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Takua Pa old town

Takua Pa
old and new

The town of Takua Pa is about 32 km north of Khao Lak on route 4. It is the administrative town for the district of Takua Pa.

The district was an important tin dredging area in the first half of the twentieth century. There were dredges in the rivers, with narrow gauge tramways following them upstream.

Nowadays there are no signs remaining of the mining, as plantations, particularly rubber, have covered the former dredged areas.

The public library at Takua Pa town has photographs on display of the dredging and sluicing operations in their heyday in the 1920s and 1930s. Workshops can also still be seen in the nearby town of Amphoe Kapong.

It is important to remember that there is a (relatively) new town (called Yan Yao), and an old town Sri Takua Pa. The old town lies about 7 km to the south east.

It is easy to drive through Takua Pa on route 4, and miss the old town all together. For the new town, there is 300 metre long street of traditional houses about two street blocks off route 4.

Takuapa Old Town dates back to the 13th Century and still holds onto it's fascinating charm of ancient Thai culture.

The beautiful Sino-Portuguese architecture and wealth of the community owe their origins to the tin mining industry, an important era in the town's, and in fact the county's. history.

The old town of Takuapa was built before 43 B.C. It was called Tok Kloa, meaning cardamom (a spice). Takua Pa was very prosperous in the reign of King Rama VII because it was rich with tin ore. A large number of Chinese people came and worked in the mine. The old town of Takua Pa is considered a living museum which collects the stories of Phang Nga people in the past. The buildings in Chinese and Portuguese architectural styles are preserved. Visitors can walk and see the way of life of people of the old town of Takuapa. There is also a walking street every Sunday.

So in summary, Takuapa may not initially quite get the full attention of a casual visitor. But actually this friendly town has its own unique charm with a lot of interesting features and history. It is certainly worth exploring and spending some time here.

The best sunny weather is between December and March / April. The locals actually nickname the town "Fohn paet daet si", meaning rain eight sunshine four (months). But don't worry, there is not usually continous rain all day - just a couple of short downpours, then some sunshine again.

Directions to Sri Takua Pa (Old Town)

If you are travelling from Khao Lak in a generally north / north east direction along route 4 (Phet Kasem road), you will enter the wide road section at Takua Pa new town itself. After a short while, the road makes a small "S" bend at a set of traffic lights. This is before the main bus station. If the lights are red, you will surely notice the rather quaint Tourist office straight in front of you. Anyway, turn right at these traffic lights and head in a easterly / south east direction towards Phang Nga and Krabi along Rat Bumrung road. (Incidently, the main road of traditional houses in the new town is now the 2nd turning on the left). The road will go through countryside until you reach Sri Takua Pa after about 7 km.

If you do not have your own transport, a songthaew from the bus station will take you there for approx 600 baht both ways, or a motorbike taxi for a negotiable 300 baht both ways. From Khao Lak, a taxi will cost about 1,500 baht both ways.

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Sri Takua Pa (Old Town)

The old Sri Takua Pa district was once a trading area between Thai, Chinese, and Sino-Portugese peoples and was the main centre of the region's then lucrative tin industry.

The Chinese influence is easily noticeable, with several ancient Chinese temples and shrines scattered around the town. There are Chinese style lanterns and charming old houses. There is also traditional Sino-Porgugese architecture, especially near the main Sri Takua Pa street. This street hosts a good market every Sunday afternoon.

Nearby is the picturesque Sri Muang riverfront street, which hosts a market on Saturdays.

Old Takua Pa holds a large vegetarian food festival called "Jia Kew Ong Chai". It is held annually in September or October depending on the lunar calendar.

Last but not least, there are also several historic temples, shrines, Wats and other buildings to visit.

Some of the interesting sites include:-
Wat Khu Har Phimook (Wat Khuan Tham), Wat Na Mueng, Wat Sena Nucharangsan, Tao Ming school building, Wat Khiri Ket, Wat Senanoot Rangsan, Guan Ou shrine, and Baan Kun In.

Takua Pa old town

Takua Pa old town

Additional things to do and see generally in Takua Pa

The old Camp Walls

A former governor had the old Camp walls built to surround his residence in 1857. They contain no brick or stone and are made from only sand and cement.

Khok Kanoon Bridge

Formerly used by tin mining staff to get to work. Khok Kanoon Bridge crosses the Yan Yao River. The bridge is located on private property but it is open to the public. If you come from Takua Pa old Town and cross the bridge and keep going straight you will come out at Takua Pa bus station.

Sunrises, sunsets and rivers.

Longtail boat trip on the Yan Yao river

The "Little Amazon" boat trip

From close to the bus staion, there is a boat trip to snake through some 30 rai of Banyan tree jungle close to the Takuapa river. Soem of these trees are more than a hundred years old. To add a touch of colour to the trip it has been nicknamed "Little Amazon". With a bit of luck you will see snakes, exotic birds, natural fruits, orchids,fishes and crabs.
You will also make your way to the Palm Forest by travelling along the small canal Klong Sung Nae by peet boat.
The best time of day for this, is in the early morning.

Little Amazon at TakuaPa

Takuapa Market and River Plaza

These are near the bus station. This is a typical local market and the Plaza has some good shops and a few riverside restaurants

Langlong market

Water market (Talad Rimklong)

Talad Rimklong Saturday Market, also called "The Water Market" along Yan Yao River and next to Yan Yao Temple at the center of Takua Pa. It is held every Saturday afternoon.

Visit a mooncake bakery

The Chinese Moon Festival (mid Autumn Festival) is one of the four most important Chinese festivals in Thailand , and usually takes place in September. A mooncake is a Chinese bakery product traditionally eaten during this Festival (Zhongqiu). The festival is for lunar worship and moon watching, when mooncakes are regarded as an indispensable delicacy. Mooncakes are offered between friends or on family gatherings while celebrating the festival.

Many types of fillings can be found in traditional mooncakes according to the region's culture.

Most mooncakes consist of a thin, tender pastry skin enveloping a sweet, dense filling, and may contain one or more whole salted egg yolks in their center as the symbol of the full moon. Very rarely, mooncakes are also served steamed or fried.

Traditional mooncakes have an imprint on top consisting of the Chinese characters for "longevity" or "harmony", as well as the name of the bakery and the filling inside. Imprints of the moon, flowers, vines, or a rabbit (symbol of the moon) may surround the characters for additional decoration.

Mooncakes are considered a delicacy as production is labour intensive and few people make them at home. Hence, most prefer to buy them from commercial outlets, which may range from smaller individual bakery shops to high-end restaurants.

Visit Pra Narai, Yan Yao Temple and Wat Rat Niramit

These are in the new town.
The statue to the Hindu god, Pra Narai, in his Thai Buddhist interpretation is in the main park.

Visit a Cashew Nut factory

Cashew nuts are an important crop in Thailand, especiallly in the South.
Sweet and creamy in texture, cashew nuts are a versatile ingredient used in sweet and savoury dishes alike, as well as a popular snack.

Here is an overview of the process necessary to bring them to market:-

Each individual nut emanates from the end of a fleshy red fruit. The cashew fruit can be eaten raw and is slightly sour, leaving the mouth feeling dry. It is used more frequently in local curries and stir fries. The cashew nut - actually a seed - is encased in a hard shell, which is the true fruit of the tree.

The first step is to dry the pods in the sun for three days, gathering them in on cloudy days. The flesh of the nut is encased in a layer of rubber-like substance which is very acidic and must be removed. Skin contact with the substance causes an uncomfortable burning sensation, so it is important that the nuts be as dry as possible before the next step in the process - the burning.

The burning pits are typically tended by someone covered from head to foot, with only a narrow slit open to see out of. He will use a rake as the acrid rubber coating around the nuts burns to a blackened shell.

Once the nuts have cooled, the next step, chipping off the charcoal, takes place in the adjacent roofed area, open sided for maximum air-flow. Each nut must be individually handled by one of the workers crouching often on cement platforms and using iron implements to patiently tap away at the kernel to remove the shell. The worker places a nut in a cutter, pulls a lever and the cutter comes down and cuts open the casing, then a metal pick is expertly used to prize out the cashew nut. One person can shell only about a dozen a minute with this technique.

Once roasted the nuts are sold, either with the outer skin still attached at a lower price, or skinned and golden at a higher rate.

The workers are paid by the kilo for the nuts they shell. The workers come and go at will. If they have the time - and inclination - they work to earn extra income for their families.

There is also a drink made from the Cashew Apple. The cashew nut hangs down from a fruit similar to a rose apple. It is from this apple part that they make a drink. It tastes like sweet apple juice, due to a fair amount of added sugar, with a little nut flavour. This drink is also used as a mixer in alcoholic cocktails.

Steam engine from shipwreck

This relates to the tin mining days.

Sample original Thai iced coffee

You should be able to find a restaurant that serves Boran coffee. The real Thai coffee is "gafe bolan" or ancient coffee, made from robust beans typically from Chiang Rai.
Thai iced coffee is very popular and is known in Thai as Oliang or Oleang. Traditionally, oliang is brewed with a tung dtom kaffee, a tea/coffee sock with a metal ring and a handle to which a cotton cloth bag is attached.

Thai iced coffee is brewed using strong black coffee, sweetened with sugar, heavy cream (or half-and-half) and cardamom, and quickly cooled and served over ice. Some variations are brewed using espresso. Thai iced coffee can be served with whipped cream on top for a layered effect, and garnished with cinnamon, vanilla and/or anise. It is a common menu item at Thai restaurants and works well after a spicy meal.

Also visit the Coffee-Chay restaurant in the Old Town.

Postcard cafe Takua Pa

Just around the corner from the bus station in Takua Pa. Visit Ja and Aey for a cup of coffee/tea, milkshake or a smoothie.

Takua Pa Agricultural Fair

Takuapa Agricultural Fair is a yearly event held next to Lanlong market in the center of Takua Pa. Food and more food.

Takua Pa Old Town Vegetarian Festival (the Nine Emperor God Propitiation)

This is a nine day Taoist annual celebration beginning on the eve of 9th lunar month of the Chinese calendar (usally around October or November).
The Vegetarian Festival celebrates the Chinese community's belief that abstinence from eating meat, poultry, seafood, and dairy products during the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar, helps them obtain good health and peace of mind, in addition to veneration for their gods and ancestors and their devotion to their beliefs.

The Nine Emperor Gods are the star deities known as Beidou Jiuxing (called the Northern Dipper in the western constellations). In Taoist beliefs, the Northern Dipper controls the fate of individuals and the welfare of the state. The northern direction is also associated with the water element, the symbol of life and death, and a merciful water spirit who offers protection for seafarers.

During a period of nine days, those who are participating in the festival dress all in white.
The festival includes street processions, expecially from the Guan Ou Shrine. In addition to the vegetarian ritual, there will be a welcome ritual for the Gods (a street procession) usually on the first day rather than the eve, and a sending off ritual for the Gods (a street procession) on the 9th day.
Other rituals may also be practiced. There will be fireworks to drive away the bad spirits. There may also be a fire walking ritual, and a few of the entranced devotees may have their body and cheeks pierced by sharp objects (though this aspect is not as severe as in the similar Phuket festival).

Ban Ton Ruk - the most comfortable accomodation in Takuapa

This stylish, in an old fashioned way, accomodation is only 500 meters from the main bus station, but is actually not so easy to find. As you exit from the main bus station car park, turn left and look carefully for a sign. The entrance is down a fairly long driveway off the main road.
They offer a standard double room, and a superior double floating suite. The price range is 800 to 1,200 baht.
Phet Kasem Rd, Takua Pa.     Tel mobile: 081 892 2785     Website: www.bantonruk.com

Visit Khao Sok National Park, Cheow Lan Lake, Ratchaprapha dam, Ratchaprapha golf course, Khlong Phanom National Park

Proceed along road 401 in a general south-easterly / easterly direction towrads Surat Thani.
See our webpage: www.khaolak.net/np/khao-sok.html

Visit Sri Phang Nga National Park

This is about 25 km north of Takua Pa on route 4.
See our webpage: www.khaolak.net/np/srinp.html

Visit the village of Ban Nam Khem

This quiet fishing village is about 7 km south west of Takua Pa main town, off route 4. It is just north of Bangsak beach. Visit the Tsunami Memorial Park at Laem Pom, Ban Nam Khem.
See our webpage: www.khaolak.net/khaolak/tsunami-commemoration.html

Ban Nam Khem Tsunami Memorial Park

Visit Kho Khao island (Ko Kho Khao)

This quiet and serene island is a few kilometers west of the regional town of Takuapa. Access to the island is via a small car ferry ride (10 mins) from the village of Ban Nam Khem, just south of Takuapa.

Ko Kho Khao is a fairly large island characterised mostly by flat, grassy sand flats towards its centre and a sprawling area of mangroves and canals to the east. There are also some rubber plantations and Cashew nut plantations. Beautiful beaches fringe the western and northern coasts.

A good sealed road runs the entire north south length of Ko Kho Khao, and most of the other points feed off this main conduit. In addition to the lovely peaceful beaches, some kayaking expeditions are offered in the canals, and there are bird watching tours in the north. There is also an elephant camp near the shore, and an old WW II airstrip to the north.

The people on the island are very friendly and live a simple life in harmony with nature. There is a rather basic Health Care Centre, a Childrens School and a simple Buddhist Temple on the island. Visitors can explore the island by motorcycle. There are a few accomodation resorts which can provide mini sightseeing tours around the island.

Ancient town near Ban Thung Tuk

The remains of an ancient town, close to Ban Thung Tuk, is situated on the south east of Kho Khao island.
This archaeological site is also known as Mueng Thong and is just to the south of the village of Thung Tok. The three main archaeological remains of this ancient civilisation are evidence of its importance. There are components of Brahman religious symbols decorating the exterior of the ruins, situated on the sand plain, such as a carved stone pedestal with a pit at the bottom. It seems likely that a Siva idol, the Indian God, was placed on this base, Many pieces of earthenware, colored glass containers, beads in various shapes and colors, and Indian coins have also been discovered scattered on the ground at Thung Tuk.
Most archaeological experts have concluded that Thung Tuk was the location of a major port town and an important spice market, with Indians, Arabians, and Malayans as its most frequent visitors.

ban thung tuk

Circular route from Khao Lak to Takuapa, and Kapong and back.

It is possible to go from Khao Lak to Takua Pa and back in a kind of circular route of approx 60 km or so in total.
A good portion of this trip passes through rural and natural landscape, and gives an insight into the traditional local lifestyle.
From Khao Lak head north on route 4 to Takua Pa (new town), and then proceed 7 km further to the old town.
From Takua Pa old town, head south on route 4032 to Kapong district following the sign to Kapong and Phang Nga (town). After about 4 km, turn right onto route 4090 again towards Kapong and Phang Nga (town).
The road is quite good and there is actually a bus service from Phang Nga town to Takua Pa which uses this road 4090.
Keep following the signs. You will pass close to Kapong town. Note that there are four waterfalls and a hot springs in the Kapong general area.
Then the road will pass through a small hilly and winding section which represents the middle of the two large portions of the Khao Lak - Lamru National Park.
Shortly after, take a right turn onto route 4240 following the sign to Phuket in preference to Phang Nga, when given a choice.
You will eventually end up about 10km south of Khao Lak on coastal route 4 after passing through Thung Maphrao.
There is an open air workshop at the village of Ban Na Nai, Thung Maphrao, which makes furniture for some of the Khao Lak resorts.o

There is also a shortcut - the country road 4005 leads from Takua Pa old town to close to the Meridien Hotel at Pakwib in Khao Lak.
This is called the Pakwib - Dok Daeng road. The road passes through hilly forests, plantations and lakes. The distance is about 17 km.
About 6 km from Pakwib is the Ton Tham waterfall in a beautiful valley with the nearby monastery Wat Pa Dok Daeng.

Map kapong area

For accomodation at Kapong, see www.khaolak.net/accomodation/hotels-kapong.html

Kapong Waterfall Map

Kapong Hot Springs (Pak Phu Hot Springs).

The Kapong hotsprings are located in an undeveloped riverside area to the northeast of Kapong in the Pak Phu area at Plai Phu. The mineral water bubbles out of some pools at a temperature of about 67 degrees centigrade. Then it flows for 100 meters before joining the cold water of the river.

As with all hotsprings, the minerals in the water are said to relieve pain in the joints.

Directions: On the northern side of Kapong there is a sign "Hot springs 8 km". Take the right fork leading north. You will pass the temple with a big Fat Buddha on the left. After a while, turn right to Ban Bang Pang, and 400 meters further on, at the school, keep right again onto the wider road (H5014) for about 4.5 kms. 500 meters from here to the right is an earth road leading to the Hot Springs.

Kapong Hot Springs

Saeng Thong Waterfall, Kapong.

Actually there are effectively three waterfalls at this particular location, south west of Kapong town.
But basically this is a medium sized waterfall with 11 levels. Swimming is possible all year round.

If you are heading south on route 4090, turn right almost opposite Kapong Hospital. (The waterfall is about 6 km from the Hospital.) Follow this road until the end, even after it transforms into a dirt road. In the process, you will cross a total of three bridges. At the very end of this road, there is a small open area next to a river. The waterfalls are on your right.
To get to the first waterfall, cross the river and follow the trail next to the river. Alternatively, cross the river and walk along the hill and turn right when you can hear the waterfall right next to you. After this you just have to walk upstream to get to two more waterfalls. Providing the water is not flowing too fast, you can swim back between the waterfalls.

Saeng Thong waterfall Kapong

Lam Ru Waterfall, Kapong.

Lamru waterfall is a 5 tiered waterfall and is located just within the area of the Khao Lak - Lam Ru National Park. A small path trail leads to the top of the waterfall. In the afternoon and on weekends village children enjoy themselves swimming and playing in the water with inner tubes, which can be rented for 15 baht per person.

Head south on route 4090 and go about 5 km past the hospital. Just before the curvy hilly section of the road, turn left into Rural Road 3045 towards Ban Lam Ru. After about 2 kms, just before Lam Ru school, there is a sign "Lumru Waterfall 800m". Turn right onto a narrow concrete road for Lamru Waterfall. From the car park it is a 2 minute walk along the reservoir banks to the Lamru Waterfall.

Lam Ru waterfall Kapong

There is also the Lam Ru Yai Canal. It is a big canal consisting of many small canals, each of them becomes a small beautiful waterfall. It used to be the water supply for Thai Mueang district.

Hin Laad (Hin Lat) Waterfall, Kapong.

Hin Lat Waterfall is created by three canals (the Khao Mai Kaew, the Bang Yai and the MaLaKor) merging together to form a river. Rather than a true waterfall, it is a series of rapids in an otherwise clear and swift flowing river. But nonetheless it is a great place to swim and relax.

It is about 8 km south/south east of Kapong town. Take route 4175 south, almost as far as it goes, essentially following the Kapong river. Local families and children come here for a refreshing bath and for tubing on the river.

Hin Lat waterfall Kapong

Kapong town.

Kapong town

Phu Ta Jor sea fog
(and Phu Ta Cho misty mountain)

The south west portion of the Khlong Phanom National Park lies within the Kapong area, north east of Kapong town. One of the hilly peaks and view points is known locally as Phu Ta Jor. The air is cool and refreshing and it is popular for camping. In the early mornings there is an attractive sea of mist and cloud surrounding the hilly area.

Travel via Ban Chang Chua (Chuea) which is on road 3004 next to the Le river, and then head close to Khuan Nop Man and Khao Bang Khlum areas (height approx 400 metres). It is quite a lengthy two hour trip by 4x4 vehicle to Phu Ta Jor from Kapong town.

Phu Ta Jor (Ta Jor mountain) is the location of the oldest tin mine in the Kapong area. This mountainous area is named after the gentleman, Khun Jor, who first discovered tin deposits here.

Ton Ton Mak waterfall is also close by.

If you are travelling on route 401 between Khao Sok and Takua Pa, the mountain is sign posted.

Phu Ta Cho

The old tin mining days

Kapong tin mining

As an aside, there was a Thai film called The Tin Mine (Maha lai muang rae ), released in 2005. The setting is based between 1949 and 1953, and is about a young man, expelled from a Bangkok university, working as a tin miner in Phang Nga province. As there was no operational tin mine in the country in 2005, a lot of research was done to construct a realistic film. In addition to the young man's challenges, it gives an insight into the tin mining days.

Misty mountain views at Baan Thung Maphrao

The previously mentioned circular trip from Khao Lak, to Tapua Pa, Kapong, and back to Khao Lak passes through Baan Thung Maphrao, close to route 4, near the end of the journey.

Baan Thung Maphrao is at the northern edge of the Khao Lampi - Hat Thai Mueang National Park.

This hilly mountaineous region is only about 5 km south of Baan Thung Maphrao, and so it is easy to visit the northern part of the Khao LamPi section of the National Park. Most of the trip can be done in a 4 wheel pickup, and just walk the last 500 metres or so. Start the journey before sunrise. Khao Chuchi (aka Khao Kai Nui ) is the (nearest) highest peak in the area.
In the village of Thung Maphrao, if you drive slowly, you will see a tiny sign (in Thai) next to a small side road leading up the hill.

As the sun rises, there are beautiful views of mist and low clouds from close to the top.

Thung Maphrao sea of mist

Thung Maphrao sea of mist

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