Exploring the Outdoors
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Gather elaborate information regarding tourist attractions, beaches, waterfalls and things to do in the region of Si Kao at Anantara Si Kao Resort & Spa’s website.
Beaches and Islands
Wander down long strands of silver sand, or find isolated coves among the coastal pine trees at the water’s edge. While the beaches of other southern provinces have become well-known to tourists far and wide, Trang has remained quieter and more pristine than the rest. Discover why Trang’s 120 kilometres of coastline are worth exploring, as well as the beaches and islands just north in Krabi.
Koh Kradan – considered by many to be the most beautiful island of Trang – is the home to Anantara Si Kao’s Private Beach Club. Climb aboard the resort’s daily shuttle boat to explore Koh Kradan’s soft white-sand beach and the reef brimming with colourful corals.
Morakot Cave and Koh Mook
Slip through a winding cave into utter darkness only to emerge on the other side at a beach of unbelievably delicate white sand surrounding a pool of emerald-tinted water. This little world of jewel-like beauty can only be accessed through Morakot Cave, and even then special care must be taken to go in and come out when the tides are low. Yet the potential challenges of reaching this spot are worth it when you find yourself in another world.
Had Chaomai National Park
Covering over 230 kilometres of land and sea, Chaomai National Park includes some the best-preserved natural treasures of the province, including the namesake beach, lined with the region’s signature pine trees and clear blue water. Apart from Chaomai beach, the park also includes a wide range of other beaches and islands to suit every taste, including many of the beaches listed below.
The long sandy beach at Palien is particularly beautiful and known for the many longtail boats that launch from it.
Find strange rocks at Yongstar Cape, a beach open to all. After relaxing at the cape or walking on boulders at the rim of the sea check out the rocks of this beach, with their many “holes” formed by hundreds of years of beating waves.
Lie on soft sand listening to the pine trees behind you rustling in the sea breeze. When the tide is low, walk out to islands that seem to float on the horizon. At high-tide, swimming is particularly easy and relaxing. And, if you get lucky, you might just see a school of dolphins leap out of the waves at this idyllic beach.
Mu Ko Phetra National Park
This park includes over 30 islands in southern Trang, as well as mainland coastline and the open waters of the Andaman. Though its biggest islands are Koh Petra and Koh Khao Yai, many of the surrounding islands play host to sea turtles during nesting season on the little beaches surrounded by limestone cliffs that are characteristic of this area. For centuries, these islands have been used as safe havens for local fisherman, while rich coral reefs flourish just offshore.
Petra and Laorieng Beaches
From the midst of blue waters, steep cliffs and limestone karsts rise up to form Petra to the left and Laorieng to the right. On the west end of each island along the steep cliffs, swallows reside. On the east, the beaches look out to cities of reef in the shallow water, some spires of coral even reaching out of the water at low-tide. Whichever island you visit, you are sure to find isolated natural beauty.
Koh Sukorn, or Koh Mu as the locals call it, truly lives up to the laid-back island lifestyle, with only a handful of cars on the whole island. Otherwise, locals and visitors alike must walk from one place to the next. Life with little modern transportation is rewarded with golden and powdery sand, crystalline water and the local watermelon that is known for its uniquely sweet and juicy taste.
Koh Ngai (Hai)
Slightly off the beaten track but one of the most picturesque islands in the Andaman, Koh Ngai is well worth the visit. A mountainous jungle interior leads to generations-old coconut palm plantations in the lowlands. While rocky headlands form dramatic vistas on some parts of the island’s coast, the eastern side has beautiful and unspoiled white sand beaches.
The closest beach to town, Pakmeng is only 38 kilometres from Trang, but it feels like another world. Karsts in the middle of the sea resemble giants lying down in the water, while children can gather a variety of seashells from the beach.
Walk part of this beach’s five kilometre length and watch beach life on full display: women and children shelling fresh crabs, men pulling their longtail boats to shore after a hard night at sea, school children in tents for overnight trips, freshly caught seafood in abundance. Since the water is very deep at this beach, the place has become a hub for locals and gives visitors a chance to see everyday life in southern Thailand.
Close to Had Yao is Had San, or “short beach”. Only a kilometre long, this beach is as isolated and quiet as its neighbour is loud and busy. Nature-lovers will particularly appreciate the dramatic cliffs and strange clusters of trees that surround this beach.
Explore Trang’s biggest island, filled with both people and birds. Libong has three main villages on the island: Ban Nakhao, Ban Koh Libong, and, the largest one, Ban Langkhao (or Ban Paduputoh).
Apart from the people, this island is renowned for its wild bird population, with part of the island declared a no hunting zone. At Juhoy Cape, for instance, from November to December, over 10,000 migrating birds take a rest stop on their way from Siberia – a sight breathtaking to behold. Visitors often come here to see the many different kinds of birds, such as the “crab plover”, a bird that was once the official bird of England’s royal family.
On the other side of Libong is Tohkae Bay, with beautiful beaches and clear water good for swimming. Want to rinse off all of that salt water? Next to the beach is a small waterfall called “Nam Tok Thung Yaka” that works as a natural freshwater shower. Whether meeting local people, watching the flocks of birds visit the island or just relaxing on a quiet beach, Libong can accommodate all.
Ao Nang is Krabi’s vibrant coastal tourist centre. With the relaxed vibe of many small towns, its charming array of shops and fresh seafood restaurants can be observed in the 30-minute stroll that takes you from one end of town to the other. Surrounded by limestone cliffs and fronted by a long stretch of sandy shoreline that leads into a bay that’s great for swimming. Ao Nang is also the point from which the iconic longtail boats of Krabi and the region ferry tourists and locals alike to nearby beaches and islands, like Railay, Koh Phi Phi and Koh Lanta.
Now on every savvy traveller’s list, Railay remains one of the most sought-after beach areas in Krabi – and Thailand. Just south of Ao Nang, around a rocky headland and accessible only by boat, Railay possesses one of the most tranquil and extraordinary settings among Krabi beaches. In just one small peninsula you’ll find gorgeous white sand beaches, soaring limestone cliffs, viewpoints, caves and a lagoon hidden inside the cliffs, shaped and fed by the changing tides. With no buses, cars, or even roads, Railay only has footpaths and a few bicycles. Although it’s actually connected to the mainland, the spectacular Phra Nang Peninsula is effectively cut off from the rest of Krabi by limestone headlands and steep jungle valleys. Find the very picture of tropical paradise, with no roads and no hassle.
Koh Phi Phi
Southwest of Krabi and north of Trang lies a stunning pair of islands collectively known as Koh Phi Phi. There are no cars on Phi Phi, just simple paths that crisscross the island, so getting around is easy – simply take a local longtail boat or walk. Phi Phi Don, the larger island, offers sheer limestone cliffs, fine sand beaches and hidden coves. Not far away, coral gardens and deeper reefs are sensational for diving and snorkelling.
Smaller Phi Phi Leh is uninhabited, its mysterious limestone cliffs rising up out of the turquoise waters to expose caves and small rocky coves. There are several bays ideal for shallow snorkelling, and on the northeast side is the famous Viking Cave, containing what are claimed to be prehistoric paintings. Both islands are easily reached from Krabi or Trang by daily ferries.
Koh Lanta consists of several islands, but when talking about “Koh Lanta”, most are referring to the biggest island - Koh Lanta Yai (Big Lanta Island). Koh Lanta, still less well-known than Koh Phi Phi, remains one of the most laid back islands near Krabi and Trang. Even when the island is at its fullest, there is sure to be a quiet place for you to relax on long and white beaches perfect for sunbathing. Koh Lanta is also the nearest island to some of Krabi and the surrounding region’s best dive sites, including Hin Daeng and Hin Muang.
While Trang is largely known for its long beaches and world-class snorkel and dive sites, the mainland also has stunning natural beauty on display, particularly its many waterfalls.
In the past, Tone Tok could only be explored with the help of a one kilometre-long walking path along the rim of the woods. Now, though, there is a bumpy but useful road that allows visitors to see more of a landscape filled with rubber plantations, rice fields, high and low hills and a magnificent waterfall.
For the waterfall’s first tier, water flows over the edge of a wide cliff like rain and then passes through many layers of huge and flat rocks, before pooling into a big pond, perfect for swimming. Even at this first tier, the rocks of the fall consist of thin patterns and colourful layers, densely packed – unlike the granite and limestone of other waterfalls.
Sairung (Rainbow) and Praisawan Waterfalls
Only four kilometres from each other are two of the most beautiful waterfalls in Trang. Though you might get hot and dirty on the way up, it is well worth the climb to see the tiers of these pristine waterfalls. After seeing the colours of the rainbow in the falls, swim in clear pools of cold water and listen to the sweet sounds of birds in the canopy overhead.
See water flow like waving silk from 320 metres in the air down to the waiting boulders and tree tops. Under the responsibility of the Forest Conservation Unit, Tone Teh is considered by some as the king of waterfalls in Trang and, watching the violent beauty of the falls, it is not hard to see why. Climb up along the side of the waterfall and see people bathing in pools at different tiers, or walk up to the rim of the forest to see the top. All around the fall area, look for the rattan, the plant used for the area’s famous rattan weaving.
Roi Chan Pan Wang Waterfall
“Roi Chan Pan Wang” translates into English as “Hundreds of steps, thousands of palaces.” With a beautiful forest surrounding it, clear water flows through layers of ladder-like rocks at this stunningly majestic waterfall. Approach the falls from the west and walk through stands of para rubber trees arranged like soldiers on parade. On the way, ascend up natural stone steps that give you views of strangely shaped rock formations. Perhaps you might even catch a glimpse of the taoraw, a very rare and colourful bird native to the region.
Follow a winding path bordered by large trees and intriguing rock formation to find the “virgin falls.” The farther you walk with the birds as your companions, the cooler and breezier the path becomes. Don’t lose your stamina before the waterfall’s fourth tier, known as “Tone Ai Lae” and the most beautiful one of them all.
Chong Banpot and the Water Garden of Asoka Forest
Walk across a few well-placed logs and find the “water garden” of Asoka forest. In a dense forest of about four acres, innumerable little falls are scattered among the trees and limestone boulders, all eventually flowing in one direction. The area is filled with wildlife, including several types of fish. Take one of the natural gardens’ several little paths to explore the waterfalls for yourself before heading towards the main waterfall, Chong Banpot. Situated between two mountains, it is named for its location: “chong” means gap and “banpot” means mountain.
In the foothills among durian plantations and limestone cliffs is another waterfall called Chaopa. Walk through lush forests up to the top part of the hill, and explore the beauty of the falls as you move further up each tier. The natural beauty of the place is evident in the atmosphere here: the clear and pleasant water, the shade of the surrounding trees, the green moss – all the charms of Chaopa.
Once one of the most famous waterfalls in southern Thailand, Kra-Chong was badly eroded by a large flood in 1981 that destroyed much of the falls’ natural beauty. Though the waterfall has regained some of its splendour, its original awe-inspiring geography will probably never return. Still, the fall has found a new birth with the nearby Centre of Nature Study and Wildlife – Kao Chong. With a museum, outdoor lecture theatre and botanic research facilities, this area now offers a variety of ways to explore and appreciate nature.
Out in the Countryside: Following the Buddha Trail
The rural areas of Trang are filled with little temples, “wats”, and Buddha caves – each telling its own unique story – as part of what some have called the Buddha Trail. Poke your head into these countryside gems and discover a side of Thailand that most visitors never see.
Tham Phra Buddha (The Cave of the Lord Buddha)
On the way to Huai Yod in the east, there is a village road that leads to the Tham Phra Buddha. At the entrance of the cave, a Buddha image with a very beautiful face reclines, as if sleeping. It is said that the statue was created in the late Ayudhaya period, probably by royal craftsmen.
Even more mysterious than the statue’s origins are the items hidden within the image: high-end household goods like silverwares, laquerwares and ceramics. While these precious and costly objects could not have belonged to the poor locals of the area, it remains a mystery to scholars and archeologists as to where they came from and why they were hidden here. Some theories mention a local queen ordering these objects to be used in worship of the Buddha, while others link the items’ secretive placement to the Burmese invasion of the region in 1785. Whatever the reason, this cave’s decoration is a fascinating place to visit.
Wat Kao Phra (Kao Phra Temple)
Mysterious symbols and the well-preserved body of a dead abbot – Wat Kao Phra offers several sights for the curious. First, carved into the cave wall is a red pattern for which anthropologists have no explanation. Even more puzzling are eight other symbols, similar to the first, that are found under the cave well, 50 metres below. While certainly of some significance, researchers, visitors and monks alike still cannot say for certain what the symbols mean or why they might be in this Buddha cave.
Perhaps an even stranger presence in the cave is the preserved body of the abbot Luang Por Eiat Suwanno, who died over forty years ago. Preserved in a glass case,
visitors can – with the proper reverence – observe his intact hair and scalp, as well as the thin skin still clinging to his bones. Though not for the faint of heart, perhaps, this temple definitely presents a sight unlike any other.
Tham Kao Changhai (Lost Elephant Cave)
Pass through a curtain of stalactites and stalagmites as you imagine the journey of the lost baby elephant in this large cave. The cave’s name, “Chang Hai”, means “lost elephant” and a local legend explains why. One day, people in the nearby village were leading a procession of horses and elephants loaded down with jewels to a pagoda in Nakornsrithammarat. Suddenly, the procession stopped because an elephant began crying in front of a cave. The villagers quickly discovered that this elephant’s newborn baby elephant son had run into the cave and disappeared. Since the mother was too big for the cave, the villagers went inside to try and find the baby, but they never found the little elephant among the maze of stalactites and stalagmites. Ever since, locals and visitors still come to this cave, seeking the lost elephant for themselves.
Wat Pukaothong (Pukaothong Temple)
In eastern Trang, on the hill of Wat Pukaothong, reclines a Buddha image after the style of the Nipparana period. Its face illustrating the southern style, the image is most notable for wearing a “serd”, which is a kind of hat or crown used during “noras”, an important dance performance in southern Thailand. While most Buddha images wearing serds are standing or sitting, the image at Wat Pukathong is the only one known to be lying down.
Wat Keereewihan (Keereewihan Temple)
Located between Huai Yod and Nawong, Wat Keereewihan hosts a collection of Buddha images that display different gestures and poses. At the turn of the 20th century, earth-framed images were also found. Made by unknown artisans, these images lend an air of mystery to the wat for both archeologists and visitors.
Tham Kao Pina (Kao Pina Cave)
On the road to Krabi, follow the signs to “Kao Pina” or Pina Mountain. “Pina” is a word from Yawee (a local Malay dialect) that means “a person who conquers everything.” The conqueror referred to in this cave’s name is Khunnoi Kiririak, the first Muslim to settle here. After observing his statue, climb through six levels of caves that are carved into the side of this limestone mountain, starting with the wat at the foot of the mountain.
Tham E-So (E-so Cave) at Wat So Rachapradit (So Rachapradit Temple)
Discover a spot of serenity amongst ancient trees on the hillsides. This temple is known for the tall, upright and shady trees that grow here, called as e-so trees. Back in the cave, the Reclining Buddha image stretches out along the length of the cave wall.
Tham Kao Kob (Kao Kob Cave) or Tham Le (Sea Cave)
Within a mountain surrounded by rubber trees and rice fields on the Andaman coast, explore a series of caves that hold surprises at every turn. Though Kao Kob Mountain is only 400 metres wide and 800 metres long, the canal which goes through it extends for four kilometres. Not for the claustrophobic, these caves are only accessible during the dry season, since the monsoons raise the water level too high. For the adventurous who want to explore more, the cave system’s Tourist Service Centre can provide guided boat trips.
Wat Phra Ngam (Phra Ngam Temple)
Not far from Trang the town is a simple temple with a dramatic story. Wat Phra Ngam was originally known for its most prized asset: a Buddha head made of solid gold. Some time back, though, during the Chak Phra festival, some notorious thieves disguised themselves as local villagers and stole the sacred image right from under everyone celebrating the festival. To hide their ill-gotten gains, the thieves covered the head in concrete, which led to the head later being broken. Fortunately, the golden head was eventually recovered and is now back on proud display at the monastery.