Trip to Southearn Thailand: Surat Thani, Phang Nga, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Trang
by Travel Nikos, Date of Visit: June 2014
Surat Thani Province
Arriving in Surat Thani Province our first stop was to visit the Phra Borom That Chaiya Temple and Chaiya National Museum. The museum consists of two buildings featuring prehistoric and historic artefacts, local handicrafts and shadow puppets. The artifacts displayed are from the Dvaravati, Lopburi, Sukhothai and Ayutthaya eras.
We also visited the nearby Chaiya Folk Museum. We then continued to Nakhon Si Thammarat Province. The trip there was amazing travelling between mountains to Thung Song City and then to Trang City late at night.
Peninsular Botanic Garden (Thung Khai)
After a short visit to the city, our first stop was the Peninsular Botanic Garden (Thung Khai), a unique attraction of Thailand. Peninsular Botanic Garden is a new tourist destination for those interested in studying nature. Apart from the botanical garden, this features an herbal garden, botanical library, plant museum and a Visitor’s Centre.
The highlight is the Canopy Walkway, which is a 175 metre walking trail into a lowland jungle, spanning 3 levels (10, 15 and 18 meters) and five boardwalks. Our next stop was Laem Kum Beach. We spent a short time here before turning back and visiting more beaches in Trang Province. The road was under construction at this point. We arrived at the first beach, Yong Ling Beach.
Hat Chao Mai National Park
This is a small beach within Hat Chao Mai National Park. It is also the only national park in Trang province. Basically it’s a marine park that includes many islands such as Koh Muk, Koh Kradan, Koh Chueak, Koh Pling, Koh Waen, Koh Meng and Koh Chao Mai. All these islands are in the Andaman Sea. A ticket for the National Park was 200 THB per person. We continued to the next beach that was not far away.
Next stop was the Hat Chao Mai National Park Visitor Center located at Chang Lang Beach. Proclaimed a National Park in 1982, Hat Chao Mai is a 20 kilometer coastline with a 5 kilometer beach with clean sands next to a shady limestone hill setting with caves where prehistoric human remains have been found. We continued to Rajamangala Beach, a long curved sandy beach next to shady sea pines, ending with a high limestone mountain.
It was then time to head towards Krabi. We arrive at the car ferry pier in the evening. We took the boat (departing every 30 minutes until 10 pm) to Koh Land Noi, and then continued along the road to the next pier to Koh Landa Yai. A new bridge is under construction that will connect the two islands in the future.
We then came to Koh Landa Yai and travelled on the main road of the island south to Mu Ko Lanta National Park. On the way we stopped at several beaches. Mu Ko Lanta National Park covers total area of 152 square kilometers. You can snorkel, cruise along the coast, trek and bird-watch. Wildlife encounters are virtually guaranteed. The National Park is made up of 10 idyllic islands, of which Koh Lanta is the largest. We travelled back to Thung Song City for the night’s sleep.
Namtok Yong National Park
We began our day’s trip travelling to Namtok Yong National Park, very close to Thung Song City. Nam Tok Yong National Park has a mountain range with an average height of 600 metres above sea level. The main mountains are Mhen, Kuan Tung Wang Heeb, Phra, Lum Roam, Pak Praek, Plai Berg, Koo Ha, etc. The tallest peak is Mhen Mountain which is 1,307 metres high.
The next stop was Karom Waterfall in the most famous national park in Nakhon Si Thammarat Province, Khao Luang. Many cars and people were here as it has a famous waterfall so it may take time to find parking for the car inside the Park. Karom Waterfall has 19 levels but only 7 of these are accessible to visitors. Next stop was Nakhon Si Thammarat City; which is where we found the largest attraction, a temple which is the symbol of Nakhon Si Thammarat City, Wat Phra Mahathat Woramahawihan.
This is a first class royal temple with many buildings of importance inside, especially the royal building which has beautiful architecture from the Ayutthaya period and the Sam Chom building where there is a Buddha image (Phra Si Thamma Sokarat) attired in royal costume. A small museum is also located inside the temple area, photography is prohibited. Opposite Wat Phra Mahathat Woramahawihan, there are some other beautiful temples such as Wat Sa Riang and Wat Na Phra Borommathat.
Namtok Sikiet National Park
Then it was time to head north, stopping in the Sichon district to see the beaches on this side of the Gulf of Thailand, then on to the Namtok Sikiet National Park. Namtok Sikiet National Park is located in the Thakoak River area, 15 kilometers from the Sichol District. There is a high mountain range at the border between Sichol District (Nakhon Sri Thammarat Province) and Kanjanadit District (Surat Thani Province). The border area is called Chong Num Pan Gun (Watershed Channel) by local people. There is a waterfall descending from a 60 metre cliff. The water flows along a rocky channel for about 12 kilometers. Then overnight in Surat Thani Province.
Khao Sok National Park
Our first stop was Ratchaprapha Dam, within one of the top national parks in Thailand, Khao Sok. A lake is surrounded by breathtaking view of limestone mountains and over 200 islands. The dam is located 70 kilometres west of Surat Thani. We visit the viewpoint area with absolutely amazing views over the lake and the mountains (known as Guilin). We then continued east, stopping at Khlong Phanom National Park, with a visitor’s centre at the entrance.
The high mountain ranges of Khlong Phanom have many steep bare limestone cliffs. Fertile forests surround the mountains with many streams flowing beneath the lofty greenery. Klong Phanom is a vital water source for adjoining communities and towns.
All the streams from Klong Phanom converge to create the Klong Sok River. To see the attractions of the park, including a giant tree, you need to stay overnight, waking in the early morning and walking along paths for a few kilometres. We hope that next time that we can take enjoy these walking trails. This time we could only visit the Wat Tham Wararam Cave, located next to the Park and continued along road number 401 to our next destination.
Si Phang-nga National Park
After a few kilometers driving we arrived at the Si Phang-nga National Park in Phang Nga Province. Si Phang-nga National Park features unspoiled evergreen forests. There are many tropical floras in this Park including orchids such as ‘lady’s slippers’ and Ueang Ngoen Luang – Dendrobium formosum as well as Yang – Dipterocarpus alatus. The rainy season here is longer than summer with rainfall from May to December. We visited the Tamnang Waterfall, the most famous in the Park.
Water descends over 63 meters from a stone cliff into an emerald green stream, flowing all year. Of course there are many more attractions in the Park and many more waterfalls. That was the end of our trip and time to return to Hua Hin. From highway number 4 we passed Ranong City, Kraburi, Chumphon, Prachuap Khiri Khan and then arriving in Hua Hin late at night. It was an amazing trip to the southern part of Thailand over 4 days.