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Emerald Lake: A Cenote In Thailand?!


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Jobie Eisenberg



Welcome to Emerald Lake, a hidden gem nestled in the heart of Thailand. Surrounded by lush greenery and captivating natural beauty, this enchanting location offers visitors a unique and unforgettable experience. But what exactly is Emerald Lake, and why is it so special?


Emerald Lake is often referred to as a “cenote”, a term commonly associated with underground freshwater sinkholes found in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. However, contrary to popular belief, Emerald Lake is not a traditional cenote. It is a turquoise-colored lake that is the result of years of natural processes, creating a stunning geological wonder in the heart of Thailand.


What sets Emerald Lake apart from other tourist destinations in Thailand is its mesmerizing color and tranquil ambiance. The lake’s emerald hue is attributed to the high mineral content in the water, giving it an otherworldly appearance. It is like stepping into a mythical realm, where the beauty of nature overwhelms the senses.


Whether you are an avid nature lover, an adventure enthusiast, or simply seeking a peaceful retreat, Emerald Lake offers something for everyone. From serene walks along its banks to exhilarating water activities, this hidden gem is a paradise waiting to be explored.


In this article, we will delve into the captivating beauty of Emerald Lake, understand how it was formed, discover its location, and explore the various activities that visitors can enjoy there. So grab your snorkel gear and get ready to dive into the wonders that await in Emerald Lake!


What is a Cenote?

A cenote is a natural sinkhole or pit created by the collapse of limestone bedrock, often leading to an underground water source. The term “cenote” originates from the Mayan word “dzonot,” which means “sacred well.” These geological formations are primarily found in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, though similar formations can be found in other parts of the world.


Cenotes are revered for their crystal-clear, freshwater pools that offer stunning views and unique swimming opportunities. They have both cultural and ecological significance, as they were considered sacred by the ancient Mayan civilization and are now important ecosystems supporting a diverse array of flora and fauna.


These underwater wonders were formed thousands of years ago when the region was covered by a vast network of underground rivers. Over time, the limestone ceiling of these underground rivers collapsed, revealing the hidden pools below. Some cenotes are partially exposed, while others are completely enclosed in caverns or caves.


What sets cenotes apart from typical bodies of water is their unique characteristics and features. Many cenotes have limestone stalactites and stalagmites, which add to their mystical charm. Some cenotes are open and accessible, while others require cave diving or snorkeling to fully explore their depths.


Due to their natural beauty and cultural significance, cenotes have become popular tourist attractions and are often included in guided tours or adventure activities in Mexico. They offer visitors a chance to swim in pristine waters, marvel at the enchanting rock formations, and experience the magic of these natural wonders firsthand.


While Emerald Lake in Thailand is often referred to as a cenote, it is important to note that it is not a traditional cenote in the geological sense. Despite this distinction, visiting Emerald Lake is akin to immersing oneself in the beauty and tranquility typically associated with cenotes, making it a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts and travelers seeking unique experiences.


The Beauty of Emerald Lake

Emerald Lake captivates visitors with its breathtaking beauty and alluring turquoise waters. The lake gets its name from the vibrant emerald hue that reflects off the surface, creating a mesmerizing spectacle for all who behold it.


Surrounded by dense foliage and towering limestone cliffs, the lake is a serene oasis in the midst of nature’s grandeur. The tranquil atmosphere invites visitors to relax and soak in the peaceful ambiance. The calm and crystal-clear waters are ideal for swimming, snorkeling, and other water activities.


One of the most captivating aspects of Emerald Lake is its unique marine life. The lake is home to a variety of colorful fish, making it a paradise for snorkelers and scuba divers. Exploring the underwater world reveals a vibrant ecosystem teeming with life, with schools of fish darting amongst the submerged limestone formations.


Aside from its mesmerizing color and diverse marine life, Emerald Lake offers picturesque views from every angle. The lush greenery surrounding the lake creates a stunning contrast against the vibrant turquoise waters, making it a haven for photography enthusiasts. Whether capturing the mirror-like reflections on a calm day or the cascading sunlight filtering through the leaves, every snapshot at Emerald Lake is sure to be a masterpiece.


Furthermore, the natural rock formations surrounding the lake add to its ethereal charm. Moss-covered rocks, stalactites, and stalagmites provide a magical backdrop, giving visitors the impression of being in a hidden world straight out of a fairytale.


Emerald Lake truly encompasses the beauty and serenity of nature, offering a unique and unforgettable experience for all who visit. It’s a place where time seems to stand still, allowing visitors to reconnect with the peacefulness and wonder of the natural world.


Whether you’re seeking a serene escape, an adventure in the underwater world, or simply a place to immerse yourself in the beauty of nature, Emerald Lake is a destination that will leave a lasting impression on your heart and soul.


Formation of Emerald Lake

The formation of Emerald Lake is an intriguing geological journey that spans thousands of years. Though not a traditional cenote, its creation is a result of various natural processes that have shaped this enchanting location.


Emerald Lake owes its existence to the karst landscape prevalent in the region. Karst landscapes are formed when soluble rocks, such as limestone, are dissolved by water over long periods, resulting in unique formations such as sinkholes, caves, and underground rivers.


In the case of Emerald Lake, the lake was formed when the roof of an underground cave collapsed, exposing a hidden chamber filled with water. The collapse created a sinkhole-like depression, which then became flooded with rainwater and groundwater, giving birth to the stunning turquoise lake we see today.


The emerald color of the lake is a result of the high mineral content in the water. The dissolved minerals, such as calcium carbonate, create a vibrant hue that changes with the angle of the sunlight, adding to the lake’s magical charm.


The limestone cliffs that surround Emerald Lake have also played a vital role in its formation. Over millions of years, these cliffs have been eroded by water, creating intricate cave systems and adding to the overall beauty of the area. It is not uncommon to find stalactites and stalagmites adorning the cave entrances, further enhancing the allure of Emerald Lake.


While the exact age of Emerald Lake is difficult to determine, the geological processes that contributed to its formation have been ongoing for millions of years. The slow dissolution of limestone, the formation and collapse of caves, and the accumulation of rainwater and groundwater all work together to create this natural wonder.


Today, visitors to Emerald Lake can witness the result of this intricate and ever-changing process. Its tranquil waters, stunning color, and surrounding limestone cliffs provide a glimpse into the remarkable geological history that has shaped this hidden gem in the heart of Thailand.


Location of Emerald Lake

Emerald Lake is located in the province of Krabi, in southern Thailand. Nestled amidst the dense greenery of the Khao Phra Bang Khram Nature Reserve, it offers a secluded and tranquil retreat for nature enthusiasts and travelers.


The lake sits in the heart of the Thung Teao Forest Natural Park, a protected area known for its diverse flora and fauna. The park encompasses approximately 45 square kilometers (17 square miles) of pristine tropical rainforest, making it a haven for wildlife and a paradise for nature lovers.


To reach Emerald Lake, visitors must venture into the Khao Nor Chu Chi Wildlife Sanctuary, home to a wide range of plants, animals, and bird species. The journey to the lake involves trekking through lush forests, crossing streams, and navigating along well-maintained trails.


While the exact coordinates of Emerald Lake are 8.0425° N latitude and 98.9100° E longitude, it is essential to note that the lake is not easily accessible by public transportation. The remote location adds to its allure, as it remains unspoiled and serene.


It is advisable to hire a local guide or join a guided tour to ensure a safe and enjoyable visit to Emerald Lake. Guides are knowledgeable about the terrain, flora, and fauna of the area and can provide valuable insights into the natural wonders that surround the lake.


It is important to respect the natural environment and adhere to any regulations or guidelines set forth by the park authorities. As a protected area, visitors are encouraged to minimize their impact by not littering, avoiding damaging or removing any plant or animal species, and following designated trails.


The remote and pristine location of Emerald Lake offers a true escape from the bustling city life. Surrounded by the beauty of nature, it is a destination that allows visitors to immerse themselves in the tranquility and serenity of Thailand’s natural wonders.


How to Reach Emerald Lake

Reaching Emerald Lake requires some planning and preparation due to its remote location. Here are the recommended ways to reach this hidden gem:

  1. Private Transportation: The most convenient way to reach Emerald Lake is by hiring a private car or motorbike. This option allows for flexibility and the ability to explore the area at your own pace. The lake is approximately a 1-hour drive from Krabi town or Ao Nang, and GPS directions can be used to navigate to the Thung Teao Forest Natural Park entrance.
  2. Guided Tours: Joining a guided tour is a popular option for those who prefer a hassle-free experience. Many tour operators in Krabi offer day trips to Emerald Lake, including transportation, guides, and sometimes additional activities such as trekking or swimming in nearby waterfalls.
  3. Tuk-tuks or Songthaews: Tuk-tuks and songthaews (shared taxis) are available for hire in Krabi town or Ao Nang. Negotiate a price and arrange for the driver to take you to the Thung Teao Forest Natural Park entrance. From there, a short trek of approximately 1.5 kilometers (1 mile) will lead you to Emerald Lake.
  4. Local Buses: Although not the most convenient option, it is possible to take a local bus from Krabi town or Ao Nang to Khao Phra Bang Khram. From there, you can either walk or hire a motorbike taxi to the Thung Teao Forest Natural Park entrance.

Regardless of the transportation method chosen, it is essential to plan for sufficient time to explore and enjoy Emerald Lake. The park is typically open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, and it is advisable to arrive early to beat the crowds and have ample time to appreciate the tranquility of the surroundings.


It is important to note that there may be an entrance fee to access the Thung Teao Forest Natural Park, so be prepared to pay a small fee upon entry.


As Emerald Lake is located within a protected area, it is crucial to follow any rules and regulations set by the park authorities. Respect the natural environment, stay on designated trails, and do not disturb or remove any plants or animals.


With a bit of planning and a sense of adventure, reaching Emerald Lake is well worth the effort. Get ready to immerse yourself in the natural beauty and serenity that awaits in this hidden gem of Krabi.


Activities at Emerald Lake

Emerald Lake offers visitors a range of activities that showcase the natural wonders and beauty of the area. Here are some of the exciting things you can do during your visit:

  1. Swimming and Snorkeling: The clear and inviting waters of Emerald Lake make it a perfect spot for swimming and snorkeling. Dive into the turquoise depths and explore the vibrant underwater world teeming with colorful fish and fascinating marine life.
  2. Hiking and Nature Trails: Embark on a hiking adventure to discover the lush greenery and captivating flora of the surrounding forest. Follow well-marked trails that lead you through the Khao Phra Bang Khram Nature Reserve, providing opportunities to encounter unique plant species, exotic birds, and maybe even spot some wildlife.
  3. Relaxation and Picnicking: Find a peaceful spot along the shores of Emerald Lake and enjoy a relaxing picnic amidst nature’s embrace. Take in the serenity of the surroundings, listen to the sounds of birds singing, and let time pass by in tranquility.
  4. Photography and Nature Observation: Emerald Lake is a photographer’s paradise. Capture the stunning reflections on the water’s surface, the vibrant colors of the surrounding foliage, and the intricate details of the limestone formations. Nature enthusiasts can also observe the diverse bird species and indigenous wildlife that inhabit the area.
  5. Exploration of the Caves: Admire the captivating limestone formations up close by exploring the caves in the vicinity of Emerald Lake. With proper gear and guidance from experienced guides, venture into the depths of these natural wonders and uncover their hidden secrets.
  6. Trekking to Waterfalls: Combine your visit to Emerald Lake with an enchanting trek to nearby waterfalls. Khlong Thom Waterfall and Namtok Ron Khlong Thom are both located within the Thung Teao Forest Natural Park and offer refreshing cascades and natural pools for a rejuvenating swim or relaxing break.

Whether you are seeking adventure, relaxation, or a chance to immerse yourself in nature’s wonders, Emerald Lake has something to offer everyone. Remember to bring appropriate gear, such as snorkeling equipment, hiking shoes, and insect repellent, to enhance your experience and ensure your comfort during your visit.


While enjoying these activities, it is crucial to respect the environment and follow any rules or guidelines set by the park authorities. Help preserve the natural beauty of Emerald Lake by leaving no trace, refraining from littering, and treating the area with care and respect.


Embark on an unforgettable journey of exploration, relaxation, and natural beauty as you indulge in the activities offered at Emerald Lake. Immerse yourself in the wonders of this hidden gem and create memories that will last a lifetime.


Tips for Visiting Emerald Lake

Visiting Emerald Lake requires some preparation and consideration to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. Here are some helpful tips to make the most of your trip:

  1. Plan Ahead: Research the best time to visit Emerald Lake. The dry season from November to April is generally preferred, as the weather is more predictable. However, visiting during the wet season can offer a lush and vibrant atmosphere, but be prepared for occasional rain showers.
  2. Arrange Transportation: Organize reliable transportation to reach Emerald Lake. Whether it’s a private car, guided tour, or tuk-tuk, plan your journey in advance to avoid any last-minute difficulties.
  3. Stay Hydrated and Bring Snacks: It is advisable to carry enough water and snacks, especially if you plan on hiking or spending an extended period exploring the area. The tropical climate can be humid, so staying hydrated is essential.
  4. Wear Appropriate Attire: Dress comfortably in lightweight and breathable clothing suitable for the tropical climate. Wearing sturdy shoes or hiking boots is recommended, especially if you plan on trekking or exploring the nearby caves.
  5. Protect Yourself from the Sun: Apply sunscreen generously, wear a hat, and bring sunglasses to protect yourself from the strong tropical sun. It’s important to take precautions to avoid sunburn and minimize the risk of heatstroke.
  6. Bring Insect Repellent: The lush surroundings of Emerald Lake can attract mosquitoes and other insects. Remember to apply insect repellent to prevent bites and bring mosquito coils or citronella candles to keep bugs at bay.
  7. Respect the Environment: As a protected area, it is crucial to respect the rules and regulations set by the park authorities. Avoid littering, stay on designated trails, and do not disturb or remove any plants or animals you encounter.
  8. Capture Memories Responsibly: If you plan to take photographs or videos, do so responsibly. Be mindful of your surroundings and avoid causing any damage to the fragile ecosystem. Leave only footprints and take away memories.
  9. Engage with Local Guides: Consider hiring a local guide who can provide valuable insights into the area’s history, geology, and biodiversity. Their knowledge and expertise can enhance your experience and help you appreciate the wonders of Emerald Lake even more.
  10. Enjoy the Serenity: Above all, take the time to absorb the tranquil ambiance and immerse yourself in the natural beauty that surrounds you. Allow the serenity of Emerald Lake to rejuvenate your mind, body, and spirit.

By following these tips, you can ensure a memorable and rewarding visit to Emerald Lake. Embrace the beauty of nature, respect the environment, and create lasting memories of this enchanting destination.



Emerald Lake is a true hidden gem in the heart of Thailand, offering visitors a unique and captivating experience. Its stunning emerald-colored waters, surrounded by lush greenery and limestone cliffs, create a tranquil and breathtaking setting.


Although not a traditional cenote, Emerald Lake captures the essence of these natural wonders, with its mesmerizing color and serene ambiance. It provides a chance to immerse yourself in nature, whether through swimming, snorkeling, hiking, or simply taking in the beauty of the surroundings.


The formation of Emerald Lake over thousands of years is a testament to the power of natural processes. The collapse of an underground cave and the subsequent flooding created this awe-inspiring destination, leaving behind a captivating geological wonder.


Located in the Khao Phra Bang Khram Nature Reserve in Krabi, reaching Emerald Lake requires some effort, but the journey is well worth it. Whether you choose a guided tour or arrange private transportation, taking the time to explore this hidden gem is a rewarding experience.


When visiting Emerald Lake, it is essential to respect the environment, follow any regulations set by the park authorities, and minimize your impact on the delicate ecosystem. Leave only footprints, take away memories, and strive to preserve the natural splendor for future generations.


Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or an opportunity to reconnect with nature, Emerald Lake offers a natural haven that will leave you awe-inspired. From swimming in its vibrant waters to hiking through the surrounding rainforest, every moment spent in this tranquil paradise is a chance to nurture your soul.


So, embark on the journey to Emerald Lake, and let its beauty and serenity envelop you. Discover the magic of this hidden gem, create memories that will last a lifetime, and find a deep appreciation for the wonders of the natural world.