A Magical Stay at Floating Rainforest Camp on Cheow Lan Lake in Khao Sok National Park, Thailand

In my last post I talked about ethical elephant tourism, how to identify an ethical elephant sanctuary, and shared our experiences visiting Elephant Hills Elephant Sanctuary. In this post, I want to share the other side of our visit to Khao Sok National Park, a magical stay at a floating rainforest camp in Cheow Lan Lake.

A Magical Stay at Floating Rainforest Camp on Cheow Lan Lake in Khao Sok National Park, Thailand

Khao Sok National Park

Visiting Thailand, you quickly come to learn how much Thai people appreciate nature, and indeed the country has 127 national parks preserving vast swathes of habitat. With 22 of these categorised as marine environments, both sea and land environments are protected.

A Magical Stay at Floating Rainforest Camp on Cheow Lan Lake in Khao Sok National Park, Thailand

Khao Sok is the most popular of the country’s mainland national parks, in part because it’s so readily accessible.

Cheow Lan Lake

As well as lush jungle and iconic limestone mountains, it also encompasses a number of rivers and a vast man-made lake created by the building of Ratchaprapha dam.

A Magical Stay at Floating Rainforest Camp on Cheow Lan Lake in Khao Sok National Park, Thailand

Elephant Hills’ Floating Rainforest Camp

I already mentioned that our first reason for selecting Khao Sok National Park was a visit to Elephant Hills elephant sanctuary, one of a small number of genuinely ethical elephant sanctuaries in Thailand. The second reason was the floating lake camp run by the same company, Elephant Hills. As soon as I saw photographs of a string of green-canvas tents floating on the blue-green waters of the lake, I was hooked and I knew we had to visit.

A Magical Stay at Floating Rainforest Camp on Cheow Lan Lake in Khao Sok National Park, Thailand
We booked an inclusive package with pick up and drop off from local resorts and airports, one night in the Elephant Camp (from which we visited the elephant sanctuary), and one night in the floating lake Rainforest Camp. Other activities included in the package were river canoeing near the elephant camp, and from Rainforest Camp, a jungle trek and guided kayak excursion on the lake. All meals during the stay were also included, with drinks paid separately at the bar.

A Magical Stay at Floating Rainforest Camp on Cheow Lan Lake in Khao Sok National Park, Thailand

After talking with our group leader about the difficulty level of the 3 hour jungle trek, we decided to skip this activity and spend extra time swimming and kayaking in the area in front of the camp instead, relaxing and enjoying the cooling water and beautiful views. Likewise, we skipped the guided kayak excursion (which we later learned went at a ferociously fast pace that even a seasoned kayaker was unable to keep up with; she got left behind and turned around while she could still remember her way back).

A Magical Stay at Floating Rainforest Camp on Cheow Lan Lake in Khao Sok National Park, Thailand

The tents here are similarly furnished to those in the Elephant Camp, with comfortable beds and furniture, netted windows and a proper shower and toilet in the attached bathroom. They are all connected to each other via rigid pipes from tent to tent and a long wooden walkway running behind them. A smaller walkway leads from the main walkway up the side of each tent to individual decking areas for each, and entrance into each tent is from here, with the front of the tent facing out across the splendid views of the lake.

Spaced along the walkway are two central dining and congregation areas, this allows the camp to effectively split the group that’s just arrived before lunch and will be staying that night from the outgoing group that’s enjoyed their overnight stay and are leaving after lunch.

Each tent has a kayak tethered to the deck, with life jackets provided, allowing guests to venture out onto the lake whenever they like. There are some simple safety rules which also preclude night time kayaking or swimming.

A Magical Stay at Floating Rainforest Camp on Cheow Lan Lake in Khao Sok National Park, Thailand

The lake water here is incredibly clear; while you are swimming you can see down into the water to the many large (and harmless) fish that congregate around the camp. The water appears to be a startingly bright blue-green from the shore or decking, but is clear from within, and wonderfully cooling in the heat of the day.

A Magical Stay at Floating Rainforest Camp on Cheow Lan Lake in Khao Sok National Park, Thailand

The rainforest around the camp is home to plenty of animal and birdlife, and many of us spot monkeys and birds from the camp and from the water. I also enjoy the butterflies flitting around our tent.

How to get to the Floating Rainforest Camp

A stay at Rainforest Camp must be booked via Elephant Hills, part of one of their inclusive packages. Most visitors spend a night in the Elephant Camp first, before transferring via road and boat to the floating camp.

A Magical Stay at Floating Rainforest Camp on Cheow Lan Lake in Khao Sok National Park, Thailand A Magical Stay at Floating Rainforest Camp on Cheow Lan Lake in Khao Sok National Park, Thailand

The boat trip incorporates extra time on the lake to admire the towering limestone mountains, huge and imposing even partially submerged by the man-made lake as they are today.

Reaching Elephant Hills Elephant Camp

Because of limited availability by the time we booked and the resulting need to juggle the order of our itinerary, we had to fly down the day before pick-up and stay a night near Phuket airport, to be collected from our hotel lobby in the morning. However, if you co-ordinate with the Reservations team during the booking process, they will let you know specific flights from Bangkok into Phuket or Surat Thani airports which they will meet on landing, so you can fly in the same morning your package begins if you prefer. Of course, if your itinerary includes one of the beach resorts within their pick-up zone, a hotel pick-up will suit you better. The Jungle Lake package costs from 20,372 baht per adult based on two sharing.

Fitting Khao Sok National Park Into A Thailand Itinerary

We visited Khao Sok National Park as part of an independent holiday, which we organised and booked ourselves. Check out our comprehensive three week Thailand itinerary, including tips on sightseeing, hotels, food and transport.

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50 Comments to "A Magical Stay at Floating Rainforest Camp on Cheow Lan Lake in Khao Sok National Park, Thailand"

  1. Claire

    Your trip looks wonderful! Must be interesting staying in the tents and exploring nature to your heart’s content 🙂 Would love to visit Khao Sok National Park someday! 🙂

    Reply
  2. Tara

    Visiting this place looks like a dream! I had no idea Thailand had so many parks. It’s so beautiful.

    Reply
  3. kaveyeats

    We absolutely adored the experience, truly one of our travel highlights. There are a few other places in the lake that have floating accommodation, but I don’t know what they are like or their price points.

    Reply
  4. Emma | The Gap Life Diaries

    I think I’d actually seen photos of this place before but had no idea where it was (thanks for nothing, Pinterest…!) so it was great to read something about it! Sounds like you had an amazing time – I think you did well to dodge the kayak tour, I got stuck out at sea on one of those once, paddling like a madwoman for hours trying to keep up with a guide with tree trunk Olympian kayaker arms, and woke up the next day feeling like I’d been run over!!

    Reply
  5. Jenia

    Wow! The floating camp looks awesome! I’d love to do it when the kids are a bit bigger. And the limestone never gets old.

    Reply
  6. Denny George

    I love kayaking and this seems like a place where I would enjoy doing it thoroughly. The place really looks serene. The photographs look amazing.

    Reply
  7. Kay

    Okay, this is AWESOME! I’ve never been to Thailand and I’m just now starting to plan my trip! I loved how detailed you were! I also checked out your elephant sanctuary post – that’s on my list now too! Thank you!!

    Reply
  8. Susanna

    This place looks so magical. I love that you can just jump right out and be in the water. I love kayaking, so this is perfect. It looks so remote and like a little slice of paradise. I know where I would be staying if I go back to Thailand! <3

    Reply
  9. Caroline

    Wow, a floating camp sounds incredible! That scenery is gorgeous as well, it must have been such a cool experience! Would love to do it for myself someday

    Reply
  10. Anisa

    Wow! That place really does look magical. I just love your pictures. It’s too bad to hear the kayak tour was so advanced, but glad you found out about that in time!

    Reply
  11. Nathan

    This park looks like the ultimate getaway from the hustle and bustle which urban cities in this country is famous for (cough, Bangkok) into the embrace of Mother Nature to rejuvenate and relax for a couple of days. Stunning scenery! 🙂

    Reply
  12. Nicola

    It looks like a really cool experience and the tent looks beautiful. Wonderful scenery as well. Will pin this to remember where it was.

    Reply
  13. Indrani

    127 National Parks – that is incredible number! Khao Sok NP looks magical with its thick green cover. Any day lot better than the polluted cities. I like the towel art, goes with the name of the camp 🙂

    Reply
  14. Anu

    The pictures are amazing and the floating camp looks like a good experience. It is always a pleasure to be so close to nature especially when we contrast it with our urban lives.

    Reply
  15. Maike

    The floating lake camp looks like a lot of fun. I would love to go kayaking there and afterwards spend a night in this beautiful tent.

    Reply
  16. Shannon

    I wish I would’ve gotten to visit this beautiful place on my trip to Thailand. Your photos are amazing! Makes me want to go there now!

    Reply
  17. Rashmi and Chalukya

    The Khao Sok National Park is so beautiful. Your captures are stunning! A stay in floating lake Rainforest Camp sounds amazing, loved that you can go swimming in the lake and on a jungle trek it must be one of its kind of experience. We are yet to make it to Thailand and we will make sure Khao Sok National Park is on list

    Reply
  18. Danila Caputo

    First of all, thank you very much for raising awareness! People don’t realize the difference when they see elephants but I’d only feel comfortable in visiting an Elephant Sanctuary. I can’t believe you can get the inclusive package with one night at the Camp, that would be a dream!

    Reply
  19. Kemi

    Huh! Never knew this existed!! I would prefer this instead of a conventional hotel. Almost like glamping but knowing that my $$ goes towards something of cause. Onto the list! Well done!

    Reply
  20. Michela - Rocky Travel

    I haven’t been to Thailand yet and because I’m an outdoorsy type who loves trekking and kayaking, I’ll make sure that I visit the Khao Sok National Park. The floating camp looks like an amazing experience too. Love this post.

    Reply
  21. Su {Ethan & Evelyn}

    What a great trip! I’m from Thailand and I myself haven’t been to Koh Sok yet! I’m totally jealous! I must take a visit soon. Thanks for sharing and I’m so glad you both have had a wonderful time. Sawadee Ka! 🙂 x

    Reply
  22. Hannah

    The beds in these tents look so much more luxurious than the words ‘floating camp’ would indicate! This is glamping on an epic level. I’d love to be able to casually go canoeing out on Cheow Lan Lake whenever I fancied. And being able to just jump off your own camping platform into that water – wow.

    Reply
  23. Agness of Fit Travelling

    This is the first time I am hearing about Khao Sok National Park and it definitely goes on my bucket list, Kavey. Your pictures are astonishing and very inspiring. Is one day enough to explore this park? 🙂

    Reply
  24. Abhinav Singh

    Wow, this sounds magical indeed. I am delighted to know that Thailand has 127 national parks. In today’s times, our top priority should be to protect the environment and resources. The tents are so luxurious and tempting. I would love to stay here. I have never experienced anything like Floating Rainforest Camp before.

    Reply
  25. Mel and Marcus

    The tents on the Rainforest Camp look really comfortable and those views look amazing. Floating in that water looks so relaxing. Like you, we probably would pass on the kayak tour especially if it was at Olympic speed.

    Reply
  26. Catherine Salvador Mendoza

    Ahh, floating rainforest camp! I’ve been dying to do this when I lived in Bangkok for 3 months but didn’t know why I wasn’t able to! I guess I have a second chance! This is a very nice and relaxing stay! The view is like Halong Bay plus the kayaking that’s a similar activity! The bed is so big and looks comfortable! That’s my kind of bed, yes! Never fails! You had a luxurious stay on Cheow lake! Love Thailand!

    Reply
  27. Fiona Maclean

    It looks wonderful, though it’s a shame that everything was structured for ‘elite’ athletes! Did you have any problem with mosquitoes? I’ve always wondered about that with inland lakes!

    Reply
  28. Claire

    I had no idea that Thailand has 127 national parks! I’m glad you managed to find an ethical elephant camp, there seem to be so many that still subject the elephants to cruelty and unwitting tourists just go along with it. It sounds like an amazing place, and I love the towel elephants on the bed!!

    Reply
  29. Louise

    This is like a fairytale… Or Avatar the movie! Those amazing colours and surroundings! I never knew places like this existed! What an amazing experience it must have been for you. I am however a little afraid of water, but I am sure I could overcome my fear, as this is simply to beautiful…

    X Louise

    Reply
  30. Anita Hendrieka

    What a beautiful experience! This is something I would absolutely love to do in Thailand. The idea of staying on the lake sounds absolutely amazing. I bet it was super peaceful and tranquil! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Reply
  31. Eli

    have never seen accommodation quite like that before. looked like a fun time. love Thailand’s nature

    Reply
  32. Danila Caputo

    My favorite stop there would be the Elephant Hill’s floating rainforest camp! It sounds like an incredible place, and I’d love to sleep there!

    Reply
  33. Carol Colborn

    OMG love the photos, the experience you shared, the story around it all! Khao Sok National Park floating rainforest camp is quite a destination. First time I heard about it.

    Reply
  34. Shaily

    What a splendid experience! I didn’t know Thailand has 127 national parks. I mean the number is just wow!! The floating lake Rainforest Camp looks like a magical experience. Even I would have left the jungle trek and all other activities to just relax in that super comfy room with breathtaking views around. This is my type of holiday and hopefully I’ll go for this trip someday. Pinned the post for future reference. 🙂

    Reply
  35. Megan Jerrard

    I would LOVE to stay in a a floating rainforest camp! Developing some serious wanderlust for Khao Sok National park right now! I read your post about the Elephant Hills elephant sanctuary, and was really excited to finally have direction on an ethical experience, it’s fabulous to know that you can stay inside the park in such cool accommodation too! The tents look awesome, like luxury glamping, and I love that they include a kayak with each tent. Thanks for this!

    Reply
  36. Divyakshi Gupta

    My gosh! The place looks like it is absolutely one with nature! I love kayaking and the waters are just so green! 🙂 A floating rainforest camp is a great idea to explore the wilderness around. Looks super luxurious too! So glad to hear it is ethical 🙂 Double thumbs up for this place!

    Reply
  37. Renata Green

    I totally have to do this! I wanted to stay at a floating rainforest camp in Cambodia, but then it was too far from my travel route and i cancelled. Seeing how you are paddling to your really nice hotel room – I have to do this!

    Reply
  38. Sandy N Vyjay

    The Floating rainforest camp is really unique. It must have been a great experience waking up in the midst of the lake. I would love staying there, the tents look so comfortable and like any normal hotel on land, plus it would be great fun to Kayak in the still waters of the lake. This is definitely one of the unique things to experience in Thailand.

    Reply
  39. Martina

    Thank you so much for this fantastic blog post! This hotel looks so beautiful, I have to visit it when I come back next time to Thailand. Wonderful pics by the way – You really made me wanna go back soon 🙂

    Reply
  40. Priya

    The place looks incredible! I would love to do this some day. 🙂
    The experience sounds quite similar to that of staying in a houseboat in Kerala or Kashmir.. is it so?

    Reply
  41. Medha Verma

    Oh my god, this place looks heavenly. To stay in a floating rainforest camp (I have not even heard of one before) is magical for sure and Elephant Hills’ Floating Rainforest Camp looks perfect. That bedroom and going kayaking or swimming right outside your room -lovely!

    Reply

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