Phatthalung. An enchanting gem, hidden away in the South of Thailand. An unknown paradise for those wanting to see and know more about Thailand and its local lifestyle.
Our good friend P’May took us around Phatthalung province and we loved it so much that we came back and did everything again!
There is so much more we still want to explore, but for now here are nine reasons you need to visit Phatthalung, Thailand!
1. Cruise Along The Lotus Lake – Thale Noi (ทะเลน้อย)
The Lotus Lake in Thale Noi is absolutely sublime! We arrived in the early morning, hopped on a boat and began to glide through rows and rows of pink lotus flowers. By chance, we even got to experience some rare purple flowers that apparently only bloom once every 15 years! We saw water buffalo grazing and passed by fishermen as the early morning light caught the water. It was magical.
Thale Noi means little sea, and is named so because the lake leads into the Gulf of Thailand. This is a protected area with massive diversity.
Our guide was so friendly and knowledgeable and he kept showing us more, the more we got excited about what we had already seen. When we say guide, we mean local who saw us in the parking lot and took us out.
That’s how it works. Look for a boat, specifically one with shade and look for somebody in the know – then haggle a little and you’re on your way!
Cost: 2 hour boat ride costs ±600 baht for max. 5 people. (Subject to haggling)
Times: The lotuses are best between 7 am and 8 am. After 10 am it gets too hot and the flowers close.
Location: The Lotus Lake, Thale Noi
2. Wander Around The Bamboo Market – Pa Pai Sang Suk (ตลาดนัดป่าไผ่)
The Bamboo Market was a very interesting place. The name (translating to the Bamboo Forest that brings happiness) honestly explains it all. It is a market in the bamboo forest. Moreover, the majority of the items there are also based on bamboo, from the foods to the crafts.
You can walk around, taste the local produce and delicacies, peruse the bamboo crafts and products, drink coconut water out of bamboo cups and taste some local desserts. Perhaps even make some friends!
We have to recommend Pa Sa Gu who creates the most stunning handmade crafts, with natural dyes. She actually made the beautiful hair scarf that’s been travelling along with me!
You can also feed the fish, explore the gardens and have scrumptious cake.
Pro Tip: it’s a really great place to relax and have some breakfast before heading to Thale Noi!
Cost: A meal will cost you around 30 baht.
Times: 8 am to 6 pm on Saturdays and Sundays only.
Location: Phatthalung Bamboo Market
3. Visit The Napokae Learning Center (นาโปแก)
The Napokae Learning Center provided a very interesting visit! Here you can learn about the way of life for the old Phatthalung farmers, how they ploughed, planted and grew rice and how they used water buffaloes to help them with this process. You can even shuck the rice yourself. There’s also live music, lots of places to sit, some snacks and of course souvenirs.
Napokae also has old bamboo huts and farming equipment that serve as a representation of the old life the farmers used to have. We believe you can even rent them out for your stay.
Besides being a great educational centre, they also have the most stunning views over rich green rice fields. You can grab something to drink at the coffee shop and just relax.
Cost: Free. Yay!
Times: 8:30 am to 5:30 pm on weekdays 8:00 am to 6:30 pm on weekends
Location: The Napokae Learning Center
4. Have Lunch At Sampaothai (สำเภาไทย)
Sampaothai (translating to the Thai sailing ship) is a quaint restaurant spot we visited on our way back to Trang. You just sit you look out over fields of rice as far as the eye can see.
Quaint but popular. It’s famous enough that you may struggle for parking midweek. If it’s not too packed, we’d suggest grabbing the hammock or swinging chairs, definitely a Cha Yen (Thai Ice Tea) and ordering some lunch while admiring the lush rice fields.
They have a little restaurant but they don’t always have a fixed menu. They mostly serve up ‘Kha Nom Jeen’ which is one of my favourite Thai meals.
You’ll definitely notice King Kong and the restaurants namesake sailing ship, so remember, take some pictures or it never happened… Tag us and add #DearTravallure too so we can follow your journey!
These photo spots are also very popular amongst the locals, so you might make a friend or two. Bonus!
Sometimes they also have a little market out front – we think it’s only on weekends, but stand corrected.
Cost: It was free the first time we visited, but cost us 20 baht each the second time around (which was also when the market was there and it was a weekend)
Times: 8 am to 6 pm
Location: Samphao Thai
5. Drive Over Ekachai Bridge (สะพานเฉลิมพระเกียรติ)
If you have already visited the Lotus Lake, chances are you will have seen this massive bridge, possibly even travelled under it. It is the longest bridge in Phatthalung and connects the province to its southern neighbour, Songkhla (two of our favourite provinces).
There’s not too much to the Ekachai Bridge, besides being brightly coloured and hosting images of rare or endangered species in the area – it’s more of a been there, seen that kind of deal.
You can drive over it and stop off at one of the designated areas on the side to see the old huts and water buffalo grazing below.
Cost: Free. Yay!
Times: The Ekachai Bridge is always open.
Location: Ekachai Bridge
6. Splash About At The Kuan Noi Grand Canyon In Phatthalung (ควนน้อยแกรนด์แคนยอน)
Phatthalung’s Grand Canyon. A gorgeous body of water that lends itself to a perfect day of swimming or some cliff jumping.
However, this is an old mining site and we have been told the waters could be poisonous. In spite of that, there were lots of kids having an absolute blast in the water and jumping off the various outcrops. We would have loved to have swim, but were ill-prepared for the occasion. So be sure to bring your costume along!
If you’d like a refreshment during your visit to the Grand Canyon, which you probably will because it’s very hot, with very little shade, there are a few local market stalls scattered around in the area (that operate at various times) as well as a little restaurant. The restaurant also offers boat rides around the Canyon.
Cost: 2 baht to park
Times: 8:30 am to 5:30 pm
Location: The Phatthalung Grand Canyon
7. Have A Cocktail At The Cape Restaurant (เดอะเคป)
The Cape Restaurant is an awesome, modern seaside restaurant. It is situated on a headland protruding into the Songkhla Lake. You can literally sit on a bean bag, drink a cocktail and overlook the sea (well, lake). A great place for watching the sunset and enjoying some dinner. (We recommend getting the local Thai food).
Apparently they also double up as a resort and offer up some great water activities. After watching a few of their videos, we have decided we have to go back again!
Cost: +200 baht for a meal and a drink
Times: 11 am to 10 pm
Location: The Cape
8. Admire Sunrise At The Kuan Dancing Bird Viewpoint (ควนนกเต้น ภูบรรทัด พัทลุง)
We stayed at Baan Phu Dao Homestay, who organised for us to go up and see sunrise at the viewpoint and it was gorgeous!
It started at 5am. We woke up, were picked up by a driver in a bakkie (pickup truck) and taken to the Kuan Dancing Bird viewpoint. We went to the onsite coffee shop, ordered some Cha Rawn (Hot Thai Tea) and some food and sat enjoying the sunrise.
The one bummer was that it was so super crowded, it’s obviously a very popular spot, but we can understand why. The sunrise was spectacular! And the photo opportunities! We did also visit during the weekend which probably added to the crowds.
This Kuan Dancing Bird actually hosts more than just a sunrise viewpoint. They have luxury accommodation, romantic accommodation, camping facilities and boast two waterfalls on their itinerary too! The Nan Rut and the Pak Rang waterfalls. The Pak Rang waterfall is actually also a small waterpark and is right next to Baan Phu Dao!
Cost: Transport from the parking lot up to the viewpoint costs 60 baht per person, unless otherwise arranged (only if you're staying there)
Times: If you're not staying here and just want to visit the viewpoint, it's best to arrive between 5 am and 5:45 am.
Location: Kuan Dancing Bird Viewpoint Parking Lot
9. Explore Wat Tham Sumano, The Sumano Temple Caves (วัด ถ้ำสุมโน)
The Sumano Temple is probably one of the greatest temples we have ever been to in Thailand. The temple grounds are massive, hosting many places to come and meditate. There are two mountains on the grounds too, both with several caves.
P’May, our friend, brought us here since she often comes to volunteer at Wat Tham Sumano as a nun over the April holiday month. Luckily she was with us though, because even though walking through the caves is magical and peaceful, you might get quite lost if you don’t know where you’re going. So either remember exactly where you went, or see if there is someone around who could accompany you (that’d probably be a lot more spiritual and meaningful too).
The temple grounds are really beautiful and some of the caves are even filled with lush greenery and rushing streams. A beautiful experience.
Cost: Free. Yay!
Times: It's a temple, so it's always open, but for tourism and visiting it's open between 8 am and 4 pm.
Location: Wat Tham Sumano
Phatthalung is really underappreciated. We’d love to know if you make the trip out there! Please share your travel plans with us online or in the comments below!
Where To Stay In Phatthalung
We stayed at Baan Phu Dao Homestay, which might be tricky to arrange if you don’t speak Thai, but with a little effort, it sure is possible! Or else why not check out Airbnb?
➩ When you first sign up to Airbnb and book using our code you can score up to R600 off of your first booking and R225 towards an experience!
Where To Go After Phatthalung
That really depends on what you’re looking to do. So here are a few options for you to consider:
Are you looking to go somewhere close by? Then Trang would be our number one suggestion.
Maybe you’d like to have a more relaxing Thailand island experience?
If you’re heading up North, you’re going to pass Krabi, Hua Hin, Bangkok and then of course Chiang Mai. There is, of course, the possibility that you’re merely looking for inspiration, in which case, try our random blog post below!
➳ Ooooh, I Wonder What This Is?
Finally, if you’re planning on leaving the country, here’s a little piece of paradise for you.
➳ The Complete Nusa Penida Itinerary
How To Get There
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Oh my …such an well put together…informative blog! Thank you!