Krabi Rainforest Tour

Krabi Rainforest Tour

The Krabi Rainforest Tour is the perfect tour for you if:

  • you want to take a break from sea and sun
  • you think that Krabi has more to offer than its beaches and corals
  • you want to discover those splendid forests that you admired from the plane when you landed

The Krabi Rainforest Tour is a full-day excursion which takes participants to some of the most spectacular areas of the Krabi province, which is surrounded by lush tropical vegetation.

For this tour we contracted Krabi Jungle Tour, and we were kindly taken care by Ms. Prae, a nice young local guide who managed the itinerary and marked the rhythm of the day with expertise and personality.

The visit started with a stop at the Tiger Cave Temple (in Thai language: Wat Tham Seua), one of the most respected places of worship in the whole of southern Thailand, founded in 1975 by the Venerable Monk Chammnian Silsetto. During one of his moments of meditation in the area, the monk noticed a tiger roaming around and discovered she lived in one of the innumerable surrounding caves. Hence the name of the temple.

Tigers are no longer roaming around Krabi, of course, but the feeling stays, and above all stays the natural frame to the temple made of caves, valleys, trees dating back hundreds of years and inaccessible mountains. The name of the area where the religious complex stands is Kiriwong Valley; the deity who created this valley must have been particularly inspired and generous when she donated this exceptional corner of nature to the world.

These mountains may be inaccessible, but the patience and devotion of the monks and of those who materially helped them build a stairway of 1237 steps made at least one of those mountains accessible. These hard steps take visitors to a height of about 280 meters, where a statue of the Buddha dominates and watches over the plains below, offering the sweating faithful and the courageous tourists who try their hand at this ascent an absolutely unique experience.

The visit to the Tiger Cave Temple starts at the base of the mountain, where the guide dispenses advice and recommendations to those in the group who decide to tackle the climb. Naturally, I preferred to avoid the undertaking, delegating to my friend Johanna, a twenty-year-old blogger from Estonia eager to take up the challenge, the thankless task of telling me the details.

After all, the area at the foot of the mountain is equally full of interesting ideas, and my time spent wandering in the lower part of the temple was not boring at all. I happily observed monks and statues of all kinds, among which, framed by a in Chinese style building, a beautiful representation of Kwan Yin, the goddess of mercy.

But the real attraction of the temple, both for those who climb up and those who don’t, are the incredible number of monkeys that descend from the slopes of the mountain in the hope of obtaining food from tourists, or to steal anything that may be of interest to them. Their acrobatics, their almost-human attitudes, their irreverence in climbing or placing their paws on any divinity – as they are naturally oblivious to any form of religious respect – are an irresistible attraction for any visitor who does not hesitate to challenge their aggressiveness and risks more than he’s allowed to for a few extra photos.

Before rejoining the survivors from the staircase climb, there is still enough time to go and visit the part of the temple where the monks meet and bless the postulants by sprinkling them with water, accompanying the gesture with chanting prayers. Entering the building where the meetings take place, one immediately notices that one of the walls, decorated with innumerable images of the Buddha in different sizes and in poses that symbolise the most significant moments of his life, is built right by the side of the mountain, giving the impression that the monks’ ceremony takes place inside a cave

But here return the ‘climbers’, sporting red faces marked by fatigue, yet smiling and apparently satisfied. “It was worth it” says Johanna, “although after the first 500 steps, the rise of the steps get higher and it gets really tiring. Of course, the views you get from the top compensate for the sacrifice”. “Never again” says someone else decisively, but I can clearly notice an exhausted expression of pride at having made it in her.

The tour continues towards the first relaxing stop of the day, for the joy of those who have climbed the mountain. After about an hour by minivan we reach the Hot Springs: a stream of hot water – 37/40 degrees – the flow of which, over the years, has smoothed the rocks to form comfortable natural pools, flows through the forest and ends into a larger river below.

The stream originates from underground springs of volcanic origin; it is rich in mineral substances and has therapeutic properties, though these have not been scientifically proven. However, the fact remains that abandoning yourself to the warmth of these waters, with your head resting on the edge and letting the flow caress your body, is in itself a healthy and relaxing experience, one we take advantage of without hesitation.

The pools slope down forming different levels, allowing the water to descend in tiny waterfalls, and the sense of pleasure that one feels in letting the limbs restore can hardly be explained in words. You need to try it.

Artificial hot water pools have recently been added to allow visitors to bathe even when the number of them exceeds the capacity of the natural pools. The idea is certainly welcome, but the sensation is absolutely not comparable to that of immersing yourself in the shade of the forest in a warm embrace with nature.

Warm and relaxed, we continue the tour to reach the restaurant of the Morakot Resort, a few minutes away from the Emerald Pool. Lunch is a light meal of Thai and international cuisine. The guide had previously enquired about any special needs, and upon our arrival everything had already been prepared.

Eventually we reach the entrance to the Khao Phra Bang Khram Nature Reserve, the last stop of the excursion where, in a clearing that can be reached after about an hour’s walk, we find the Emerald Pool, so called for the amazing colour of its water.

To reach the lake you can take two different paths: a shorter one, of about 800 meters, which offers few points of interest other than the shade of the surrounding trees; and a longer one of about 1200 meters which winds along a concrete walkway and is bordered by an exceptional variety of tropical plants. This is of course the preferred one, and along it you can admire a network of streams and lakes that anticipate the relief of a refreshing bath.

Once in sight of the Emerald Pool, the clear waters of the lake become a temptation that is impossible to resist. I personally cannot resist and, without hesitation, I enter the water and once again let nature take care of me. And I totally ignore the guide that in the mean time explains to the rest of the group how to get to an equally spectacular blue pool 600 metres away.

There is a reason of course: I had already been to the blue pool in the past, and the image of an intensely blue water that calls you like Ulysses’ sirens coupled with a swimming ban due to quicksands was ultimately more a torture than an eye candy.

I therefore abandon myself to the waters of the Emerald Pool, and I am totally estranged from any thought, almost eager to stay in there forever. The fresh waters of the lake flow in unison with the merciless time that ticks and that eventually reaches the guide’s call to end the tour, which strikes me as a surprise. Inflexible Ms. Prae call us to order, and reluctantly we set off again towards the real world.


At the start of the tour:

Inform the guide of any food intolerances or special needs

Tiger Cave Temple

  • While the temple apparently seems somewhat informal, it is still a sacred place; it is therefore necessary to wear appropriately respectful clothing. Shoulders and legs must be covered. For the climb up the mountain, on the other hand, looser clothing is permitted.
  • The climb up the mountain is really tiring and challenging. It is advisable to evaluate one’s own abilities well before tackling it, deciding above all if one believes one can complete it within the times set by the guide.
  • Monkeys can turn aggressive and, not to forget, they are wild animals. It is advisable to avoid approaching them, and above all to keep away children.

Hot Spring

  • Prolonged immersion is not recommended, especially for those with pressure problems. It is better not to stay in the pools for a period exceeding twenty minutes at a time.

Emerald Pool

  • The edges of the Emerald Pool are particularly slippery. Maximum attention is recommended when entering the pond.

Photos by Guglielmo Zanchi (Pluto) 

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About the author

Pluto, alias Guglielmo Zanchi, was born in Rome, Italy, on 19 December 1960. After obtaining a Degree in Political Science at the La Sapienza University and working six years at an accountant office, PLuto moved to Phuket, Thailand, in 1993. He had a short spell at a Gibbon Rehabilitation Center in the protected area of Bang Pae, then worked for 15 years for a local tour operator first in Phuket, and eventually in Krabi where he still lives since 2000. Pluto now works self employed in the tourist sector, managing to keep enough time free for his real passions: photography, travels and Vespa, at times merging the latter two. Pluto is one of photo reporters.

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