Located next to the Andaman Sea, Phang-Nga is blessed with astonishing
natural beauty and is certainly one of the kingdom�s most impressive
provinces. Agriculture in the shape of rubber plantations, rice, vegetable
and fruit production makes up a key component of the area�s economy - not
surprisingly, tourism is the other.
Phang-Nga province offers breathtaking scenery and landscapes featuring
mountainous areas alongside deciduous forest and some of the kingdom�s
nicest islands and beaches (the province�s two key National Parks - Surin
Islands National Marine Park and Similan Islands National Marine Park -
hosting most of these). Phang-nga does though feature a range of smaller,
and equally beautiful National Parks and Forest Parks all of great value to
Phang-Nga�s visitors. If you are heading for this area, you have a delight
The provincial capital of Phang Nga resides over the southern Thai province
by the same name. Within easy striking distance of Phuket Island, Phang Nga
province hosts the last leg of the overland journey from Bangkok to Phuket.
With nearly two millennia of history, this region of Thailand has a long and
storied past that takes multiple cultures into account.
Perched on the shores of Phang Nga bay, the capital city itself has a
population of roughly 10,000 and covers only a few square miles. Largely an
agricultural centre, the province is a major contributor to Thailand�s
Limestone is another abundant commodity here, and its visible everywhere you
travel throughout the province. Bizarre outcroppings of limestone protrude
from the bay, while numerous caves are strung with limestone stalagmites and
stalactites. Some caves are set aside as holy shrines that pay homage to the
(Khaolak Beach) Described as a sleepy beach, Hat Khaolak is a long stretch
of coast located midway between Takua Pa and Thai Muang in Phang- Nga
province (about 30 kms either way). The area, though a very well kept secret
for many years, is now one of the target holiday destinations for those
seeking the ultimate getaway. With a number of resorts now located along the
beach, visitors can find quiet peace in modern, luxurious surroundings, and
use it as a venture point to some of the wonderful natural attractions of
Hat Thai Muang
or "Turtle Beach" is located in Thai Muang National Park at the southern end
of Phang-Nga Province. The 20-km stretch of shoreline is clean and swimming
is excellent. During the months of November through to February, seaturtles
come to lay their eggs. Species include the leatherback turtle amongst
others, although in recent years numbers and sightings have reportedly been
on the decrease.
Hat Bang Sak
North of Hat Khaolak in Tambon Bang Muang, this beach does not match Hat
Khaolak , though it features a long strip of fine white sand shaded by
casuarina trees. A popular spot for picnics with locals, there are several
seafood stalls set up and limited accommodations available. Easy to find,
the beach lies 1km off Highway 4, about 14kms out of Takua Pa Town.
This group of rocks and islands lies 3 hours by boat off the coast of
Phang-Nga, or eight or more hours by boat from Phuket. The area was declared
a marine national park in 1982 and consequently remains largely undeveloped.
Derived from the Malay term sembilan, meaning 'nine', Similan refers to the
nine main islands in the group.
The waters surrounding the Similans are teeming with tropical fish,
colourful coral, and offer exceptional underwater visibility. As a result,
the diving is generally considered to be the best in the region, and
compares favourably with some of the best in the world. (see more about
diving here). Part of the reason for this is the very interesting submarine
topography, due in part to the huge granite boulders which not only litter
the shorelines, but also lie in jumbled heaps beneath the waves to depths of
35 metres and beyond. On surface the boulders, together with the lush
rainforest and white sand beaches, provide a peaceful refuge.
The islands attract an increasing number of visitors annually, particularly
during the high season months between December to March, when the visibility
of waters surrounding the islands is at its best.
Day trips to the islands for diving and snorkelling are popular, however
serious divers are recommended to come on liveaboard trips to take full
advantage of all the islands' have to offer in terms of diving
opportunities. Dive companies operating from Phuket and Phang-Nga offer a
number of tour itineraries with diving instruction for beginners.
For budget travellers, the Similan Islands can be reached via national park
service boat from the pier at Thap Lamu or by boat from anywhere along Hat
Khaolak. Boat charters can also be organised, costs depending on the quality
and speed of the vessel and the number of persons to travel.
Limited accommodation is available on Koh Miang (Island 4) where the
National Park headquarters are based, but it is advised to come prepared
with food and water supplies if intending to overnight there. Contact the
Similan Island National Park Offices at Moo 1, Tambon Lam Kaen, Thai Muang
District, Phang-Nga. Tel. (076) 411913-4 for information and reservations.
Surin Islands are located about 60 km off the west coast of Phang-Nga
Province, well known for diving, snorkelling and hiking in the surrounds of
what is designated national park area. Of the five islands that make up the
group, Koh Surin Neua (north island) and Koh Surin Tai (south island) are
the principal islands - lying just across a small bay from each other, and
where basic bungalow style accommodation and camping grounds can be found
for overnight visits.
Like the Similan Islands, Surin Islands are best visited during the months
of December to March when the seas are at their most calm, and for divers
and snorkellers, water visibility is good. Local nature enthusiasts
particularly favour these islands for the great hiking opportunities
afforded here. A number of trails can be found, especially on the north
To reach Surin Islands, charter a boat from any of the major piers in any of
Phang-Nga, Phuket or Ranong provinces. From Khaolak, charter a boat from any
beachside location or zip up to the village of Ban Hin Lat for the easiest (
and cheapest!) access from the mainland.
Khaolak/Laem Ru National Park
One of the many national parks in the province of Phang-Nga, Khaolak/Laem Ru
covers a total area of 125sqm along the west shoreline. It includes parts of
Thai Muang, Kapong, Takua Pa, and Phang-Nga Town districts, about 33 kms
south of Takua Pa Town on Route 4. The park offers a myriad of sightseeing
opportunities for nature lovers, harbouring lots of exotic plants and
wildlife amidst landscape that includes beaches, hills, mountains, forested
valleys, mangroves and estuaries. One of the park's many points of interest
is Kao Lak mountain, situated beside the sea with a Chinese temple dedicated
to the wizard of the mountain. The temple lies close to Thai Muang district.
Sri Phang -Nga National Park
Located in the districts of Kuraburi and Takua Pa, the park is about 60 kms
from Khaolak. Worth a drive, visitors can see fine virgin forest, spend a
day hiking, and even stay over in the park camping grounds. Several
picturesque waterfalls lie at various walking distances from the Park
headquarters - depending on your level of fitness and time factor. Travel to
the park from Takua Pa Town on the Highway 4 north toward Ranong about 26
kms. At km. 756 turn right and go on another 5 kms to the Park.
Thai Muang National Park
Formerly the site for tin mining activities, the area covered by the park
comprises 45,000 rai, and is 25 kms from Khaolak via highway 4 on the way
down to Phuket. Several points of interest lie within the park including
Lumpee Falls, Tohn Prai Falls, and Hat Thai Muang, or Turtle Beach.
From Bangkok, the easiest option for travel to Khaolak is by air to either
of Phuket or Krabi International Airports, then continue the trip overland
(see below). Daily flights from Bangkok to Krabi and Bangkok to Phuket (and
return) are conducted by Thai Airways in both high and low seasons. Flight
schedules can be found on the Thai Airways web page or by Tel: (02) 232 8000
Overland by road
From Bangkok, travel via Highway 4 down through Prachuap Khirikhan,
Chumphon, Ranong to Phang-Nga province. Khaolak lies 30 kms past the town of
Takua Pa on the main highway. Travel time from Bangkok is about 12 hours.
Daily bus services running from Bangkok to Phang-Nga leave from the southern
bus terminal in Thonburi, and there are many private services available from
almost any travel agent and hotel tour desk in the city.
From Phuket, take route 402, over the bridge to Phang-Nga province. Turn
onto Highway 4 and head towards Thai Muang and Thap Lamu - Hat Khaolak lies
just beyond at Ban La-on.Travel time is about 90 minutes. Bus services from
Phuket to Phang-Nga town are also available hourly from the Phuket bus
terminal. The trip takes about 2 hours. From Phang-Nga town catch a local
bus to Takua Pa and asked to be set down at Hat Khaolak, or Ban La-on.
From Krabi, take Route 4 up to Phang-Nga, through the town and continue on
Route 4 through Takua Thung, Thai Muang, up to Khaolak. The trip can take up
to 2 hours depending on weather and road conditions. If going by bus from
Krabi, take one heading towards Phuket, and change at Kochloi to a bus
heading for Takua Pa and Ranong. Asked to be set down at Hat Khaolak, or Ban
Phang Nga�s climate is characterised by three seasons: hot, rainy and cool.
The changes in climate are ultimately driven by seasonal shifts in the trade
winds. During the hottest summer months the land in southern Thailand is
hotter than the water in the Indian Ocean, a fact which draws moist air from
the ocean to the land, resulting in the monsoon season.
The rains begin as early as May and persist to various degrees throughout
the summer, with further spikes in rainfall during September and October.
While rain does fall from June to August, these months are usually
relatively dry and remain suitable for tourists planning outdoor activities.
The cool season begins in November, during which time daytime highs dip
below 30�C and night-time lows fall to the mid to low 20s (�C). Temperatures
climb again in late December, a trend which continues until the onset of the
monsoon season. Generally, December to February is a good time to visit
Phang Nga, as temperatures are comfortably warm and rainfall is scarce.
As temperatures rise, the heat continues to build, and the months of May and
April can become quite hot (average temperatures exceeding 30�C). Tourists
are advised to take it slow if visiting during this season. It is a good
idea to do as the locals do and avoid the heat of the day, reserving
mornings and late afternoons for outdoor sightseeing.