Narathiwat is one of five southern provinces that border Malaysia. The economic and border tourism centre is at Amphoe Su-ngai Kolok where Malaysians and Singaporeans like to spend their holidays and shop. The area has a constant flow of culture and trading.
The majority of the population is Muslims, with the Yawi language used in speaking and writing (Yawi has roots from the spoken Malay language and uses consonants and alphabets of the Arabic language).
Narathiwat has a total area of 4,475 square kilometres. It is on the eastern coast of the Malay Peninsula.
The north borders Pattani and the Gulf of Thailand, the west borders Yala, the east borders the Gulf of Thailand, and the south borders Kelantan in Malaysia. Most of the area is jungles and mountains. The plains where 4 rivers converge are adjacent to the gulf. The rivers are Sai Buri, Bang Nara, Tak Bai, and Su-ngai Kolok. Narathiwat has a tropical climate and has only 2 seasons; summer and rainy. The wettest period is during November to December.
Originally, Ban Bang Nara or Manalo was just a village on the bank of the Bang Nara River next to the sea. In the reign of King Rama I, Ban Bang Nara was under the administration of Sai Buri. It later became a precinct and came under the responsibility of Rangae in Pattani precinct. In 1906, in the reign of King Rama V, Ban Bang Nara grew into a large community, with active land and sea trades. The provincial office was moved from Rangae to Ban Manalo and in 1915, King Rama VI visited Bang Nara and gave it the name of "Narathiwat," meaning "home of good people."
The Narathud Beach has an expansive stretch of pure, white sand that is approximately 5 km long. The beach is lined with pine trees and suitable for setting up camping tents.
South of town and perched at the summit of the Tan Yong Mut Mountain is the summer royal residence, Taksin Palace, still used by the King and Queen. When the royal family is not in residence, the grounds are open for public viewing. The garden provides a great view of the adjacent beach and contains an aviary.
The main attraction at the bordering village of Tak Bai is Wat Chonthara Sing He. The mixture of Southern Thai and Chinese style temple was a Thai Buddhism outpost in an almost exclusively Malay-speaking, Muslim area. King Rama V erected the temple in 1873 to stake his claim to a region of land that the British wanted to incorporate into Malaya.
About 5 minutes walk from the center of the provincial city is the Muslim fishing village that is a good place to view the traditionally painted korlae boats.
Built entirely from wood, the 300 Years Mosque reflects the artistic fusion of the local Thai, Chinese, and Malay artworks and designs. Situated on the Khao Kong hills is Thailand 's tallest seated Buddha image with a height of 24 meters and covered with golden tiles.
Formerly resided in by the highly revered monk Luang Phor Daeng, Wat Cherng Khao is widely respected and renowned for housing the head of the deceased monk that doesn't decay, though it was never chemically treated.
The highest mountain peak in the Budo Mountain and Sungai Padi Mountain National Park is the Bukoh Tawe Mountain with nearly extinct plant species still growing there. The park is the origin of many water tributaries and waterfalls, such as the Bacho Fall and the Beechu Fall. Most impressive is the tall, 7-tiered Chatwarin Falls, surrounded by wild durian fruit trees.
The Sunga Kolok Border Checkpoint is a popular tourist attraction and a bustling Thai-Malaysian commercial center, that is conveniently located 1 km from the Sunga Kolok train station.
The Loh Chud Folk Museum contains artifacts dating back 1,000 years and more.
Hat Narathad has an expansive stretch of pure, white sand that is about 5 km. long that is located near the estuary of the Bang Nara River, where the annual Korlae boat races are held. The beach is lined with rows of pine trees, providing the area with refreshing shade and a suitable area for camping tents. There are several beachside restaurants that serve native-style cuisine, and accommodtion facilities are available. Locals like to come here to unwind. Nearby, fishing villages are spread out along the river and the bay is full of Korlae fishermen's boats. Narathat Beach is about 1 kilometre from town on Phichit Bamrung Road. Tourists can conveniently take hired motorcycles, tricycles or mini-buses from town.
Old Central Mosque is called Yumiya Mosque, or Rayo Mosque. It is in the north of town, further from the provincial hall on Phichit Bamrung Road, just before the clock tower intersection. This Sumatran-style wooden mosque was built in 1938. This is the province's original mosque and the burial place of the old city lord, Phraya Phu Pha Phakdi. Usually there is only one provincial mosque, but because this mosque is quite small, a new one was built at the mouth of Bang Nara River. However, locals still revere this old mosque and regard this mosque as the central one, thus providing Narathiwat with two central mosques.
New Central Mosque is at Ban Bang Nara, just before Narathat Beach. This religious site for Thai Muslims was built in 1981, and is the province's second central mosque. The Arabian-style building has 3 floors. The ground floor is the main convention hall and the prayer rooms are on the top 2 floors. The top is covered with a large dome and there is a high tower for calling Muslims to prayer.
Khao Kong Buddhist Park occupies an area of 142 rais (56.8 acres) in Tambon Lamphu, about 9 kms. from town on the Narathiwat-Rangae route (Highway No. 4055). The golden Phra Phuttha Thaksin Ming Mongkhon Buddha image seated in the lotus position is housed in Wat Khao Kong, atop a mountain that can be seen from afar. Fashioned according to South Indian art style, construction began in 1966 and was completed in 1969. The image was made of steel-reinforced concrete decorated with gold mosaics. Measuring at 17 metres wide and 24 metres high, it is considered the most beautiful and largest outdoor Buddha image in southern Thailand.
The adjacent hill is the site of the bell-shaped Siri Maya Pagoda. Above all 4 doorways are small pagodas. Inside is a Phra Phrom image. At the very top of the pagoda is housed the holy relics of Lord Buddha. Another hill is the site of a convocation hall, with the outer walls decorated with carved, fire clay tiles. Behind it is a figure of an elephant kneeling to present a lotus. The building's awning portrays a warrior and an angel holding a jug.
Thaksin Ratchaniwet Palace is on Tanyongmat Mountain, Tambon Kaluwo Nua, on the coast near Manao Bay. It is 8 kilometres from town on Highway No. 4084 (Narathiwat-Tak Bai). Situated on an area of 480,000 square metres at the summit of the Tan Yong Mut Mountain, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX) commissioned its construction in 1973 as the summer royal residence. The compound comprises throne halls decorated with an assortment of trees, giving the area a good shade. There is also a crafts centre that provides training on pottery and ceramics, as well as sells products. When the royal family is not in residence, the grounds are open daily for public viewing from 08.30-16.30 hrs. The royal family normally resides here during October-December. The garden provides a great view of the adjacent beach and contains an aviary. To get there, take a bus that goes to Amphoe Tak Bai and get off in front of the palace.
Ao Manao Park is at Moo 1, Tambon Kaluwo Nua, and is about 3 kms. away from town along the route Narathiwat - Tak Bai (Highway No. 4084). The 4-km long bay has an extensive stretch of beach that connects with the eastern coast of Pattani Province. The beach is divided into several segments by its rocky terrain. One end of the beach connects to Thaksin Ratchaniwet Palace. The beach has an arboretum and a row of pines that makes it conducive for relaxation. There is also a beach forest study trail. Plants found here usually prefer dry climates, like Chak Thale, Manao Phi and Toei Thale (appearance similar to a pineapple). Private accommodation nearby is available for overnight stays.
Phikun Thong Development Study Centre was established according to the wish of His Majesty the King who wanted it to be a knowledge centre for land reform in the area. The centre has a complete range of studies, such as analysing and testing plants, livestock caring, giving technical know-how, and providing agricultural training. The centre occupies an area of 2,784,000 square metres that is divided into office buildings, demonstration plots and testing plots in swamp forest areas.
Royal projects include a soil project that adds maximum acidity to paddy soil, then attempts to find a solution so it can be used to counter acidic soil nationwide. Other projects include a new concept in agriculture that is used in areas with an abundant supply of water and planting of oil palm in highly organic soil. A small, complete-cycle factory and Prince of Songkhla University jointly produce products from palm oil, like oil extracts, soap and butter, that are sold to workers and outsiders. A livestock factory produces animal waste gas wells. There is also a project that plants Zalacca palm to supplement rubber plantations.
Furthermore, on weekdays the centre operates a training centre on making products from Krachut sedge and Annonaceae leaves.
People who come here to study also receive considerable enjoyment. This is in accordance with His Majesty the King's intention that an observation tour here should be akin to a picnic in a park. Every September, the centre holds an exhibition that coincides with the Narathiwat Products Fair.
The centre is located between Ban Phikun Thong and Ban Khok Saya in Tambon Kaluwo Nua, about 1 km. from the palace and 8 kms. from Narathiwat town on Highway No. 4084 (Narathiwat-Tak Bai).
Ban Yakang is an old community that has been in existence since the province was just Bang Nara village. It is now a major Batik production centre. The fabrics made here have beautiful designs and colours, all made by traditional techniques. They can be used in a variety of ways and are very popular among villagers and tourists. The village is around 4 kms. from the provincial hall on Highway No. 4055 (Amphoe Muang-Amphoe Rangae) and turn into Yakang 1 Road Soi 6 for about 700 metres.
Ban Thon is at Tambon Khok Tian, around 16 kms. from the town on Highway No. 4136 (Narathiwat-Ban Thon). This is a traditional Thai Muslim fishing village that is a production centre of real and miniature Korlae boats. Miniature ones range from a few hundred baht to tens of thousand. The boats are all the more valuable because they are made by boys ages 13 and up. Some children spend their free time making these miniature boats, which is considered to be a form of local art. Apart from taking the boats home as souvenirs, you may also take back with you fond memories of seeing little kids devoting themselves to making these masterpieces.
Furthermore, products made of Krachut sedge and Annonaceae leaves are also on sale, like eyeglass holders, bags and mats of exquisite designs and bright colours. If carefully maintained, they can last up to 10 years. The products are reasonably priced from 30 baht to a few hundred baht.
The area is also well known for producing delicious Budu sauce and fish crackers. Along the beach you will see lines of dried fish and many Budu sauce vats. The sauce is used extensively in southern cooking, like fish sauce that is commonly used in Thai cooking. Tourists can see how the sauce is made and buy souvenirs daily. However, please note that on Friday, villagers go to prayers and take the day off, so it may not be convenient to buy things on that day.
TheKorlae Boat is a small, coastal, fishing boat that is used in the lower southern provinces. The boat ranges in size from 1, 250, 1,100 and 1,000 centimetres.
The boat has a unique style, with the bow and the stern being higher than the hull. Designs on the boat are a combination of Malay, Javanese and Thai styles, with emphasis on Thai patterns. Such patterns include a running scroll design, lotus, serpents, magic monkeys, and heads of birds in literature like "Burong Si-ngo" or Singhapaksi (a creature with the body of a lion and the head of a bird holding a fish with its beak) at the bow. The creature has sharp fangs and claws, is powerful, and is a good diver. Therefore, it has been a favourite of Korlae fishermen ever since ancient times. The art on the boat is like an "artistic masterpiece on waves" and is considered art of life as the Korlae boat not only shows off the greatness of its design, but is also the primary instrument used by fishermen to make a living. It is said that a Bang Nara villager without a Korlae fishing boat is like a person without clothes.
Wat Chon Thara Singhe is at Moo 3, Tambon Chehe, on the bank of Tak Bai River. From town, take Highway No. 4985 (Narathiwat-Tak Bai) to Tak Bai District Market intersection and turn left for about 100 metres to the temple entrance. In 1873, Phra Khru Ophat Phutthakhun established the temple and requested land from Phraya Kelantan for its construction. At that time, Tak Bai was still a part of Kelantan in Malaysia.
This is a Buddhist temple among a predominantly Muslim community. It played a role in the secession of land between Siam and Malaya (then a colony of the United Kingdom) during the reign of King Rama V in 1909. The Thai side raised the fact that since this is a Buddhist temple, it should remain with Thailand. The British relented and agreed to use the Klok River (Tak Bai River) that flows through Tak Bai as the boundary. Therefore, the temple is also called "Wat Phithak Phaen Din Thai" or the temple that protects Thai sovereignty.
The temple is generally peaceful and has a spacious lawn on the bank that is ideal for relaxation. The chapel, built in the reign of King Rama V, has wall murals drawn by Songkhla monks. The paintings clearly recount the life of Lord Buddha and the interesting life of locals at that time. It also houses a main Buddha image made of gold, which covers its original features of a red mouth and black hair. It is situated on a 1.5 metres high base. From the style of the base, it is believed that this is a Mon image. Another building houses a reclining Buddha image and the inner walls are covered with old Sangkhalok porcelain.
To get there, you can take a bus to Tak Bai district. In addition, there are mini-buses (20 baht), vans (30 baht and get on at the roundabout in town) and buses. You can get off at Tak Bai intersection and walk for around 500 metres. Vans will take you right into the temple.
Ko Yao is not too far from Wat Chon Thara Singhe. From Tak Bai District Market intersection, there is a 345-metre long wooden bridge spanning Tak Bai River to Ko Yao. The eastern part of the island is adjacent to the sea and has a white beach with fine sand and cosy surroundings. The people here are mostly Muslim fishermen with simple homes in coconut plantations.
Kubu Beach-Ban Khlong Tan covers Tambon Sai Wan and Tambon Sala Mai all the way to Tambon Chehe and ending at the mouth of Su-ngai Kolok River. The entire beach stretches for about 24 kms. Take Highway No. 4984 (Narathiwat-Tak Bai) for 20 kms. and turn onto the beach road that runs for 1 km. This beach has lovely scenery, white sand and some pines, giving the area a shady and peaceful atmosphere.
Taba Checkpoint or Tak Bai Checkpoint is at Ban Taba, Tambon Chehe, around 3 kms. from the district. To get there, take Highway No. 4084 (Amphoe Mueang-Amphoe Tak Bai). It is another channel for bilateral tourism and trade between Thailand and Malaysia apart from the Su-ngai Kolok Checkpoint.
Crossing over can be done by long-tail boats or by ferry (different landings). Boats leave every 15 minutes and run frm 6.30 a.m.-5.15 p.m. The fee is 6 baht per person, with the same price at every pier. The fee for a motorcycle is 15 baht, for a 4-wheel car it is 50 baht and for a bus it is 100 baht. If taking a car further than the customs checkpoint, car insurance for driving in Malaysia must be obtained. Other regulations are that the car must not have more than 40% tinting and must have seatbelts, as Malaysia is very strict about vehicle safety. There are car insurance companies in Thailand and in Malaysia. It is convenient to get insurance in Thailand that covers a duration of 9 days to 1 year. Normal cost of insurance is about 600-700 baht.
Sirindhorn Peat Swamp Forest Nature Research and Study Centre (To Daeng Peat Swamp Forest) is the last remaining peat swamp forest in Thailand. It covers 3 districts; Tak Bai, Su-ngai Kolok and Su-ngai Padi, and has an area of 192 square kilometres, though the most verdant area is 80 square kilometres, rich in fauna and flora. Major waterways that pass through the area are Khlong Su-ngai Padi, Bang Nara River and Khlong To Daeng, which gives the forest its name.
The centre has arranged nature study treks to publicise knowledge about peat swamp forests. The walk starts from a swamp behind the research centre and continues on a wooden bridge into the forest for 1,200 metres. One segment of the trail consists of a wooden bridge suspended by metal slings and another consists of a high tower for viewing the lush scenery below. Informative signs provide interesting facts about trees and provide guidance for trekkers. The trail is open daily from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. It is free and an exhibition room is also provided for visitors.
How does a peat swamp forest occur? It originates from fresh water that is confined in limited space for a long period of time and is subject to the subsequent accumulation of organic matters in the soil, like dead plants, trees and leaves. These matters are slowly transformed into peat or organic soil that is soft like a sponge, has low density and absorbs water very well. In this area, peat has accumulated together with marine sediment to create 2-3 interlocking layers of both types of soil. This is because the sea level was high enough to cover the forest. Accumulation of sediment ensued and seawater was contained in the area. This resulted in the demise of plants in the forest and created a mangrove forest in its place. When the water level receded and rain came, the water transformed into fresh water and the peat swamp forest occurred. The deeper soil layers date from 6,000-7,000 years, while the top layers are about 700-1,000 years.
The forest has a diverse ecological system. Every life is interconnected to that of the other. Trees have strong roots that spread out to those of other trees and help them to support their large trunks. Therefore, trees in the peat swamp forest will grow together in a group. If one falls, so will the others.
There are over 400 species of plants in the peat swamp forest. The most outstanding are strange palms like Lum Phi whose fruits can be eaten, and red palm whose entire trunk is red in colour. Red palm is popular as a garden plant. Moreover, there are aromatic flowers like the Goniothalamus giganteus, a plant of the Annonaceae family that has large flowers. There are also orchids and an assortment of small plants that you must look carefully to find.
There are over 200 animal species in the forest. Small creatures include langurs, civets, wild cats, Singapore rats, and Malayan tree frogs. Large animals include wild boars and binturongs. A variety of fish also makes it home in the forest, including a certain species of catfish that can be raised in acidic water and the strange angler catfish that has a flat, wide head and a long body. This catfish has a poisonous spine in its dorsal fin. The fish uses the forest as a refuge and to spawn. Villagers catch this fish for food when it is fully grown.
Birds here include the Rufous-tailed Shama that is mainly found in Sumatra, Borneo and Malaysia. It was first discovered in Thailand in 1987. The Malaysian Verditer Flycatcher is found only in the Sirindhorn Peat Swamp Forest in Thailand. Both species are now endangered.
The forest is interesting not only because of its unusual flora and fauna, but also because of the overall unique experience that people, particularly children, are bound to receive when they pay a visit. The surrounding nature offers a constant stream of surprises. While trekking amidst a serene forest, you may encounter an animal grazing. Trails take you close to, but not overly interfering with, nature.
Things to take to enhance your appreciation of the forest are notebooks, coloured pencils, binoculars, cameras, and mosquito repellent. With these items in hand, you can possibly spend a whole day of fun here. The cool climate of the forest is conducive for explorations. The best time to go is during February-April because there is little rain. The other months will see frequent rainfall due to the forest being situated on a peninsula.
Tourists should be careful of the disease-carrying black mosquitoes, which are prevalent in the area and come out in the evening. Forest fires can happen as a result of smoking and discarding cigarette butts on the ground. When there is a forest fire in this forest, it is more difficult to put out because there is ample fuel in the form of trees, dead barks and organic matters in the ground. The fire will actually spread underground, making it extremely difficult to extinguish and control. The fire can last for months and the only way to put it out is to wait for heavy rainfall and the subsequent inundation should extinguish the fire.
Getting There: It is more convenient to come by train from Bangkok as the last station is at Su-ngai Kolok. If not bring a car, you can use the service of hired cars from Su-ngai Kolok.
If driving, take Highway No. 4057 (Tak Bai-Su-ngai Kolok) for about 5 kms. Take the branch road for 3 kms. to Chawananan Road, then turn left for 2 kms. Posted signs lead the way to the forest. For more information, contact P.O. Box 37, Su-ngai Kolok, Narathiwat 96120.
Su-ngai Kolok Checkpoint
Su-ngai Kolok Checkpoint seems livelier than Narathiwat town, probably because it is the largest border trading area in the province, and cross-border traffic is common between Thailand and Malaysia. A bridge linking the 2 countries is open from 05.00-21.00 hrs. Thais like to cross to Rantu Panyang to buy electrical goods and snacks, while Malays come over to shop for food and fruits.
Su-ngai Kolok Checkpoint is around 1 km. from Su-ngai Kolok train station. From Narathiwat town, there are 2 routes. The first one is by taking Highway No. 4055 (Narathiwat-Rangae) and turning left at Ban Manang Tayo, then take Highway No. 4056 to Amphoe Su-ngai Padi into Su-ngai Kolok. The second route is by taking Highway No. 4084 from Narathiwat town to Amphoe Tak Bai, and turn right to Highway No. 4057 (Tak Bai-Su-ngai Kolok) for 66 kms.
From Su-ngai Kolok Checkpoint, you can drive across the bridge to Kota Bahru in Malaysia, but each car must be insured (see details under Taba Checkpoint). For a border pass, call tel. 0- 7361-4296.
Chao Mae Tomo Shrine is in Soi Phuthon, Charoen Khet Road, in Tambon Su-ngai Kolok Municipality. Originally housed at Ban Tomo in Amphoe Su Khirin, villagers transferred it to Su-ngai Kolok. Locals and people in nearby provinces, as well as Chinese Malaysians, revere it greatly. Every year, a festival is held at the shrine on the 23 rd day of the third month of the Chinese calendar (around April). Activities include a procession, lion dancing parade, a fancy acrobatic stilts procession, a long drum procession, and walking over hot coals.
Chat Warin Waterfall is at Tambon To Teng, not too far from town. Take Highway No. 4056 to Su-ngai Padi Hospital, then turn left for 6 kms. The entrance is a good asphalt road in Budo-Su-ngai Padi National Park. This is a medium-sized waterfall that has a year-round water supply and is shaded by the many trees in the area.
The most striking plant here is the rare Bangsun Palm that is found in the jungle around 1,800 metres above sea level. Originating from Malaysia, the plant is a low tree with many branches that can get as high as 3 metres. It has neatly arranged, large, diamond-shaped leaves. The palm is regarded by many as the most beautiful palm in the world and is found only in this forest.
The name "Bangsun Palm" was given by Professor Prachit Wamanon, advisor of the royal projects, when he inspected the area and found the palm had grown in a Muslim village. The professor saw that the palm leaf was similar to a "Bangsun," a large umbrella used in processions. The locals call the palm Buke Ipae, meaning mountain centipede, probably because the flower is shaped like a centipede.
Budo-Su-ngai Padi Mountain Range National Park was part of the Sankala Khiri mountain range that divides Thailand and Malaysia. The area was a haven for guerrillas, and few people ventured in to see the natural beauty of the jungle here. However, when the situation improved in 1974, the Royal Forest Department established Pacho Waterfall Park that later became Budo-Su-ngai Padi National Park. The park occupies an area of 294 square kilometres and extends into parts of Narathiwat, Yala and Pattani.
The Budo mountain range is part of the Indo-Malayan tropical jungle that has high humidity because of the year-round rainfall that it receives. This is a biologically diverse jungle when compared to other jungles of similar size. This type of tropical jungle is found only in the equatorial zones (the area between the 23.5 degrees north and south of the Tropic of Cancer). In Thailand, this area spans from the Kra Isthmus down. Botanists divide the world's tropical forests into three zones; American rainforest, Indo-Malayan rainforest and African tropical forest.
The most distinctive plant here is "Golden Leaves" or "Yandao." This plant was first discovered and made known to the world here in 1988. The vine leaves are gold in colour, similar to a hardwood tree of the genus Bauhinia, but considerably larger. Some leaves are even larger than the palm of a hand. The edges of the leaves are curved throughout, like 2 ovals connected to each other. The leaves have a soft velvet-like texture. They have beautiful gold or bronze/rainbow colours. When sunlight reflects on them, they give off a lovely glow that can be seen from a distance. If the tree grows in a damp area, the leaves will be especially thick and soft. When fully matured, the leaves will turn bronze/silver and finally green. The white flowers of the tree are equally attractive. There is a nice one near the park office. Another important, rare and expensive plant found here is the rattan "Takha Thong."
Rare animals in the area include rhinoceros, agile gibbons, tapirs, and Sumatran serows. The most significant animal is the spectacled langur that inhabits Southeast Asia in the south of Myanmar and Thailand, and all the way to Malaysia and some islands. It lives on high mountains and in deep jungles in groups of around 30-40. The strongest male is the leader. The langur is usually shy, afraid of humans and not aggressive like monkeys. Apart from the spectacled langur, there are 3 other types in Thailand ; banded langurs, gray langurs and northern spectacled langurs. All 4 species of langurs are currently endangered mammals.
The park has several waterfalls, such as Phu Wae, Pacho and Pako. The best known and accessible is "Pacho" that has a high cliff. The word "Pacho" is a Malay word meaning 'waterfall'. Tourists can go up the 9 levels of the waterfall. It is the province's largest waterfall and one of the most beautiful in southern Thailand. However, as the jungle around the area is somewhat damaged, there is little water in the dry season.
Other interesting spots are Sala Than That that was used as a rest area by King Rama VII when he visited Narathiwat. A stone bearing his initials is in the area. Tourists can come here throughout the year.
Getting There: The waterfall is 26 kms. from Narathiwat town. Take Highway No. 42 to Amphoe Bacho to the intersection into the district, then turn right for about 2 kms. to the park office.
300 Years Mosque
300 Years Mosque (also known as Al-Hussein Mosque or Talo Mano Mosque) is in Ban Talo Mano, Tambon Subo Sawo, 25 kms. from Narathiwat town. Take Highway No. 42 and turn at Burangae intersection.
Mr. Wan Hussein Az-Sanawi, who migrated from Ban Sano Yanya in Pattani Province, built the mosque in 1624. The mosque was originally roofed with palm leaves and later with fired clay tiles. The mosque is different than others, as it is comprised of 2 buildings connected to each other. It is built entirely of timber with pieces interlocking with each other, without the placement of a single nail. The style is traditional Thai with contemporary Chinese and Malay. The most outstanding feature is that above the roof is a base that supports a gable. The Azan tower has a Chinese style and is situated on the rear part of the roof. The tower has wooden walls with windows. The air holes are carved with leaf, flower and Chinese designs.
This mosque is still used by Muslims. People wanting to see inside must receive permission from the village Imam, as normally visitors can only have a look outside. Talo Mano village was also a production centre of handwritten Korans.
Next to the mosque is a Muslim graveyard. Rocks decorating the grave of a deceased male will be round, while those for females would be half buried, making only half of the rock visible above ground.
Luang Pho Daeng of Wat Choeng Khao is at Moo 4, Ban Choeng Khao, Tambon Paluka Samo, about 13 kms. from the district office on the way to Pattani. Take Highway No. 42 (Phetchakasem Road) and turn left at Ban Ton Thai for 5.5 kms. Luang Pho Daeng, the temple's former abbot and a revered monk of the province, died on 1 January 1979 at the age of 90 years. After death, his body did not decompose, resulting in much reverence by locals. They placed the body in a glass coffin for others to pay their respects to.
Hala-Bala Wildlife Reserve is a new conservation area of Thailand that was officially established in 1996. The reserve is near the Thai-Malaysian border and has an area of around 433.16 square kilometres. It covers the Sankala Khiri mountain range, and the deep forests of Hala forest and Bala that are not connected to each other are part of the same reserve. Hala forest is in Amphoe Betong in Yala and Amphoe Chanae in Narathiwat. However, the only part open to the public is Bala forest that covers Amphoe Waeng and Amphoe Su Khirin in Narathiwat.
Highway No. 4062 (Khwam Man Khong Road) goes through Sankala Khiri mountain range, making access to the reserve easier. You can start at Ban Buketa in Amphoe Waeng, go through Bala forest and end up at Ban Phu Khao Thong in Amphoe Su Khirin for a total distance of 18 kilometres. On both sides of the road are the most verdant jungles in Thailand. To study nature here, you only have to drive through the area and you will likely see many extraordinary things from the park office on.
Approximately 5 kilometres from the office, there is a point to view wildlife. Many Banyan trees grow in the area and animals regularly come to feed off the fruits of the trees. About 10 kilometres further in is the Phu Khao Thong Protection Unit, a sub-office of the reserve. From here you can see a sea of mist. If you walk about 100 metres from the unit, you will find a gigantic Somphong (Kraphong) tree that has a diametre of 25 metres. The height of a section near the ground that supports the trunk is about 4 metres. This tree likes to grow near water and is a softwood tree that is used in making toothpicks or matches.
Along the way you will see several plants not commonly seen elsewhere in Thailand, like the Yuan tree of the bean family that stands tall proudly and can be seen at a distance from the road. It has a white trunk and can reach a height of 65-70 metres. It is regarded as the third tallest tree in the world, after the redwood and eucalyptus, respectively. It is usually used to make furniture. The Saya tree of the rubber family is the most striking of the Hala-Bala forest. From the viewpoint, you can see the tops of many of the trees. If you look carefully, you will see hornbills as the trees are their preferred nesting sites. The Hua Roi Ru Nam tree is one of the newest plants found in the country.
Wildlife here creates an ecological balance for the area. Many of the animals are now rare in Thailand, like the large black gibbon, or Sia Mang, that is totally black in colour and nearly double the size of the white-handed gibbon. There is also the agile gibbon that is usually found on Sumatra, Borneo and northern Malaysian jungles and southern Thailand. You may be lucky and find two of these creatures hanging from a branch. The area also has Thut frogs that are the largest frogs in the country. It is about a foot long and weighs over 5 kilograms. The frogs live in watershed forests on high mountains. A survey discovered that four types of protected mammals, the Sumatran serow, tapir, marbled cat, and Asian two-horned rhinoceros, inhabit the area.
The hornbill, a rare bird, is an indicator of the state of the forest. Nonetheless, the reserve has 9 out of 12 species of hornbills in Thailand. These include the wrinkled hornbill, helmeted hornbill (the only kind of hornbill that has a thick upper beak, which Indonesian villagers hunt to get the beak to carve into ornaments resembling ivory), Oriental pied hornbill, great pied hornbill, white-crowned hornbill, bushy-crested hornbill, Malayan rhinoceros hornbill, black hornbill, and wreathed hornbill.
People wishing to enter the area for nature study must write to the reserve at P.O. Box 3, Amphoe Waeng, Narathiwat 96120 or the Wildlife Reserve Department of the Natural Resources Conservation Office, Royal Forest Department, Bangkok.
Facilities : As the reserve is a sensitive area, tourists are not permitted to stay overnight.
Getting There: You can hire mini-buses from Amphoe Waeng Market or from Su-ngai Kolok train station.
Sirindhorn Waterfall is not a waterfall that falls from a high cliff but is really a stream that comes down from a forest at a higher altitude. The falls feature a wide rock plateau suitable for relaxation. It converges with Khlong Aikading and is frequented by locals. Apart from the waterfall, there is the Southern Forest Flowers and Decorative Plants Survey and Collection Project under the Patronage of HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. The project has more than 200 plant species that are grouped according to their natural habitat. Signs provide plant names and useful information. Plants here are both interesting in terms of local botany and breeding, to develop as decorative and economic plants. The project is open from 08.30-16.00 hrs. The waterfall is around 7 kms. from Amphoe Waeng on Highway No. 4057. Turn left onto Phua Khwam Man Khong Road for around 8 kms. and go another 300 metres from the entrance to the waterfall.
Narathiwat Products Fair showcases all the highlights of the province, such as the show of special arts and crafts, Krachut sedge day, barred ground dove cooing contest, Longkong day, and the annual Korlae boat races in front of the throne hall.
- Korlae-Long Boat Races in front of the Throne Hall are held on Bang Nara River opposite Sala Prachakhom (community pavilion). This annual event is held when the Royal Family is in residence at Thaksin Ratchaniwet Palace.
- Krachut Sedge Day is an event that the province host around the same time as the boat races, in order to publicise and promote hemp products, one of the activities of the crafts project of the province. Products are made in places like Moo Ban Thon and Ban Phikun Thong. Activities of the day include an exhibition on the production process, from the preparation of raw materials to weaving the sedge into beautiful mats, or transforming it into other lovely and unusual products like hats, handbags, letter holders, food covers, and lamp shades. Moreover, there are Krachut contests and stores selling Krachut sedge products.
Chao Mae Tomo Celebrations is an important festival of Su-ngai Kolok and consists of the Chao Mae Tomo procession, floral floats, lion and dragon parade, and performances by people being possessed. The event is held on the 23 rd day of the third month of the Chinese calendar. Entertainment includes Chinese opera and many shops.
Hotels and accommodation
- Bangnara : 274 Pupapakdi Road Amphoe Muang [0 7351 1036] : 110 baht
- Cathay : 275 Phupapakdi Road Amphoe Muang [0 7351 1014] : 120-150 baht
- Chao Phraya Resort : 54 Suriyapradit Road Amphoe Muang [0 7351 3467] : 250-380 baht
- Chonun House : 43/5-6 Soi Phuthon Chareonkhet Road Amphoe Sungai Kolok [0 7361 1421] : 130-280 baht
- Come In : 48 Surirong Road Amphoe Sungai Kolok [0 7361 1187] : 200-300 baht
- Genting : 250 Asia Road 18 Amphoe Sungai Kolok [0 7361 3231-40] : 550-720 baht
- Grand Garden : 66 Soi 3 Prachawiwat Amphoe Sungai Kolok [0 7361 3600-5, 0 7361 3501-4] : 650-2,000 baht
- Krung Thong House : 143 Vithiuthok Road Amphoe Sungai Kolok [0 7361 1511, 0 7361 2662] : 200 baht
- Madi : 19/4 Chunmankha Road Amphoe Sungai Kolok [0 7361 1214, 0 7361 1122] : 140-250 baht
- Marina : 173 Soi Phuthon Chareonkhet Road Amphoe Sungai Kolok [0 7361 3881-5] : 700-1,500 baht
- Merlin : 68 Chareonkhet Road Amphoe Sungai Kolok [0 7361 1003, 0 7361 1431] : 410-550 baht
- My House : 98/34 Saritwong Road Amphoe Sungai Kolok [0 7361 1069, 0 7361 3569] : 200-280 baht
- Nam Thai 2 : 93-95 Soi Phuthon Chareonkhet Road Amphoe Sungai Kolok [0 7361 1163] : 120-250 baht
- Narathiwat : 341 Pupapakdi Road Amphoe Muang [0 7351 1063] : 100 baht
- Pacific : 41/1-2 Vorakampipit Amphoe Muang [0 7351 1076, 0 7351 1259] : 300-440 baht
- Panun Resort : Narathiwat-Takbai Road Amphoe Muang [0 7351 4749] : 300-500 baht
- Parkson : 501 Soi Phuthon Chareonkhet Road Amphoe Sungai Kolok [0 7361 2789-90] : 380-420 baht
- Phiman : 76/4 Chareonkhet Road Amphoe Sungai Kolok [0 7361 1464] : 200 baht
- Plaza : 2 Thetpathom Amphoe Sungai Kolok [0 7361 3403, 0 7361 1875-6] : 400-650 baht
- Rex : 6/1-2 Chamrunnara Road Amphoe Muang [0 7351 1134, 0 7351 1190] : 200-450 baht
- Savoy : 8/2 Chareonkhet Road Amphoe Sungai Kolok [0 7361 1093] : 130 baht
- Taksin 1 : 30 Prachawiwat Road Amphoe Sungai Kolok [0 7361 1010, 0 7361 1083] : 110-280 baht
- Taksin 2 : Prachasamran Road Amphoe Sungai Kolok [0 7361 1088] : 180-430 baht
- Tanyong : 16/1 Sophapisai Road Amphoe Muang [0 7351 1477-9] : 170-440 baht
- Tanyong Hotel : 16/1 Sopapisai Road, A. Muang [(66 73) 511-477]
- Tara Regent : 45 Soi Phuthon Chareonkhet Road Amphoe Sungai Kolok [0 7361 1801-2] : 350-450 baht
- Thai Eak : 43 Wongwithi Road Amphoe Sungai Kolok [0 7361 1052, 0 7361 3136] : 220-320 baht
- Thai Laem Thong : 193/8 Prachawiwat Road Amphoe Sungai Kolok [0 7361 1094, 0 7361 2387] : 200-350 baht
- Thani : 4/1 Chunmankha Amphoe Sungai Kolok [0 7361 1241] : 120-220 baht
- Tippawan : 36/16 Chareonpong Road Amphoe Muang [0 7351 1872] : 170-440 baht
- Yaovarat : 131 Pichitbumrong Road Amphoe Muang [0 7351 1320] : 120-250 baht
- Bang Nara : 61/7 Narathiwat-Tak Bai Rd., Tel: 0-7351-3108 (Thai)
- Jojo Bakery : 1/27 Chaturong Ratsami Rd., Tel: 0-7351-2180 (Thai)
- Khao Na Ped (Khun Boonlert) : 430/1 Phupa Pakdi Rd., Tel: 0-7351-3443, 0-7352-2385
- Mangkorn Thong : 433 Phupa Pakdi Rd., Tel: 0-7351-1835 (Thai)
- Rim Nam : 45/6 Narathiwat-Tak Bai Rd., Tel: 0-7351-1559 (Thai)
How to get there
* By car
From Bangkok, it is a distance of 1,149 kilometres. Take Highway No. 4 past Prachuap Khiri Khan-Chumphon and Highway No. 41 past Surat Thani-Nakhon Si Thammarat-Phatthalung-Hat Yai and connect to Highway No. 42 to Pattani-Narathiwat.
* By bus
Transport Co., Ltd. has daily Bangkok-Narathiwat and Bangkok-Su-ngai Kolok bus services. Air-conditioned buses, varing in 3 types, depart from Bangkok 's Southern Bus Terminal at the following times:
VIP Bus : 5.15 p.m.
Standard 1 Bus : 3 p.m.
Standard 2 Bus : 3.30 p.m.
Bangkok - Su-ngai Kolok
VIP Bus : 5.15 p.m.
Standard 1 Bus : 6 p.m.
Standard 2 Bus : 9 p.m.
For information, call tel. 0 2435 1199-200 Narathiwat Bus Terminal, tel. 0 7351 1845, Su-ngai Kolok Bus Terminal, tel. 0 7361 2045. By train
The State Railways of Thailand has a daily express and rapid Bangkok-Tanyongmat (Narathiwat)-Su-ngai Kolok service, departing from the Bangkok Railway Station at 0.25 p.m. and 2.45 p.m. For information, call tel. 1690, 0 2223 7010, 0 2223 7020, Su-ngai Kolok station, tel. 0 7361 1162, 0 7361 4060.
* By plane
Air Andaman provides daily flight services from Bangkok to Narathiwat. For more information, contact their Bangkok office at tel. 0-2996-9119 or view their website at www.airandaman.com.
Thai Airways has 2 weekly flights connecting Phuket with Narathiwat. For more information, contact their Bangkok office at tel. 0-2280-0060, 0-2628-2000, Narathiwat office, tel. 0 7351 1161, 0 7351 3090, or view their website at www.thaiairways.com.