Travel: Nakhon Si Thammarat in Thailand

(From On The Road Asia)

On the Road AsiaIt was that time again … a road trip beckoned, so I decided to find a province not too far that I had yet to explore. A friend of mine has a teaching job in Nakhon Si Thammarat (NST to the locals) so I ventured down there to have a look. The city itself is a very long sprawling mass of low-rise shops on two major roads, there is a nice park area but nothing really separates it from any other typical Thai town. I was here for the mountain range, rivers and nature so our first stop was Phrom Lok Waterfall and National Park … at 6am the following day.

The reason we left at 6am soon became evident; not another soul in the place, not even the park staff to collect their inflated foreigner entrance fees, so we went straight in and jumped into the first pool for a refreshing swim. I then had a chance to climb up a few of the tiers and play around with the shutter settings.

Nahkon Si Thammarat hinterlands

Nahkon Si Thammarat hinterlands

On the way back from our early morning waterfall jaunt we visited a temple with a mummified monk who’s heart (according to locals) still beats once a year or so! Not a square meter of the land around NST is wasted, rubber is the primary crop here but they also grow rice, custard apples, mangosteen and durian. The mountain range that forms the backbone of the province is also the highest point in southern Thailand with Khao Luang, the peak, at 1780 meters.

Reggae Bar, Kweng Pao beach, Khanom

Reggae Bar, Kweng Pao beach, Khanom

The following day we headed west to a place nestled in the mountains called Lansaka and a wee village called Kiri Wong whose claim to fame is “the cleanest ozone in Thailand” apparently. It reminded me a lot of Kanchanaburi with its river valleys and rolling hills, a very pleasant afternoon was spent by the river with a few beers and some local food – didn’t see another foreigner all day! The clouds rolled in late in the afternoon, shrouding the peaks to the west and readying for the 4pm downpour.

We soon headed north to explore some of the beaches in Nakhon Si Thammarat province, on the way though was another waterfall stop, there are over 300 of them in this region. This one was called Wang Lung and was made up of a number of pools and shallow falls nestled deep in a jungle valley. It was a popular spot for locals to cool off from the punishing tropical heat though at the end of dry season the river was a little low – this would all change in the coming months.

Heading north through Sichon our final destination was Khanom, a coastal town overlooking Koh Samui. The beaches around here are

Sunrise over Samui, Kweng Pao beach, Khanom

Sunrise over Samui, Kweng Pao beach, Khanom

becoming a very popular alternative to the touristy, crowded, and expensive resort areas on Samui. We passed through the town, fishing village, and more developed beaches to arrive on an idyllic little bay called Had Kweng Pao. Being a long weekend it was quite busy with locals but this didn’t stop us finding a little beachfront bungalow despite being told everywhere was full by a miserable German expat.

Some wild weather came in that night and we sat out on the beach watching the storms rage around us. The next couple of days were spent swimming, paddle boarding, and generally chilling out in the local reggae bar, after the weekend warriors left we had the place entirely to ourselves.

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