If you are doing an island or beach trip to Thailand, staying on Koh Samui or any of the other islands in the Gulf of Thailand or in Phuket, Khao Lak and Krabi on the Adaman Sea, then I would strongly recommend adding on a couple of days to your stay to experience the Elephant Hills Luxury Tented Jungle Camp and the Elephant Hills Rainforest Tented Jungle Camp, one of the World’s few floating tented camps on the mesmerizingly beautiful Cheow Lan Lake in the Khao Sok National Park in Sura Thani Province. Having recently returned from a trip to Thailand, this was certainly one of the highlights of my 10-day stay, which included a couple of nights in Phuket and on Koh Phi Phi.
Khao Sok National Park is a couple of hours drive from Phuket, Khao Lak and Krabi in the south and from Koh Samui to the east where you take the ferry from Koh Samui to Sura Thani to link up with the transfer to Elephant Hills. The drive is an eye opener to the surrounding countryside with its verdant jungle, spectacular vertical limestone mountains, hidden lakes and a diversity of flora and fauna. I would definitely add this 3 or 4 night itinerary to my Thai bucket-list as the perfect soft-adventure destination for those who enjoy a bit of jungle trekking, canoeing, kayaking and experiencing the natural environment in great comfort in between visiting the Thai beaches, islands or the capital, Bangkok. Diving off the floating raft on which my tent was situated for a swim in the warm lake and kayaking into the tributaries of the lake in the early morning were treasured experiences, which will be edged in my mind forever. There are 10 floating tents of which mine was closest to the community raft where meals are served and you can interact with other travellers enjoying this unique at one with nature experience.
Getting there is so simple, transfers are daily and you will be picked-up from your hotel and taken all the way to the Camp stopping off for drinks and breaks on the way. You can even do a spot of shopping at a local market in Takhun where you will experience authentic rural life in Thailand.
All too often we see projects which are deemed to be environmentally responsible but very often they have a big commercial aspect to them and do not reflect the responsible and sustainable side of eco-tourism. Elephant Hills do certainly seem to respect and value their elephants not permitting elephant riding and it was obvious that the environment is soundly taken care of, putting great emphasis on resource-saving, re-cycling and co-operating diligently with the local community by sourcing and training staff locally and most importantly improving education in the area with The Elephant Hills Childrens Project.
This is definitely a fabulous diversion when doing a trip to Thailand and I cannot wait to do it again with more time to spend at the Tented Lake Camp. Ideal for couples, honeymooners, (met 3 honeymoon couples while I was there) families and small groups. By the way kids up to the age of 16 stay free when visiting in May, June and September.