Cheow Lan Lake, Surat Thani

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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).

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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.

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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.

DSCF1945The 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.

DSCF1964Wildlife 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.

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Fishless notwithstanding this is a wonderful place and I shall certainly be back to try my hand at catching those jungle stream Mahseer.

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About The Weary Traveller

I like to walk up and down hills. I've been so very fortunate to have lived most of my life in the Far East (Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam) and the Middle East (Qatar, Oman and U.A.E). I now live and work in Bangkok. I'm past the half century now and can't help but feel that some of the mountains that I've climbed lately I should have done yesteryear. The mind is willing if the legs are not always so. Here are some stories and realized dreams of hills climbed and, dales and deserts crossed. With a bit of art thrown in. I hope you might enjoy.
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6 Responses to Cheow Lan Lake, Surat Thani

  1. Love your photos! and you beat me to it, Pat!

  2. good photo plus Nice story !

  3. Dhenuka says:

    This is so helpful! I’m traveling to Ko Samui from Bangkok via Surat Thani this July, with two of my friends. We have chosen to use Cheow Lan Lake for a break in our journey. We, too, are flying Nok Air from BKK to Surat Thani. Could you please elaborate on the “…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” bit? Is there any other way you would recommend for traveling from the Surat Thani airport to the floating houses?

    Thanks 🙂

    • Firstly book your Nok Air ticket to Surat Thani (Ratchaprapa Dam) so you get mini bus included for the one hour road trip (try to get them to take you to the Pier if not you will have to arrange a separate trip for the short journey from Baan Tha Khun). Secondly you must book accommodation before you go and it would be advisable to include the boat trip in the package otherwise you will have to negotiate with the boat owners separately.
      We booked our accommodation directly with the National Parks but then arranged a package around a fishing trip incl. boat which included the return trip to the pier.
      Quite a few permutations of how to do

  4. Dhenuka says:

    Thanks for the tip about booking to Rathchaprapa dam directly. We weren’t aware of the flight + ferry service by Nok Air until you mentioned this. We actually made a few changes to our itinerary and had to shorten the Khao Sok leg. So we aren’t doing the overnight lake tour/stay at the floating houses (broke my heart but — oh well, there’s always a next time) because of our odd arrival timings and considering that we’ve got Koh Samui coming up as well.

    We are getting to Rathchaprapa pier, doing a 5-hour tour of the lake, staying the night at a hotel in Ban Ta Khun and then leaving early in the morning for Ko Samui, by the first speedboat.
    Again, thanks for your help. I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂

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