Deep in southern Thailand’s Khao Sok National Park sits Cheow Larn Lake. Ringed by jungle-covered limestone mountains, the lake is even more amazing when you realize it’s man-made.
Cheow Larn Lake was born out of the construction of Ratchaprapa Dam in 1982. The hydroelectric dam provides electricity to Surat Thani Province and to control floods and provide flood-controland fishing.
About 30 kilometers long and covering 165 sq. kilometers, the lake required almost a year to fill, covering the valley floor and rainforest. Villages also had to be moved, although people were compensated by the government. It officially opened in 1987.
The Cheow Larn area is largely inaccessible by land and is designated as a wildlife sanctuary, playing host to many species of birds and fish as well as elephants and wild cats. It also is a garden of are rare flora, including Rafflesia, one of the largest flowers in the world.
It is possible to stay on the lake in one of a dozen floating bungalows operated by descendants of the original families from Cheow Larn village, or by national park officials.
These aren’t five-star accommodations but do offer a chance to sleep with nature, which can be explored in the daytime via kayak.