The Emerald Route of the South Around Khao Luang in Nakhon Si Thammarat

| March 8, 2016

Nakhon Si Thammarat is the second largest province in Southern Thailand. with archeological evidence of ancient settlements dating back more than 4.000 years Standing prominently in the city is Phra Borommathat Chedi or Phra That Muang Khon. the pagoda of the holy relics. greatly revered by all Buddhists. The city is rich in natural resources. on land and in the sea. The lush evergreen rainforests conceal wholesome waterfalls such as Karam, Phromalok, Ai Khieo, Si Khit, Khao Nan and Krung Ching, while embracing Khao Luang mountain top. which. at the height of 1.835 meters. is the highest point in Southern Thailand. The route around Khao Luang is foremost in the minds of nature lovers. From the city. the road rings around Khao Luang. running clockwise from south to north. through high mountains. dense forests. and forest communities. Regular passenger cars can make the trip. as the route comprises asphalt roads in good condition. Traffic is also sparse. One caution is the wet condition. as Nakhon Si Thammarat is influenced by monsoons most of the times in a year. November sees the heaviest fall. Only February to April is free from rains.
Start the tour in the city of Nakhon Si Thammarat itself, by visiting the pagoda of the holy relics at the heart of the city, and also the entire southern region. Take Ratchadamnoen Road, passing the National Museum of Nakhon Si Thammarat and Wat Thao Khat, and crossing Pa Lao Canal, Wat Phra Mahathat is on the left, with the holy relics pagoda seen from afar. According to the legend, the pagoda was built in the year 854 B.E. and was reconstructed in the bell-shaped Lankan style in 1770 B. E. The pagoda measures about 37 meters in height, the tapering finial wrapped in pure gold weighing 216 kilograms. Numerous satellite pagodas surround the main structure, with cloisters featuring elephant heads as the portals, 22 in number. Temple halls are named as Thammasala Hall, Phra Ma Hall Sam Chom Hall, Kajjayana Hall, Pho Lanka Hall, Phra Panya Hall, Khian Hall and Luang Hall, where the presiding Buddha, Phra Sisakayamuni Sithammaraat is enshrined. On Magha Puja and Visakha Puja Days, a grand procession to bring the sacred cloth to wrap the pagoda takes place, participated by tens of thousands of Buddhists from all directions.

To the back of the temple, there is a famous rice noodle shop serving fresh rice noodle with spicy gravy and vegetables. In the city, make a stop at Kopi Shop at the back of Robinson Ocean Department Store for fresh brewed coffee and crispy fried dough, followed by typical spicy rice dishes at Tral Suwan Shop on Karam Road, or Islamic dishes at That Ocha Shop on Phaniat Road, and Saphan Yao rice noodle on Saphan Yao Road or Mae Won Noodle at Sala Pradu Hok, for instance.
From the city, head west on Highway 4016 towards Phrom Khiri District. Turn left at Ban Tan Intersection into Highway 4015. About 2 kilometers before reaching Lan Saka District Office, turn left at a crossing marked by a shelter with zinc roof and continue past Wat Wang Sai for 3 kilometers to reach Khiriwong Village, the renowned eco-tourism community of the South. The village was once buried under the mud in the worst flood that claimed numerous lives in 1988. Undaunted, survivors worked to revive their livelihood with mixed fruit orchards and local plants. The best time for Khriwong fruits and vegetables is between July and September. The community is open to visitors, with home-stay services offered to those keen on authentic southern way of life-based on natural surroundings, to observe the production of cotton in natural dyes of barks, leaves, and roots, vine weaving, herbal soap, food and medicine making. Touring the community can be done by car, on foot, on bicycles, or motorcycles on hire. About 2 days and 1 night are sufficient. A major open market is organized in the heart of the village every Friday morning. with a wide array of local goods and delightful food such as rice noodle of the South. You can also visit Wang Mai Pak Waterfall, and take a dip in the stream at the end of the concrete road of the village.

Khiriwong is the nearest starting point for the trek up Khao Luang top, seen clearly from the village on the north. For the trek, contact must be made for guides and baggage carriers at Ban Khiriwong Eco-Tourism Club, at least, one week in advance. The trek takes 3 days and 2 nights, with overnight camping on top of Khao Luang. For the trek up Fa Mi top, contact must be made at Ban Wang Dung, Phrom Khiri District. The trek also lasts 3 days and 2 nights. Khao Luang top is covered by submontane evergreen forest, and dubbed as the Emerald Crown of the South, rich in ancient ferns, including two species of Dipteris brevipes Craib on the trees, and various tree ferns, especially at Maha Sadam Cliff on the way up Khao Luang. The high mountain is also the habitat of over 300 species of wild orchids, with recognized new discoveries of endemic orchids of the world, such as Achan Tem Liparis, Liparis bicolor and Khiriwong Dendrobium, for instance. One needs to be in god health, well prepared and equipped for a jungle trek in wet condition.
From Khiriwong Village, use Highway 4015 which rings around Khao Luang Mountain range to the west for about 9 kilometers, crossing Wang Phrai Bridge to the crossing ahead and take the right turn. Continue for about 2 kilometers and you reach Karom Waterfall, the largest and most beautiful waterfall in Khao Luang National Park. It comprises 19 tiers, only 7 are accessible, namely Nan Thurian, Nan Phai, Nan Nam Rang, Nan Phueng, Nan Toei and Nan Tat Fa, with the most spectacular view of current leaping down the steep cliff of 45-degree angle to the wide pool below. King Vajiravudh, Rama VI, visited the place in 1917 and inscribed his initials and the year on the rock. Karom Waterfall is Open to visitors daily from 08.00 to 16.30 hours. Camping is not allowed in the area. Accommodation in bungalows can be arranged with Khao Luang National Park Office, or reserve through National Park, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation Department’s Accommodation Division, or through the website
From Karom Waterfall, start up north through Hi9h.way 4149, turn right into Highway 4189, followed by Highway 4188, up to the intersection. Turn right and continue for about 800 meters, and turn right again at the intersection in front of Wat Bo Nam Ron. 3 kilometers ahead is Khao Luang Warden Unit 4 (Krung Ching Waterfall). From the car park, a hiking trail of 3.8 kilometers leads to Krung Ching Waterfall The name Krung Ching came from Ching, Ucuala Palm, grown in abundance in the area, as a basin in the embrace of the hills, called Krung Ching Bay by the people. Krung Ching Waterfall is in 7 tiers, but the first tier is called the seventh level, named respectively as Nan Mat Phae, Nan Plieo, Nan Chon, Nan Chon, Nan Ton To, Nan Wang Ruea Bin and Nan Fan Saen Ha, the most spectacular with the current leaping from a steep cliff of 100 meters elevation.

Now, turn back to Highway 4188 and continue on the two-lane road for about 16 kilometers, where it meets Highway 4186. Turn right southwards to Nop Phitam Sub-District, past Ban Tha Phut into Highway 4016 (Nakhon Si Thammarat – Phrom Khiri) in Than Hong Sub-District, Phrom Khiri District, across Ai Khieo Canal and turn right. 5 kilometers ahead is Ai Khieo or Nai Khieo Waterfall, the most popular recreation site for local people. The waterfall is in lush jungle area in 15 levels 9 of them accessible to tourists, namely Nan Chong Sai, Nan Bang Bai, Nan Mai Phai, Nan Suea Phan, Nan Buppha Sawan, Nan Hin Kong, Nan Hua Chang, Nan Sai Kwat Lan, and Nan Fafaet. Nan Bang Bai is known as the most pleasant with large cliff and convenient trail, rich in flora, insects, birds and fish in the stream.
The last site on the route is Phromlok Waterfall. From Ai Khieo Waterfall, take Highway 4016 and turn right before reaching Phrom Khiri District, into Highway 4132 (Phrom Khiri – Phromlok), and continue for just 4 kilometers to reach the waterfall. Phromlok is a major waterfall, in over 50 levels. Only the first 4 levels are accessible, namely Nan Wang Nam Won, Nan Wang Mai Pak, Nan Wang Hua Bua and Nan Wang Ai Lae. Further levels are too hazardous. Their Majesties the King and Queen visited the waterfall in 1959 and had their initials inscribed on the cliff at the first tier.The current is violent, improper for a dip. However, pristine nature around the waterfall makes up amply for the visit. Adventure seekers can obtain permission at the Khao Luang National Park Office for a trek to the top of Phromlok Mountain as well.
Finally, use Highway 4016 southwards, followed by Highway 4016, a distance of about 21 kilometers in total, back into Muang District of Nakhon Si Thammarat Province, completing a tour of the emerald route around Khao Luang, the lush green roof of the South.

Nakhon Si Thammarat Map Thailand

Category: Nakhon Si Thammarat