Thailand has it all, something for everyone, and has been a top holiday destination for travelers from all over the world for many years. Most locations have their particular niche, be it beaches, mountains, forests or simple peace and tranquility. There are, however, a few places that can offer all a visitor could desire.
One such place is to be found about 610 km South of Bangkok on Thailand’s Southwestern isthmus, Nakhon Si Thammarat. This city, the provincial capital of the province bearing the same name, is one of the country’s oldest cities and the former Kingdom of Ligor dating back to the year 775.
Nakhon Si Thammarat has its own motto, “Land of Sea and Mountains”. Never could a motto be more apt. Its Eastern border is The Gulf of Thailand, with its warm, calm water lapping an almost unbroken beach front from North to South. Within its interior is the mountain range of the Tenasserim Hills, with its highest elevation being Khao Luang at 1835 meters.
Getting to Nakhon Si Thammarat
Having been a popular holiday destination for indigenous Thais for generations, in traveling to and from Nakhon Si Thammarat, road and rail were the norm. The road links are good with expansion and improvements to these arteries continuing.
It is fair to say that the train link from Bangkok is relatively slow, the fast train completing the journey in around 15.5 hours. Fares are cheap, from a little over 600 Baht, and the rail journey remains a popular method of travel for working class Thais and budget backpackers.
Things started to change in 1993 when the provincial airport opened with a direct link to Bangkok. This has brought more visitors to the area, importantly, foreigners. Today 4 airlines service the airport, and year on year passenger numbers continue to increase. And, for the future, permission has been granted to extend the runway with the view to starting an international flight service.
What to do in Nakhon Si Thammarat?
Every town and city has its temples, some more impressive than others. Impressive, perhaps, doesn’t do Wat Phra That Woramahawiharn justice. Not only is this temple the most important one in the province, but also one of the most important in the whole of the country. The temple was built in the early 13th century by King Sri Dhammasokaraja as a symbol of Theravada Buddhism and is thought to be where the tooth of Gautama Buddha is housed. This expansive temple is a must visit destination for travelers.
Southern Thailand is famous as the traditional home to the shadow puppeteers, known as Nang Talung. Suchan Subsin is a famous local exponent of the art and has been influential over the years in preserving this ancient art. His home has now been given over as a museum to the art and as a venue for shadow puppet performances. The shadow puppet performances are great for all ages and well worth a visit.
Whilst visiting Nakhon Si Thammarat, it is impossible to avoid the draw of the sea, and the beaches. There are many beaches, unspoilt and peaceful, for relaxation, beach games and some with water sports. Khanom beach is uncommercialized and safe, and famous for its pink dolphins, known as “Loma Si Chompoo. Beach lovers will also feel at home at Ao Thong Yee, Nai Phlao Beach, Thong Ching and Kwang Pao Bay, plus many more along the beautiful coastline.
Trekking is becoming more and more popular, with this, Nakhon Si Thammarat does not disappoint. The Tenasserim Hills Range is part of the Khao Luang National Park which covers 570 square km. All across the park, waterfalls remain attractions which never cease to amaze and enthrall.
The park contains in excess of 300 species of orchid, some of which are unique to the park. It is a heaven for bird watchers with more than 200 species to be seen. Keep a look out for the crested fireback, white-crowned hornbill and the great argus. The helmeted, plain-pouched and bushy crested hornbills are frequently sighted, as are the black, and Wallace’s hawk eagles.
The mammal life in the park is extensive, trekkers may come across elephants, barking deer, the dusky leafed monkey, leopards and tigers. Porcupines are common as is the sambar bear. Throughout the park there are well sign posted trails to follow. There is plenty of useful maps and sightseeing guides available and are certainly worth obtaining prior to setting off. Personal guides can also be hired at daily rates, their local knowledge can be invaluable.
Where to Stay in Nakhon Si Thammarat?
Guest houses, beach huts and bungalows, villas, hostels and hotels. In Nakhon Si Thammarat the choice is vast. You can rent a beachfront bungalow from Teeny Beach, quirky, brightly coloured and well maintained, prices start from as low as 500 Baht a night.
At the other end of the scale, a luxury rental at Toledo Pool Villas will cost around 2,800 per night. For that you get an à la carte restaurant, pool, sauna, fitness center, flat screen TV, and much more. Grand Fortune Hotel, Laekhon Nonbai and The Plug Hotel are just a few of the many mid-range choices of accommodation. The one thing for sure is that travelers will have plenty of choice to suit their budget.
Just as with any popular destination there is a plethora of bars and restaurants to suite every taste and wallet. Evening entertainment is equally varied. Whether you like night clubs, beach parties or street entertainers, you are sure to find it in Nakhon Si Thammarat. All the best of what Thailand has to offer can be found in Nakhon Si Thammarat. In fact, Nakhon Si Thammarat is whatever you want it to be.