One of our favorite and longest held traditions together to only gift each other experiences for our birthdays instead of material stuff. These experiences not only make for special and fun memories, but also makes us spend time thinking about each other every year, searching for something unexpected and special.
This time, as my 32nd birthday was approaching, it was time for Ashley to find an experience that fit with our travels. That’s how she organized a trip to Khao Sok National Park and Cheow Lan Lake. Something she kept secret from me until we literally arrived at the hotel.
We started our journey to Khao Sok from Railay Beach, in Krabi. After about a day worth of buses and boats, we arrived at a beautiful bungalow hotel in the middle of this natural and breathtaking valley, surrounded by huge limestone peaks.
Khao Sok is both a national park, known for having the biggest and strangest flowers in the world, as well as a small cute town right outside the park. We started out the trip by exploring the little town, enjoying way too many Thai meals in the area (we particularly enjoyed Bamboo Bistro and its extremely friendly owner and main chef, Guy) and swam in the local stream surrounded by the jungle.
After a few days relaxing in the town, it was time to head over to Cheow Lan Lake, a place known for its beautiful sights, warm fresh water, and floating bungalows. It did not disappoint us.
The unique views found in Cheow Lan Lake are breathtaking, especially early in the morning, and a great match to other amazing places like Ha Long Bay in Vietnam. The water is fresh, calm, transparent and incredibly warm. By sleeping in bungalows floating right in the lake, we could jump in the water and any time of the day and night, jumping in the water literally from our room’s door.
Among many activities, we went on safaris by long-tail boat both early morning and late night. We saw monkeys playing and moving around trees and water in the many islands around the lake. We also spent an afternoon caving and hiking in unexpectedly muddy and humid conditions (see picture). The food was provided as part of the package, fresh and cooked by a local crew every day. It even included fresh fish caught right on the lake, with tons of amazing Thai sides.
Overall, we loved Khao Sok and Cheow Lan Lake and would recommend it. If anything, we would have liked to have spent more time there than our package offered. With such great weather and views, spending our 2 days there running around from activity to activity was fun but a bit too rushed for us. Having one or two extra days with a few mornings and afternoons idle would have allowed us to chill out more, swim and kayak around on our own, enjoying the tranquility and peace that this beautiful lake has to offer.