The Southern Thai province of Nakhon Si Thammarat stands as a testament to nature’s boundless beauty.
From the verdant hills that clothe its interior to the velvety soft shores of its coastline, this captivating region embraces a plethora of Thailand’s most awe-inspiring landscapes, along with an astounding tapestry of flora and fauna. Aptly named ‘the green lungs of Thailand‘, it offers an idyllic sanctuary for those seeking refuge from the rigours of daily life.
For years, the treasures of Nakhon Si Thammarat have been a well-kept secret, cherished by local Thai residents and the intrepid few who were privy to its allure. However, a transformation is on the horizon. A synergistic blend of public sector advocacy, private sector ingenuity, and improved transportation infrastructure is poised to unveil this ecological haven to the world.
Anticipated to debut before the close of 2023, an innovative international terminal at Nakhon Si Thammarat Airport is poised to usher in a fresh wave of global travellers. Direct flights are expected to link the province with prominent international destinations including Singapore, Taiwan, China, and Malaysia. This air-bound accessibility coincides harmoniously with the ongoing discourse surrounding the Samui Bridge initiative, an integral component of the expansive Southern Economic Corridor project.
Coinciding splendidly with these momentous developments, the provincial governor’s office of Nakhon Si Thammarat and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) have both validated their intent to intensify tourism promotion. These endeavours are meticulously anchored in the dual pillars of nature and community.
According to Mr Apinan Phuakphong, the Governor of Nakhon Si Thammarat, “Abundant nature is Nakhon Si Thammarat’s prized offering. Spanning 200 kilometres of mountains and an equivalent stretch of sandy beaches, coupled with pristine air quality, we envision further expansion into the medical and wellness domain, leveraging our innate natural heritage.”
Ms Pitsinee Tatniyom, TAT’s Director for Nakhon Si Thammarat, concurs, stating, “Our primary focus remains nature and community. This allure is poised to resonate more potently with both Thai nationals and international visitors, as it presents an opportunity for a personal rejuvenation – a means to recalibrate and reconnect with nature.”
The clarion call for such engagement has resonated within the private sector, with specialist tour operators unveiling innovative itineraries tailored for Nakhon Si Thammarat. For instance, Tarzan Adventure has recently launched a trailblazing dragon’s back-style trekking programme. This immersive experience escorts adventure enthusiasts into the embrace of Khao Luang National Park, an enclave of mountain ridges, luxuriant jungles, therapeutic natural hot springs, cascading waterfalls, and ethereal mist-wreathed valleys and ravines.
Spanning multiple days, these adventures encompass the opportunity to conquer the pinnacle of Khao Luang, ascending the lofty 1,780-metre summit of Thailand’s second-highest peak. This 570 square kilometre national park also boasts attractions such as the 1.7 kilometre Hong Cave, the Karom Waterfall featuring 19 tiers, the crystalline Klong Nam Sai watercourse, in addition to a plethora of rivers and rock formations.
These geographical marvels, accompanied by a diverse array of flora and fauna – including 300 varieties of orchids, 340 avian species, and majestic creatures like leopards, tapirs, and porcupines – solidify this location as a superlative choice for capturing wildlife and landscape photography of unparalleled calibre.
Mere moments away from the confines of the national park, Sichon has received acclaim from the esteemed travel guide, Lonely Planet, gracing its list of Thailand’s top 10 beaches. This picturesque setting will soon host Urasaya, an innovative residential and hospitality development poised to champion eco-conscious, locally-inspired tourism.
Guiding the endeavour at Urasaya is Mr Ravi Chandran, formerly associated with revered establishments like Laguna Phuket and Banyan Tree Holdings. Mr Chandran aptly describes Nakhon Si Thammarat as a place where “Thailand unplugged” thrives – a haven that retains its distinct and pristine character from three decades past.
He elaborates, “In an era before mass tourism’s intrusion, travellers yearn for the Thailand of yore. This province retains that essence – a retreat for revival, an escape to revitalise the senses, and an oasis for detachment from daily routines.”
With a swift hour’s flight from Bangkok and the alluring Koh Samui gracing the offshore horizon, Nakhon Si Thammarat transcends its former identity as a remote corner of Thailand. It now stands as an easily accessible realm awaiting discovery. Brimming with a cornucopia of natural wonders, this region, christened ‘the green lungs of Thailand’, promises to breathe renewed vigour into the nation’s tourism tapestry.
Featured Image: Thailand Tourism Directory