Located on the Gulf of Thailand, Nakhon Sri Thammarat, or Muang Nakhon, is one of the ancient provinces of the Thai southern peninsula. Nakhon Sri Thammarat boasts a great history and a wide diversity of flora and fauna, and has 220 kilometers of beaches, the longest coastline in any Thai province. Muang Nakhon, a predominantly Buddhist province, used to be the center of Southern Thailand’s communism, and this is reflected in the number of communist camps to be found in the area. Follow Asian Itinerary on a sightseeing week-end to experience the magic of off-the-beaten-track attractions.
Saturday: temples and food
The first sight we visited was Nakhon Sri Thammarat’s not-to-be-missed Wat Phra Mahathat Woromaha Vihan, considered to be the most important historical site in southern Thailand. This temple, constructed at the time of the founding of the town, contains a tooth relic of the Buddha. It has an 80 meters high chedi with a golden top that is the symbol of the town. The Nakhon Sri Thammarat temple tour was not complete without a visit to Wat That Noi, the second most important temple of the town, an institution created by monk Phrakru Pisit Attakarn.
Lunch break was spent trying traditional delicacies of the town. We started with kanom jeen muang korn, which includes crudities and combines yellow noodles with a delicious, hot and spicy southern soup. We followed up with kao yum, fragrant rice accompanied by lemon grass, peanuts, bean sprouts, green beans, sour mango and chopped kaffir lime. Finally, we sweetened our mouth with local dessert kanom Kuan Kaw, cooked rice powder with coconut, beans and sweet coconut cream, and with mungkud Kud, Nakhon Sri Thammarat people’s dessert: cooked, skewered mangosteens in sweet sauce.
The afternoon was dedicated to a nice stroll along the City Wall, which encloses an area of one square kilometre. This is the place where Khon Khon (people from Nakhon) relax under the shady trees. We said good bye to Nakhon Sri Thammarat for the rest of the day at Khanom beach, an amazingly long stretch of beach located within Ao Khanom National Park that combines sand with lush primary forest, mangroves and waterfalls.
Sunday: nature, culture, and more nature
We had an early rise in order to visit Krung Ching, a mist-covered rich highland forest which hosts an incredible array of trees and orchids. The morning mist covering the expanse of grass made some areas look like an ocean. After experiencing the sunrise hitting the shape of the mountains, we paid a visit to a popular tourist attraction, Uncle Suchat Nang Ta Lung. The performance of shadow puppets is an ancient form of storytelling and one of many of Thailand’s heritage. In the Nang Ta Lung museum we observed the production of puppets made from cowhide and rattan.
From there we proceeded to Wat Khao Khun Phanom, a windowless temple of historical and archaeological importance which dates back from the Thonburi to the Rattanakosin period. For a tasty lunch, we headed to Ruan Pakkud, a healthy restaurant in cooperation with the Department of agricultural tourism.
After lunch we got refre shed at the popular waterfalls of Namtok Karom and Namtok Ai Khiao, where you can enrich your holiday memories by watching local vendors make Papaya salad (and eat it) along with the very tasty bbq chicken. The area can be crowded on weekends.
On top of these attractions, Nakhon Sri Thammarat has a lot of interesting natural sites which allow for a range of activities like rafting, caving and trekking, visits to the hot spring and to the villages of Kiriwong valley. Nakhon Sri Thammarat is also famous for handicrafts, with nielloware being the main production, and for shopping for silverware and souvenirs for your loved ones back home.
Photo Gallery by Guglielmo Zanchi (Pluto) – Fantasia Asia