Our overnight stay in an overwater bungalow

Published on 12 September 2023 at 02:13

We were looking for a memorable location to celebrate our 10-year wedding anniversary. A night in an over-water bungalow on a freshwater lake in a rainforest was the perfect spot.

Thailand’s Khao Sok National Park is estimated to be over 160 million years old, making it older than the Amazon rainforest. At the heart of the park lies Cheow Larn Lake, which stretches 165 square kilometers. The amazing aspect of this lake is that it is man-made. It was created nearly two decades ago, when five dams were built to capture the Pasaeng River in the valleys between the mountain range. The lake now serves three purposes: hydroelectricity, a wildlife sanctuary, and an eco-tourism destination. We’re spending the next two days as eco-tourists at Panvaree the Greenery, one of a handful boutique over-water hotels allowed to host guests on the lake.

We arrived at Ratchaprapha Marina and were pleased to find a car park for Harris right alongside. We then boarded one of two longtail boats heading to our hotel. The trip across the lake takes 45-minutes, providing us plenty of time to take in the beauty of our surroundings as we cruised between craggy mountains and between the tips of trunks of the tallest trees that made up the valley forest before it was flooded. We eventually rounded a corner to reveal the hotel tucked in below a large limestone cliff. It was as impressive as we had hoped for.

On arrival we received a welcome drink at the reception area, where they have used netting to create “ponds” where they breed hundreds of colorful Koi fish. You can feed them, and it’s interesting to see that this attracts other breeds of wild freshwater fish to visit and enjoy the leftovers that fall between the nets. We had a ground floor room, with a separate bathroom, and a small balcony with stairs directly into the lake. The lake water was unexpectedly warm, so we donned our swimmers and our life jackets and took the plunge. The lake is forty meters deep, so it is a requirement that all guests wear lifejackets to swim. There are kayaks, stand up paddle boards, and even large floating logs to play on.

Feeling refreshed we were invited up to the restaurant for lunch. One of the reasons that Sandra chose this hotel over the others on the lake, was that the food came highly recommended. As part of our package we were provided with lunch, dinner, and a breakfast. They have a fixed menu for each meal made up of several dishes. The food was delicious, and the portion sizes were too generous for the two of us to finish. 

We had more free time in the lake until late afternoon, before hopping back onto the longtail boats for our sunset safari tour.

As the lake is part of a huge nature reserve, sunset is a busy time as animals come to the edge of the lake to drink and socialise. Our guide took us across the lake to a sheltered cove surrounded by deep forest. We cut the engine and just floated, and over time the sounds of the jungle life returned. Then, over the sounds of the monkeys playing in the trees, deep grunting sounds emanated from the bush. A large stand of bamboo cracked and then came crashing down some twenty meters up the hill. We were lucky to have been joined by a family of wild elephants having their dinner! Over time the female came down to near the edge of the lake and we were able to watch her eating through the gaps in the trees. She then moved on, and we saw she had a baby following. At this point I was kicking myself, as I had brought the GoPro on the boat rather than my phone, so could not Zoom in to capture the scene. Ah well, that is what memories are for.  The bull stayed out of sight and made quite the racket as he continued to tear down large stems of bamboo for his dinner. As the daylight faded, we returned to the hotel and readied ourselves for dinner and cocktails, before heading to bed. The gentle rocking of our floating room and the arrival of light rain on the lake drifting us off to sleep….

Our alarm woke us at dawn. Opening the curtains, we were presented with the sun rising between the mountains and reflecting in the lake. We quickly made a coffee then sat outside to take it in, in all its splendour. The reason for our early rising was the second of our lake safaris. Unfortunately, we did not have the same luck as the evening before, with the larger animals choosing to sleep in. We did however get to take photos with the popular “Three Bothers” limestone pillars.

On returning to Panvaree the Greenery we enjoyed full buffet breakfast and had time for one last swim in the lake before our fleeting visit ended with a final boat trip back to the marina.

Khao Sok Lake looks beautiful in photographs, but they can only capture a single frame of what is a vast panorama of beauty that stretches far into the distance on all sides and up above. Like many places in the world, you must just go there and see for yourself. It's time to add Khao Sok National Park on to your bucket list. Off you go, then. I’ll wait while you find a pen…

Next week we're spending time in Chumphon province.  Chat soon!

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8 months ago

Looks Lovely there.

8 months ago

Great holiday snaps and commentary guys, but have you found our pet black scorpion yet.

Sandra Jones
8 months ago

Cheow Larn Lake and your stay at Panvaree the Greenery looks absolutely magical.

gordon douglas
8 months ago

another fantastic place, exceptional researching to track down these places

8 months ago

Whoa! Happy Jungle-Bungalow-anniversary. Even the elephants knew it was a special day.