Cheow Lan Lake, Thailand


This is by far the location that we get questioned about the most, also two of the photos of ours that get shared the most around Instagram and other blogs. Cheow Lan Lake is a gorgeous location a few hours away from Phuket and about two hours, more or less, from Khao Lak (a good midway point) on the west coast of Thailand.

We found out about the lake when we were in Khao Lak already and decided to take the trip by motorbike. Getting to Khao Lak is actually quite easy and you have a few options. From Bangkok you can fly to Phuket and take a car or bus north, or you can take a bus or train from Bangkok - whichever you prefer. We flew into Phuket and make our way north by private car because we arrived too late to take the bus. We recommend creating a base in Khao Lak as a lot of the other excursions for the area leave from there and you can get the bus rides and bookings for cheaper than in other surrounding, smaller cities. We rented our motorbike from a local hotel owner and actually left the majority of our belongings with them when we made our way to Cheow Lan Lake.

About an hour from Khao Lak is a small town, Khao Sok, frequented primarily by backpackers, and it is a very simple and easy ride by motorbike. You will want to stay a couple nights at least to ensure that you are able to explore the lake as much as you want for a few reasons: it is huge, there are many boating routes and it takes an additional hour to get there Khao Sok. We stayed two nights in case we needed a second trip but we were able to hit all the spots that we wanted to see on the first trip out.

Our trip to the lake is by far the most memorable motorbike ride of our lives. In typical Positravelty fashion we left well before the sun came up, determined to be the first people out on the lake and to ensure that we didn’t have to share our boat with anyone else (we prefer to take private trips so our photography work doesn’t annoy other people). The ride was wet and the bugs were out in full force. We drove for an hour, in the dark, through a very cold mist filled with bugs so small that you couldn’t even see them. It was the only time in our lives that either of us had felt cold in Thailand and it was memorable enough for that reason alone, without the need for us arriving at the lake with our faces and clothing soaking wet and covered in hundreds of dead bugs. In hindsight you could definitely wait for sunrise to make your way out, considering you can purposefully book a private boat and it isn’t first come first serve as we had been told at the hotel in Khao Sok.

Unfortunately, you aren’t allowed to swim from the boats. It isn’t allowed and they will end your trip if you get in the water directly from the tour boat. You do have the option at one of the stops on the trip to do some kayaking (the drone photo you see here was taken at this spot, and you are able to swim there if you wish. The trip in total lasted about three hours and the boat driver was very good about helping us get the angles we wanted and letting us stay longer in some places in exchange for shorter times at others.

We recommend getting together with other people in Khao Sok that are interested in this adventure because it will make the trip cheaper for you in the end. The boats have an rental fee and then you simply pay by the hour. The more you pay, the longer they boat you around. We went with another photography couple and we split it all evenly. It has been a bit since we were there but if our memory serves us it was about 25 USD per person (we had five people) and we had elected for the three hour trip at the booking desk by the lake. If you do want to stay out longer, once you have already made your way out on the lake, they will let you stay and then you can pay for the additional time when you return. If you aren’t sure how long you want to stay out, we recommend doing two hours and then deciding whether or not you want more time.

The ride back was much more pleasant, warm and sunny. We had left so early that even after all the time in transit and on the boat was completed it was only noon when we arrived back in Khao Sok on our motorbikes. This was definitely one of those trips that we loved so much we would do it all over again. The lake is so beautiful and Khao Sok was such a perfect little spot to escape to for a few days. If you are backpacking it will also be a great location for you to make some friends as the travelers you find there will share the same overall mentality.

Photo Rights Owned and Managed by Kelly and Kody, @positravelty.

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