Nakhon Si Thammarat, the second largest province of the South and the land of predominant Buddhism during the Srivijaya Period, is 780 kilometres from Bangkok. It occupies an area of 9,942 square kilometres consisting of high plateaus and mountains in the west, then sloping down towards the east and becoming a basin along the coastline of the Gulf of Thailand.
In addition to its great history, Nakhon Si Thammarat boasts pristine verdant jungles abundant with luxuriant vegetation and is also noted for picturesque beaches and beautiful waterfalls.
In the past, every major town has a Wat Mahathat associated with it. The one here is considered to be one of Thailand 's most sacred temples and is believed to be at least 1,000 years old. The main chedi, dating to the 13 th century, is topped with a golden peak (weighing 600-1,000 kg) and houses Buddha relics believed to have been brought from Sri Lanka. Within the same compound is the Wiharn (hall) Phra Ma with an elaborately carved emerald-inlaid door from the Sukhothai period.
Religious art and artifacts from the earlier Dvaravati and Srivijayan periods to the more recent Rattanakosin era, are exhibited at the Nakhon Si Thammarat National Museum. Buddha images have a distinctive Sing style characterized by stumpy features and animated faces. Highlights include a 9th-century, southern Indian style statue of Vishnu, and 2 rare bronze drums from northern Vietnam. Also on display are local folk art and handicrafts.
The Shadow Puppet Theater (nang talung) preserves a uniquely Southeast Asian form of entertainment that is in danger of dying out in Thailand. The puppets are cut from leather and available for sale. Impromptu shows can be performed upon request.
The Phra Buddha Sing is one of Thailand 's most sacred Buddha images. The replica of the original, cast in Sri Lanka in 157 AD, was brought to the town at the end of the 13th century, and is housed in the shrine of the same name. Local artisans refined the image with a half smile, a rounder face, and fuller chest, similar to the Buddha images in Wat Phra Sing in Chiang Mai and the National Museum in Bangkok.
The tradition of gold and silver shops along the Tha Chang Road dates from 1804, when only skilled gold and silversmiths migrants were allowed to settle in this area.
The sandy area of Khanom Beach is both tranquil and scenic, located 100 km north of the provincial capital.
Wat Sao Thong (Golden Pillar Temple) features a Southern-style Thai wooden house that was constructed in 1888 and finished in 1901. It actually consists of 3 houses joined together, and features elaborately carved wooden doors, panels, and windows. The Architect's Association of Thailand presented the structure with a conservation award in 1993.
For shopping, the Bovorn Bazaar is the right place to be. The city center bazaar is a peaceful courtyard with many cafes, bars and restaurants, a popular meeting place with the locals.
The Kiriwong Village, located at the foot of the 1,835 meters high Luang Mountain, is an ideal base station for those wanting to hike to the mountain's summit. The village is set among lush forests and cool streams. The village had once been totally devastated by floods and landslides in 1988.
Regarded as one of the most beautiful caves in Thailand, the locals have been highly active in preserving the original natural beauty of Khao Wang Thong Cave.
Wat Phra Mahathat Woramahawihan is located on Ratchadamnoen Road in Tambon Nai Mueang. This is a first class royal temple. Formerly named Wat Phra Borom That, this is one of the most important historical sites in southern Thailand and in all of Thailand. According to the legend of Phra Borom That Nakhon Si Thammarat, Prince Thanakuman and Queen Hem Chala brought Buddha relics to Hat Sai Kaeo and built a small pagoda to mark the location. Later on, King Si-Thamma Sokarat established the city of Nakhon Si Thammarat and built a new pagoda. The present pagoda has a distinctive Sri Lankan style, measuring 55.78 metres high (measured by the Fine Arts Department during the renovation of the gold top in 1995). The height from the lotus base to the gold top is 6.80 metres. The top is entirely covered with pure gold. Inside the temple are many buildings of importance, especially the royal building which has beautiful architecture from the Ayutthaya period, and the Sam Chom building where the Buddha image attired in royal wardrobe, Phra Si Thamma Sokarat, is housed. There are also the Phra Maha Phinetkrom (the equestrian image) building and the Thap Kaset building, while the Khian and Pho Lanka buildings are used to display artifacts that were donated to the temple by Buddhists.
Phra Phutthasihing is housed in the Phra Phuttha Sihing hall near the Provincial Hall. This sacred image was believed to have been ordered by the king of Lanka in 157 AD and was brought to Thailand during the reign of King Ramkhamhaeng the Great. There are currently 3 similar images in Thailand. One is housed at the National Museum in Bangkok, another at Wat Phra Sing in Chiang Mai and this image in Nakhon Si Thammarat. The hall housing the image was originally the Buddha image hall of the palace of Chao Phraya Nakhon (Noi). The hall is divided into 2 parts; the front portion houses Phra Phuttha Sihing, Phra Lak Ngoen and Phra Lak Thong and the back portion houses the ashes of the ancestors of the Na Nakhon family.
Ho Phra Isuan is on Ratchadamnoen Road. It is a historical site of the Brahman religion. On display is the Shiva Linga, the symbol of the Brahman god Shiva. There are also several bronze images, such as the Siwa Nattarat image, Phra Uma and Phra Phikkhanet. The bronze images in this hall are replicas of the real images that are in Nakhon Si Thammarat National Museum.
Ho Phra Narai is also on Ratchadamnoen Road, opposite Ho Phra Isuan, and is another Brahman place of worship. The original structure and design of this hall are unknown. However, a gray sandstone image of the Brahman god Narai wearing a hat and holding a conch in the right hand was discovered in the hall. It was estimated that it dates from the 11 th -12 th Buddhist century. This image is now in the National Museum in town. The only artifact on display in the hall is a replica of the Narai image discovered at an archaeological dig in Amphoe Sichon.
Phra Wihan Sung, or Ho Phra Sung, is an important historical site located just outside the ancient city wall to the north in the area of Sanam Na Muang, on Ratchadamnoen Road. The site is so called because of its high location on a hill, 2.10 metres above level ground. There is no exact historical evidence but it is believed that its architecture and wall murals are from the early Rattanakosin period. The building houses plaster images with a thick, clay core. The images are either from the 18 th -19 th century or from the late Ayutthaya period.
The Thai-style monks' residence of Wat Wang Tawan Tok is on Ratchadamnoen Road, in the area said to be opposite Wang Tawan Ok (Eastern Palace), the retreat of Chao Chom Prang. Formerly a park, Chao Phraya Nakhon (Noi) donated Wang Tawan Ok and the park opposite, to a temple, now known as Wat Wang Tawan Tok(Western Palace Temple). In 1888, Phra Khru Kachat (Yong) and his disciples built a group of houses for monks. The 3 houses have a pointed roof connected to the others, 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 is on Phatthanakan Thung Prang Road. 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. The centre is peaceful with an abundance of shady trees.
Chinese buildings at Wat Pradu and Wat Chaeng is on Ratchadamnoen Road near the provincial stadium. Built in the early Rattanakosin period, they house the ashes of Phraya Nakhon and is believed to also have the ashes of King Taksin the Great.
Chedi Yak is the province's second tallest pagoda, after Phra Borom That pagoda. It is located near Nakhon Si Thammarat Municipality in the abandoned Wat Chedi area. 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) Yamada Nagamasa was a Japanese volunteer soldier who lived in the Ayutthaya period during the reign of King Songtham. For his many contributions to the palace, he was rewarded by being bestowed the title of Ok Ya Sena Phimuk and appointed lord of Nakhon Si Thammarat in 1629. Traces of his home are still visible in the area of the Thai restaurant on Nang Ngam Road (beside the provincial hall).
Shadow play house of Suchat Sapsin is at 10/18 Si Thammasok Road, Soi 3. Suchat Sapsin received the 1996 Thailand Tourism Awards for the best cultural and historical site. The house has a shadow play museum, shadow play-making demonstrations and complete performances. Visitors can appreciate this fascinating art, demonstrations and complete performances by calling tel. 0 7534 6394.
City wall is alongside Ratchadamnoen Road. The wall was renovated in the early Rattanakosin period and once more in 1990. The wall runs parallel with the city moat from Chai Nua Gate or Chai Sak Gate to the east for 100 metres.
Nakhon Si Thammarat National Museum occupies the area of the former Wat Suan Luang Tawan Ok. The museum was opened in 1974 and displays artifacts found in the 4 southern provinces of Nakhon Si Thammarat, Phatthalung, Surat Thani, and Chumphon. Of interest is the local handicrafts display room. The national library building opened to the public in 1976. There is a good collection of rare books and important books sent by the National Library in Bangkok for locals to study.
Wirathai Monument is made of blackened copper. The monument features a soldier in a ready to fight stance with a bayonet. The locals call this monument Cha Dam or Chao Pho Dam. It was erected to honor Thai soldiers in southern Thailand who died fighting an invading Japanese force in World War II on December 8, 1941. The monument is on Ratchadamnoen Road in Fort Vajiravudh, the headquarters of the Fourth Region Army. The fort compound itself has conference rooms, guesthouses, a golf course, a shooting range, and a souvenir shop.
Arts and Culture Centre of Nakhon Si Thammarat Rajabhat Institute is 13 kilometres from the city on the Nakhon Si Thammarat-Phrom Khiri Road (Highway No. 4016). It is the centre of information on archaeological sites discovered in the province. On display are ancient local tools and utensils from the establishment of the community to the Srivijaya Empire. The centre also preserves and revives local entertainment, as well as researches and collects works on languages, literature and anthropology. The most important artifacts here are the stone inscriptions found at Khao Chong Khoi, and artifacts from the ancient community at Wat Mok Lan. These vital evidences relate to when Nakhon Si Thammarat was built. The centre is open daily during official hours.
Somdet Phra Sri Nakharin 84 Park is a large park with an area of over 490.23 acres. It is just behind the provincial stadium. Originally part of Ratcharudi Park during 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 waterfowls that migrate here during January to March every year.
Bang Pu is 17 kilometres from the city and is at the Bang Pu intersection. This is where quality pottery is made. Only bricks and flowerpots used to be made here, but villagers from Ban Mok Lan have now set up stores selling their handicrafts in this area. The products on sale have been improved in variety and quality for greater marketing appeal.
Khao Luang National Park covers Amphoe Muang, Amphoe Phipun, Amphoe Phrom Khiri, Amphoe Lan Saka, Amphoe Chawang, King Amphoe Chang Klang, and King Amphoe Nop Phitam. Having a land area of 597 square kilometres, it was declared a national park on December 18, 1974. The park has a winding mountain range, with the Khao Luang peak the highest of the peaks in southern Thailand at 1,835 metres above sea level. It is the watershed of more than 15 streams and rivers. The park's rainforest is home to a multitude of tropical flora and fauna. There is a route that takes visitors around the park to see unspoiled natural scenery, the variety of wildlife and rare animal and plant species, some of which can only be found in the park. The beauty and completeness of the park, its fascinating nature, the park's efforts to encourage the local community and tourists to be aware of the importance of nature, and its excellent tourist service system, have all combined to help the park win the 1998 Thailand Tourism Award in the natural destination category. For more information and accommodation bookings, please contact Khao Luang National Park at Karom waterfall, Tambon Khao Kaeo, P.O. Box 51, Amphoe Muang, Nakhon Si Thammarat 80000, tel. 0- 7530-9047.
Karom waterfall is 9 kilometres from the city. Take Highway No. 4016, then turn left onto Highway No. 4015 for 20 kilometres, and the entrance to the waterfall will be on the right. The waterfall originates in the Nakhon Si Thammarat mountain range and cascades down 19 levels, with names like Nan Phung, Nan Nam Ruang, Nan Dat Fa, and Nan Soi Dao (the highest level at 1,300-1,400 metres). Kings and royal family members have visited this waterfall, as evidenced by the initials of King Rama V and King Rama VI carved there.
Ban Khiri Wong is an ancient community that settled at the foot of Khao Luang in Tambon Kamlon, near a path that goes up the mountain. This peaceful village is like one big, happy family. The main occupation is growing fruits, such as mangosteen, rambutan, durian, and Sato. The village was faced with catastrophe on November 21, 1988 when a flash flood swept away some 100 houses. The local monastery and villagers still maintain the damaged convocation hall and houses as monuments to those who perished. Ban Khiri Wong is considered a prototype of eco-tourism management and the place won the 1998 Thailand Tourism Award, in the city and community category.
The village is a good example of local people living in co-existence with nature. Residents have developed tourism services into a new business for the area through the Eco-tourism Club, a central organization that delegates responsibilities to groups in the community to create cooperation. The services include trekking tours, porters and homestay programs. Tourists can appreciate the way of life here all year round, with the most attractive time being July to September when fruits are on sale. Trekking up Khao Luang must start at Ban Khiri Wong. One can get to the village by taking a mini-bus from Talat Yao. Buses depart from 7 a.m.-4 p.m. The fare is 17 baht. Alternatively, one can drive on the Amphoe Mueang-Lan Saka route for 26 kilometres. The sign pointing to the village is at the 20-km marker on the right. For more information, contact the Tambon Kamlon Administration Office at tel. 0-7530-9010.
Khao Luang peak features a trekking activity to enjoy nature on the Ban Khiri Wong-Khao Luang peak route. The normal trekking time is 2 nights and 3 days. Permission can be obtained from Khao Luang National Park and Tambon Kamlon Administration Office, who facilitate the trek and provide coordinating activities with the communities who provide the eco-tourism services. Treks are normally organized for groups of 10. The best time for this is from January to June.
Mueang Nakhon Reception House was built to receive His Majesty the King (Rama IX) and H.R.H. Crown Princess Maha Chakri when they visited the city. It is located in an old fruit orchard of the Thongsamak family who built the house for the royal family on behalf of the city's people. The area is covered with various kinds of native fruit trees and has been decorated with beautiful and shady plants. The house is open to the public daily, except Wednesdays and when the royal family is there.
Wat Khao Khun Phanom and the Khao Khun Phanom Scientific Study Centre is in Moo 3, Tambon Ban Ko. From the city, use Highway No. 4016 to the 21-km marker, past Phrom Lok market, then take a right-hand road for 2.5 kilometres. Wat Khao Khun Phanom is a temple of historical and archaeological importance. The temple has a cave lined with a brick wall and marked with heart-shaped stones marking the limits of the temple similar to those along the city wall. The front wall has plaster designs decorated with Chinese porcelain. In the cave are about 30 bronze Buddha images and a bronze Buddha's footprint. Several smaller connecting caves branch out from the main cave like an elaborate fortress maze. Many believe this is where King Taksin the Great used to stay. Others say it was the rest stop of Princess Kesini, daughter of Chao Nara Suriyawong, the lord of Nakhon Si Thammarat during 1769-1776.
On the way up Khao Khun Phanom is the Khao Khun Phanom Scientific Study Centre that provides knowledge on science, technology, the environment, and eco-tourism to the public. The Khao Khun Phanom community is a cultural community. There is a training camp activity and a grouping called Tourism to Study Fruit Orchards by the Bicycle Club. For more information, call tel. 0-75 34-5154.
Namtok Phrom Lok is in Tambon Phrom Lok. It can be reached via Highway No. 4016 (Nakhon Si Thammarat-Phrom Khiri) to the 20-km marker, then turn left onto Highway No. 4132 for 5 kilometres. This is a large waterfall with wide and lovely rock platforms. It originates from the Nakhon Si Thammarat mountain range and flows down 4 levels, which are Nan Bo Nam Won, Nan Wang Mai Pak, Nan Wang Hua Bua, and Nan Wang Ai Le. The water flows past many kinds of flora before going to Khlong Tha Phae and ending in the Gulf of Thailand in Tambon Pak Phun.
Namtok Ai Khiao, or Nai Khiao Waterfall, is in Tambon Thon Hong. It is 30 kilometres from the city on Highway No. 4016, on the same route as Phrom Lok waterfall. At the 26-km marker, turn left onto the road and continue for another 3 kilometres. Originating from Khao Luang, this waterfall has 9 levels, which are Nan Chong Sai, Nan Bang Bai, Nan Mai Phai, Nan Sua Phan, Nan Buppha Sawan, Nan Hin Kong, Nan Hua Chang, Nan Sai Kwat Lan, and Nan Fa Faet. The surrounding area is still a dense jungle. Both sides of the falls are covered with betel gardens. The locals call the betel Phlu Pak Sai because of its hot flavor and sweet scent. The view of Khao Luang is best viewed from here.
Ban Plai Uan in Moo 5, Tambon Phrom Lok is at the foot of Khao Luang near Phrom Lok waterfall. Most residents cultivate fruit orchards. The Nature Conservation for the Jungle Trekking Club is located here. One can trek 5 kilometres from the village to Phiman Mek waterfall, which is 1,505 metres above sea level. Along the way are many interesting flora, fauna, caves, streams, and the gigantic red palm of the genus Caryota, which is a plant with very unique features. For more information, please contact the Ban Plai Uan Nature Conservation Club, tel. 0-7533-8633.
Namtok Krung Ching is a beautiful and important waterfall in the Khao Luang National Park. Located in Tambon Krung Ching, the waterfall derived its name from Ton Ching, a kind of palm prevalent in the area. The waterfall has many levels, each with a different name, such as Nan Mut Phae, Nan Fon Saen Ha, Nan Plew, Nan Chon, Nan Chone, Nan Ton To, and Nan Wang Rua Bin. The most breathtaking level is Nan Fon Saen Ha where water drops off a sheer cliff 100 metres high, splashing down creating a mist covering the area like rain unlike other falls. The waterfall is under the jurisdiction of the Khao Luang National Park Protection Unit. A 3.8 km. long road leads directly to Nan Fon Saen Ha. The area has a training centre, accommodation and a campground.
To get to the falls, take the Nakhon Si Thammarat-Phrom Khiri Road (Highway No. 4016). Upon reaching Na Reng intersection, turn left to King Amphoe Nop Phitam and turn right onto Highway No. 4186. The total distance is 70 kilometres.
Rafting on Khlong Klai (can be done on rubber boats provided by Krung Ching Administration Office in Moo 3, Tambon Krung Ching, near Krung Ching waterfall. There are 2 rafting routes, one is the 2.5 km. Pak Khlong Phitam-Lan Hin Dan route that takes 1 hour and the other is the 6 km. Pak Khlong Phitam-Ban Thung Nai route, requiring 3 hours for completion. The fee is 250-350 baht/person. For more information, contact tel. 0-7530-9004 and 0-1677-3112.
Tham Hong is a medium-sized cave with a stream running through its centre before going subterranean to another stream outside. Stalactites and stalagmites of strange shapes abound in the cave. The most distinctive characteristic of the cave is a waterfall that drops down 3 levels. Visitors in the cave must wade through water before emerging from the exit 300 metres away. The cave is under the jurisdiction of the Khao Nanthi National Park Protection Unit (Khlong Lamphaen). The cave is situated just before Krung Ching waterfall.
Namtok Yot Lueang or Namtok Muang Mai, is to the south of Krung Ching waterfall in Moo 6, Tambon Na Reng. This medium-sized waterfall has 4 levels, which are Nan Toei, Nan Kradot, Nan Ya Kha, and Nan Plio. Swimming can be enjoyed here amidst the coolness of the jungle. To get to the waterfall, take the Nakhon Si Thammarat-Phrom Khiri route (Highway No. 4016) for 40 kilometres.
Namtok Tha Phae is in Moo 14, Tambon Chang Klang. The waterfall can be reached by taking the Nakhon-Chandi-Chawang-Ban Song route (Highway No. 4015) for 36 kilometres, then turn right at the sign for 2 more kilometres. This beautiful, ten-level waterfall has 3 levels which are accessible to the public; Nan Phae Noi, Nan Nang Khruan and Nan Toei.
Namtok Suan Ai is in Moo 5, Tambon Khlong La-ai, Amphoe Chawang. From Nakhon Si Thammarat, take the Nakhon-Lan Saka-Chandi route (Highway No. 4015) for 55 kilometres. Of its 5 levels, visitors can enjoy 3 which are Nan Chong Som Lot, Nan Ton Riang and Nan Laoka.
Namtok Suan Khan is in Moo 3, Tambon Suan Khan. It can be reached by taking the Nakhon-Lan Saka-Chandi route (Highway No. 4015) for 55 kilometres and connecting to the Chandi-Phipun bus for 4 kilometres. The very beautiful nature here is conducive for trekking and exploring the flora of the area. Three levels of the waterfall can be accessed.
Wat Tham Thong Phannara is in Moo 9, Tambon Tham Phannara, about 2 kilometres from the Asia Highway (Highway No. 41) at the 192-193 km. marker, and about 1 kilometre from the district office. Legend has it that two nuns, named Pring and Prang, came by sea with many followers and valuable belongings for use in the building of a pagoda to entomb Lord Buddha's relics. However, when they arrived at the port (Ban Pak Ra now), they found that the pagoda had already been completed, so they chose another suitable site to build, which was Thong cave.
They then built a reclining Buddha image in the cave. When the nuns died, their descendents placed their bones in the 2 Buddha images that they built. Since then, it became a tradition that on the first night with a full moon of the 11 th lunar month (October), people would pay homage to the reclining image and the images representing the nuns called Phra Pring and Phra Prang. This Khun Tham ceremony is attended by a great number of worshippers who bring with them desserts for offerings, and who come to tour the caves that consist of both dark and brightly lit caves.
Walailak University was established on March 29, 1992. It is at 222 Tambon Thai Buri. This state university is one of the newest and most complete in the country, incorporating a university city and an education park. The Chaloem Phra Kiat area comprises parks with different themes that honors the king, botany, religion, archaeology, southern Thai studies, seminars and demonstrations, science and technology, and the environment. The university occupies a huge area of nearly 3,900 acres. It offers many departments at the bachelor's degree level, which are management technology, information technology, industrial and resource technology, medicine and public health, and nursing. In 1998, a department of business and tourism administration was also opened. For more information, please contact tel. 0-7533 -9124, 0-7538-4000 ext. 1123, 1125.
Khao Nan National Park is 30 kilometres from Amphoe Tha Sala. The park covers areas in Amphoe Tha Sala, Amphoe Sichon and King Amphoe Nop Phitam. In addition, the park has areas in Pa Khao Nan National Forest Reserve and Pa Krung Ching National Forest Reserve. The total area of the park is 436 square kilometres. The main topography is a high mountain range extending from Khao Luang National Park. The park itself is a watershed of many waterways. From the city, travel by Highway No. 401 across Khlong Klai, and past Ban Sa Kaeo in Amphoe Tha Sala. Upon reaching the 110-km marker, turn left into Ban Pak Chao and drive 15 kilometres to the park office.
The park's main attraction is the small but lovely Sunantha Waterfall. Water drops down a steep cliff to the pool below before flowing into Khlong Klai, the main waterway of Tha Sala. Rafting can be done in the canal during the rainy season, when the water level is high.
Ban Nai Thung Handicrafts can be found 24 kilometres from the city. Ban Nai Thung is a Muslim Thai village near the sea. Aside from fishing, villagers use their spare time to make colored cloth kites in the shape of birds, as well as birdcages, for sale on both sides of the road. This village is well worth a visit for some quality products.
Wat Mokhlan Archaeological Site is in Tambon Don Kha and is 10 kilometres from the district office. To get there, take Highway No. 401 to Ban Na Thap, turn left onto Highway No. 4022 and drive for 6 kilometres. Originally a religious place for Brahmans of the Sawai Nikai sect, the artifacts found here date from the 7 th -9 th century. Items that can be seen here include traces of stone pillars, carvings around doorways, religious stones, an ancient pond, and statue bases. The Fine Arts Department declared this area an archaeological site in 1975.
Pottery Village is just 50 metres from Wat Mokhlan. The village still adheres to the old technique of making pottery by hand. The pots made here are large, thick, and have little design.
Hat Sichon, or Hua Hin Sichon as it is known to locals, is a well-known destination of the district. Rocks line the beach all the way to a curved sandy stretch where people can swim. There is accommodation and restaurants for tourists.
Hat Hin Ngam has a unique characteristic in that it is littered with round rocks of various striking colors, hence its name. There are no services here.
Hat Kho Khao (Hat Piti) is a popular beach that connects to Hin Ngam beach. There are accommodation and restaurant facilities for tourists.
To get to these 3 beaches, take Highway No. 401 from Amphoe Mueang for 70 kilometres to Amphoe Sichon. Turn right to Ban Pak Nam and go for 3 kilometres to Sichon beach (Hua Hin Sichon). From there, it is 1.5 kilometres to Hin Ngam and Kho Khao (Piti) beaches. Piti beach is 2 kilometres from Hin Ngam beach.
Si Khit Waterfall is in Moo 2, Tambon Si Khit. It is 15 kilometres west of Sichon beach on Highway No. 4105. This small waterfall originates in the mountains to the west and flows down several levels amidst pristine natural surroundings.
Khao Kha Archaeological Site in Tambon Sao Phao. To get there, take Highway No. 401 from Si Phibun intersection to the 99-km marker, and turn left onto Chinda Pracha Sawan Road for 7 kilometres. Khao Kha was a sacred religious place of the Sawai Nikai Brahman sect who worshiped Shiva as their highest god. Khao Kha was regarded as being similar to the mythical Khao Phra Sumen, a centre of worship, that was surrounded by smaller, secondary historical sites. Many artifacts that were used in rites have been found here, including phallic symbols, holy water pipes, ruins, and an ancient pond. The site dates from the 8 th -9 th century. The Fine Arts Department completed its renovation in 1997.
Hat Khanom - Moo Ko Thale Tai National Park has its headquarters on the Khanom-Rong Faifa Road. It is 100 metres from the road to the left. The park incorporates islands, mountains and coastal areas of Amphoe Khanom and some parts of Surat Thani. This park has many islands, such as Ko Noi, Ko Wang Nai, Ko Wang Nok, Ko Taen, Ko Rap, Ko Tha Rai, and Ko Phi. In addition, there are some bays like Ao Khanom, Ao Thong Tha Kham, Ao Thong Lang, Ao Thong Yi, and Ao Thong Yang. Mountains dot the park, like Khao Phlai Dam, Khao Phi Ngai, Khao Kho, Khao Phlao, and Khao Dat Fa.
Ao Khanom is the largest bay in Khanom District. It is 1.5 kilometres from the district office and can be reached by taking Highway No. 4014, which separates from Highway No. 401, for 17 kilometres, then 1 kilometre past Khanom Public Health Area Market, then turn right and drive along Khanom beach. Khanom beach is a long beach that connects to other beaches, as follows:
Hat Nai Phlao is Khanom's largest beach and the most popular tourist attraction. The beach curves along a mountain range. The overall scenery is one that features perfect nature, including a clean, white beach conducive to a day in the sun. Accommodation and restaurant facilities are available.
Hat Na Dan is a long, palm-fringed white beach. From this quiet beach, one can see the beautiful aquamarine water of the Gulf of Thailand.
Hat Nai Praet is a beautiful, long curved beach. This beach is between Hat Na Dan and Hat Nai Phlao and is rocky in some areas. This popular beach's natural ambience has been impressing visitors for years.
Ao Thong Yi is a beach that is very suitable for camping because of its complete natural surroundings. Ao Thong Yi is encompassed by Khao Phlao and Khao Klang, making it peaceful and removed from the outside world. Accommodation can be obtained by contacting the owner of the property. To get there, take a laterite road from Hat Nai Phlao near Khanap Nam Resort. The distance to there is 2.5 kilometres.
Tham Khao Wang Thong is 77 kilometres from the city and is one of the most awesome caves of the province. The cave has many large and small chambers, each with stalagmites and stalactites of odd sizes and shapes, like pagodas, dinosaurs, custard apples, and fried eggs. Some chambers can only be accessed by crawling or climbing, making it fun for visitors. To get there, start from Khanom district office, turn right at the intersection to Don Sak and take a left. The entrance has a bus stop called Sala Tansakun which is easily noticeable. Drive for 6 kilometres until you reach the cave. Visitors must first obtain the cave key from the keeper at the cave entrance.
Khao Phlai Dam is a seaside mountain which borders Khanom and Sichon. The Khao Phlai Dam Wildlife Development and Conservation Office is here in Tambon Thung Sai. Hat Thong Yang in the area is a fine beach suitable for swimming. A number of herbivores inhabit the mountain, such as deer, mouse deer and a variety of birds. To get to the mountain, travel north from Sichon to Tambon Thung Sai for 12 kilometres.
Wat Kradangnga is an ancient temple of Khanom that was probably built during the Ayutthaya period. The temple is about 200 metres from the Khanom-Nai Phlao road. Inside the convocation hall are exquisite murals of Lord Buddha's life. There is also a magnificent Buddha image from the Ayutthaya period and interesting artifacts, particularly plates and bowls.
Wat That Tharam or Wat Khao That is unique in that it has a pagoda made of coral located on Khao That. It is said that this pagoda was built by people from Chaiya who originally wanted to donate valuables to build Phra Borom That in Nakhon Si Thammarat but were too late in doing so, and diverted the resources to this pagoda instead. The entire pagoda is made of coral in the shape of an inverted jar. It has a diametre of 5-6 metres. The pagoda is surrounded by Buddha images of red sandstone. The pagoda represents a period of Buddhism that flourished in this peninsula.
Wat Chedi Luang is in Moo 4, Ban Tha Nai, Tambon Khuan Thong. This ancient community still shows numerous traces of mounds, ponds, stones from a sanctuary, statue bases, and phallic symbols.
Museum Honouring the King for the Development of Pak Phanang Basin is a museum conceived by the Project to Develop Pak Phanang Basin by His Majesty the King that covers Nakhon Si Thammarat, Phatthalung and Songkhla. The museum is in the project itself and consists of His Majesty's office, a meeting room and an exhibition room on Pak Phanang's history. For more information, contact tel. 0-7551-7933, 0-7551-7534.
Pak Phanang Coast and Talumphuk Cape are the sites of a severe storm in Nakhon Si Thammarat in 1962. The coast of Pak Phanang is a long beach with the Talumphuk cape to the north jutting out into the Gulf of Thailand like a crescent moon. Some villages are located on the part that is connected to Nakhon Si Thammarat Bay, while the gulf coast has a beautiful, pine-lined beach. To get to both places, take Highway No. 4013 (Nakhon Si Thammarat-Pak Phanang), and then 16 kilometres on a road to Pak Phanang. Both sides of the road are lined with shrimp farms and mangrove forests.
Ban Rang Nok is famous for the numerous swallow bird nests located in the town. Several houses and buildings have been closed because of the immense number of swallows inhabiting them. These birds make the houses their homes, though they predominantly inhabit caves and mountains. However, the nests are not easily accessible as they are in private properties.
Wat Nantharam used to be called Wat Tai and currently houses Luang Pho Phut, a red sandstone Buddha image from the Ayutthaya period. Pak Phanang people worship this sacred image. In addition, the temple houses a giant phallic symbol found at Khao Kha archaeological site that is believed to be around 1,200 years old, from the 7 th -9 th century. The symbol is carved from limestone and is the most complete in southern Thailand. The temple is at Chai Nam Road, on the western side of Pak Phanang.
Khao Chong Khoi Stone Inscription is at Ban Khok Sathon, Moo 9, Tambon Thung Pho, Amphoe Chulaphon. This is the oldest Sanskrit stone inscription found in southern Thailand and dates from the 6 th -7 th century. It tells the story of people asking for shelter from Shiva and jungle spirits. It ends with the saying" If a good person resides in a village, then that community shall find happiness and prosperity"
Fan Making Village is on Highway No. 403, 40 kilometres from Amphoe Muang to Amphoe Ron Phibun. The villagers here use their spare time to make Kapho fans for sale nationwide. This popular, local handicraft is affordable and very useful.
Namtok Yong National Park, or locally known as Yong Sai Yai waterfall, has a total area of 49,403.25 acres. Covering the areas in Thung Song, Na Bon, and Chawang, it was proclaimed a national park on December 10, 1987. The park's pristine nature includes the Yong Waterfall where streams converge into one giant rope-like waterfall dropping from a high cliff to the large pool below. There is also the Plieu Waterfall at Pa Praek, a smaller waterfall measuring 25 metres high. An ascent from Ban Nam Ron to the top takes about 1 hour. To get to the park, take the Nakhon Si Thammarat-Thung Song Road for 50 kilometres, turn right, and drive for 3 kilometres to the park. Tents are available for tourists. For more details, please contact the park at Moo 2, Tambon Tham Yai.
Tham Talot is 500 metres from Thung Song district office. This is a small cave in Chai Chumphon Mountain. The cave can be traversed from one exit to the other, hence, its name of Talot or Lot (cut-through) cave. Inside is a huge reclining Buddha image stretching the length of the cave. This sacred image is decorated with murals of Lord Buddha's life drawn by Mr. Naep Thichinnaphong, a famous artist of Nakhon Si Thammarat. The area around the cave has been developed into a park with a store selling food and drinks.
Kuan Im Goddess Image is a large white plaster image of the popular Chinese goddess. Standing at a height of 19 metres, it is easily visible from afar. She is posed in the benevolence gesture, with the left hand holding a vase containing magic water while the right holds a Lew tree branch. The image stands on a large lotus beside a boy and a girl statue. A big dragon is paying homage to the image. The image is situated in the middle of a large pond surrounded by fountains. You can find this spectacular piece of art at Sam Po Kong Foundation (Luang Pho To), Moo Ban Phatthana Road, Tambon Pak Phraek, approximately 1 kilometre from Thung Song market.
Namtok Khlong Chang and Trekking on Khao Men are must things to see and do in this district. The waterfall has 7 tiers and is one of southern Thailand 's most beautiful cascades. The waterfall originates in Khao Men, which is the third highest mountain in southern Thailand after Khao Luang and Khao Nan (Nakhon Si Thammarat mountain range). The waterfall area is still a verdant forest. Trekking up the 1,235-metre-high Khao Men is recommended as a cool mist covers it the year round, and it possesses more than 300 exotic plant species. To get there, take the Nakhon Si Thammarat-Thung Song road to Khuan Mai Daeng intersection. Turn right towards Na Bon on NS2001 Road for about 11 kilometres to the waterfall. The recommended time for trekking is 2 days and 1 night and the most suitable period is December to April. For more information, contact the 17 th Volunteer Territorial Defence Company of Na Bon at tel. 0-7549-1244.
Hae Pha Khuen That Festival 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 15 th full-moon night of February) and Visakha Bucha Day (the 15 th full-moon night of May).
Festival of the Tenth Lunar Month is a grand event of the province and of southern Thailand. This festival is held from the 1 st waning-moon night to the 15 th 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 demons. 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 15 th day. The living try to appease the spirits by taking food to temples to make merit. Beginning on the 13 th day, people will go shopping for food to be given. The 14 th day is spent preparing and decorating the food tray, and the 15 th 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 14 th day.
Chak Phra or Lak Phra Festival is influenced by Indian culture, which expanded into the province a long time ago. The festival signifies the joy that people had when Lord Buddha returned from a star, and the Lord was invited to sit on a throne to be carried to a palace. In practice, locals would bear a Buddha image holding a bowl in a procession around the city. This is a great way to escape the daily routine and it is a fun competition to find who is the most religious. Held in October, the festival is preceded by activities 7 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 would take the image from the temple in the morning and proceed to Benchama Rachuthit School in Amphoe Muang. 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.
Hotels and accommodation
- Khanom Golden Beach Hotel : [66-7532-6690]
- Grand Park : 1204/79 Pak Nakhon Road Amphoe Muang [0 75 317666-73] : 600-900 baht
- Khiang Khiri : In Rajabhat Nakhon Si Thammmarat Institute Amphoe Muang [0 75 377436] : 450 baht
- Thai Hotel : 1373 Ratchadamnoen Road Amphoe Muang [0 75 341509, 0 7534 1512 Fax: 0 7534 4858] : 200-1,310 baht
- Thai Li : 1130 Ratchadamanoen Road Amphoe Muang [0 7535 6948, 0 7535 6319] : 120-140 baht
- Thaksin : 1548/23 Si Prat Road Amphoe Muang [0 75342790-4 Fax: 0 7534 2790] : 490-1,900 baht
- Nakhon Garden : ¼ Pak Nakhon Road, Tambon Tha Wang Amphoe Muang [0 7531 3333] : 455 baht
- Bua Luang : 1487/19 Soi Luang Mueang, Chamroen Withi Road Amphoe Muang [0 7534 1518, 0 7534 1570 Fax: 0 7534 3418] : 320 baht Phet Pailin : 1835/38-39 Yommarat Road Amphoe Muang [0 7534 1896-7 Fax: 0 7534 3943] : 200-640 baht
- Montien : 1509/40-41 Yommarat Road Amphoe Muang [0 7534 1908-10 Fax: 0 7534 5561] : 220-500 baht
- V.P. Guesthouse : 1209/30 Yommarat Road Amphoe Muang [0 7531 4777-81 Fax: 0 7531 4782] : 300-540 baht
- Siam : 1403/17 Chamroen Withi Road Amphoe Muang [0 7535 6090] : 100-300 baht
- Thai Watthana : 58/12 Phadungrat Road Amphoe Thung Song [0 7541 1255] : 180-500 baht
- Bunyarat : 19 Chaichumphon Road Amphoe Thung Song [0 7541 1382 Fax: 0 7541 2829] : 590 baht
- Arun : 220-223 Chonprida Road Amphoe Thung Song [0 7541 1369] : 120-190 baht
- Khao Luang National Park : Accommodation at Karom and Krung Ching Waterfalls Amphoe Lan Saka [0 7530 9047]
- Khao Nan National Park : Contact P.O. Box 51 Amphoe Mueang, Nakhon Si Thammarat 80000
- Ban Wang Sila : Mu 6 Tambon Krung Ching King Amphoe Nopphitam [0 1677 3112] : 300 baht
- Suan Fak Fa : Tambon Krung Ching King Amphoe Nopphitam [0 7552 1465]
- Khrua Poi : 625 Mu 3 Hin Ngam Beach Amphoe Sichon [0 7553 6055] : 350-500 baht
- Wang Luang : 292 Rotfai Road Amphoe Sichon [0 7533 5678-9] : 200-450 baht
- Hin Ngam Bungalow : 330 Mu 3 Hat Hin Ngam Amphoe Sichon [07553 6204] : 200 baht
- Sunthon : 95-97 Mu 1 Tambon Sichon Amphoe Sichon [0 7553 6094] : 120 baht
- Ek Hotel : 101/14 Akkharawithi Road Amphoe Khanom [07552 9123] : 180-200 baht
- Khanom Hill Resort : 60/1 Ban Nai Phlao Nai Phlao Beach [0 75 529403] : 500-800 baht
- Supha Royal Beach : 51/4 Mu 8 Nai Phlao Beach [0 7552 9237, 0 7552 8697 Fax: 0 7552 8553] :1,430 - 5,000 baht
- Khanap Nam Diamond Cliff Resort : 99 Mu 8 Nai Phlao Beach [0 7552 9147, 0 7552 9144] : 700-2,500 baht
- Khanom Resort : Ban Kho Khao Na Dan Beach [0 7552 9403] : 500-800 baht
- Rabiang Sai : 59 Mu 4 Na Dan Beach [ 0 7552 8910-1] : 400-750 baht
- Alongkot Resort : 28/1 Mu 2 Na Dan Beach [0 7552 9119, 0 7552 9492] : 700 baht
- Thip Montri Resort : 12 Mu 7 Tambon Khanom Nai Pret Beach [0 7552 8147] : 400-600 baht
- Piti Resort : 432/3 Mu 5 Tambon Sichon Amphoe Sichon [0 7533 5300-4] : 1,200-4,000 baht
- Local Cuisine
- Kanom Jeen Mae Worn :: Sala Pradu Hok
- KanomJeen Phinee (Old Sri Tewi) :: Sapan Yao Rd., Tel: 0-7531-6228 Open 09.00 a.m.-15.00 p.m.
- Krua Andaman :: Pattanakan Kukwang Rd., Tel: 0-7531-7548 Open 10.00 a.m.-21.00 p.m.
- Krua Lahan :: Soi Hua Lang, Tel: 0-7532-0449 Open 10.00 a.m.-21.30 p.m.
- Krua Nakhon :: Baworn Bazaar Rd., Tel: 0-7534-3476
- Museum :: Tevaraj Rd., Tel: 0-7534-7423 Open 17.00 p.m.-01.00 a.m.
- Amphoe Muang
- Chan Nakhon Suki :: Pattanakan Kukwang Rd., Tel: 0-7532-1962 Open 10.00 a.m.-22.00 p.m. (Chinese food, Suki)
- Chao Rua :: Si Thammarat Rd., Tel: 0-7534-6222 Open 09.00 a.m.-21.30 p.m. (a la carte)
- Dung-a Restaurant :: Rajdamnoen Rd., Tel: 0-7535-6057, 0-7534-4996 Open 10.00 a.m.-22.00 p.m. (a la carte)
- Krua Khun Pa :: Sapan Yao Rd., Tel: 0-7531-6285-6 Open 15.00 p.m.-22.30 p.m. (Thai-Isan food, Sea Food, a la carte)
- Lakorn :: Baworn Bazaar Rd., Tel: 0-7534-5910 Open 10.00 a.m.-21.30 p.m. (a la carte)
- Muslim Food
- Thai O-Cha :: Krarom Rd., Tel: 0-7535-6951 Open 06.00 a.m.-17.00 p.m.
- Thai O-Cha :: Phaniet Rd., Tel: 0-7535-6951 Open 08.00 a.m.- 20.00 p.m.
How to get there
* By car
Take Highway No. 4 on the Bangkok-Prachuap Khiri Khan-Chumphon route and then Highway No. 41 past Surat Thani-Thung Song until arriving in Nakhon Si Thammarat or Amphoe Phun Phin in Surat Thani, then take Highway No. 401 along the coast to Nakhon Si Thammarat.
* 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, varying in 3 types, leave Bangkok at the following times:
VIP Bus : 5.15 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Standard 1 Bus : 9 a.m., 6 p.m. and 8.30 p.m.
Standard 2 Bus : 6.40 a.m., 6 p.m., 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.
For more information, contact tel. 0 2435 1199-200 (air-conditioned buses). Nakhon Si Thammarat Bus Staiton tel: 0 7534 1125.
Travel within the province is easy with mini-bus service around the city. Transport to nearby provinces includes vans, taxis, buses, and trains.
* By train
There are rapid and express trains departing from Bangkok Railway Station to Nakhon Si Thammarat at 5.35 p.m. and 7.15 p.m. respectively. For more information, contact tel. 1690, 0 2223 7010, 0 2223 7020 or call Nakhon Si Thammarat train station at tel. 0 7535 6364, 0 7534 6129.
* By plane
PBAir provides daily flight services from Bangkok to Nakhon Si Thammarat. For more information, contact their Bangkok office at tel. 0-2261-0220 - 5.
Thai Airways has daily flights connecting Bangkok with Nakhon Si Thammarat. For more information, contact their Bangkok office at tel. 0 2280 0060, 0 2628 2000, the Nakhon Si Thammarat Office at tel. 0 7534 2491, 0 7534 3874, or view their website at www.thaiairways.com.