calm as this is a lake. So there are no real waves, and you’re not going fast, unlike in some destinations that you reach with a bumpy speedboat ride.

Also, while hiking, you are always joined by an experienced guide.

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Is staying in a floating bungalow on Cheow Lan Lake worth it?

An overnight stay at Cheow Lan Lake is absolutely worth it because it’s a very unique experience staying in a floating bungalow on this vast lake surrounded by high limestone cliffs.

The scenery is stunning, and while it does cost a bit of money, it’s really worth it. And especially if you decide to give yourself more free time there by staying for two nights and not only one.

The floating bungalows on Cheow Lan Lake are exactly what’s advertised, a simple stay in beautiful surroundings, and we can highly recommend a trip there to everyone.

Sunrise in a floating bungalow, Cheow Lan Lake, Khao Sok National Park

Final thoughts

Hopefully, our detailed review of the trip to Cheow Lan Lake and staying in the floating bungalows has given you enough information to plan a fun visit.

And if we missed something and you have any questions, leave a comment. We will try to answer to the best of our knowledge.

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This helps us to keep posting great informational content and keep everything fresh and up-to-date.

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Arijana & Matej
Arijana & Matej

Full-time travelers, photographers, bloggers and travel journalists.

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We're Arijana and Matej, a couple and travel blogging duo from Croatia and Slovenia who thrive while slow-traveling. And we have been doing it for over 4 years.

During and after our travels, we love publishing in-depth, researched and above-all, useful travel guides, full of personal first-hand information on the places we personally visited.

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2 Responses

  1. Thank you for all the useful information!!
    I know you didn’t have time to visit Kri Sorn Viewpoint, but do you regret going to Coral Cave instead? Was it worth it or kind of dissapointing? I don’t know which of the two to choose!
    Did you book your overnight tour beforehand or can I book it just a day before in Khao Sok?
    Thank you for your help!

    1. Happy to help!

      We don’t regret going to the Coral Cave as it’s a cool little excursion. But we would absolutely recommend Kri Sorn Viewpoint if you have the time!

      We booked our overnight trip in advance with our accommodation (Our Jungle Camp). But you can definitely book the trip the day before in Khao Sok town.

      Have a blast!

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