There are two types of rafting experience available to people who visit the Khao Lak area: one is sitting on a simple raft made of bamboo and floating sedately down a river or across a lake; the other is white water rafting using inflatable dinghies going down a much faster flowing river.
Both these experiences are good fun and also provide an opportunity to see something of the Khao Lak countryside.
Bamboo RaftingFor those who don’t want a fast and adrenalin filled experience there is bamboo rafting. The raft is made from bamboo poles tied together. On the end a Thai guide will use a pole to push the raft through the river. On the other end, two adults can sit. One adult and two children is also possible. The raft tends to be half submerged so it is a good idea to wear swimming kit with a t-shirt to keep the sun off the body.
Some bamboo rafts are much longer and can hold up to 8 people. Some also have wooden planks across the raft to sit on and to stop your bum getting wet. These bigger rafts are often used on Cheow Lan Lake.
There are two popular spots for bamboo rafting: Tab Lamu mountain (about 20 minutes south of Bang La On), and Cheow Lan Lake. The latter is the lake created when the area was flooded in the making of the Rachaphrapha Dam. It is a big lake with limestone islands to explore. It is possible to spend the night on the lake in floating raft houses.
The Tab Lamu bamboo rafting experience takes people down a slow moving river. As the river meanders the guide points out birds and other wildlife. This rafting experience is usually offered as part of a package tour that will include elephant riding, transfer and lunch.
White Water RaftingWhite water rafting is a fairly new activity for Thailand. The spot for this sport is Khlong Song Phraek River in the Ton Pariwat Wildlife Sanctuary, located 5km from Phang-Nga Town and about 90 minutes from Khao Lak center.
The rapids are rated class 2 and 3. It is good fun, but obviously a bit tame compared to other white water rafting trips in Africa and South America. You can get about 6 people in a boat. Everyone is given a helmet and lifejacket, and before starting a guide give a quick lecture in what to do and not to do.
Inflatable dinghies are used along with paddles.
It takes a couple of hours or so to do the entire course. Thus, white water rafting is normally combined with elephant trekking, lunch and a visit to the nearby Monkey Cave Temple.
You can find plenty of tour companies offering bamboo rafting and white water rafting. As you would imagine prices are all about the same. Many resorts will help you book rafting tours. Remember to bring sun block!