A nature lover’s paradise, Surat Thani is home to not one but six national parks, including the astonishingly beautiful Khao Sok National Park. Most famous for Cheow Lan Lake, created by the construction of Ratchaprapha Dam, this area has become a favourite with a range of travellers to Thailand.
Most come to experience staying in one of the iconic Khao Sok floating bungalows. These unique accommodations are located on Cheow Larn Lake and are literally floating above the water, offering guests an amazing experience in the heart of the Thai wilderness.
If the floating bungalows of Khao Sok have made it into your itinerary, you’re in the right place. We’re going to deep dive into everything you need to know about visiting, from DIY trips to organised tours, packing lists and more!
Khao Sok Floating Bungalows Map & Resources
Khao Sok Floating Bungalows – All You Need to Know!
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About Khao Sok National Park, Thailand
Established in 1980 as Thailand’s 22nd national park, Khao Sok National Park appeals to the adventure seeker and self-professed ‘glamper’ alike. Whether you want to work up a sweat with an arduous trek through the jungle or take it easy with an afternoon dip in the impossibly teal water of the lake, opportunities to immerse yourself in nature are endless.
The park encompasses one of the oldest rainforests in the world (part evergreen and part tropical) and is in an area with a dense and intriguing ecosystem that’s high in biodiversity. More than 200 floral species per hectare have been observed in the park, as well as an interesting array of wildlife. Nearly 50 different mammal species, more than 300 birds, at least 30 species of bats, and a staggering number of reptiles and insects have made their home in the park!
Aside from the virgin rainforests, perhaps the park’s most well-known landmark is the stunning limestone mountains, known as karsts, rising out of Cheow Lan Lake (also sometimes spelt Cheow Larn Lake). The tallest karst stands at a towering 960m high and makes for a stunning photo opportunity while gliding across the water in a long-tail boat.
Best Time to Visit Khao Sok Floating Bungalows
Khao Sok National Park is beautiful year-round. However, if you want to experience optimum trekking conditions, the rainy season (April through December) should be avoided.
Generally, the best time to visit Khao Sok is from December to May. Fewer crowds are typically seen at the beginning or end of this window.
How to Book Your Stay at One of Khao Sok Lake’s Floating Bungalows
Visiting the Khao Sok floating bungalows without a tour can be tricky as most of the bungalows are only offered in conjunction with a lake tour. This especially applies to the more popular backpacker choices.
Some of the more expensive bungalow options are available to reserve independently through popular accommodation booking engines such as Agoda or booking.com. However, be aware that this is not a shoestring choice and backpackers on a budget will likely want to go down the tour route if they’re tight on cash.
The best and most economical way to stay in one of the bungalows overnight is to book your stay as part of a tour (usually two or three days). On these tours, you’ll get to explore the lake via a long-tail boat and enjoy loads of outdoor activities such as swimming, kayaking, hiking and caving!
How Much Does a Khao Sok Floating Bungalow Tour Cost?
The cost of a Khao Sok floating bungalow trip costs between $70USD at the budget end, and beyond $300USD at the luxury end, depending on the type of accommodation included in the package. Most of the tours are group tours, but if you prefer, you can pay for a private tour, which will of course be more expensive.
Different Types of Khao Sok Floating Bungalow Tours
There are several types of floating bungalows on Cheow Larn Lake; from rustic huts aimed at budget backpackers to high-class chalets aimed at luxury holidaymakers. To help you decide which tour is right for you, we’ve listed a few of the best according to budget below.
BUDGET FLOATING BUNGALOWS – From 2,500-4,500THB ($70-130USD)
The budget bungalows are very ‘rustic’ and are aimed at shoestring backpackers who want to experience the lake without spending too much money. They are made of bamboo and are not perfectly sealed containers, which means that if it rains, you might get a few leaks here and there! Hey, you wanted an adventure, didn’t you? 😉
The bungalows usually sleep two to three people and consist of a mattress and blanket on the floor. You might get a fan if you’re lucky! There are options with and without private bathrooms; these are located outside at the back of each bungalow.
Waking up to the sounds of the lake and tropical birds is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that should not be missed. Some also say that although basic, the rustic bungalows give the whole experience more authenticity and charm. For backpackers on a small budget, there really is no better choice!
How to book:
- You can book a budget 2-day, 1-night Khao Sok Lake Floating Bungalow Tour with our partner Khao Sok Lake on our website. The cost is $101USD for a two-day tour, with one night in a bamboo bungalow on the lake. The package includes jungle trekking, kayaking, boat trips on the lake and food. Booking trips through our site is a great way to support our backpacking community (which you’re now a part of)!
- Several backpacker hostels in Khao Sok Village offer a Cheow Lan Lake tour which includes a night’s stay in one of the floating bungalows mentioned above. Some we’ve heard recommended are Coco Hostel and Smiley Bungalows. Contact them directly to book in advance or turn up and arrange the tour when you arrive. Be aware that these tours are very popular and get booked up fast so it’s worth planning in advance!
MID-RANGE FLOATING BUNGALOWS – From 3,500-8,000THB ($100-225USD)
Travellers who have a slightly higher budget may prefer to stay in a floating bungalow that’s a little more comfortable and luxurious. For these flashpackers, there are options with AC, private balconies, bathrooms and a more comfortable bed, oh and a perfectly sealed roof if it rains! If you’re a fan of your creature comforts you may be pleased to hear that you actually don’t have to pay much more money to stay in one of these mid-range options. Prices start at just $100 USD which includes a tour of the lake, activities, food etc.
How to book:
- You can book the superior floating bungalows as part of a 2-day, 1-night Khao Sok Lake Floating Bungalow Tour with our partner Khao Sok Lake on our website. The cost is $128USD for a two-day tour, with one night in a bamboo bungalow on the lake. The package includes jungle trekking, kayaking, boat trips on the lake and food.
- You can enquire about more comfortable floating bungalow options at your accommodation in Khao Sok village.
LUXURY FLOATING BUNGALOWS – From 8,000-12,000THB ($225-340+USD)
There are several luxury floating bungalows on Cheow Larn Lake. All of these offer luxury accommodation, AC rooms, private bathrooms, private balconies with direct access to the lake and breakfast included in your stay. Travellers usually stay at these bungalows as part of a private tour, but it is possible to book an overnight stay directly with the accommodation.
How to book:
- You can book the luxury floating bungalows (Panvaree The Greenery) as part of a 2-day, 1-night Khao Sok Lake Tour here. The cost is $316USD for a two-day tour, with one night spent on the lake. The package is part of a private tour.
- You can book your night’s stay at a luxury floating bungalow through the popular accommodation booking engines such as Agoda or booking.com, or you can book directly through the accommodation’s website. Some of the floating bungalows that have been recommended to us are Panvaree, Panvaree The Greenery, 500 Rai Floating Resort and PhuPha Waree Floating House.
Khao Sok Floating Bungalow Tour – Example Itinerary
Most of the tour itineraries are the same regardless of whether you choose budget, superior or luxury accommodation on the lake. They all include a tour of the lake, a trek to a cave or a waterfall, swimming and kayaking on the lake and several meals. However, the order of activities may change depending on the company you’ve booked with.
This is a rough guide of what you should expect from an overnight visit to Khao Sok floating bungalows…
Depending on the inclusions on your tour, day one will involve pick up from your hostel in Khao Sok or you finding your way to the national park independently. Surat Thani is the nearest airport but buses run to Khao Sok from all over southern Thailand. (Make sure to check whether transport is included in your tour price as it could be an additional extra!)
Once you’ve arrived at the park, you’ll be transported to your floating bungalow onboard a long-tail boat. Once you’ve checked into your accommodation, you’ll likely have lunch in the floating restaurant.
Be warned! Unless you go for a high-end tour, your bungalow is likely to be quite basic. Think shared facilities and basic beds, complete with mosquito net. You shouldn’t expect luxury unless you’re paying the big bucks!
Depending on the season, your afternoon is likely to consist of hiking to a cave, waterfall or viewpoint. All three of these activities offer adventure and a chance to see Khao Sok national park from a different vantage point.
After your activity, there may be the opportunity to take part in a boat safari, however, this depends on timekeeping. While on board the boat, keep an eye out for toucans, monkeys, gibbons, hornbills and even sun bears!
Once you return from the boat, you’ll enjoy a traditional Thai meal with your tour mates before retiring to your floating bungalow for a restful night’s sleep. You’ll want your energy for tomorrow’s adventures!
The following day will begin early with a morning mist boat safari, where you get the opportunity to search for more of the park’s wildlife. Remember to keep quiet to enhance your chances of spotting animals!
You’ll return to the bungalows for breakfast after your boat trip and from there you’ll have some free time. Decide whether to split your time between relaxing on the decking, swimming in the turquoise waters or kayaking between the towering limestone karsts.
Around midday, you’ll check out of your floating bungalow and hop aboard a long-tail boat to be transported back to Rachapraba Pier. This is your last chance to take in the jade waters of the Cheow Lan Lake so make sure you snap any photos that you want and make the most of it!
One-Day Khao Sok Lake Tours
Things to Do at Khao Sok Lake
- Sunset/sunrise views
- Wildlife spotting
- Long-tail boat rides
What Should You Pack for A Khao Sok Lake Tour?
Most of the floating bungalow tours in Khao Sok will blend an exciting mix of activity and leisure. Throughout your time in Khao Sok, you’ll stay plenty busy! Therefore, it’s best to pack for a spectrum of activities ranging from outdoorsy adventures (think: cave explorations) to lakeside chilling (think: casual swimming).
Along with your normal toiletries and clothes, consider bringing the following items to Khao Sok National Park to ensure your visit is a comfortable one:
- Sunscreen – You’ll start to feel the sun creeping up as you leave the pier. Don’t worry, the refreshing water of Cheow Lan Lake awaits you!
- Bug spray – You’re in Thailand at a national park. There will be bugs. Prepare accordingly. P.S. There are mosquito nets over the beds in the bungalows!
- Activewear – A lot of experiencing Khao Sok is getting out into nature! Consider bringing clothes you can hike in and sweat in. Think of things that you’re not afraid to get a little wet or dirty.
- Bathing suit – There’s no doubt you’ll want to jump into the lake or take a canoe out for a test drive. Be sure to pack a swimsuit!
- Headlamp – Learn from our mistake and save yourself the trouble of buying one from a local market.
- Water shoes – You’ll be thankful you brought your water shoes when you’re timidly stepping your way across the floor of Nam Talu Cave.
- Towel – A microfibre towel is a great lightweight choice for the backpacker.
- Waterproof bag – Between the boat and the cave there’s a chance your stuff could get a little wet! Bring a waterproof bag for stashing those precious devices like your camera and phone.
- Camera – You’ll want to take ALL the pictures. Bring your camera.
- Padlock/Key – There are no lockers at the bungalows, but your hostel may have one for storing your valuables. If you don’t have your own padlock, you can often borrow one from the concierge.
- Power Bank – All floating bungalows turn off the main power for specified periods.
Khao Sok Floating Bungalows – FAQs
How do I get to Khao Sok National Park?
The majority of visitors to Khao Sok come from Phuket or Krabi. The best way to get there is to take a shared minivan to Surat Thani and from there take the bus to Takua and get off at Khao Sok. This usually sets you back approx 2,500-2,900THB in total, so if you split the cost with others, you’ll save money! From the Khao Sok National Park Pier, it’s about a 45-minute ride by boat to the floating bungalows.
How long should I stay on Cheow Lan Lake?
We recommend you stay at Cheow Lan Lake for at least one night and two days. To make the most of the experience, three days and two nights is ideal. However, remember that you’ll need to be in the company of a guide to venture further afield so unless you’ve paid for it, you have to stick to kayaking and swimming.
Do the floating bungalows have WiFi?
There is no WiFi at the floating bungalows as the area is quite remote. The main building and potentially the restaurant may be able to provide you with a hotspot in case of an emergency but you’ll need to be lucky to get much signal.
Do the floating bungalows have electricity?
The floating bungalows have electricity but the main power is switched off from 9 pm until 6 am. Timings may vary from bungalow to bungalow. Fans and air conditioning won’t work during these hours.
Are there restaurants on Cheow Lan Lake?
Yes, the restaurants on Cheow Lan Lake offer breakfast, lunch, dinner and even alcoholic beverages. The latter is not usually included in tour costs.
Is Khao Sok National Park safe?
Absolutely! The floating bungalows are super stable and are frequently inspected by the authorities. The water is very calm and there are no dangerous animals that can get close to the platforms.
Can I stay in the Khao Sok floating bungalows without a tour?
Yes, certain providers, particularly the more luxurious ones, allow guests to stay at the floating bungalows without a tour. Meals and transport will likely need to be paid for separately, which can work out expensive.
How much is the entrance fee to Khao Sok National Park?
300 THB. This fee is never included in the tour cost.
Khao Sok Floating Bungalows – A Round-Up
Khao Sok floating bungalows offer the opportunity to experience a breathtaking part of Thai nature in a truly unique way. Here, adventure blends with luxury travel, often at price points that you wouldn’t believe from looking at the photos!
While you may need to get comfortable with the idea of sharing a bathroom with your fellow travellers (hello, we are backpackers after all!), a trip to the floating bungalows of Khao Sok promises a Thai adventure that you sure won’t forget!
Have you visited the floating bungalows at Khao Sok National Park? Share your experience in the comments!