Khao Laem Reservoir

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Gregory Gaskill

The lake was artificially created in 1982 when a dam was built which flooded a large section of the River Kwai, as well as a good-sized chunk of the original Sanghkhlaburi town. A boat trip to the area of the submerged town will reveal some of the most stunning scenery to be found in Thailand. If you start your trip in the early morning, you will be able to enjoy the spectacular sunrise over the lake and see the distant smoke from the riverbank dwellings, rising up against the backdrop of a blood red sky. Along the banks, you will see the colourful Mon villagers in their bamboo floating houses, and further afield you will spot the lofty golden Buddhakaya Chedi, with its golden reflection glistening on the surface of the water. Cruising across the lake in a southerly direction, you will come across the bell tower of Wat Samprasob, which was the highest point in the old village before it was submerged under the lake. Near the bell tower is the top of the temple's main hall (Vihaan) - the only other piece of building still visible from the sunken village. Set against a backdrop of mountains and morning mist, these two remaining edifices of the long drowned village make the trip is particularly magical. A typical lake trip by longtail boat lasts around an hour, and they start from the banks near the floating bridge. Some of the guesthouses will arrange trips for you, usually costing around 300B. You can also rent a canoe which will reach the sunken village in about two hours.

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