Phatthalung is an ancient city in southern Thailand. It is a land of mountains. In town is Khao Ok Thalu, which is clearly visible from afar. Phatthalung is regarded as the birthplace of the shadow play and the Nora dance. From ancient times to the present, Phatthalung has been closely linked to Songkhla Province, particularly in terms of geography, history and migratory settlements through many ages. During the Srivijaya period (13th-14th Buddhist century), the Phatthalung community received Indian cultural influence in the way of Mahayana Buddhism. In the reign of King Ramathibodi I (U Thong) of Ayutthaya, Phatthalung became one of twelve royal cities. Later during the reign of King Rama I in the Rattanakosin period, the king had the Ministry of Defense oversee Phatthalung, upgraded it to secondary city status and moved it to the mouth of Pam River.
When there was an administration reform in the reign of King Rama V, Phatthalung prefecture came under Nakhon Si Thammarat prefecture until 1924, when King Rama VI relocated the city to Tambon Khuha Sawan where it has been ever since. Upon the abolition of the prefecture system in 1933, Phatthalung became a province outright.
Phatthalung city is situated on the west bank of Songkhla Lake, about 846 kilometres from Bangkok. It has an area of 3,424.473 square kilometres and is divided into 10 districts and 1 sub-district, as follows: Mueang Phatthalung, Khuan Khanun, Pak Phayun, Kong Ra, Tamot, Khao Chaison, Pa Bon, Bang Kaeo, Si Banphot, Pa Phayom, and the sub-district of Srinagarindra.
North - Borders Chauat in Nakhon Si Thammarat and Ranot in Songkhla.
South - Borders Rattaphum and Khuan Niang in Songkhla and Khuan Kalong in Satun.
East - Borders Songkhla Lake, Ranot, Krasae Sin, Sathing Phra, and Singhanakhon in Songkhla.
West - Borders Nakhon Si Thammarat (Banthat) mountain range, Huai Yot, Mueang Trang, Na Yong, Yan Ta Khao, and Palian in Trang.
How To Get There Car
From Bangkok, there are 3 ways. The first is via the Phetchakasem National Highway No. 4 to Chumphon (Phathom Phon junction) into Ranong, Phang-nga, Krabi, Trang, and Phatthalung. The total distance is 1,140 kilometres. The second route is to Chumphon and then onto Highway No. 41 (Asia) to Phatthalung, a total distance of around 846 kilometres. The third route is to Nakhon Si Thammarat via Chumphon and Surat Thani, then onto Highway No. 403 and Highway No. 41 to Phatthalung.
Transport Co. has daily Bangkok-Phatthalung services. For more information, please call 0 2435 1199, 0 2435 1200 or Phatthalung Bus Terminal, tel:0 7461 2070 or visit www.transport.co.th.
The southern line runs through Phatthalung town, Khuan Khanun, Khao Chaison, Pak Phayun, Pa Bon, and Bang Kaeo. Trains leave the Bangkok Railway Station (Hualamphong) daily at 12.25 p.m., 2.20 p.m., 2.45 p.m., 3.50 p.m. and 10.50 p.m. For more information, please call 1690, 0 2223 7010, 0 2223 7020, Phatthalung Railway Station tel: 0 7461 3106 or visit www.railway.co.th.
Phatthalung does not have an airport but can be accessed via those in nearby provinces. Please call Thai Airways at 1566 (information) or tel: 0 2280 0060 (reservation), in Trang at tel: 0 7521 8066 or 0 7521 9923, in Nakhon Si Thammarat at tel: 0 7531 1158, 0 7534 2491 or 0 7534 3874, and in Hat Yai at tel: 0 7424 5851-2, 0 7424 3711, or 0 7423 3433.
Phon Beating Festival
This is a famous festival of the province. This popular Buddhist tradition is held at the end of the Buddhist Lent when people have a Buddha image procession by land or water. Phatthalung normally has a land procession accompanied by drums to give the procession a good rhythm. When a procession from one temple passes another temple, the procession participants will challenge the temple people to come out and see who can beat drums to give the best rhythm. This tradition has evolved to become a grand festival of Phatthalung. It is held every October. Processions will go take Buddha images throughout Phatthalung city. The festival is held at Phatthalung Provincial Stadium and Saen Suk Lam Pam beach in Amphoe Muang. Activities of the festival include drum competitions of temples in the province, dramatic arts, boat procession contest, folk plays, religious ceremonies, water sports on Lam Pam Lake such as boat races and water boxing, exhibitions, and arts and culture demonstrations of Phatthalung and nearby provinces like reed mat making and coconut shell products.
Thale Noi Bird Watching Festival
This festival was first held in 1998 as a special activity to mark the Amazing Thailand project and promote the most important tourist destination of Phatthalung. The festival consists of eco-tourism activities lasting 1 month (14 February-15 March) when there are plenty of birds and Thale Noi is at its most beautiful. The festival takes place in the Thale Noi Non-hunting area. Daily activities include boating on long-tailed boats to observe flora and fauna, local performances, agricultural produce for sale, demonstrations of native life, and an assortment of local products for sale.
Coconut Shell Products
Coconut shells are made into various products. They are available at Ban Khok Wua in Chai Buri.
Popular souvenirs are caramel of Tambon Nang Lat, dried banana and Indian beech candy.
Reed is found in Thale Noi area. The villagers living around Thale Noi use reed to produce mats and various handicrafts.
Shadow Play Figures
Shadow play figures are available at Ban Bang Kaeo, Chai Buri district.
Attractions Shadow Play Handicrafts Village
This is at Mu 1, Ban Bang Kaeo, Tambon Tha Madua. It is about 9 kilometres from the Phetchakasem-railway intersection and 200 metres from the railway to the centre. The total distance from Phatthalung city to the village is about 36 kilometres. The village has 25 members, all of whom make shadow play figures from hides in various styles made to order. The work is delicate and beautiful. The products are sold nationwide and exported to about 16 countries. For persons interested in seeing and buying shadow play products, please contact Mr. Im Chanchum, the centres president, or the Amphoe Bang Kaeo Community Development Office at tel: 0 7469 7380.
Talung (shadow play) is a regional performance of southern Thailand that is as popular as Nora. Like Nora, Phatthalung is also regarded as the birthplace of Talung. Each shadow play figure is made from raw cowhide that has been dried and then cut into shapes. Each figure is ornately printed with designs, with black usually covering the entire figure. Thinner hides will have colouring. The figures are held up by bamboo sticks, with the mouth and hands movable in tune with the narration. The Talung hall has a thatched roof and three walls. It has a white cloth screen. Behind it is where the figures are kept. The entire troupe of musicians and puppeteers number not more than 8 persons. Musical instruments include pipe, drum and gong. The figure performance is the duty of the head of the troupe who both operate the figures and narrate. The stories are from literature or newly written tales.
Wat Khian Bang Kaeo
This temple is on Highway No. 4081, 7 kilometres past Khao Chaison district office, in the area of Ban Bang Kaeo at Km. 14. A left-hand road leads to the temple. Wat Khian is situated on the bank of Songkhla Lake. This old monastery has the sacred Phra That Bang Kaeo, built in the same style as Phra Maha That Chedi in Nakhon Si Thammarat but smaller. This is one of the oldest historical sites of Phatthalung, dating back to the early Ayutthaya period. It is believed that the temple area was once the site of Phatthalung town because many laterite ruins and Buddha images have been found here.
Thale Noi Waterfowl Reserve
Thale Noi is the largest waterfowl reserve in Thailand. It can be reached via Highway No. 4048 from Amphoe Muang to Amphoe Khuan Khanun and to Thale Noi, for a total distance of 32 kilometres. The road is paved asphalt all the way. The reserve is the responsibility of the Royal Forestry Department and covers 450 square kilometres, divided into 422 square kilometres of land (94%) and 28 square kilometres of water (6%), or Thale Noi. The sea is 5 kilometres wide and 6 kilometres long with an average depth of 1.2 metres. The sea is covered with assorted flora such as lotus, bulrush, reed, and grass used for thatching. More than 187 species of waterfowls, migratory and indigenous birds make their home at Thale Noi. Some live here throughout the year and some migrate only in winter from October to March when the population density is at its highest. The low season is June-September which is the nesting period. Species that are prevalent here are those of the heron and stork family such as yellow bittern, great egret, painted stork, red stork; ducks such as lesser whistling duck, cotton pygmy goose, and garganey; grebe; rails such as white-browed crake, white-breasted waterhen, watercock, common moorhen, and Eurasian coot; jacanas such as pheasant-tailed jacana and bronze-winged jacana; cormorants such as great cormorant and little cormorant; black-winged stilt; Brahminy kite; red-wattled lapwing; whiskered tern; common kingfisher; and barn swallow. The best time to study flora and fauna is during October-March when there is an abundance of birds and pink lotus in full bloom cover the reserve. Moreover, tourists can visit villages and see cottage industries like reed mat making.
Thale Noi has been named the first world ramsar site (wetland site) in Thailand. This aims to preserve the sustainable ecology of the area, one that is being developed into one of the countrys most important nature study centres. As such, there is careful control of eco-tourism in Thale Noi in order to minimize impact on the environment.
Tourists can take boats from Thale Noi pier and go on two routes; the first one for tourists with services by the Thale Noi community and the second for academics and nature study by requesting permission and guide from a reserve official. The reserve has comfortable accommodation. For more information, please contact the Royal Forestry Department in Bangkok, tel: 0 2579 7223, 0 2579 5734, and Thale Noi Non-hunting Area, tel: 0 7468 5230.
Travel to Thale Noi is easy by boat and car. Access can be made from seaside districts like Ranot, Sathing Phra and Mueang of Songkhla, and Pak Phayun, Khuan Khanun and Mueang of Phatthalung. Visitors by train can alight at Pak Khlong station and continue by car to Thale Noi for 8 kilometres.
This waterfall is in the Khao Banthat Wildlife Reserve, Tambon Khlong Chaloem. To get there, go from Khlong Muai by the Tambon Lam Sin-Ban Kong Ra road (Highway No. 4122) for about 20 kilometres. The waterfall entrance is to the west about 3 kilometres away. This is a large waterfall with serene natural surroundings that are rich in tropical flora. A parking area and a restaurant are available.
Ban Khok Wua, Tambon Chai Buri, is about 6 kilometres from the city on the road from Sai Yuan intersection. The village is famous for making products from coconut shells, now called the Million Baht Coconut Shell Village. The community leader, Mr. Plum Chukhong, pioneered the idea of getting villagers to make products from coconut shells that can be found locally. Products include kitchenware, household items and decorations. Eventually over 100 households began such an industry and later received support from the Industrial Promotion Department. Popular items are spoons, coffee cups, mugs, ladles, plates, bowls, lamps, and other decorations sold domestically and to 16 countries worldwide. Visitors interested in seeing demonstrations and buying products can contact Mr. Plum Chukhong, No. 42, Mu 1, Ban Khok Wua, Tambon Chai Buri, tel: 0 1465 5751.
Hat Saen Suk Lam Pam
Situated 2 kilometres past Wat Wang on Highway No. 4047, this shady pine-fringed beach on the bank of Songkhla Lake, the largest freshwater lake in Thailand. In the middle of the rotary is a sculpture of a school of Lam Pam fish native to the area. A water pavilion named Sala Lam Pam Thi Rak is ideal for viewing the scenery. A bridge spans the beach and an islet created by sediment from the river. In Lam Pam Lake are dolphins, which can be seen frequently.
Khao Ok Thalu
Situated on Highway No. 4047, Khao Ok Thalu rises majestically east of the train station. This mountain is a symbol of the province. It is about 250 metres high. Stairs lead up to the summit where visitors can get a panoramic view of the province. The name of the mountain derives from a hole near the top that allows people to see through it.
Phatthalung Governors Residence
This interesting place is at Tambon Lam Pam, near Wat Wang. Originally a government place and the home of the city lord, the part called Wang Kao (old palace), three adjoining Thai houses, built in the time of Phraya Phatthalung (Noi Chantharotchanawong) when he was the provincial governor. The palace later became the property of Mrs. Praphai Mutamara, the daughter of Luang Si Worachat. The new palace, or Wang Mai, was built in 1889 by Phraya Aphaiborirakchakrawichitphiphitphakdi (Net Chantharotchanawong), the son of Phraya Phatthalung, then the provincial governor. The Chantharotchanawong family has given this palace to the country. The Fine Arts Department declared it a national historical site in 1983.
Phra Phutthanirokhantarai Chaiwat Chaturathit
This Buddha image is also known as Phra Si Mum Mueang which is a sacred relic of Phatthalung. It is housed in a square pavilion in an area between the provincial hall and the provincial court. This bronze image in the meditation posture was given to the province by His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej in 1968.
Phraya Thukrat monument
This monument is at Tha Miram intersection in Phatthalung municipality. Records show that Phraya Thukrat was a monk named Phra Maha Chuai who resided at Wat Pa Lilai during the reign of King Rama I. When the Nine Armies War took place, Phra Maha Chuai rallied villagers to help Phraya Phatthalung defeat Burmese forces. When he left the monkhood, he was appointed by the king to be Phraya Thukrat to help the city lord. His title of Phraya was of the same level as the city lord.
Wat Tham Khuha Sawan
This temple is at the foot of Khao Khuha Sawan near Phatthalung market. A left-hand road at Khao Hua Taek takes visitors to the temple. The temple was built in the Ayutthaya period and was later upgraded to be the first royal temple in the province. Inside the cave is a large reclining Buddha image and another in a sitting posture. The cave walls and entrance are full of initials of many kings and royal family members.
This old temple is in Tambon Lam Pam, 6 kilometres from the city on Highway No. 4047 (on the same route as Khao Ok Thalu). This is an important historical site of the province. It was built by Phraya Phatthalung (Thongkhao) in the reign of King Rama III and was once the place where government officials performed allegiance pledges in the early Rattanakosin period. Inside the convocation hall are murals of dusted paint in the time of King Rama IV about the biography of Lord Buddha and about angels. The main plaster Buddha image is from the same period. A total of 108 images line the balcony around the building.
Ko Si and Ko Ha
Both islands, in Songkhla Lake, can be reached by leaving from Tambon Lam Pam pier (25 kilometres) or Pak Phayun pier (10 kilometres). The travelling time is about 1 hour. The islands are home of flocks of sea swallows, so many that they are called Ko Rang Nok (birds nest island). Concessions are given out for the collection of the nests for sale. The natural beauty of the islands is one of the finest in Phatthalung. King Rama V once visited here and left his initials on a cliff. Nearby is a monument of him. As Ko Si and Ko Ha are concession areas of the private sector, permission must first be obtained in Pak Phayun district.
Also called Namtok Mom Chui, this waterfall is 12 kilometres from the district office. Take Highway No. 4121 and Highway No. 4137 (south of Phatthalung city) from Highway No. 4 all the way to Wat Tamot. The waterfall is located in Tamot Wildlife Protection Unit, about 4-5 kilometres past the temple. The waterfall is in the middle of a lush forest. The waterfall falls down several levels that have different names to a pool below. A wide rock plateau is suitable for relaxation.