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 plateau 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.
How To Get There 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.
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.
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.
PB Air 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 tel. 0 7534 2491, 0 7534 3874, or view their website at www.thaiairways.com.
Nok Air offers three daily flights from Bangkok to Nakhon Si Thammarat. Call 1318 or book online at www.nokair.com
Chak Phra Festival
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 and 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 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 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.
Festival of the Tenth Lunar
Festival of the Tenth Lunar Month 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 was 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 livings try 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.
Hae Pha Khuen That Festival
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 15th full-moon night of February) and Visakha Bucha Day (the 15th full-moon night of May).
Brassware can be found at the Suan Maphrao Thai-Muslim village behind Wat Phra Mahathat Woramahawihan. The only brassware product now available is a cylinder for making noodles.
Kapho fans are made from a kind of palm called Ton Pho by locals. The villagers of Ban Khok Yang in Ron Phibun use their spare time to make the fans. 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. Fans in Nakhon Si Thammarat can be bought at stores at Wat Phra Mahathat Woramahawihan, souvenir shops on Tha Chang Road and in Bowon Bazaar in the Tha Wang market area.
Necklaces have long been the work of local silversmiths who can create gold, silver and mixed (gold, silver and an alloy) necklaces. The centre is at Tha Chang Road behind Sanam Na Mueang.
Nielloware is a famous craft of the province and is well known since the old days. There are two types; black surface with white designs and black surface with gold designs. The Nakhon Si Thammarat College of Arts and Handicrafts teaches this craft. Nielloware 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. Items include rings, necklaces, bracelets, bowls, pedestals, and trays. The best shopping area is Tha Chang Road, behind Sanam Na Mueang in the area of Wat Phra Mahathat Woramahawihan, Nakhon Si Thammarat Municipality, and the Tha Wang market area.
Shadow play making 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 raw cow or goat hide. Designs are made by using chisels of various sizes to make small holes along drawn patterns. The price of each figure varies according to the delicateness and size of each one. Shadow play figures are now important products of Nakhon Si Thammarat and Phatthalung. Nakhon Si Thammarat city, in particular, has plenty of shops selling this unique product.
The souvenirs of Nakhon Si Thammarat include silverware, brassware, nielloware, and Yan Liphao basketry. They can be purchased from stores in the area of Wat Phra Mahathat Woramahawihan, behind Sanam Na Mueang, Tha Chang Road, Tha Wang area, Burapha Plaza, Bowon Bazaar, Robinson Ocean Department Store, Twin Lotus Hotel, etc.
Yan Liphao basketry
Yan Liphao basketry is another famous product of the South, particularly in Nakhon Si Thammarat where people have been making it for over 100 years. Yan Liphao is a climbing plant that grows in damp places. It likes to exist among other plants. 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, tea utensils, etc. Some pieces are encased in silver alloy, gold alloy or gold. It takes around 10 days to a month to make one item, depending on the details of the design. The major Yan Liphao production spots are Ban Mon, Tambon Tha Rua and Ban Na Khian, Tambon Na Khian, both in Amphoe Mueang, and families in Fort Vajiravudh.
Khao Chong Khoi Stone Inscription
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 6th-7th 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.
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 Khanoms 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
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.
Ban Khiri Wong
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 to be 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 during 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.
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 originated 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.
Khao Luang National Park
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 parks 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 parks 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.
Khao Luang peak
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 facilitates 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.
Arts and Culture Centre of Nakhon Si Thammarat Rajabhat Institute
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 when Nakhon Si Thammarat was built. The centre is open daily during official hours.
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.
Chedi Yak is the provinces 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.
Chinese buildings at Wat Pradu and Wat Chaeng
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.
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.
Ho Phra Isuan
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.
Nakhon Si Thammarat National Museum
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 are 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.
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.
Phra Wihan Sung
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 18th-19th century or from the late Ayutthaya period.
Residence of Ok Ya Sena Phimuk (Yamada Nagamasa)
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
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 by calling tel. demonstrations and complete performances. Visitors can appreciate this fascinating art by calling tel. 0 7534 6394.
Somdet Phra Sri Nakharin 84 Park
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.
The Thai-style monks residence of Wat Wang Tawan Tok
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 it 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 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
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.
Wat Phra Mahathat Woramahawihan
Wat Phra Mahathat Woramahawihan is located on Ratchadamnoen Road in Tambon Nai Mueang. This is a royal temple of the first class. 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 by 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.
Ban Rang Nok
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.
Museum Honouring the King for the Development of Pak Phanang Basin
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 Majestys office, a meeting room and an exhibition room on Pak Phanangs history. For more information, contact tel. 0-7551-7933, 0-7551-7534.
Pak Phanang Coast and Talumphuk Cape
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.
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 7th-9th 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.
Namtok Ranae is in Moo 6, Tambon Phipun. To get there from Nakhon Si Thammarat city, take the Nakhon-Lan Saka, Chandi Road (Highway No. 4015) for 55 kilometres (the same route as the one to Suan Ai and Suan Khan waterfalls). Then continue on the Chandi-Phipun bus for 18 kilometres. Approximately 1 kilometre before you reach Phipun district office, there is a sign on the right pointing to the waterfall. Take that road for 10 kilometres. This beautiful, ten-level waterfall is well worth a visit.
Ban Plai Uan
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 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.
Muang Nakhon Reception House
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.
Namtok Ai Khiao, or Nai Khiao Waterfall
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.
Namtok Phrom Lok
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.
Wat Khao Khun Phanom and the Khao Khun Phanom Scientific Study Centre
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 the Tourism to Study Fruit Orchards by Bicycle Club. For more information, call tel. 0-75 34-5154.
Fan Making Village
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.
Hat Hin Ngam
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)
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.
Hat Sichon, or Hua Hin Sichon
Hat Sichon, or Hua Hin Sichon as 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.
Khao Kha Archaeological Site
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 8th-9th century. The Fine Arts Department completed its renovation in 1997.
Si Khit Waterfall
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.
Ban Nai Thung Handicrafts
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.
Khao Nan National Park
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.
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.
The parks 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.
Wat Mokhlan Archaeological Site
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 7th-9th 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.
Kuan Im Goddess Image
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 Yong National Park
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 parks 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.