Nakhon on the road south to Malaysia

June 3, 2015 by  
Filed under THAINESS

BANGKOK, 3 June 2015: Located 780 km south of Bangkok on the west side of the Gulf of Thailand Nakhon Si Thammarat province is the second largest in the south.

It is one of the few towns in Thailand that was once on the coast, enjoying fresh sea breezes on a flood safe sand dune, but not anymore. Years of dramatic coastal silting put considerable distance between the town and the shoreline.

However, the busy commercial town remains a convenient stopover on overland tours that take visitors south past Gulf of Thailand towns and eventually across the border with Malaysia and down the east side of the Malay peninsula to Singapore. It’s a great car trip for those who have time to spare and want to soak in local culture and experience lesser known places in South Thailand.

Nakhon Si Thammarat is also an ancient city that still contains buildings and ruins of historical significance dating back to the fall of Ayutthaya in 1767. It also has lingering links with British, Portuguese, and Dutch merchants who set up trading posts here.

4.1  Today it has its own airport served daily by two low-cost airlines; Nok Air and Thai AirAsia that fly from Bangkok’s Don Mueang Airport (DMK).

There are also daily train services from Bangkok, but the trip takes more than 12 hours, sometimes 16 hours on the daylight “express”.

What to see

City Wall: The city’s historical chronicles mention fortifications dating back to 1278. They were restored and extended over the years until they extended 456 metres east-to-west, and 2,238 metres north-to-south with numerous gates. Today, only the northern gate remains, together with a short stretch of the northern city wall.

Wat Phra Mahathat; This is the most important temple in Nakhon Si Thammarat and South Thailand. It was constructed at the time of the founding of the town, and contains a tooth relic of the Buddha.

The 78-metre high chedi is surrounded by 173 smaller ones. At the base of the chedi is a gallery named Viharn Tap Kaset, decorated with many Buddha statues and elephant heads emerging from the chedi.

Thalad Park: Located 2 km north of the town, this is the place for residents to relax with their families. It’s a popular spot for joggers and fitness enthusiasts

Boon Sard Duen Sib Festival:

This is the province’s main festival that attracts residents from other southern provinces during the 10th month of the Buddhist calendar. The festival’s theme is gratitude for ancestors.

4.2Families show their gratitude by preparing food and utensils to offer to the monks in order to share their good deeds with their ancestors.

On the last day, there is a ceremony called “Ching Pred” when monks place food and utensils offered by the villagers at a pavilion called “Sala Pred” for ancestors to come and collect. When it is evident the food will not be collected, it signals a rush by villagers to take their share. The belief is that whoever eats the leftover food of their ancestors will receive a blessing.

Handicrafts

Pha Yok: This cloth is woven only in Nakhon Si Thammarat with striking and distinct patterns and colours.

Shadow Puppets: They can be bought at handicraft shops and stalls in town. They are made from dried hide pounded until it is almost clear, and then cut and sewn into intricate characters for use in shadow plays.

Yan Li Phao: A clinging vine that grows in the area is split into threads and woven into beautiful products such as traditional basketry which originated in the southern provinces. Other crafts include nielloware, silverware, and bronze ware.

Snacks

Kanom La Nim is a ready-to-eat sweetened flour treat which comes in sheets. It must be eaten on the purchased day to really enjoy its flavours. Doesn’t store well.

Kanom La Tod is a crispy fried sweetened flour confection which is folded into small bite-size pieces.

Where to stay:

4.3There is no shortage of accommodation options that will suit a budget traveller.

They range in price from as low as THB250 a night for room only to around THB2,000 at a three-star hotel including breakfast.

Climate

The town has a tropical monsoon climate (Köppen climate classification Am). Temperatures remain hot throughout the year. It rains most months, which gives the area its lush green appearance. The province is drier, February and March, while much wetter in October to December.

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