Cheow Lan Lake เชี่ยวหลาน is located in Khao Sok National Park in Surat Thani Province, Thailand. It is an 165-square-kilometre lake, created in 1982 by the construction of Rajjaprapha Dam by the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT).
Easy to get to from Bangkok. We used Nok Air to Surat Thani (one hour) and then mini bus to Bhan Tha Khun (one hour). Then a another hour boat ride (all one hour chunks) to the “floating bungalow” village.
There are 17 different floating bungalow sites around the lake each located in their own bay. Whilst this seems many they are in fact swallowed up by the lake’s enormity, its myriad bays and towering topography. You hardly notice. We saw two other such villages on our boat journeys around the lake. Only the descendants of original inhabitants of Cheow Lan village and officials of the national park are allowed licenses to own and operate these bungalows. There are variances in quality and price. One we saw was extremely run down though admittedly located at the park extremity, another, noted from the Nok Air magazine, boasts an utterly unnecessary swimming pool. We are aficionados of the Thailand National Park bungalow network. These bungalows are generally “no frills” but clean and always good value. We paid THB1,800 a night for the four of us (our bungalow easily accommodates 6) and you can get a weekday discount on this price.
One of our rare trips in Thailand when we never saw the sun. That said anyone who has visited renowned examples of karst topography in Asia such as Guilin, China and Ha Long Bay, Vietnam can attest that this scenery lends itself best to mist and cloud.
The water itself is beautifully clean and each time we returned empty handed from our daily fishing trips we were “mocked” by shoals of Tin Foil Barb swimming all around our bungalow – we could even see them through the wooden slats of our bedroom.
Wildlife abounds. We saw without much effort gibbons, langurs, a mouse deer which had accidentally fallen into the water, ospreys, fish eagles, kingfishers and hornbills. The fishing? We caught nothing. Rather typical result for my fishing expeditions I’m afraid though that said I always get enormous pleasure just casting my fly in wild solitudes. We took with us one spinning rod and one fly rod. The fly rod, even with weighted fly, is quite useless on the lake itself though more appropriate for its jungle rivers and stream tributaries where Mahseer abound. There are large fish out there in the lake itself including the ferocious Giant Snakehead but they were quite safe with us on this trip.
Fishless notwithstanding this is a wonderful place and I shall certainly be back to try my hand at catching those jungle stream Mahseer.