Narathiwat is the easternmost of four southern provinces that border Malaysia. The economic and border tourism centre is at Amphoe Su-ngai Kolok where Malaysians like to spend their holiday and shop. The area has a constant flow of culture and trading.
The majority of the population is Muslims, with the Yawi language predominantely used in verbal and written language (Yawi has roots from the spoken Malay language and uses consonants and alphabets of the Arabic language).
The Province of Narathiwat covers a total area of 4,475 square kilometres. It is on the eastern coast of the Malay Peninsula. The north borders Pattani and the Gulf of Thailand, the west borders Yala, the east borders the Gulf of Thailand, and the south borders Kelantan in Malaysia. Most of the area consist of primary rainforest jungles and overgrown mountains. The plains where 4 rivers converge are adjacent to the gulf. The rivers are namely: Sai Buri, Bang Nara, Tak Bai, and Su-ngai Kolok. Narathiwat has a tropical climate and has only 2 seasons; summer and rainy. The wettest period is during November to December.
Originally, Ban Bang Nara or Manalo was just a village on the bank of the Bang Nara River next to the sea. In the reign of King Rama I, Ban Bang Nara was under the administration of Sai Buri. It later became a precinct and came under the responsibility of Rangae in Pattani province. In 1906, iduring the reign of King Rama V, Ban Bang Nara grew into a large community, with highly active land- and seabound traderoutes touching the town. The provincial government offices were shfted from Rangae to Ban Manalo and in 1915, King Rama VI visited Bang Nara and grenamed the city “Narathiwat,” meaning “home of wise people.”
The province comprise of 13 Amphoe:- Mueang Narathiwat; Chanae; Cho-airong; Tak Bai; Bacho; Yi-ngo; Ra-ngae; Rueso; Waeng; Si Sakhon; Sukhirin; Su-ngai Kolok; Su-ngai Padi.
- Narathiwat (จังหวัดนราธิวาส) - the provincial capital
- Sungai Kolok - a border town in the southeast of the province, near Rantau Panjang in Kelantan state,Malaysia
- Tak Bai - a border town not far from Kota Bharu, capital of Kelantan state,Malaysia
Yawi (ยาวี) or Pattani Malay, Thai, Chinese, English and Malay.
Pattani Malay is a dialect of Malay and utilizes Jawi in writing, it has a lot of similarities to Kelantanese Malay.
From Bangkok, it is a distance of 1,149 kilometres. Take Highway No. 4 past Prachuap Khiri Khan-Chumphon and Highway No. 41 past Surat Thani-Nakhon Si Thammarat-Phatthalung-Hat Yai and connect to Highway No. 42 to Pattani-Narathiwat.
Transport Co., Ltd. offers daily Bangkok-Narathiwat and Bangkok-Su-ngai Kolok bus services. Air-conditioned buses, varying in 3 types, depart from Bangkok’s Southern Bus Terminal at the following times:
- VIP Bus – 5.15 p.m.
- Ordinary 1 Bus – 3 p.m.
- Ordinary 2 Bus – 3.30 p.m.
Bangkok - Su-ngai Kolok
- VIP Bus – 5.15 p.m.
- Ordinary Bus – 6 p.m.
There are also scheduled buses to and from Narathiwat to the following destinations available: Yala, Pattani, Hat Yai Please inquire locally at the bus depots/terminals for fares and departure schedules.
The State Railways of Thailand has a daily express and rapid Bangkok - Su-Ngai Kolok service, departing from the Bangkok Railway Station at 0.25 p.m. and 2.45 p.m.
The closest station in proximity to the province's capital is: Tanyongmat, please notify railroad staff if you plan to get off there beforehand. Local transport from Tanyongmat is scarce and scheduled services unavailable. Su-Ngai Kolok has plenty of regular Buses and minivans plying the route to Narathiwat. Minivan fare as of June 2008 is 80 Baht one-way
For information, call tel. 1690, 0 2223 7010, 0 2223 7020, Su-Ngai Kolok station, tel. 0 7361 1162, 0 7361 4060 or visit www.srt.motc.go.th.
There are no trains connecting to the Malaysian rail network at present. Pasir Mas being the closest station (northern leg of the so-called jungletrain) to Su-Ngai Kolok (approx. 25 KM)
Thai Airways International has a daily Bangkok-Phuket-Narathiwat flight. For information, call tel. 1566, 0 2280 0060, 0 2628 2000, Narathiwat office, tel. 0 7351 1161, 0 7351 3090 or visit www.thaiair.com
Hat Narathat (หาดนราทัศน์) is a clean, white beach about 5 KM long. It ends at a cape at the mouth of Bang Nara River where the annual Korlae boat races are held. The rows of pines give the area a refreshing shade. Locals like to come here to unwind. Nearby are fishing villages spread along the river and the bay is full of Korlae boats of fishermen. Narathat Beach is about 1 KM from town on Phichit Bamrung Road. Tourists can conveniently hire motorcycletaxis, tricycles or mini-buses from town.
Old Central Mosque (มัสยิดกลางหลังเก่า) is called Yumiya Mosque or Rayo Mosque. It is in the north of town, further from the provincial hall on Phichit Bamrung Road, just before the clock tower intersection. This Sumatran-style wooden mosque was built in 1938. This is the province’s original mosque and the burial place of the old city lord, Phraya Phu Pha Phakdi. Usually there is only one provincial mosque, but because this mosque is quite small, a new one was built at the mouth of Bang Nara River. However, locals still revere this old mosque and regard to this mosque as the central one. This gives Narathiwat two central mosques.
New Central Mosque is at Ban Bang Nara, just before Narathat Beach. This is a religious site for Thai Muslims. It was built in 1981 and is the province’s second central mosque. The Arabian-style building has 3 floors. The ground floor is the main convention hall and the prayer rooms are on the top 2 floors. The top is covered with a large dome and there is a high tower for calling Muslims to prayer.
Khao Kong Buddhist Park (พุทธอุทยานเขากง) is on an area of 142 rais (56.8 acres) in Tambon Lamphu, about 9 kilometres from town on the Narathiwat-Rangae route (Highway No. 4055). Wat Khao Kong and the golden Phra Phuttha Thaksin Ming Mongkhon Buddha image sitting in the lotus position atop a mountain can be seen. The style is South Indian art. Construction began in 1966 and was completed in 1969. The image is made of steel-reinforced concrete decorated with gold mosaics. It is 17 metres wide and 24 metres from top to bottom. It is considered the most beautiful and largest outdoor Buddha image in southern Thailand.
The next hill is the site of Siri Maya Pagoda in the shape of a bell. Above all 4 doorways are small pagodas. Inside is a Phra Phrom image and at the very top the holy relics of Lord Buddha are kept. Another hill is the site of a convocation hall, with the outer walls decorated with carved fired clay tiles. Behind it is a figure of an elephant kneeling to present a lotus. The building’s awning portrays a warrior and an angel holding a jug.
Thaksin Ratchaniwet Palace (พระตำหนักทักษิณราชนิเวศน์) is on Tanyongmat Mountain, Tambon Kaluwo Nua, on the coast near Manao Bay. It is 8 KM from town on Highway No. 4084 (Narathiwat-Tak Bai). Situated on an area of 480,000 sqm., His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej commissioned its construction in 1973. The compound comprises throne halls decorated with an assortment of trees, giving the area good shade. There is also a crafts centre that provides training on pottery and ceramics, as well as sells products. The palace is open to the public daily during 08.30-16.30 hrs., but not on days when the king is in residence, which is usually during October-December.
Getting There: Take a bus or songtheauw that services Tak Bai and get off in front of the palace.
Ao Manao Park (อ่าวมะนาว) is at Mu 1, Tambon Kaluwo Nua. Take Highway No. 4084 (Narathiwat-Tak Bai) for about 3 KM and a road to the beach for 2.5 KM. The bay is around 4 KM long. Rocks divide the beach into parts. The southern end of the beach connects to Thaksin Ratchaniwet Palace. The wooded hill near the beach has an arboretum and a row of pines that makes it very suitable for relaxation. There is also a beach forest study trail. Plants found here usually prefer dry climate like Chak Thale, Manao Phi and Toei Thale (appearance similar to a pineapple). There is limited private accommodation nearby if you want to stay overnight.
Phikun Thong Development Study Centre (ศูนย์ศึกษาการพัฒนาพิกุลทอง) was established according to the wish of His Majesty the King who wanted it to be a knowledge centre for land reform in the area. The centre has a complete range of studies, such as analyzing and testing plants, livestock caring, giving technical know-how, and providing agricultural training. The centre has an area of 2,784,000 sqm., divided into office buildings, demonstration plots and testing plots in swamp forest areas.
Royal projects include a soil project that adds maximum acidity to paddy soil and then finding a solution to it so it can be used to counter acid soil everywhere. Others are a new concept in agriculture that is used in areas with an abundant supply of water and planting of oil palm in highly organic soil. A small complete-cycle factory and Prince of Songkhla University jointly look after products from palm oil like oil extracts, soap and butter. Some are sold to workers and the rest are sold to outsiders. A livestock factory produces animal waste gas wells. There is also a project that plants Zalacca palm to supplement rubber plantations.
Furthermore, the centre has open on weekdays a training centre on making products from Krachut sedge and Annonaceae leaves.
People that come here to study also receive considerable enjoyment. This is according to the intention of His Majesty the King that an observation tour here should be akin to a picnic in a park. The centre holds an exhibition every September at the same time as the Narathiwat Products Fair.
Getting There : The centre is located between Ban Phikun Thong and Ban Khok Saya in Tambon Kaluwo Nua, about 1 KM from the palace and 8 KM from Narathiwat town on Highway No. 4084 (Narathiwat-Tak Bai).
Ban Yakang (หมู่บ้านยะกัง) is an old community that has been in existence since the province was just Bang Nara village. It is now a major Batik production centre. The fabrics made here have beautiful designs and colors, all made by traditional techniques. They can be used in a variety of ways and are very popular among villagers and tourists. The village is around 4 KM from the provincial hall on Highway No. 4055 (Amphoe Mueang-Amphoe Rangae) and turn into Yakang 1 Road Soi 6 for about 700 metres. Ban Thon (หมู่บ้านทอน) is at Tambon Khok Tian, around 16 KM from the town on Highway No. 4136 (Narathiwat-Ban Thon). This is a traditional Thai Muslim fishing village that is a production centre of real and miniature Korlae boats. Miniature ones range from a few hundred Baht to tens of thousand. The boats are all the more valuable because most are made by young local boys ages 13 and up. Some children spend their free time making these miniature boats, which is considered to be a form of local art. Apart from taking home the boats, you may also take back with you fond memories of seeing kids devoting themselves into making of these masterpieces.
Furthermore, there are products made of Krachut sedge and Annonaceae leaves for sale, like eyeglass holders, bags and mats of exquisite designs and bright colors. If carefully maintained, they can last up to 10 years. The products have reasonable prices, from 30 Baht to a few hundred.
The area is also well known for producing delicious Budu sauce and fish crackers. Along the beach you will see lines of dried fish and many Budu sauce vats. The sauce is used extensively in southern cooking like fish sauce that is commonly used in Thai cooking. Tourists can see how the sauce is made and buy souvenirs. However, please note that on Friday afternoons, the villagers tend to go to prayers and take the half day off, so it may not be convenient for you to plan to buy things on that day.
Korlae Boat (เรือกอและ) is a small wooden fishing boat that is used in the southernmost provinces. The boat ranges in length from approx 10 to 13 m. The boat has a unique style, the bow and the stern being higher than the hull. Handpainted designs on the boats are a combination of Malay, Javanese and Thai styles, with emphasis on Thai patterns, such as a running scroll design, lotus, serpents, magic monkeys, and heads of birds in literature like “Burong Si-ngo” or Singhapaksi (a creature with the body of a lion and the head of a bird holding a fish with its beak) at the bow. The creature has sharp fangs and claws, is powerful and is a good diver. Therefore, it has been a favorite of Korlae fishermen ever since ancient times. The art on the boat is like an “artistic masterpiece on waves” and is considered art of life as the Korlae boat not only shows off the greatness of its design, but is also the primary instrument used by fishermen to make a living. It is said that a Bang Nara villager without a Korlae fishing boat is like a person without clothes. The harbors of Tak Bai and Narathiwat (near Hat Narathat) are good spotting locations for these unique boats.
Amphoe Tak Bai
Wat Chon Thara Singhe (วัดชลธาราสิงเห) is at Mu 3, Tambon Chehe, on the bank of Tak Bai River. From town, take Highway No. 4985 (Narathiwat-Tak Bai) to Tak Bai District Market intersection and turn left for about 100 metres to the temple entrance. Phra Khru Ophat Phutthakhun established the temple and requested land from Phraya Kelantan to build it in 1873. At that time, Tak Bai was still a part of Kelantan state in Malaysia.
This is a Buddhist temple among a predominantly Muslim community. It played a role in the secession of land between Siam and Malaya (then a colony of the United Kingdom) during the reign of King Rama V in 1909. The Thai side raised the fact that since this is a Buddhist temple, it should remain with Thailand. The British relented and agreed to use the Klok River (Tak Bai River) that flows through Tak Bai as the boundary. Therefore, the temple is also called “Wat Phithak Phaen Din Thai” or the temple that protects Thai sovereignty.
The temple is generally peaceful and has a spacious lawn on the bank that is ideal for relaxation. The chapel built in the reign of King Rama V has wall murals drawn by Songkhla monks. The paintings clearly recount the life of Lord Buddha and the interesting life of locals at that time. It also houses a main Buddha image made of gold, which covers its original features of a red mouth and black hair. It is situated on a base 1.5 m. high. From the style of the base, it is believed that this is a Mon image. Another building houses a reclining Buddha image and the inner walls are covered with old Sangkhalok porcelain.
Getting There: You can take a bus to Tak Bai district. In addition, there are mini-buses (20 baht), vans (30 baht and get on at the roundabout in town) and buses. You can get off at Tak Bai intersection and walk for around 500 m. Vans will take you right into the temple.
Ko Yao (เกาะยาว) is not too far from Wat Chon Thara Singhe. From Tak Bai District Market intersection, there is a 345-m. long wooden bridge spanning Tak Bai River to Ko Yao. The eastern part of the island is adjacent to the sea and has a white beach with fine sand and cozy surroundings. The people here are mostly Muslims who are fishermen and who have simple homes in coconut plantations.
Kubu Beach-Ban Khlong Tan (หาดกูบู-บ้านคลองตัน) covers Tambon Sai Wan and Tambon Sala Mai all the way to Tambon Chehe and ending at the mouth of Su-ngai Kolok River. The total distance is around 24 KM. Take Highway No. 4984 (Narathiwat-Tak Bai) for about 20 KM and there is a beach road that runs for 1 KM. This beach has lovely scenery, white sand and some pines, giving the area a shady and peaceful atmosphere.
Taba Checkpoint or Tak Bai Checkpoint (ด่านตาบาหรือด่านตากใบ) is at Ban Taba, Tambon Chehe, around 3 KM from the district. To get there, take Highway No. 4084 (Amphoe Mueang-Amphoe Tak Bai). It is another channel for bilateral tourism and trade between Thailand and Malaysia apart from Su-ngai Kolok Checkpoint.
Crossing over can be done by long-tail boats or by ferry (different landings). Boats leave about every 15 minutes and run during daylight hours. The fee is 6 baht per person, which is the same at every pier. The fee for a motorcycle is 15 baht, for a 4-wheel car is 50 baht and for a bus is 100 baht. If taking a car further than the customs checkpoint, car insurance for driving in Malaysia must be obtained. Other regulations are that the car must not have more than 40% tinting and must have seat belts as Malaysia is very strict about vehicle safety. There are car insurance companies in Thailand and in Malaysia. It is convenient to get one in Thailand where the cost is about 300 baht for a weeks stay in Malaysia. The insurance covers from 7 days to 1 year, but keep in mind that you have to leave Malaysian soil within 30 days after entering in order to comply with the documents you have to fill out at the pespective checkpoint.
Amphoe Su-ngai Kolok
Su-ngai Kolok Checkpoint (ด่านสุไหงโกลก) seems livelier than Narathiwat town, probably because it is the largest border trading area in the province and cross-border traffic is common between Thailand and Malaysia. A bridge linking the 2 countries is open during 05.00-21.00 hrs. Thais like to cross to Rantu Panyang to buy electrical goods and snacks while Malays come to shop for food and fruits.
Su-ngai Kolok Checkpoint is around 1 kilometre from Su-ngai Kolok train station. From Narathiwat town, there are 2 routes. The first one is taking Highway No. 4055 (Narathiwat-Rangae) and turn left at Ban Manang Tayo and take Highway No. 4056 to Amphoe Su-ngai Padi into Su-ngai Kolok. The second route is taking Highway No. 4084 from Narathiwat town to Amphoe Tak Bai, and turn right to Highway No. 4057 (Tak Bai-Su-ngai Kolok) for 66 kilometres.
From Su-ngai Kolok Checkpoint, you can drive across the bridge to Kota Bahru in Malaysia, but each car must be insured (see details under Taba Checkpoint). For a border pass, call tel. 0 7361 4296.
Chao Mae Tomo Shrine (ศาลเจ้าแม่โต๊ะโมะ) is in Soi Phuthon, Charoen Khet Road, in Tambon Su-ngai Kolok Municipality. The figure used to be at Ban Tomo in Amphoe Su Khirin. Later villagers transferred it to Su-ngai Kolok. It is revered by locals and people in nearby provinces, as well as Chinese Malaysians. Every year there is a festival at the shrine on the 23rd day of the third month of the Chinese calendar (around April). Activities include a procession, lion parade, a fancy acrobatic stilts procession, a long drum procession, and walking over hot coal.
Sirindhorn Peat Swamp Forest Nature Research and Study Centre (To Daeng Peat Swamp Forest) (ศูนย์วิจัยและศึกษาธรราชาติป่าพรุสิรินธร หรือ ป่าพรุโต๊ะแดง) is the last remaining peat swamp forest in Thailand. It covers 3 districts; Tak Bai, Su-ngai Kolok and Su-ngai Padi. It has an area of about 192 square kilometres, but the most verdant area is around 80 square kilometres. That part still is rich in fauna and flora. Major waterways that pass through the area are Khlong Su-ngai Padi, Bang Nara River and Khlong To Daeng, which gives the forest its name.
The centre has arranged nature study treks to publicize knowledge about peat swamp forests. The walk starts from a swamp behind the research centre and continues on a wooden bridge into the forest for 1,200 metres. There is a part that is a wooden bridge suspended by metal slings and another is a high tower for viewing the lush scenery below. Signs tell information about interesting trees and there are some information posts for trekkers. The trail is open daily from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. It is free and an exhibition room is also provided for visitors.
How does a peat swamp forest occur? It originates from fresh water that is confined in limited space for a long period of time and the subsequent accumulation of organic matters in the soil like dead plants, trees and leaves. These matters are slowly transformed into peat or organic soil that is soft like sponge, has low density and absorbs water very well. In the area, peat is accumulated together with marine sediment to create 2-3 interlocking layers of both types of soil. This is because the sea level was high enough to cover the forest. Accumulation of sediment ensued and seawater was contained in the area. This resulted in the demise of plants in the forest and created a mangrove forest in place. When the water level receded and rain came, the water here became fresh water and the peat swamp forest occurred. The deeper soil layers date from 6,000-7,000 years, while the top layers are from 700-1,000 years.
The forest has a diverse ecological system. Every life is interconnected to each other. Trees have strong roots that spread out to those of other trees and help them to support their large trunks. Therefore, trees in the peat swamp forest will grow together in a group. If one falls, so will the others.
There are over 400 species of plants in the peat swamp forest. The most outstanding are strange palms like Lum Phi whose fruits can be eaten and red palm whose entire trunk is red in colour. Red palm is popular as a garden plant. Moreover, there are aromatic flowers like the Goniothalamus giganteus, a plant of the Annonaceae family that has large flowers. There are also orchids and an assortment of small plants that you must look carefully to find.
There are over 200 animal species in the forest. Small creatures are langurs, civets, wild cats, Singapore rats, and Malayan tree frogs. Large animals include wild boars and binturongs. A variety of fish also makes it home in the forest, including a certain species of catfish that can be raised in acidic water and the strange angler catfish that has a flat, wide head and a long body. This catfish has a poisonous spine in its dorsal fin. The fish uses the forest as a refuge and to spawn, and villagers catch for food when it is fully grown.
Birds here include the Rufous-tailed Shama that is mainly found in Sumatra, Borneo and Malaysia. It was first discovered in Thailand in 1987. The Malaysian Verditer Flycatcher is found only in Sirindhorn Peat Swamp Forest in Thailand. Both species are now endangered.
The forest in interesting not only because of its unusual flora and fauna, but also because of the overall unique experience that people, particularly children, are bound to receive when they pay a visit. The surrounding nature offers a constant stream of surprises. While trekking amidst a serene forest, you may encounter an animal grazing. Trails take you close to, but not overly interfering with, nature.
Things to take to enhance your appreciation of the forest are notebooks, colored pencils, binoculars, cameras, and mosquito repellent. With these items in hand, you can possibly spend a whole day of fun here. The cool climate of the forest is conducive to exploration. The best time to go is during February-April because there is little rain. The other months will see frequent rainfall due to the forest being situated on a peninsula.
Tourists should be careful of black mosquitoes that are a disease carrier, which are prevalent in the area and come out in the evening. Forest fire can happen as a result of smoking and discarding cigarette butts on the ground. When there is a forest fire in this forest, it is more difficult to put out because there is ample fuel in the form of trees, dead barks and organic matters in the ground. The fire will actually spread underground, making it extremely difficult to extinguish and control. The fire can last for months and the only way to put it out is to wait for heavy rainfall and the subsequent inundation should extinguish the fire.
Getting There: It is more convenient to come by train from Bangkok as the last station is at Su-ngai Kolok. If not taking your car, you can use the service of hired car from Su-ngai Kolok.
If driving, take Highway No. 4057 (Tak Bai-Su-ngai Kolok) for about 5 kilometres. There is a branch road to Chawananan Road for about 3 kilometres, and turn left for 2 kilometres. Signs show the way to the forest. For information, contact P.O. Box 37, Su-ngai Kolok, Narathiwat 96120.
Amphoe Su-ngai Padi
Chat Warin Waterfall (น้ำตกฉัตรวาริน) is at Tambon To Teng, not too far from town. Take Highway No. 4056 to Su-ngai Padi Hospital then turn left for 6 kilometres. The entrance is a good asphalt road in Budo-Su-ngai Padi National Park. This is a medium-sized waterfall that has water the year round and is shady from the many trees in the area.
The most striking plant here is the rare Bangsun Palm that is found in the jungle around 1,800 metres above sea level. It originates from Malaysia. The plant is a low tree but with many branches that are as high as 3 metres. The large diamond-shaped leaves are neatly arranged. The palm is regarded by many as the most beautiful palm in the world and is found only in this forest. The name “Bangsun Palm” was given by Professor Prachit Wamanon, advisor of the royal projects, when he inspected the area. He found the palm grown in a Muslim village. The professor saw that the leaf of the palm is similar to a “Bangsun,” a large umbrella used in processions. The locals call the palm Buke Ipae that means mountain centipede. This is probably because the flower is shaped like a centipede.
Budo-Su-ngai Padi Mountain Range National Park (อุทยานแห่งชาติเทือกเขาบูโด – สุไหงปาดี) used to be a part of Sankala Khiri mountain range that divides Thailand and Malaysia. The area was a haven for guerrillas and few people ventured in to see the natural beauty of the jungle here. However, when the situation improved in 1974, the Royal Forest Department established Pacho Waterfall Park that became Budo-Su-ngai Padi National Park. The park has an area of 294 square kilometres and covers parts of Narathiwat, Yala and Pattani.
The Budo mountain range is part of the Indo-Malayan tropical jungle that has high humidity because of the year-round rainfall that it gets. This is a biologically diverse jungle when compared to other jungles of similar size.
This type of tropical jungle is found only in equatorial zones (the area between the 23.5 degrees north and south of the Tropic of Cancer). In Thailand, this area is from the Kra Isthmus down. Botanists divide the world’s tropical forests into three zones; American rainforest, Indo-Malayan rainforest and African tropical forest.
The most distinctive plant here is “Golden Leaves” or “Yandao.” This plant was first discovered in the world in 1988 here. The vine leaves are gold in colour, similar to a hardwood tree of the genus Bauhinia, but considerably larger. Some leaves are even larger than the palm of a hand. The edges of the leaves are curved throughout, like 2 ovals connected to each other. The leaves have a soft velvet-like texture. They have beautiful gold or bronze/rainbow colours. When sunlight reflects on them, they give off a lovely glow that can be seen from a distance. If the tree grows in a damp area, the leaves will be especially thick and soft. When fully matured, the leaves will turn bronze/silver and finally green. The white flowers of the tree are equally attractive. There is a nice one near the park office. Another important, rare and expensive plant found here is the rattan “Takha Thong.”
Rare animals in the area are rhinoceros, agile gibbons, tapirs, and Sumatran serows. The most important animal is the spectacled langur that inhabits Southeast Asia in the south of Myanmar and Thailand all the way to Malaysia and some islands. It lives on high mountains and in deep jungles in groups of around 30-40. The strongest male is the leader. The langur is usually shy, afraid of humans and not aggressive like monkeys. Apart from the spectacled langur, there are 3 other types in Thailand; banded langurs, gray langurs and northern spectacled langurs. All 4 species of langurs are currently endangered mammals.
The park has several waterfalls, such as Phu Wae, Pacho and Pako. The best known and accessible is “Pacho” that has a high cliff. The word “Pacho” is a Malay word meaning “waterfall.” Tourists can go up the 9 levels of the waterfall. It is the province’s largest waterfall and one of the most beautiful in southern Thailand. However, as the jungle around the area is somewhat damaged, there is little water in the dry season.
Other interesting spots are Sala Than That that used to be the rest area of King Rama VII when he visited Narathiwat. A stone bearing his initials is in the area. Tourists can come here throughout the year.
Getting There: The waterfall is 26 kilometres from Narathiwat town. Take Highway No. 42 to Amphoe Bacho to the intersection into the district, and then turn right for about 2 kilometres to the park office.
300 Years Mosque (มัสยิด 300 ปี) (also known as Al-Hussein Mosque or Talo Mano Mosque) is in Ban Talo Mano, Tambon Subo Sawo, 25 kilometres from Narathiwat town. Take Highway No. 42 and turn at Burangae intersection.
Mr. Wan Hussein Az-Sanawi, who migrated from Ban Sano Yanya in Pattani Province, built the mosque in 1624. The mosque was originally roofed with palm leaves and later with fired clay tiles. The mosque is different than others as it is 2 buildings connected to each other. It is built entirely of timber, with pieces interlocking each other without nails. The style is traditional Thai with contemporary Chinese and Malay. The most outstanding feature is that above the roof is a base that supports a gable. The Azan tower has a Chinese style and is situated on the rear part of the roof. The tower has wooden walls with windows. The air holes are carved with leaf, flower and Chinese designs.
This mosque is still used by Muslims. People wanting to see inside must receive permission from the village Imam as normally visitors can only have a look outside. Talo Mano village was also a production centre of handwritten Korans.
Next to the mosque is a Muslim graveyard. For male graves, the rock decorating the grave will be round, while for females, only half of the rock will be visible.
Luang Pho Daeng of Wat Choeng Khao (หลวงพ่อแดงวัดเชิงเขา) is at Mu 4, Ban Choeng Khao, Tambon Paluka Samo, about 13 kilometres from the district office on the way to Pattani. Take Highway No. 42 (Phetchakasem Road) and turn left at Ban Ton Thai for 5.5 kilometres. Luang Pho Daeng, the temple’s ex-abbot and a revered monk of the province, died on 1 January 1979 at the age of 90 years old. His body did not decompose after death, resulting in great worship by locals and they placed the body in a glass coffin for people to pay their respects to.
Sirindhorn Waterfall (น้ำตกสิรินธร) is not a waterfall that falls from a high cliff but is really a stream that comes down from a forest at a higher altitude. The falls feature a wide rock plateau suitable for relaxation. It converges with Khlong Aikading and is frequented by locals. Apart from the waterfall, there is the Southern Forest Flowers and Decorative Plants Survey and Collection Project under the Patronage of HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. The project has more than 200 plant species that are grouped according to their natural habitat. Signs provide plant names and useful information. Plants here are both interesting in terms of local botany and breeding to develop as decorative and economic plants. The project is open during 08.30-16.00 hrs.
Getting There: The waterfall is around 7 kilometres from Amphoe Waeng on Highway No. 4057, then turn left onto Phua Khwam Man Khong Road for around 8 kilometres and another 300 metres from the entrance to the waterfall.
Hala-Bala Wildlife Reserve (เขตรักษาพันธุ์สัตว์ป่าฮาลา – บาลา) is a new conservation area of Thailand. It was officially established in 1996. The reserve is near the Thai-Malaysian border and has an area of around 433.16 square kilometres. It covers the Sankala Khiri mountain range, Hala forest and Bala forest that are deep forests not connected to each other but are part of the same reserve. Hala forest is in Amphoe Betong in Yala and Amphoe Chanae in Narathiwat. However, the only part open to the public is Bala forest that covers Amphoe Waeng and Amphoe Su Khirin in Narathiwat.
Highway No. 4062 (Khwam Man Khong Road) goes through Sankala Khiri mountain range, making access to the reserve easier. You can start at Ban Buketa in Amphoe Waeng, go through Bala forest and end up at Ban Phu Khao Thong in Amphoe Su Khirin for a total distance of 18 kilometres. On both sides of the road are the most verdant jungles in Thailand. To study nature here, you only have to drive through the area and you will likely see many extraordinary things from the park office on.
Approximately 5 kilometres from the office, there is a point to view wildlife. Many Banyan trees grow in the area and animals regularly come to feed off the fruits of the trees. About 10 kilometres further in is the Phu Khao Thong Protection Unit, which is a sub-office of the reserve, located on the road. From here you can see a sea of mist. If you walk about 100 metres from the unit, you will find a gigantic Somphong or Kraphong tree that has a diametre of 25 metres. The height of a section near the ground that supports the trunk is about 4 metres. This tree likes to grow near water and is a softwood tree that is used in making toothpicks or matches.
Along the way you will several plants not commonly seen elsewhere in Thailand, like the Yuan tree of the bean family that stands proudly and can be seen at a distance from the road. It has a white trunk and it can reach a height of 65-70 metres. It is regarded as the third tallest tree in the world, the redwood and eucalyptus being first and second, respectively. It is usually used to make furniture. The Saya tree of the rubber family is the most striking of the Hala-Bala forest. From the viewpoint, you can see the tops of many of the trees. If you look carefully, you will see hornbills as the trees are their preferred nesting sites. The Hua Roi Ru Nam tree is one of the newest plants found in the country.
Wildlife here creates an ecological balance for the area. Many of the animals are now rare in Thailand, like the large black gibbon or Sia Mang that is totally black in colour and nearly double the size of the white-handed gibbon. There is also the agile gibbon that is usually found on Sumatra, Borneo and northern Malaysian jungles and southern Thailand. You may be lucky and find two of these creatures hanging from a branch. The area also has Thut frogs that are the largest frogs in the country. It is about a foot long and weighs over 5 kilograms. The frogs live in watershed forests on high mountains. A survey found that in the area are 4 protected mammals, which are the Sumatran serow, tapir, marbled cat, and Asian two-horned rhinoceros.
The hornbill is an indicator of the state of the forest and is a rare bird. Nonetheless, the reserve has up to 9 out of 12 species of hornbills in Thailand, which are the wrinkled hornbill, helmeted hornbill (the only kind of hornbill that has a thick upper beak and Indonesian villagers hunt it to get the beak to carve into ornaments like ivory), Oriental pied hornbill, great pied hornbill, white-crowned hornbill, bushy-crested hornbill, Malayan rhinoceros hornbill, black hornbill, and wreathed hornbill.
Persons wishing to enter the area for nature study must write to the reserve at P.O. Box 3, Amphoe Waeng, Narathiwat 96120 or the Wildlife Reserve Department of the Natural Resources Conservation Office, Royal Forest Department, Bangkok.
Facilities : As the reserve is a sensitive area, tourists are not permitted to stay overnight there.
Getting There: You can hire mini-buses from Amphoe Waeng Market or from Su-ngai Kolok train station.
The best time to study nature here is from late February to September when there is little rain.
Longkong (ลองกอง) is the most famous fruit of Narathiwat. The most popular type is Ban Sipo Longkong of Amphoe Rangae. It is in the same family as Langsat. It has a thick skin and does not have resin like Langsat. Though it has less fruit substance, it is sweeter. Another delicious type is Tanyongmat Longkong that is actually Ban Sipo Longkong grown at Ban Tanyongmat. Longkongs are in season around mid-August-September.
Local Handicrafts are products made from Krachut sedge and Panan leaves, miniature Kolae boats, and ceramics.
Batik (ผ้าบาติก) is a Javanese word used to describe a kind of dyed fabric that combines artistic craftsmanship with dyeing techniques. There is evidence that batiks have been in existence for about 2,000 years.
The art of making Batiks is quite interesting. It has a simple process, which is “drawing designs with candles” or using a tool called “Wan Ting” to dip into melted wax to draw designs on the fabrics in areas where dyes are unwanted, before applying colours. When dyed, colours will appear only in parts where the melted wax was not applied and the colours will be absorbed into the cracks of the hardened wax, creating unusually lovely patterns that are distinctive of Batiks.
Nowadays prints are more popular than handmade designs as it is quicker and more convenient. Batiks are sold in major tourist cities in Thailand, as well as exported to Malaysia.
Salted Threadfin (ปลากุเราเค็ม) is a type of salted fish that has soft meat. It is the most delicious and most expensive salted fish in Thailand. It is sought after by people everywhere. It is made at Tambon Chehe in Amphoe Tak Bai.
Narathiwat Products Fair (งานของดีเมืองนรา) showcases all the highlights of the province, such as the show of special arts and crafts, Krachut sedge day, barred ground dove cooing contest, Longkong day, and the annual Kolae boat races in front of the throne hall.
- Korlae-Long Boat Races in Front of the Throne Hall are held on Bang Nara River opposite Sala Prachakhom (community pavilion). This is an annual event held when the Royal Family is in residence at Thaksin Ratchaniwet Palace.
- Krachut Sedge Day is an event of the province held around the same time as the boat races in order to publicize and promote hemp products, one of the activities of the crafts project of the province. Products are made in places like Mu Ban Thon and Ban Phikun Thong. Activities of the day include an exhibition on production from the preparation of raw materials that are the Krachut sedge trees that grow in peat swamp forests or waterlogged areas of the province, to weaving the sedge into beautiful mats or transforming it into other lovely and unusual products like hats, handbags, letter holders, food covers, and lamp shades. Moreover, there are Krachut contests and stores selling Krachut sedge products.
Chao Mae Tomo Celebrations (งานสมโภชเจ้าแม่โต๊ะโมะ) is an important festival of Su-ngai Kolok and consists of the Chao Mae Tomo procession, floral floats, lion and dragon parade, and performance of people being possessed. The event is held on the 23rd day of the third month of the Chinese calendar. Entertainment includes Chinese opera and many shops.
- Ocean Blue Mansion (297 Phupapakdi Rd. (phone: 073-811109 / 511047) 20+ rooms : 350 - 450 baht
- Cathay (คาเธ่ย์ 275 Phupapakdi Road (Tel: 0 7351 1014) 15 rooms: 120-150 baht
- Chao Phraya Resort (เจ้าพระยา รีสอร์ท) 54 Suriyapradit Road (Tel: 0 7351 3467) 17 rooms: 250-380 baht
- Tanyong (ตันหยง) 16/1 Sophapisai Road (Tel: 0 7351 1477-9) 27 rooms: 170-440 baht
- Tippawan (ทิพวรรณ) 36/16 Chareonpong Road (Tel: 0 7351 1872) 27 rooms: 170-440 baht
- Narathiwat (นราธิวาส) 341 Pupapakdi Road (Tel: 0 7351 1063) 19 rooms: 100 baht
- Bangnara (บางนารา) 274 Pupapakdi Road (Tel: 0 7351 1036) 16 rooms: 110 baht
- Yaovarat (เยาวราช) 131 Pichitbumrong Road (Tel: 0 7351 1320) 42 rooms: 120-250 baht
- Rex (เร็กซ์) 6/1-2 Chamrunnara Road (Tel: 0 7351 1134, 0 7351 1190) 38 rooms: 200-450 baht
- Pacific (แปซิฟิค) 41/1-2 Vorakampipit (Tel: 0 7351 1076, 0 7351 1259) 21 rooms: 300-440 baht
- Panun Resort (ปาหนัน รีสอร์ท) Narathiwat-Takbai Road (Tel: 0 7351 4749) 40 rooms: 300-500 baht
Amphoe Sungai Kolok
- Genting 250 Asia Road 18 (Tel: 0 7361 3231-40) 234 rooms: 550-720 baht
- Grand Garden 66 Soi 3 Prachawiwat (Tel: 0 7361 3600-5, 0 7361 3501-4) 118 rooms: 650-2,000 baht
- Krung Thong House 143 Vithiuthok Road (Tel: 0 7361 1511, 0 7361 2662) 23 rooms: 200 baht
- Come In 48 Surirong Road (Tel: 0 7361 1187) 20 rooms: 200-300 baht
- Chonun House 43/5-6 Soi Phuthon Chareonkhet Road (Tel: 0 7361 1421) 23 rooms: 130-280 baht
- Savoy 8/2 Chareonkhet Road (Tel: 0 7361 1093) 27 rooms: 130 baht
- Taksin 1 30 Prachawiwat Road (Tel: 0 7361 1010, 0 7361 1083) 39 rooms: 110-280 baht
- Taksin 2 Prachasamran Road (Tel: 0 7361 1088) 49 rooms: 180-430 baht
- Thai Laem Thong 193/8 Prachawiwat Road (Tel: 0 7361 1094, 0 7361 2387) 34 rooms: 200-350 baht
- Thai Eak 43 Wongwithi Road (Tel: 0 7361 1052, 0 7361 3136) 37 rooms: 220-320 baht
- Thani 4/1 Chunmankha (Tel: 0 7361 1241) 52 rooms: 120-220 baht
- Tara Regent 45 Soi Phuthon Chareonkhet Road (Tel: 0 7361 1801-2) 119 rooms: 350-450 baht
- Nam Thai 2 93-95 Soi Phuthon Chareonkhet Road (Tel: 0 7361 1163) 37 rooms: 120-250 baht
- Parkson 501 Soi Phuthon Chareonkhet Road (Tel: 0 7361 2789-90) 40 rooms: 380-420 baht
- Plaza 2 Thetpathom (Tel: 0 7361 3403, 0 7361 1875-6) 94 rooms: 400-650 baht
- Phiman 76/4 Chareonkhet Road (Tel: 0 7361 1464) 17 rooms: 200 baht
- My House 98/34 Saritwong Road (Tel: 0 7361 1069, 0 7361 3569) 24 rooms: 200-280 baht
- Marina 173 Soi Phuthon Chareonkhet Road (Tel: 0 7361 3881-5) 180 rooms: 700-1,500 baht
- Madi 19/4 Chunmankha Road (Tel: 0 7361 1214, 0 7361 1122) 27 rooms: 140-250 baht
- Merlin 68 Chareonkhet Road (Tel: 0 7361 1003, 0 7361 1431) 96 rooms: 410-550 baht
In 2004, long-simmering resentment in the southern-most Muslim-majority provinces burst into widespread violence in Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala provinces. Some rebel groups have threatened foreigners, and three foreigners were killed in bombings in Hat Yai (in neighbouring Songkhla Province) Further tourists and locals fell victim to this violence ever since. Main target of bomb attacks seem to be public markets, hotels, entertainment venues and shopping areas. Train services have repeatedly halted to all 3 southernmost provinces due to rebel activities targeting trains and killings of train staff.
This page was last edited at 08:21, on 21 October 2008 by Wikitravel user Texugo. Based on work by Abstinent, bornDistinction, GOH Tat Kean, Jani Patokallio and Tom Holland and Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel.