Phatthalung is a lovely, small town in Southern Thailand which not many people talk about. This trip was more special than ever because it describes my return to my hometown to start a new chapter, after living a hustleand-bustle life in Bangkok for over ten years.
Slowly developed, the city has not changed much from how I remember it. The only thing new is probably a small 3-storey shopping mall that was built in place of the old cinema. Looking towards the train station, you will see a view of Mount Ok Thalu, one of the landmarks and a symbol of Phattalung.
Even though Phatthalung is a secondary city, it is second to none. It has terrain that comprises both high and complex mountains, a low hill area – known in the local language as “Kuan”, and an island near Songkhla Lake – all beautiful natural attractions of the South. Influenced by the Malay Peninsula, Manohra Folk Performing Arts has attracted the interest of foreigners again when UNESCO listed “Manohra” as a World Heritage Site in 2021.
Another thing that is the pride of local people is Phra Buddha Nirarokantrai Chaiwat Chaturathit or Phra Si Mum Mueang, which King Rama IX ordered to be built according to ancient beliefs that there must be sacred things to protect the borders in all four directions. The Buddha statue is enshrined in the pavilion between the city hall and the Phatthalung Provincial Court.
Let’s take a tour and get to know places that we, as hosts, are proud to present, including those that are believed to make everyone, just like me, fall in love with this cute little town.
Yok Yor, Pak Pra Canal
As the last, large swamp forest, Pak Pra Canal is one of the most beautiful places to watch sunrise in Phatthalung, formed by many rivers coming together at Songkhla Lake. We can see the old traditional way of fishing has been preserved using a giant Yok Yor, a tool for catching fish, made of bamboo and netting. With many Yok Yor in the natural scenery, it has become the unique charm of the area.
In the early morning, the weather is cool. We got on a boat towards the mouth of Pak Pra canal, heading out to Thale Noi to see the first light of day. The sun gradually shone through the morning fog, turning the sea orange and making the water look alive again. The view of Yok Yor and the light shining through the Lamphu trees in the middle of the water is a perfect place to take a picture. Watching the way of life of the waterfront community and the morning atmosphere is an extraordinary sight.
Thale Noi Waterfowl Park
We took a boat and passed under the Chaloem Phrakiat Bridge to Thale Noi, the first non-hunting site in Thailand. It covers three provinces, namely, Phatthalung, Songkhla, and Nakhon Si Thammarat where there are many species of rare water birds. It is a good bird watching site for those who love avian photography. January to April is the time when the birds are most abundant – up to about a hundred thousand. March to May is the lotus blooming season, and December to February is the best time to take a boat trip to observe water buffaloes.
Chaloem Phrakiat 80th Birthday Bridge
Another must-see point is the 80th Birthday Anniversary Bridge, the longest bridge across a lake in Thailand. Starting from Thale Noi, Khuan Khanun district, Phatthalung Province, and heading to Ranot district, Songkhla Province, it is one of the most notable landmarks with a view overlooking the large lake, with various species of birds and a herd of water buffaloes. There are viewpoints on the way, along the bridle path, to enjoy the scenery and rich nature on both sides of Thale Noi.
Pa Phai Sang Suk Market
We chose to fill our stomachs at Pa Phai Sang Suk Market (Suan Phai Khwan Jai), one that creates a community economy, selling locally-sourced products and natural food safe for customers.
We stopped by to look at the stalls, noticing both wild and local vegetables that we had never seen or tasted before. The considerate seller recommended vegetables and advised about their taste. Ingredients from community food chains are used to make a variety of dishes at the market, and you can also find rare sweets there.
Listening to the River Flow at the Roi Wan Tree House
Located peacefully and simply, a homestay nestles in the upstream forest for communities in the Banthat mountain range. Without other facilities, there is only natural air conditioning at a constant temperature of 25°C all year round, and the natural sound of water flow. It is a place where you can refresh the mind and relax. Taking a deep breath of fresh air, unwinding at a cool homestay, and living with nature like this, our mind and body were fully recharged.
Returning to Phatthalung for the first time in 10 years was like returning to the warm embrace of the wind, mountains, and rivers. Being back in tune with nature, having a meal that we had always missed, and blending into a familiar lifestyle made the exhaustion of living in a hectic city almost disappear.
If you are one who feels that life is moving too fast, visit Phatthalung and let this little town heal your soul. You will fall in love with this place before you realize your mind and body power are fully rejuvenated.
- How to get to Phatthalung: The easiest way is to take a flight to Trang Province. There is a shuttle bus running from Trang Airport to Phatthalung Bus Station. Take a tuk-tuk into town or rent a car to your accommodation. Prices are negotiable.
- It is not recommended to travel on Sunday as most shops are open for only half a day, except the market.