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Nakhon Si Thammarat : Travel Guide, with Info on Nightlife, What to See & Covid-19 Report

Nakhon Si Thammarat City Pillar Shrine Nakhon Si Thammarat (นครศรีธรรมราช) is a city in Southern Thailand. Understand Nakhon Si Thammarat Province is the second largest province in the south. It boasts verdant jungles abundant with luxuriant vegetation as well as picturesque beaches and beautiful waterfalls. The city of Nakhon Si Thammarat is the capital of […]

Wolfgang Holzem

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Nakhon Si Thammarat1000x600

Nakhon Si Thammarat (นครศรีธรรมราช) is a city in Southern Thailand.

Understand

Nakhon Si Thammarat Province is the second largest province in the south. It boasts verdant jungles abundant with luxuriant vegetation as well as picturesque beaches and beautiful waterfalls.

The city of Nakhon Si Thammarat is the capital of the province. It is about 780 km (485 mi) south of Bangkok, on the east coast of the Malay Peninsula. The city was the administrative centre of southern Thailand during most of its history. Originally a coastal city, silting moved the coastline away from the city. The modern city centre around the train station is north of Old Town.

It is one of the most ancient cities of Thailand, previously the Kingdom of Ligor, and contains many buildings and ruins of historical significance. With the fall of the Siamese capital of Ayutthaya in 1767 it regained independence, but reaffirmed its allegiance on the founding of Bangkok. In the 17th century British, Portuguese, and Dutch merchants set up trading posts here and engaged in extensive commerce.

Stay with our Hotel Partners in Nakhon Si Thammarat

The following hotels and resorts have special safety measures in place due to the global Coronavirus Pandemic.

Get in

By car

Take Hwy 4 on the Bangkok-Prachuap Khiri Khan-Chumphon route and then Hwy 41 past Surat Thani-Thung Song until arriving in Nakhon Si Thammarat or Phun Phin in Surat Thani, then take Hwy 401 along the coast to Nakhon Si Thammarat, total distance of 780 km.

By plane

  • Nakhon Si Thammarat Airport.

Two airlines operate flights between Bangkok and Nakhon Si Thammarat:

  • Air Asia.
  • Nok Air.

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By train

Thai Railways offers rapid and express trains departing from Bangkok Railway Station to Nakhon Si Thammarat at 17:35 and 19:15. For more information, Tel. 1690, +66 2 2237010, +66 2 2237020 or call Nakhon Si Thammarat train station at tel. +66 75 356364, +66 75 346129. The train takes anywhere from 12-14 hours.

Trains leave the NST Terminal for Bangkok daily at 13:00 and 15:00. The NST station is to the west of town centre. Nearby are hotels, restaurants, and cafes.

Trains also depart NST station for Hatyai at 6 am and 10 am.

By bus

Regular and air-conditioned buses of The Transport Co. and private companies depart from Bangkok’s Southern Bus Terminal. The trip takes about 12 hours. Air conditioned buses, 3 types, leave Bangkok at the following times:

  • VIP Bus: 17:15 and 19:00
  • Standard 1 Bus: 09:00, 18:00, and 20:30
  • Standard 2 Bus: 06:40, 18:00, 20:00, and 22:00

For more information, contact Tel. +66 2 4351199-200 (air conditioned buses).

Nakhon Si Thammarat Bus Station, Tel: +66 75 341125. The provincial bus station lies just outside the town, to the west. On the streets near the train station there are a number of bus company offices selling tickets for buses leaving for provinces north and south.

Travel within the province is easy with minibus service around the city. Transport to nearby provinces includes vans, taxis, buses, and trains.

Get around

See

  • City Museum. Admission free.
  • The City Wall (กำแพงเมือง). The city chronicle already mentions a fortification when the town was reestablished in 1278. Restorations were recorded at the time of King Ramesuan (14th century), as well as King Narai (1686). The latter was aided by the French engineer, M. de la Mare. The walls spread 456 m from east to west, and 2,238 m north to south, enclosing an area of about one square kilometre. The northern wall had only one gate, called Prathu Chai Nua or Prathu Chai Sak. The southern wall had only one gate. To the east there were three gates, which connected the town with the sea. To the west were five gates. Today only the northern gate still exists, together with a short stretch of the northern city wall.
  • National Museum Nakhon Si Thammarat (พิพิธภัณฑสถานแห่งชาติ นครศรีธรรมราช). The museum has on display artifacts found in four southern provinces, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Phatthalung, Surat Thani, and Chumphon. There is a good collection of rare books and important books sent by the National Library in Bangkok.
  • Wat Phra Mahathat (วัดพระมหาธาตุวรมหาวิหาร). The most important temple in Nakhon Si Thammarat and southern Thailand. It was constructed at the time of the founding of the town, and contains a tooth relic of Buddha. The 78 m high chedi is surrounded by 173 smaller ones. While the chedi is now in Sri Lankan style, it is said to have been built on top of an earlier Srivijaya-style chedi. At the base of the chedi is a gallery named Viharn Tap Kaset, decorated with many Buddha statues and elephant heads emerging from the chedi. Viharn Phra Song Ma is the buildings which contains the staircase which leads to a walkway around the chedi above the gallery. At the bottom of the staircase are demon giants (yak) as guardians. Adjoining to the north is the Viharn Kien, which contains a small temple museum. South of the chedi is the large ubosot building, the Viharn Luang. Living quarters are across the street in a separate temple, Wat Na Phra Boromathat. The chedi is the symbol of Nakhon Si Thammarat Province, prominent on the seal of the province. It is also displayed on the 25 satang coin.
  • Wat Phra Mahathat Woramahawihan (วัดพระมหาธาตุวรมหาวิหาร) A royal temple. Inside the temple are many buildings of importance, especially the royal building which has architecture from the Ayutthaya period and the Sam Chom building where the Buddha image, attired in royal wardrobe Phra Si Thamma Sokarat, is housed.
  • Phra Phutthaishing (พระพุทธสิหิงค์) This sacred image was believed to have been ordered by the King of Lanka in 157 CE and was brought to Thailand during the reign of King Ramkhamhaeng the Great. The hall housing the image was originally the Buddha image hall of the palace of Chao Phraya Nakhon (Noi).
  • Ho Phra Isuan (หอพระอิศวร) is a historical site of the Brahman religion. It has on display the Shiva Linga which is the symbol of Shiva, the Brahman god. There are also several bronze images such as the Siwa Nattarat image, Phra Uma, and Phra Phikkhanet.
  • Ho Phra Narai (หอพระนารายณ์) is a Brahman place of worship opposite Ho Phra Isuan. A gray sandstone image of the god Narai wearing a hat and holding a conch in the right hand was discovered in the hall.
  • Phra Wihan Sung (พระวิหารสูง) The building houses plaster images with a fat clay core. The images are either from the 23rd-24th Buddhist century or from the late-Ayutthaya period.
  • The Thai-style monks’ residence of Wat Wang Tawan Tok (กุฏิทรงไทยวัดวังตะวันตก) The three houses have a pointed roof connected to the other and there are exquisite Nakhon Si Thammarat designs on the walls, doors, windows, and vents. The Siam Architects Society named these houses the best conservation effort in the area of historical sites and temples in 1992.
  • Wat Chai Na Meditation Centre (สำนักวิปัสสนากรรมฐานวัดชายนา) Meditation courses are held for Thais and foreigners. The famous monk Phutthathat Bhikkhu established the centre as a branch of his monastery in Surat Thani.
  • Chinese buildings at Wat Pradu and Wat Chaeng (เก๋งจีนวัดประดู่และวัดแจ้ง) Built in the early Rattanakosin period, they house the ashes of Phraya Nakhon and believed to also have the ashes of King Taksin the Great.
  • Chedi Yak (เจดีย์ยักษ์) is the province’s second-tallest pagoda after Phra Borom That pagoda. It is said that the pagoda was built by Khotkhiri, a wealthy Mon, and his employees when they took refuge in the city in 1003.
  • Residence of Ok Ya Sena Phimuk (Yamada Nagamasa) (จวนออกญาเสนาภิมุข – ยามาดา นางามาซา) who was a Japanese volunteer soldier living in the Ayutthaya period during the reign of King Songtham. He was rewarded for his many contributions to the palace by being appointed Ok Ya Sena Phimuk and as the lord of Nakhon Si Thammarat in 1629.
  • Wirathai Monument (อนุสาวรีย์วีรไทย) is made of blackened copper. The locals call this monument Cha Dam or Chao Pho Dam. It was erected to honor Thai soldiers in southern Thailand who died fighting the invading Japanese in World War II on 8 December 1941.
  • Arts and Culture Centre of Nakhon Si Thammarat Rajabhat Institute (สำนักศิลปและวัฒนธรรม สถาบันราชภัฏนครศรีธรรมราช) It is the centre of information on archaeological sites discovered in the province. The most important artifacts here are the stone inscriptions found at Khao Chong Khoi and artifacts from the ancient community at Wat Mok Lan.
  • Somdet Phra Sri Nakharin 84 Park (สวนสมเด็จพระศรีนครินทร์ 84) Originally part of Ratcharudi Park in the time of King Rama V, the park has an open zoo, a bird park, a health park, and a lake which is home to waterfowl that migrate here during January to March every year.
  • Mueang Nakhon Reception House (เรือนรับรองเมืองนคร) was built to receive the king and Crown Princess Maha Chakri when they visited the city. It is in an old fruit orchard of the Thongsamak family which built the house for the royal family on behalf of the city’s people.
  • Wat Khao Khun Phanom and the Khao Khun Phanom Scientific Study Centre (วัดเขาขุนพนมและศูนย์วิทยาศาสตร์เพื่อการศึกษาเขาขุนพนม) Wat Khao Khun Phanom is a temple of historical and archaeological importance. The temple has a cave lined with brick and marked with heart-shaped stones marking the limits of the temple similar to those along the city wall.
  • Wat Tham Thong Phannara (วัดถ้ำทองพรรณรา) It became tradition that on the first full-moon night of the 11th lunar month (October) people would pay homage to the reclining image and the images representing the nuns called Phra Pring and Phra Prang.
  • Khao Kha (แหล่งโบราณคดีเขาคา) is a sacred religious place of the Saiwanikai sect which worships Shiva as its highest god. Many artifacts used in rites have been found here including phallic symbols, holy water pipes, ruins, and an ancient pond.
  • Wat That Tharam or Wat Khao That (วัดธาตุธารามหรือวัดเขาธาตุ) The entire pagoda is made of coral in the shape of an inverted jar. The pagoda is surrounded by Buddha images of red sandstone.
  • Wat Parian (วัดป่าเรียน) This new wat has a museum and is founded on remains of an ancient temple where Ganesha statue was found.
  • Museum Honouring the King for the Development of Pak Phanang Basin (พิพิธภัณฑ์เฉลิมพระเกียรติเพื่อพัฒนาพื้นที่ลุ่มน้ำปากพนัง) is a museum dedicated to the king’s Project to Develop Pak Phanang Basin in Nakhon Si Thammarat, Phatthalung, and Songkhla.
  • Wat Nantharam (วัดนันทาราม) used to be called Wat Tai and currently houses Luang Pho Phut, a red sandstone Buddha image from the Ayutthaya period. In addition, the temple houses a giant phallic symbol found at Khao Kha archaeological site and is believed to be around 1,200 years old.
  • Kuan Im Goddess Image (พระโพธิสัตว์กวนอิม) is a large white plaster image. The image is in the middle of a large pond surrounded by fountains.

Do

  • Thalad Park (2km N of the city). A good place to spend a relaxing day. The landscaping is impressive though it is not well maintained. The city museum is near the entrance.

Festivals

A procession of Buddhists bearing a long cloth during Hae Pha Khuen That Festival at Wat Phra Maha That Woramahawihan, in Nakhon Si Thammarat Province

  • Hae Pha Khuen That Festival (ประเพณีแห่ผ้าขึ้นธาตุ) is celebrated at Phra Borom That Chedi. The pagoda is considered to be the representative of Lord Buddha and is believed by locals to possess unsurpassed might of righteousness as it contains holy relics. Every year Buddhists pay homage to the pagoda by organizing a procession bearing a religious cloth to wrap around the pagoda to bring good fortune and success. This festival is held twice a year during Makha Bucha Day (the 15th full-moon night of February) and Wisakha Bucha Day (the 15th full-moon night of May).
  • Festival of the Tenth Lunar Month (ประเพณีเทศกาลเดือนสิบ) is a grand event of the province and of southern Thailand. This festival is held from the 1st waning-moon night to the 15th waning-moon night every September. It is held to pay respect to deceased ancestors. According to Buddhism beliefs, the dead had many sins and were sent to hell to become a demon. The demons are allowed to come up to meet their relatives for 15 days in September, but must return to hell before sunrise of the 15th day. The living tries to appease the spirits by taking food to temples to make merit. Beginning on the 13th day, people will go shopping for food to be given. The 14th day is spent preparing and decorating the food tray, and the 15th day is the actual merit-making day. The tray presented nowadays has elaborate designs but still retains traditional components. Contests to find the most beautiful tray are held. A magnificent procession proceeds along Ratchadamnoen Road on the 14th day.
  • Chak Phra or Lak Phra Festival (ประเพณีชักพระหรือลากพระ) is influenced by Indian culture, which expanded into the province a long time ago. The festival signifies the joy that people had when Buddha returned from a star and was invited to sit on a throne and carried to a palace. In practice, locals bear a Buddha image holding a bowl in a procession around the city. This is a great way for escape from daily routine and it is a fun competition to find who is the most religious. Held in October, the festival is preceded by activities seven days before, such as beating drums, playing castanets, and decorating the ceremonial throne for the image. The actual ceremony is usually held only on the last day of the Buddhist Lent. People take the image from the temple in the morning and proceed to Benchama Rachuthit School in Amphoe Mueang. This is also done in front of Ron Phibun district office. In addition, there is a water-borne procession on Pak Phanang River in Pak Phanang, which coincides with an annual boat race for a trophy from the crown princess.
  • Cow fighting (กีฬาชนวัว) is an ancient sport of Nakhon Si Thammarat. Many details are involved in staging a contest. Cows selected will have the best breeding and will be trained and carefully looked after. The contest itself is held weekly with districts not far from the city, Mueang, Pak Phanang, Chawang, Thung Song, Hua Sai, and Ron Phibun.

Buy

  • The Big C supermarket is around 10 min walk from the train station within the city.
  • Robinson is a shopping mall with a basement full of computer and mobile shops. The main mobile companies all have their support centres here.

Local products

  • Niello ware (เครื่องถมนคร) (Souvenir shops along Tha Chang Road). There are two types: black surface with white designs and black surface with gold designs. Niello ware of this province is popular for its durability and intricate designs by hand. The finished product is a bright, shiny black object with beautiful patterns.  (updated Aug 2019)
  • Yan Li Phao basketry (จักสานย่านลิเภา) (Ban Tha Rua on Rte 4019, 11 km from town). Yan Li Phao (ย่านลิเภา) is a clinging vine that grows in damp places. It split into threads and woven into beautiful products The trunk is very tough and durable, so locals found a way to make good use of it by making household goods such as handbags, tobacco boxes, and utensils. Locals have been making it for over 100 years. Very nice stuff, but pricey, so don’t be bashful about bargaining.
  • Necklaces (สร้อยนะโม สร้อยเงิน สร้อยสามกษัตริย์) have long been the work of local silversmiths who can create gold, silver, and mixed (gold, silver and an alloy) necklaces.
  • Shadow play figures (การแกะหนังตลุง) is an art that goes with the popular southern entertainment of shadow play. Thai shadow play figures have been transformed from those found in Java so that they are now very Thai. The hands and feet of the figures are fully movable during performances. The hide used can be either cow or goat hide.
  • Kapho fans (พัดใบกระพ้อ) are made from a kind of palm called “ton pho” by locals. The leaves are dried and then woven into fans. Some are dyed into bright colors and sold at reasonable prices. Kapho fans are well known and sold throughout the country.
  • Pha Yok is a cloth woven only in Nakhon Si Thammarat. The patterns and colours of the fabric are exquisite.

Eat

  • JE Cafe and Restaurant, 1763/6-7 Road, Jamruenwithee, Thawang. Small cafe and restaurant, with Wi-Fi.
  • Kanom La Nim (ขนมลานิ่ม). A ready-to-eat sweetened flour treat which comes in sheets. It cannot be preserved for more than a week.
  • Kanom La Tod (ขนมลาทอด). A crispy fried sweetened flour confection which is folded into small bite-size pieces.

Where to stay in Nakhon Si Thammarat

Budget

  • Bua Luang Hotel, 1487/19 Chamroenwithi Road (Near night market / Train station) , fax: +66 75 343418. The name on the sign of the hotel is Bueloung Hotel. The large rooms are clean and it’s hard to beat at 170 Thai Baht for a single room with bath. The owners are very genuine. It has 235 rooms. Double fan private bedroom, 240 Thai Baht; single air-con private bedroom, 340 Thai Baht; double air-con private bedroom, 420 Thai Baht. 240+ Thai Baht. (updated Mar 2019)
  • Montien Hotel, 1509/40 Yommarat Road (Beside the train station and opposite the night market) , fax: +66 75 345561. The rooms are average, the staff speak limited English and the hotel isn’t even signposted in English. It’s not worth spending the extra money especially when the Thai Hotel is just down the road. 80 rooms. Single fan private bedroom, 260 Thai Baht; double fan private bedroom, 290 Thai Baht; double air-con private bedroom, 450 Thai Baht. 260+ Thai Baht.
  • Muang Tong Hotel, 1459/7-8-9 Jamrernvitee Road. Well visible, newish looking hotel but inside the air smells of stale cigarettes. Very popular with Thais. Double air-con rooms for 350-400 Thai Baht (warm water, Thai TV, desk); fan rooms 250-300 Thai Baht. Free Wi-Fi in rooms. Most uncomfortable pillows known to man, hard beds. Lots of street eateries and shopping options just outside. 350+ Thai Baht.
  • Nakhon Hotel, 1477/5 Yommarat Road. A cheaper version of the Bua Long. The rooms are large need decorating and the bathrooms are in dire need of a makeover, but at least the beds are comfortable. Rooms are clean and windows have mosquito nets. 5 min walk to train station. The staff speak a little English. 42 rooms. Double fan private bath, 200 Thai Baht; double air-con private bath, 350 Thai Baht. 200+ Thai Baht.
  • Phech Phai Lin, 1835/38-39 Yommarat Road (Near the train station). The polite staff are the biggest asset here. Unfortunately, the rooms look more like a YMCA sans the Village People than a hotel and the appearance makes the hotel look run down. 78 rooms. Double air-con private bedroom, 360 Thai Baht. 360+ Thai Baht.
  • Siam Hotel, 1403/17 Chamroenwithi Road (Near the train station & night market). The price for a single with fan is more expensive than other hotels. However, the price for an air-con room is very affordable. The bathrooms could use an upgrade. 60 rooms, Single fan private bath 200 Thai Baht; double air-con private bath, 300 Thai Baht. 200+ Thai Baht.
  • Silver Mansion (Light green 6-storey building on an alley off Jamroenwitee Road, a stone’s throw south of Muang Tong Hotel). Not signposted in English, also no English spoken at reception. Spartan rooms, but reasonably clean (have a cockroach problem though). Double air-con rooms 270 Thai Baht (cold water, Thai TV, no fridge, curiously no sink); fan rooms 220 Thai Baht. Wi-Fi available at lobby area. Lots of cheap food stalls on Jamroenwitee Road in front. 220+ Thai Baht.
  • Thai Hotel, 1375 Ratchadamnoen Road. Central, large clean rooms. Free Wi-Fi in rooms. Has a cafe that serves fresh coffee and a bar that stays open late. The night market is two blocks away. Looks like a more expensive hotel, but rooms are from 320 Thai Baht. 320+ Thai Baht.
  • 8.38883699.9789721 Blue Hip Apartment Nakhon Sri, 2/271 Pattanakarn-Khukhwang Road., Tambon Nai Mueang, Mueang Nakhon Si Thammarat District, Nakhon Si Thammarat 80000 , ✉ mysugarcat_ploy@hotmail.com. Apartment for rent near Home Pro Nakhon Sri Thammarat, 28 sqm. room with fully furnish 400 – 500 Thai Baht. (updated Oct 2016)
  • 8.43360399.961082 V.House Nakhon, 1209/30 Yomaraj Road , ✉ chudamas.s@gmail.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. V.House Nakhon is fully furnished and many even provide such as internet access – wireless (complimentary), air conditioning, telephone, television, satellite/cable TV. 320-400 Thai Baht. (updated Oct 2016)

Mid-range

  • Green Place Guest House, 266/24-26 King’s Park Village, Ratchadamneon Road, Tawang (north end of town, opposite town stadium). 600 Thai Baht.

Cope

Medical facilities

  • Maharaj Nakhon Si Thammarat Hospital.  (updated Aug 2019)
  • Walailak University Hospital.  (updated Aug 2019)

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Former founder of Asiarooms.com and now reporting mainly on the Asia Pacific region and the global Coronavirus crises in countries such as Thailand, Germany & Switzerland. Born near Cologne but lived in Berlin during my early teenage years. A longterm resident of Bangkok, Udon Thani, Sakon Nakhon and Phuket. A great fan of Bali, Rhodes & Corfu.

Southern Thailand

Phi Phi Island : Travel Guide, with Info on Nightlife, What to See & Covid-19 Report

Ko Phi Phi (หมู่เกาะพีพี) is a small archipelago in Krabi Province, Southern Thailand. Understand Aerial photo of Ko Phi Phi Don The named islands are: Ko Phi Phi Don. The largest and only populated island.  Ko Phi Phi Leh. A smaller island to the south, popularised when parts of the movie The Beach were filmed […]

Wolfgang Holzem

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phiphi1000x600

Ko Phi Phi (หมู่เกาะพีพี) is a small archipelago in Krabi Province, Southern Thailand.

Understand

The named islands are:

  • Ko Phi Phi Don. The largest and only populated island.
  • Ko Phi Phi Leh. A smaller island to the south, popularised when parts of the movie The Beach were filmed there. Uninhabited apart from birds nest harvesters and a few Maya Bay wardens. Expect plenty of tourists during daylight hours, especially in Maya Bay, also known as “the beach”.
  • Bida Nok and Bida Nai. Two small adjacent limestone karst formations to the south of Phi Phi Leh, with near-vertical cliff walls rising from the sea.
  • Ko Mai Phai (Bamboo Island). A small low-lying islet to the north of Phi Phi Don with several good beaches.
  • Ko Yung (north of Ko Phi Phi Don). The island has a stone beach in the east and small sandy beaches at the foot of the hills. It is teeming with colourful coral reefs.

Most of the development of Phi Phi Don is in or around Ton Sai Village, which is on the low, sandy isthmus that joins the two hilly spurs that comprise the rest of the island. There are also other, quieter resorts on Long Beach, Laem (Cape) Thong, and at other less accessible areas of the island.

Ko Phi Phi was devastated by the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004, when the island’s entire infrastructure was nearly wiped out. Redevelopment was, however, swift, and building regulations in place to limit the height of new buildings to preserve the island’s stunning views.

While very laid back, many of the local islanders are Muslim. You will lose considerable respect if you walk around town in your skimpies (this applies to Buddhist areas of Thailand too!). While many thoughtless tourists do parade down Main Street in their Speedos or thong bikinis, to avoid offending your hosts, it’s best just to throw on a pair of shorts or a sarong. Similarly, going topless on the beach, while grudgingly tolerated by most locals, is also best avoided.

Stay with our Hotel Partners on Ko Phi Phi

The following hotels and resorts have special safety measures in place due to the global Coronavirus Pandemic.

Climate & Weather

Weather in the region is tropical. There are only two seasons: the hot season from Jan-Apr, and the rainy season from May-Dec. Temperatures during the year average 25°C to 32°C (77°F to 89.6°F) and the yearly rainfall averages 2569 mm. Unlike in, say, Europe, the rain in this region comes down heavily over short periods.

History

From archaeological evidence, it is believed that the area was one of the oldest communities in Thailand, dating back to the prehistoric period. It is believed that this province may have taken its name after the meaning of “Krabi”, which means “sword”. This may have arisen from a legend that an ancient sword was unearthed prior to the city’s founding.

The name Phi Phi (pronounced “pee pee”) originates from Malay, the original name for the islands were “Pulao Pi ah Pi”. The name refers to the mangrove wood found here.

Geography

Ko Phi Phi is considered to be one of the most naturally beautiful islands in the world (in fact, there are six islands in Phi Phi). They lie 50 km southeast of Phuket and are part of Had Nopparattara-Ko Phi Phi National Park which is home to an abundance of corals and amazing marine life. There are limestone mountains with cliffs, caves and long white sandy beaches. The national park covers a total area of 242,437 rai (about 39,000 hectares; 97,000 acres).

Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Le are the largest and most well-known islands. The islands are surrounded by the Andaman Sea.

There are two villages on Ko Phi Phi under the administration of Ao Nang sub-district, Muang district, Krabi Province.

Get in

Note: Tourism to Ko Yoong in the Phi Phi island chain and Ko Tachai in the Similan Islands National Park was shut down permanently in 2016. Maya Bay (on Phi Phi Leh island in the Andaman Sea) is closed indefinitely (as of October 2018) to repair environmental damage caused by an glut of visitors.

By plane

Krabi International Airport , Tel. +66 75 636541-2, is about 10 km from the city limits, 15 km from the city centre, 40 km from Ao Nang, and 23 km from Had Yao.

Thai Airways operates daily direct flights from Bangkok, likewise Air Asia from Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. Bangkok Airways flies direct from Krabi and Ko Samui nearly every day of the week. Nok Air operates daily flights to Krabi from Bangkok (Don Mueang).

Air Asia has a special “Island Transfer” offering that includes a flight from Bangkok to Phuket, surface transport, and a ferry to Ko Phi Phi. It can be booked at their website.

  • Air Asia, Tel. +66 2 5159999.
  • Bangkok Airways, Tel. +66 2 6555555, +66 2 2655678.
  • Nok Air, Tel. +66 2 6272000 or 1318.
  • Thai Airways, Tel. 1566, +66 2 2800060, +66 2 6282000, +66 2 3561111, +66 75 701591–93.

The international departure tax extra charge is 700 Thai Baht but is included in most ticket prices. Domestic departure tax is included in the price of the flight.

National Car Rental and Budget Car Rental have branches at the airport. Motorcycle taxis are available outside the terminal.

Krabi Limousine (Tel. +66 75 692073) has a desk inside the terminal and provides “limousine taxi” (using large air-conditioned sedans) transport to Krabi for 500 Thai Baht, Phuket for 2,500 Thai Baht.

Air-conditioned airport bus service is 90 Thai Baht to Krabi. The bus service meets all incoming flights and serves most outgoing flights. A songthaew to Krabi town is 40 Thai Baht from the road near the airport. Going to the airport they will drop you right at the departure terminal.

By boat

Travelling to Ko Phi Phi by boat is how almost everyone arrives. Ferries leave from Phuket and Mainland Krabi daily (from Krabi, two ferries a day, 09:00, and 14:30, and from Phuket at 09:00, 11:00, and 14:30 (11:00 during high season only). Sailing time from Phuket or Krabi is 1.5-2 hours. Tickets can be purchased on the dock, from tourist offices, most local guesthouses and hotels or online at Phi Phi Ferry or Phuket Ferry (Online seems to be more expensive). There is a 20 Thai Baht per person fee required on the pier for “keeping Ko Phi Phi clean”. Unfortunately, there is still plenty of rubbish on the beaches.

Ticket prices:

  • From Ko Lanta: 350 Thai Baht.
  • From Krabi Town: 300 Thai Baht from PP Family, office right by the pier in town. Includes songthaew to the pier outside town. The normal passenger ferry does not leave from the centre of town any more, but from a new passenger port (Klong Jilard Pier Tel. +66 75 620052) about 3 km outside Krabi Town. Free taxi transfer to the pier should be included in the price of your ticket. Many times they’ll take you to a travel agent near the Chao Fah Pier and sell you additional accommodations or services. Only ever buy the ticket you need. Additional ferries are added during peak season.
  • From Ao Nang: 400 Thai Baht one way (including transfer from hotel to Noppharat Peir) 0930 and 1530.
  • From Phuket Airport: To Rassada Pier (Phuket) by meter taxi for around 500 Thai Baht. It’s about a 30 km drive and takes 45 minutes depending on traffic and climate.
  • From Phuket Pier (Rassada): 600 Thai Baht one-way/1,000 Thai Baht round trip when bought at the pier. It’s possible to get 300-350 Thai Baht one-way tickets as part of a deal with a guesthouse stay.

Ferries are all not of equal quality. Despite reports to the contrary, Andaman Wave Master will no longer take you for free to north Ko Phi Phi after the stop at Ton Sai pier (expect another 200 Thai Baht per person). Andaman Wave Master has also suffered a pretty big hit in customer service. Watch out for their Krabi representatives, who will offer to sell round-trip tickets at a discount with the option of changing the return destination to Phuket if you decide to take a different way back to the mainland. Representatives at both Ko Phi Phi and Phuket will refuse to refund or alter the tickets.

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Southern Thailand

Khao Lak : Travel Guide, with Info on Nightlife, What to See & Covid-19 Report

Khao Lak (เขาหลัก) is a 20 km long strip of coastal resorts in Phang Nga Province on the Andaman Sea beaches of Southern Thailand, about 100 km north of Phuket Town. When the disastrous tsunami of 2004 struck South Asia, the Khao Lak region was the hardest-hit area in Thailand with over 4,000 fatalities, more […]

Wolfgang Holzem

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Khao Lak (เขาหลัก) is a 20 km long strip of coastal resorts in Phang Nga Province on the Andaman Sea beaches of Southern Thailand, about 100 km north of Phuket Town. When the disastrous tsunami of 2004 struck South Asia, the Khao Lak region was the hardest-hit area in Thailand with over 4,000 fatalities, more than 3,000 more who were never accounted for, and thousands who were injured. It has since made an impressive recovery and is once again a popular tourism destination. Unlike Phuket, the many resorts in the Khao Lak area cater mainly to families and those looking for peace, quiet, and nature.

Understand

Khao Lak is a ~20 km stretch of lovely beaches along the Andaman Sea coastline set against a backdrop of jungle-covered mountains. The region is dotted with numerous resorts and tourist facilities.

The name “Khao Lak” translates as “Lak Mountain”. The mountain is the centerpiece of Khao Lak Lam Ru National Park.The headland formed as the mountain plunges into the sea near the southern end of the Khao Lak roughly marks the southern boundary of the Khao Lak region.

The attractions of Khao Lak are impressive and many, but they are not flashy. The expanses of lovely uncrowded parks, mountains, roads, and beaches, relatively unspoiled nature, easy access to great off-shore diving, accommodations ranging from luxury to basic, and an infrastructure that supports tourism, but not at the expense of local customs or the Thai way of life, appeal to an increasing number of visitors.

Stay with our Hotel Partners in Khao Lak

The following hotels and resorts have special safety measures in place due to the global Coronavirus Pandemic.

Compared with a place like Patong, Khao Lak can seem boring, especially during low season (Apr-Nov). If jet skis (forbidden in Khao Lak) or exotic nightlife and its associated attractions are the reason you’ve come to Thailand, Khao Lak is probably not the place for you. On the other hand, it’s an excellent vacation spot for people seeking to get off the treadmill, for family getaways, and for nature-lovers.

Films

Released in early-2013, The Impossible, a Spanish production (Spanish title: Lo Imposible), recounts the events of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami. Filmed on location in Khao Lak at the Orchid Beach Resort, it is the story of a family caught up in the events of 26 Dec 2004 and its aftermath. Starring Naomi Watts and Ewan MacGregor, the film incorporates stunning special effects recreating the tragic events of that day and the weeks following. Many Khao Lak residents participated in the filming as consultants or as extras.

Orientation, addresses, and navigation

The entire Khao Lak region straddles Phetkasem Road (ถนนเพชรเกษม, also Petchkasem Road or Thailand Route 4 (ทางหลวงแผ่นดินหมายเลข4), one of the four major highways in Thailand. At 1,274 km, it is the longest highway in Thailand, stretching from Bangkok to the Malaysian border.

The centre of the Khao Lak area is 37 km north of the Sarasin Bridge, gateway to Ko Phuket, 76 km north of Phuket International Airport, and 106 km north of Phuket City.

Driving north from Phuket, at km803 you will see a sign for Ban Khao Lak, a small village of little interest. Then, after climbing over Lak Mountain on a curvy road, you will descend into Bang La On, de facto heart of the Khao Lak region.

Khao Lak is laid out like a long strip mall. Early settlement patterns resulted in three population centres spaced out along the beaches. Since the 2004 tsunami, development in low-lying areas has tended to gravitate away from the beach, nearer to the highway.

The region hosts many resorts, scattered chiefly among three main urban areas, all containing businesses identifying themselves as “Khao Lak”. This can be confusing to visitors and it is useful to distinguish between the settlements.

From south to north the population centres are:

  • Bang La On
  • Bang Niang
  • Khuk Khak

Bang La On

Bang La On is the most tourist-oriented of the three main Khao Lak towns.

Stretching from km795 to km797, Bang La On is mistakenly called Khao Lak by most visitors. It has many shops, bars, restaurants and banks. Any given group of store fronts seems to consist of a souvenir shop, a tailor shop, a dive shop, a massage parlour, an eyewear shop, and a restaurant. Strolling along the short main town centre in the evening can be quite pleasant as there are pavements.

If you are travelling by bus and tell the conductor you are going to “Khao Lak”, Bang La On is where you will be let off the bus, near the Nang Thong Supermarket. This may be far from your intended destination, so try to be more specific if you are not staying near there.

Just south of the supermarket, Nang Thong Road leads to the town’s beach, Nang Thong.

Webcam: Just north of the Nang Thong Supermarket are the offices of Khao Lak Land Discovery, a local tour organiser. Their webcam is mounted on the roof of their building. It shows you a segment of Rte 4, roughly in the centre of Bang La On. Camera’s angle of view is to the southeast.

Bang Niang

A couple of kilometres north of Bang La On is Bang Niang. Bang Niang is more “Thai” and less “tourist” than Bang La On. The 7-Eleven at km793.3 roughly marks the town centre.

Bang Niang is not much to look at, but is home to the intermittent outdoor market (“talat nat” ตลาดนัด) that takes place in the centre of the town just south of the 7-Eleven on M-W-Sa, from roughly 13:00 until dark. You will find the market area dusty on dry days and muddy on wet days, so dress down for a visit.

Bang Niang is, increasingly, a centre of Khao Lak’s nightlife as it is home to a significant number of the area’s most popular bars, discos, and cabarets.

Bang Niang Beach can be accessed by turning towards the sea at the 7-Eleven shop in town centre.

Khuk Khak

Heading north again from Bang Niang, a couple of kilometres will bring you to Khuk Khak. It is even more Thai and less farang than Bang Niang and is the regional centre for things like hardware, paint, kitchen equipment, etc., i.e., all the infrastructural ingredients that keep the resorts running.

It has the daily “fresh market” (“talat sot” ตลาดสด) and the area’s only real, albeit tiny, bus station.

Khuk Khak Beach can be reached by turning at the signpost just south of km790 or, better, turning at the JW Marriott Hotel sign (km789.1) and following the signs to the hotel, then proceeding past it to the beach.

North of Khuk Khak are Pakarang Beach and Pakarang Cape (km787), Pakweep Beach (km784), and Bang Sak Beach (km780). The latter beach is just ~18 km south of Takua Pa.

Pakarang Beach is a beautiful and quiet beach overlooking Cape Pakarang and Andaman Sea beyond. During the high season (November to February), as well as parts of the low season, meals can be bought from nearby food outlets and consumed in the series of huts that have been constructed close to the shore. The setting provides a perfect meditative antidote all year round to the bustle of the Khao Lak area in general.

Navigating Khao Lak can be confusing to visitors because many businesses use their mailing addresses in ads and a mailing address can be very misleading. Almost the entire Khao Lak region (except Ban Khao Lak itself) is located in the Khuk Khak Sub-district of the Takua Pa District of Phang Nga Province. Mailing addresses in the area include both the district and sub-district. Thus a typical address will read: “Moo 3/15, Khuk Khak, Takua Pa, Phang Nga”. This would lead visitors to think that the business is in Khuk Khak. In reality, the business could be located in Bang La On or Bang Niang or Khuk Khak or anywhere else in the Khuk Khak Sub-district. The mailing address is of absolutely no help in finding the business. Be careful when reading tourist brochures as many businesses do not go to the trouble of telling you their physical location.

Climate & Weather

The climate of the Khao Lak region is under the influence of two monsoon winds of a seasonal nature: a southwest monsoon and a northeast monsoon. The southwest monsoon starts in April when a stream of warm moist air from the Indian Ocean moves inland resulting in significant rain. It peaks in October, Khao Lak’s wettest month. Subsequent months, under the influence of prevailing northeast winds, are much drier.

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Southern Thailand

Ko Lanta : Travel Guide, with Info on Nightlife, What to See & Covid-19 Report

Ko Lanta (เกาะลันตา) is an island off the Andaman Coast of Southern Thailand. Like many other destinations in Krabi Province, it is known for its diving and long white beaches. Contents 1 Understand 1.1 Orientation 1.2 Climate 1.3 Culture 2 Get in 2.1 By air 2.2 By passenger van 2.3 By car 2.4 By boat […]

Wolfgang Holzem

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Ko Lanta (เกาะลันตา) is an island off the Andaman Coast of Southern Thailand. Like many other destinations in Krabi Province, it is known for its diving and long white beaches.

Understand

Ko Lanta consists of several islands, the two largest of which are Ko Lanta Noi (เกาะลันตาน้อย, “Small Lanta Island”) and Ko Lanta Yai (เกาะลันตาใหญ่, “Big Lanta Island”). However, Ko Lanta Yai is where all the tourist action is, so this article will refer to it simply as “Ko Lanta”.

Ko Lanta is popular with tourists seeking a holiday away from the parties. It’s popular with a significantly older crowd than nearby Ko Phi Phi: more walking on the beach and watching the sunset than drinking and dancing. However, there are plenty of bars and the longer term stayers are friendly and know how to party. It is also popular with families with young children, and of course, with divers. Ko Lanta can provide a party if you know where to look.

Ko Lanta is a little less well-known than Ko Phi Phi, which has become more commercialised and corporate, but it is hardly undiscovered: the several beaches on the west coast of Ko Lanta Yai are each strung with a line of resorts and bungalows, although the farther down the island you venture, the less this is true. And even when the island is at it fullest, there will be a quiet place for you to relax – the beaches are never full. Ko Lanta is especially popular with Swedish tourists: although the “tourist language” is English as it is in most places in Thailand, and you will find menus and so on are translated into English, expect the poolside language to be Swedish much of the time. However, there are still many English and Irish bars and restaurants.

Ko Lanta was hit by the tsunami in December 2004, which killed 20 people, but virtually all businesses are now operating normally again.

Visit our Resort Partners on Ko Lanta

The following hotels and resorts have special safety measures in place due to the global Coronavirus Pandemic.

Orientation

The main island is 6 km wide and over 30 km long, and approximately 70 km from Krabi Town. The island has 9 attractive white sandy beaches and splendid scenery. Off the coast are more than 70 small islands and plenty with forest, coral reefs and sea life. The geography of the island is typically mangroves, coral rimmed beaches and rugged tree-covered hills.

A paved road runs along the beaches from the northern part of the island almost all the way to the southern tip. The last 8 km leading to the headquarters of the Mu Ko Lanta National Park in the south are quite hilly and aren’t yet paved so can become quite tricky to negotiate if it rains. The landscape is dominated by a series of mountains covered with rainforest. To the east is an old settlement.

Ban Saladan (near Saladan pier, approximately 3 km from Klong Dao Beach) — is the tourist centre of Ko Lanta. Facilities include inexpensive and easy to find transport, diving trips, banking and shopping.

Climate

Weather in the region is tropical and there are two basic monsoons:

During the months of November – April the island experiences the dry monsoon, northeasterly prevailing winds come overland and bring dry air. Temperatures rise during March/April and it get’s quite arid and dusty on the island after many months of no rain.

May – October is the wet monsoon season, where southwesterly winds bring wetter weather from the indian ocean. Around April the season changes and the increase in rain helps revitalise the island to its tropical lushness, everything regrows and the cool wet spells brings relief from the heat of the dry season.

Temperatures during the year average 25ºC to 32ºC (77ºF to 89.6ºF) and the yearly rainfall averages 2569 mm. Unlike in say Europe, the rain in this region comes down heavily and quickly over short periods. The sea stays at a warm 29°C all year round.

Culture

Krabi and Ko Lanta are a melange of Buddhists, Thai-Chinese, Muslims and even sea gypsies. The majority of the population in the rural areas is Muslim. Most of the people speak with a thick southern dialect which is difficult for even other Thais to understand.

With this kind of mixture, Krabi is always celebrating something be it part of Thai Buddhist, Thai-Chinese or Thai-Islamic tradition.

The unique lifestyle of the Chao-Le (sea-gypsy) in Ko Lanta particularly is well-worth seeing, a life-style that has been almost completely unaffected by the booming tourism on the island.

Get in

By air

The nearest airports are Krabi, Trang and Phuket. Krabi and Trang have direct road and boat connections to Ko Lanta, and are the best options if you’re only visiting Ko Lanta. Flying into Phuket is a better option if you’re intending to spend time in Phuket and nearby islands, or, since Phuket has many more international flights, if you don’t want to have to organize a domestic flight to Krabi or Trang from Bangkok. As an alternative to Bangkok, there are daily flights to Krabi directly to and from Singapore, as well as Kuala Lumpur.

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There is scheduled van service from Krabi Airport taking roughly 2.5 hours, 250 Thai Baht if prearranged and 400-500 Thai Baht if arranging it at the airport (2016). When going back to the airport from the island, van can be booked via any tourist office for 250-300 Thai Baht, departs every round hour in the morning.

Private vans and taxis can be chartered to Ko Lanta for about 2,000 Thai Baht per vehicle (2,500 Thai Baht if you are going to the south end of Ko Lanta).

Air Asia and Nok Air have a special “Island Transfer” offering that includes a flight from Bangkok to Krabi, surface transport to the port, and a ferry to Ko Lanta. It can all be booked at their websites for additional price: Air Asia 470 Thai Baht, Nok Air 900 Thai Baht (2016).

Alternative to passenger van is an express transfer – the quickest albeit much more expensive way to get from Krabi Airport (2,045 Thai Baht per person) and Phuket Airport (3,350 Baht per person) to Ko Lanta. It is a combination of minivan and speedboat travel. If you arrive early you will not have to wait for the ferry and if you arrive late at these airports you can still arrive on Ko Lanta the same day. From Krabi airport a 45 minute air conditioned minivan to the first car ferry port. You then go on board the speedboat which then takes you on a stunning boat ride across the water along the coastline of Ko Lanta. The journey takes around 15 minutes depending on weather and conditions. You will arrive directly in Saladan (alternately written as Sala Dan) on Ko Lanta, where you are then transferred to your hotel by car. That means the total journey time should be 1.5 to 2 hours. This eliminates the waiting time at the car ferry and also if you are going from Ko Lanta to one of these airports allows you more time to enjoy your visit.

By passenger van

There is a minivan service that runs between Krabi Town and Ko Lanta, However it must be booked in advance through your hotel or someone local, the cost is 400 Thai Baht per person. Book early as it fills up quickly. It will pickup and drop off at the airport. You should factor in 3-4 hours to get from Ko Lanta to the airport, since the minivan will pickup and drop off other people along the way.

Vans going to Ao Nang cost 450 Thai Baht (2016), 3 hours, number of vans greatly varies during a year.

By car

The distance from Bangkok to Krabi is approx 950 km or about 12 hr by car.

  • Route 1: Phetburi-Prachuap Khiri Khan-Chumphon-Phang Nga-Krabi = 946 km.
  • Route 2: Phetburi-Prachuap Khiri Khan-Chumphon (Hwy 41) to Chaiya (Surat Thani)-Krabi (Viangsra) – Hwy 4035 – Krabi (Ao Luk) and along Hwy 4 again = 814 km.

Ko Lanta does not have roads connecting it directly to the mainland, but is served by car ferries. Take Rte 4206 off Hwy 4 about 20 km southeast of Krabi airport. Drive to the end of the road, where there is a car ferry from Baan Hua Hin to Ko Lanta Noi. From the pier here, turn right and follow the “ferry” signs to the second car ferry to Ko Lanta Yai. Ferries operate 07:00-22:00.

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