Ratchaprapa Dam (Cheow Lan Lake)

Discussion in 'South Thailand Road Trip Reports' started by rob7711, Sep 5, 2012.

  1. rob7711

    rob7711 Ol'Timer

    This ride was carried from 31/8/2012 to 2/9/2012 during Malaysia's national day hols. We rode on our Versys 650 from Kuala Lumpur and arrived at the pier nearby to Ratchaprapa Dam at around 2:30pm. There is an open car park nearby the pier where we left our bikes for 20bht per bike. We spent the next 2 days at Keree Warin Cheow Lan Resort which was a raft house accommodation on the lake. We spent our time swimming, canoeing and just chilling out whilst enjoying the splendid views and quietness of the place.

    Leaving the pier at Ratchaprapa Dam on a long tail boat


    Panoramic view of Keree Warin Resort



    At a nearby waterfall







    Just before dawn on the lake


    Canoeing around the vicinity of the raft house


    Sunset on the lake



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  3. helbob

    helbob Ol'Timer

    Thank for the pictures, this lake is one of my favorite places in thailand (every year there).
    I know only the Tone Toy Rafthouse, Smiley Lake House and Saichon Rafthouse. This one look very nice (and very expensive :) )

    My last trip:
  4. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    Wow, what amazing pictures! Never been here, it's now on my short list! :happy1:
  5. Mine too....... if I could find where it is!! I am guessing somewhere down south, but amongst the terrific photos (thanks for those, Rob7711) there's not a lot of info on how to get to wherever this place is!
    Ok, a few minutes of searching....... Khao Sok National Park, Surat Thani Province! Have to make it a long weekend getaway for the bike club....... looks beautiful.
  6. rob7711

    rob7711 Ol'Timer

    helbob ... yes i have read of your "flooded" ride and your annual pilgrimage to this lake. Yes i like this place too ... so calm and serene. Actually there are quite a few rafthouses on the lake. In fact there was an even more fantastic rafthouse just 2 bays from the resort that i stayed at but i just couldnt find any signage of the resort despite paddling our canoes there.

    TonyBKK ... glad to have provided you with another destination to ride to. :)

    Martin ... you can read more about this park under Khao Sok National Park to which this dam is a part of. It is located west of Surat Thani off route 401.

  7. brucegsrider

    brucegsrider Ol'Timer

    Got to agree, it's an undiscovered gem in the south. Have spent a lot of time down there. Haven't stayed on the water but stay near a "resort" not far from the "marina". All the on water resorts have restaurants and you better like seafood because thats about all they have. Great food. Take the 401 from Surat Thani and turn right at Ban Ta Khun where you will see a sign for Ratchaprapra Dam. Also spelt Rajjaprapra.
    Best chill out you'll get in Thailand, apart from a place called Cliff and River Resort in Khao Sok, further along the 401.

    Attached files [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  8. rob7711

    rob7711 Ol'Timer

    Thanks Captain. I read that this place is even more stunning immediately after the rain as the mist hangs real low on the lake. Too bad i did not get to experience it as we only had a passing drizzle for a few minutes which wasnt enough to get the freshly washed look.
  9. helbob

    helbob Ol'Timer

    this year i looked some raft house :)
    I start with a kanu from smiley to tree tops and a few minutes after tree tops i saw the kee ree warin and the 500 rai raft house.
    Here is the map:


    This is 500rai raft house, a very expensive one

    And this is tree tops

  10. rob7711

    rob7711 Ol'Timer

    Thanks helbob ... Now I know the name of that very nice looking rafthouse that I paddled to on a canoe ... 500rai rafthouse. Cheers!
  11. tehsk30

    tehsk30 Ol'Timer

    amazing pics...makes me wanna go again...rainy season though..:)
  12. rcm273

    rcm273 Ol'Timer

    Hi, my first post here, just trying to get a feel for posting.

    I just got back from Cheow Lan over the new year, I have some interesting finds that i hope will be of some help. Its a good trip, but i was quite appalled by the behavoir of the local resorts, who told me the boats were full, told me to book a tour for around 10,000B, increased prices when I wouldnt.

    So here is my experience.

  13. rcm273

    rcm273 Ol'Timer

    We had been planning this for quite some time after a friend had taken a weekend package, but having lived in Thailand for 10 years and having 2 wheels we thought there was little need for a pre-arranged tour, infact the times and dates suggested didnt really fit with the time available.

    I have used the national park accommodation on Ko Rok and Tarutao in the past, its perfectly acceptable and at a reasonable price, so we browsed the National Park Website and came up with a floating bungalow at Cheow Larn . The system is a bit hit'n'miss but we selected a random bungalow on Krai Son 6 resort.

    Next, knowing we wouldnt make the Dam by a decent time, we wanted to book a nights stay on the mainland, we really struggled to find a room, as all were telling us they were fully booked ( maybe, but i think not )

    After scratching in the depths of google we found Pantoorat Mountain Lodge, called and got a result at 300B, we thought that was all sorted until we got a call the next day, apparently they wouldn't take our booking because they needed us to take a tour. A little bit of BS and they agreed to give us the room for the night. Really, this report isnt about the 'being tight', its about not being tied to something. How many elephant rides and waterfalls can one take ?

    The New Year holiday arrived, we packed and set off from Hat Yai, following the 4>41>401

    Thanks to the initial report here i realised the Dam was a fair trek from the lodgings, but i didnt pay too much attention and we called ahead to get directions to Pantoorat, which is 500m down the lane towards the National park HQ. We arrived to find that, as we still didnt want a tour, the price for the POS bungalow was now 500B. I was quite willing to get the owner to supply dinner / breakfast and hook me up with a boat, but seemed unhelpful, so i didnt feel like sharing any more cash. He did however hook me up with a covered garage out of prying eyes close to the bungalow.

    We stayed the night, had a nice dinner at a resort restaurant in the village of Khao Sok, where you will find all the resorts listed on google, Khao Sok Tree tops, Khao Sok Tree house, etc. which all look really nice, but at a price. We found its just that they are too far from the jump off to the lake bungalows, so not the best place to stop.

    After dinner we spoke with the receptionist, who again scared us, there were long queues at the pier, if we wanted to take a tour they would guarantee a boat for us - yeah, OK, thanks but no thanks.

    Woke up in the morning, had an overpriced coffee and watched the holiday makers handing over 1000's of THB, and after paid our fees at the national park HQ ( 40B for Thai & Work permit, 200B for foreigners ) and walked into the park.

    Walked upto the first waterfall in a couple of hours, just a stream blocked by some boulders, had a bit of exercise for a couple of hours then headed back to the bike.

    Inside the national park HQ area you can pitch your own tent for 30B, I had thought about this option but there wasnt any definitive info. Usually, the national park has tents for hire. The toilet and shower facilities were good, didnt check the restaurant, but from experience, its OK, and always reasonable. If your on a budget, the way to go.

    We trekked back on the 401, and followed the signs. All the way from the main road to the dam you could find lots of Thai style resorts that you wont find on google at 350B-500B, all with lots of rooms free, no booking needed. Naturally when my white face emerged, the price increased another 100B, due to err .. the new year holiday.

    We got to the jetty, parked the bike, they were great, right under the security hut for 20B. People everywhere, boat sales people but no real pressure, we were directed towards the "check-in" desk, prices were displayed on a board. THE BOMB! - We had picked the resort farthest away from the jetty, price for a private hire was 3000B for the trip over an hour.

    Due to the amount of bodies ( and probably my Thai wife ) we were pulled to the side by the staff and introduced to a party of 5 Russians, who were staying 20 mins away. The skipper offered a price of 2000B for their party, 2000B for us, he would spend the night at our bungalows and ferry us back arriving at 10.00 AM. The Russians were just as pleased as us, as they had been there an hour being quoted upto 50000B.

    We all agreed swiftly and were rushed away to a boat. So much for the queues!

    As we followed the skipper, we found ice boxes & crates of beer being sold, no doubt at a premium but less than the bungalow rates. We had already paid our park fee's in the morning which are valid for 24 hours, so we embarked on our way.

    After 45 mins we arrived at Smiley Bungalows, dropped our shipmates off .. We werent impressed, the bungalows were quite rundown, the staff not really 'smiley' at all. We dropped off, the skipper chilled out and took us on a bit of a tour, another 20 mins and we arrived at our resort.

    We docked to be greeted by the boss of the government resort, smiling staff, and several families having great fun swimming and canoeing. Handed over our internet print-out complete with bank payment slip. The maid was aware of the booking and remembered my name.

    We were shown our bungalow, a basic bamboo hut with mattress, no fan but it was cold enough not to require one. We were given the rundown by a smiling cook, we could book an evening meal, 200B and breakfast 100B but needed to specify a time, she gave me a choice of Gaeng Som or Green Curry and told us to take a canoe, for as long as we needed, for free. There were no shortage of canoes or lifejackets.

    The only drawback we didnt foresee was that we had booked a bungalow next to the bridge to the toilets, it may be better to book bungalows 1-3 or 17-20 to ensure a little less foot traffic.

    Dinner was great, a huge fried Gourami, Green Catfish Curry (no, the fish wasnt green ), Fried Veg, clear Fish Soup, slice of pineapple and watermelon, help yourself to water or pay for a coke ( I dont think beer was available )

    After dinner, we fell straight to sleep despite the noise of people enjoying themselves and using the toilet bridge. The electricity gets switched off a 1.00 AM, so best to take a good torch.

    In the morning, the wife ate Rice soup ( lake fish again ). Out of 30 Thais staying there was another westerner, we were offered fried eggs on sweet Thai bread, and as much coffee as required.

    We were swiftly ushered back onto the boat ( time is money for these guys ), we picked up the Russian party and we departed back to the jetty. We did however notice, only one canoe at their resort, when we asked how much, they informed us 5000B for 5 people sharing a bungalow, probably in two single beds.

    We arrived back to shore, the bike was still there, the car park guys were still smiling, people asking where we had come from and how long it took.

    Total cost: 3260B - 240B park fee, 400B Bungalow, 20B parking, 2000B boat, 600B Dinner/Breakfast for two.

    I think we got a great deal, please, dont keep on paying the independent bungalow operators, the place is a national park, they shouldnt even be there, its just another example of unchecked tourism and corruption in Thailand, however I got to say, 500 rai bunglows looks amazing.

    If you do use the national park system, we found in the past, a bottle of regency to the boss or to the staff will suddenly open doors to a special tour or a free transport from a bored ranger while everyone else is walking up that mountain. You know the food is going to be resourced locally, so pickup a chicken or some seafood from the market on the way, and let them prepare it, no extra cost, they will feed you and the remainder ( including the feet ) they eat themselves, its a win-win honestly.

    Video & Pictures to follow.
  14. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    Interesting report! Prices seem fairly reasonable except for the rather outrageous boat charge. Does it always cost that much or did they just jack up the prices for the new year holiday?
  15. rcm273

    rcm273 Ol'Timer

    The prices are posted on a board at the jetty departure center, its appears a standard throughout the year. The fact we went over the NY holiday counted in our favour, if there wasnt the demand for seats then they would have sent the my wife and I in a different boat to the Russian party. I can understand some pricing elements, its a huge place, a boatman could make a return trip in say 2.5 hours to drop someone off to the farthest point.

    It's very tourist orientated, not in a tacky way as its a very beautiful spot. When we visited the day tours were running full steam with local tourists, very few western visitors. I think you would pay around 9,000-15,000B+ each for a 2 day guided water package.

    I will return in the future, the jungle side wasnt so appealing, but well worth a long weekend trip to the government bungalows with a group of friends, just messing about on Kayaks, swimming, reading, relaxing on the lake.

    It would make a great excursion from Phuket or Samui.

    I dont know if this is allowed here, the boatman presented his card F&PU tours, 086-7770579 / 084-3766764 ( there is no cell reception on the lake ) f.pu.servicetours@gmail.com He offered tours staying at the gov. bungalows, pre-paid food, day tour to cave, monkeys, lunch at a reasonable price, maybe as low as, 2500B if you got a small group together. Pu ( Poo ) spoke very impressive polite English and came across very knowledgable about his workplace, if it helps you any.
  16. samuijimmy

    samuijimmy Member

    I just drove up there a couple of weeks ago, just to the Dam area.... it's worth the 12 km trip from the main road, to go take a look...(providing weather is clear!)

    It is definitely on the books to go spend more time in the area!
  17. helbob

    helbob Ol'Timer

    Some floating raft house will be bigger and bigger, one of them the Saichon raft house which have now about 20 bungalows made with fibre cement.

    Bamboo bungalows now not alowed because make the water dirty. All new bungalows must made with wood or fibre cement. Most owners like fibre cement because cheap, clean, insensitive to moisture and durable.

    Be careful when a boatman offer you the Plern Prai raft house, the owner is a mayor and he pay some boatman to bring him guest. Same bungalows as Saichon (fibre cement).

    The Tone Teuy raft house (Ranger), near Nam Talu Cave have now new bungalows and is a good place.
  18. helbob

    helbob Ol'Timer

    The floating rafthouse resorts 2016
    Smiley Lake House with new bungalows

    Kee Ree Tara (same owner as Kee Ree Warin)
    Tree Tops is sold and now Phu Pha Waree

    Last edited: Oct 20, 2016
    Moto-Rex likes this.

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