It was mid-week early morning when the team of Fantasia Asia and I drove to the starting point of Dragon Crest Mountain Trail, or Hang Nak Hill Nature Trail, in Tubkaek. We drove along the road that traces the coastline, offering some fabulous ocean views along the way.
Without a doubt the best time of day to hike Dragon Crest Mountain Trail is in the morning in order to avoid the midday and afternoon heat, when the Thai sun unleashes its full fury, and to witness the views in optimal natural lighting.
It was 7am when we reached the starting point of the hike, which is at the end of the Tubkaek road not far ahead of Amari Vogue resort. There is a ranger booth where we were prompted to try our temperature and give them our name and phone number, for easy tracking us in case we got lost. Note that there is no entrance fee, and a 100 thb tip is recommended once you return.
The first 30 minutes ascent was beautifully tranquil, as we were alone with nature. This part is ok even for someone who is not normally fit, as it is a rough terrain with sand and a few rocks sloping up gradually to higher grounds. The forest that surrounds the trail is amazing, tall trees with foliage so thick and green we could barely make out the sky. We were accompanied by the enchanting sounds of the forest, birds chirping, cicadas singing, and all the noises you would expect during a mountain trek.
The second section became a bit more challenging, with a steeper path and hundreds of small and medium rocks as well as huge tree trunks that fell and now block the path, forcing us to climb over them and to use the provided rope to propel upwards. Soon after we reached a set of 2 staircases of about 80 steps each; looking at them, they felt as a godsend, but climbing them our legs went numb and we had to take a rest on the bench between them.
The path is mostly shady, well maintained and easy to follow, although in places we found ourselves poking around forks in the trail to find the way due to a lack of signage. The nature is such and there are some amazing trees along the way, some have signs with their botanical names on. At regular intervals, there are posts with data and information about the track, including the history of its flora and the botanical names of trees (including Aquilaria Malaccensis and Syzygium Antisepticum, a gorgeous, medium-size tree with a distinctive red trunk and a flaky bark). About half way to the top there is a lower viewpoint that gives a little taster for what’s in store ahead: wonderful, green-and-blue-drenched views of luscious forestland stretching across the coastline.
The uphill section, the last of the trail, is unrelenting and steep in places, and so you need a reasonable level of fitness. Be careful in the few parts where there are rocks and tree roots to clamber over. Before reaching the top there is another viewpoint with incredible views across a vast Thai countryside dotted with lush mountains.
We walked at a steady pace and it took us about 3 hours to reach the top viewpoint, with some short stops for rests and photos. The top is marked by beautiful huge and steep boulders, and as the weather was clear, the reward at the top was breathtaking. We had a view over the whole bay and the plain below with its typical karst peaks, the typical and absolutely gorgeous features of Krabi. We had a snack and some water, and lingered around, enjoying the aerial views. It’s a satisfying feeling to look out on that view after conquering the uphill trail to reach it.
Two minutes walk from the peak is a small tongue of stone which has become the place to pose for your Instagram picture of the year! It is so worth it, though right now the rangers have placed some barbed wire and the sign DANGEROUS, DO NOT ENTRY. We were told rangers sometimes climb up to check no-one trespass the barbed wire, and the fine they apply to violators is 2000 thb… On top of the stone someone has tightened a tope to a post as a safety precautions for those brave enough to venture on the spot for that special photo-memoir. As long as you are careful with your footing, there should be no danger, but it’s not for the fainthearted since these giant slabs of rock overhanging clifftops have scant footholds and jaw-dropping slopes over the edge.
You will want to hang around for a while before making back down towards the starting point. We spent about 1 hour on top, taking photos from different perspectives and exploring the surrounding area. The air was crisp and the sun high, and we could see scores of islands in the Andaman Sea, as well as acres upon acres of vegetation and hills inland.
On the way back down, we saw a sign indicating a pond distant 150 mt, and we decided not to miss it, though it turned out to be a small stagnant hole and very little to see there.
From there it’s all downhill. The return path is a much quicker one, and while we walked we cross a few people on the way up. Upon reaching the starting/finishing point, we sat in the shadow under the provided gazebo and avidly drank fresh water.
The Dragon Crest Mountain Trail is an amazing, albeit tough, trek that should be attempted by all fit people our there. It’s a great way to spend time in nature, breathing fresh air and it is a great challenging workout without being oppressively difficult. We were tired but totally satisfied. We were also angry…
Dragon Crest Mountain Trail – good to know:
Dragon Crest Mountain Trail is roughly 4 km long, and the peak is at a whopping 500mt above sea level. We managed to reach the famous peak in about 3hrs climbing at a relaxed pace. Getting down is faster at about 1hr 45mins. We allowed 5 hours to go up and down and for photo times etc. It could be done in 4 hours with just a break at the top.
Apparently, Google Maps is not a very helpful application when it comes to finding the rangers park, as it will likely lead you amiss towards several different false starting points. Locals are not very fluent in English, so best is to just drive along the Tubkaek Road towards the end, pass the Amari Vogue Resort and the Banyan Tree Resort to your left, and the starting point is 100 mt away.
There is no public transportation that can take you to the starting point of the trek, so you will have to go by your own, by renting a scooter (200 thb per day), a car (1000 thb per day), or by taking a private transport, tuk-tuk or car with driver (count about 1500 thb per day per vehicle because it will probably be a full day work for the driver to take you there, wait for you and take you back).
What to bring
This is a list of advised items to carry with you during this trek:
- At least 1.5 lt of water.
- Proper sturdy footwear like trainers, trail sandals or hiking boots for a good climb (I saw two people in flip-flop though)
- Sunscreen for the top
- Mosquito spray
- A small towel
Prepare for the trail
- Get a good night sleep the night before
- Do not take small kids to this trail
- Wear sunscreen
- There are no toilets along this trail, so make sure you use the toilet at the starting point before you get going.
- Do not litter, throw the rubbish in the bins when you get down