Nakhon Si Thammarat is one of the most ancient cities of Thailand and the second biggest province in Southern Thailand after Surat Thani. There are plenty of wonderful cultural and natural attractions in Nakhon Si Thammarat but it is still not as well-known as other destinations in the south and quite rarely visited by foreigners.
Nakhon Si Thammarat, previously the Kingdom of Ligor, was an independent kingdom for many centuries. It has a long history as it is the land of predominant Buddhism from Lanka during the Srivijaya Period. The cultural heritage of Nakhon Si Thammarat City has been accumulated from the history of more than 1800 years. Besides being the center of Thai Buddhism, Nakhon Si Thammarat was also a major region of trade between merchants from the Indian, Arabic, Dvaravati, and Champa states and later for merchants from British, Portuguese and Dutch empires.
Nakhon Si Thammarat is located about 780 kilometers south of Bangkok, on the east coast of the Malay Peninsula. Total area of the province is 9942 square kilometers consisting of highlands and high mountains in the west and lowland along the coast of the Gulf of Thailand in the east. Neighboring provinces are Songkhla, Phatthalung, Trang, Krabi, and Surat Thani.
Nakhon Si Thammarat is divided into 23 districts (amphoe): Mueang Nakhon Si Thammarat, Phrom Khiri, Lan Saka, Chawang, Phipun, Chian Yai, Cha-uat, Tha Sala, Thung Song, Na Bon, Thung Yai, Pak Phanang, Ron Phibun,Sichon, Khanom, Hua Sai, Bang Khan, Tham Phannara, Chulabhorn, Phra Phrom, Nopphitam, Chang Klang, and Chaloem Phra Kiat. The districts are further subdivided into 165 sub-districts (tambon) and 1428 villages (muban).
The provincial slogan is “A historical town, the golden Phra That, plentiful minerals, three-metal Nielloware, numerous temples, abundant shellfish”.
Attractions in Nakhon Si Thammarat
Although most people know the province and the city but when talking about tourist attractions in Nakhon Si Thammarat, very few people know that there are many beautiful and unique places to visit. A rich and beautiful forest of Khao Luang, a sample development community of Khiriwong Village and numerous sources of art and culture can be found in Nakhon Si Thammarat province.
Wat Phra Mahathat Woramahawihan
Wat Phra Mahathat Woramahawihan or Wat Phra Mahathat is the most important temple of Nakhon Si Thammarat which located on Ratchadamnoen Road in Nai Mueang Sub-district. It is considered as a signature of all Nakhon Si Thammarat Province.
Inside the temple, there are many buildings of high importance, such as the royal building from the Ayutthaya period and the Sam Chom building where the Buddha image attired in royal wardrobe Phra Si Thamma Sokarat is housed.
The focal point of the temple is a distinctive Sri Lankan style pagoda which is 55.78 metres high. The spire of the pagoda is entirely covered by pure gold. In addition, the temple is also home to many ancient Buddha images. The Fine Arts Department has declared Phra Mahathat Temple as an archaeological site, considered to be one of the most important sanctuaries in the south.
The City Wall
The City wall is part of the old wall of Nakhon Si Thammarat which is located alongside Ratchadamnoen Road. The wall was renovated in the early Rattanakosin period and once again in 1990. The wall runs parallel with the city’s moat from Chai Nua Gate or Chai Sak Gate to the east for 100 metres.
Wat Wang Tawantok (West Palace Temple)
Wat Wang Tawantok was founded by Chao Phraya Nakhon (Noi) on a land opposite to Wang Tawan-ok (East Palace) where Chaochom Prang, his mother, once resided. Outstanding buildings, that are a fine example of Thai traditional architecture, still exist there. Wat Wang Tawantok comprises 3 wooden buildings built on high stilts with Pakon-Paneled partitions. The buildings are decorated with woodcarvings and fretwork in floral and geometric designs.
The most beautiful natural attractions of Nakhon Si Thammarat Province are located in Khanom District. Khanom Beach is part of Hat Khanom - Mu Ko Thale Tai National Park. The highlight of this place is the sea with clear water and white sand beach with pine trees lining up along it. In addition, the waves in Khanom Beach are not too high so it is suitable for swimming in all seasons.
The highlight of a trip to Khanom is getting to see the Pink Dolphins. A group of more than 50 pink dolphins live by the river mouth along the Khanom bay and their regular spot is around Ao Taled and Bann Leam Pratap. For seeing the pink dolphins, you can take a boat tour between March and October by boarding the boat at Ao Phao and Bann Leam Pratap.
For more information check: Pink Dolphins at Khanom Beach in Nakhon Si Thammarat.
Khao Phlai Dam
Khao Phlai Dam is an eco-tourism attraction in Nakhon Si Thammarat. Khao Phlai Dam is a mountain near the sea in Khanom and Sichon Districts, about 86 km away from the city of Nakhon Si Thammarat. Khao Phlai Dam is a place where you will find peaceful nature with a spectacular landscape and wildlife sanctuary. There is a famous Khao Phlai Dam viewpoint offering fantastic views of Ao Thong Yao bay.
Krung Ching Waterfall
Krung Ching Waterfall is one of the most beautiful and famous waterfalls in Nakhon Si Thammarat province. The waterfall is located in the area of Khao Luang National Park National Park, which is founded in Krung Ching Subdistrict. The name "Krung Ching" comes from the Ching Tree, which is a type of palm tree species. The area once was the site of a communist group, but it has now become a beautiful tourist destination. Krung Ching Waterfall is a 7-tiered waterfall that descends into different levels in the forest. There’s also a walking path to study the rich nature of the forest.
Kiriwong Village is the area in Lana Saka District which is known as the area with the best ozone in Thailand. They even got Thailand Tourism Award for that. Kiriwong Village is a model community in the management of eco-tourism business. The highlight of Kiriwong Village is the idyllic natural scenery as it is located in the midst of the mountains, forest and river.
For more tourist attractions in Nakhon Si Thammarat check: Top Attractions in Nakhon Si Thammarat.
Important Festivals in Nakhon Si Thammarat
Festival of the Tenth Lunar Month
The festival of the Tenth Lunar Month is a grand merit-making for people of Southern Thailand, especially in Nakhon Si Thammarat. The festival has been influenced by the Brahmin religion with a mix of Buddhist beliefs. The important aim of this festival is to pay respect to the souls of ancestors and deceased relatives for helping them to be released from the hell where they end up because of the deeds done while being alive.
Period: 10 days in October
Hae Pha Khuen That Festival
Hae Pha Khuen That is a procession bearing a religious cloth to wrap around the pagoda Chedi Phra Borommathat, which contains holy relics. The pagoda is considered to represent the Lord Buddha. This festival is held twice a year during Makha Bucha Day and Wisakha Bucha Day.
Period: February & May
Chak Phra or Phra Phra Lak Festival
Indian culture has spread to the concept of Nakhon Si Thammarat people. Chak Phra Festival is a celebration of the Buddha returning from Dowadungson (star), and then putting up on the throne that was already prepared. In practice, the local people carry the Buddha image from the temple and proceed around the city for people to pay homage.
Period: Buddhist Lent Day
Where to Stay in Nakhon Si Thammarat
Nakhon Si Thammarat has many inexpensive good quality hotels and other accommodations to offer. Most of the hotels here are in the price range from 500 to 1,000 Baht so you can definitely find a place for you. Staying in the city center is recommended as it's very convenient when visiting main tourist attractions of the city. Our list of 12 Best Hotels in Nakhon Si Thammarat City Center will help you to choose the right one.
How to Get There
You can get to Nakhon Si Thammarat by bus, train or plane.
Regular and air-conditioned buses depart daily for Nakhon Si Thammarat from Bangkok's Southern Bus Terminal (Sai Tai Mai). The trip from Bangkok to Nakhon Si Thammarat by bus takes about 12 hours. There are few bus companies serving this route:
- Goverment Bus or 999 Bus (Bangkok Office: 0-2936-2852-66; Nakhon Si Thammarat Office: 075-341125)
- Nakhon Si Racha Tour (Bangkok Office: Tel. 02-4355033, 02-4355025; Nakhon Si Thammarat Office: Tel. 075-342134, 075-343851-2)
- Nakhon Si Romyen Tour (Bangkok Office: Tel. 02-4330722, 02-4357428, 02-8845767; Nakhon Si Thammarat Office: Tel. 075-344373, 075-315390)
- Sri Suthep Tour (Bangkok Office: Tel. 02-8845577. 02-8845599; Nakhon Si Thammarat Office: Tel. 075-348089, 075-342768, 075-343996, 081-9705376)
There are rapid and express trains departing from Bangkok Railway Station to Nakhon Si Thammarat at 05:35 pm and 07:15 pm respectively. The trip from Bangkok to Nakhon Si Thammarat by train takes about 12-14 hours. Trains leave the NST Terminal for Bangkok daily at 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm.
Thai AirAsia, Nok Air and Thai Lion Air offer daily flights between Bangkok and Nakhon Si Thammarat Airport (NST). It’s an approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes’ long journey.
There are minibuses picking-up passengers from the airport to the city
- Line 7 (Airport - Bus Station)
- Line 8 (Airport - Na Luang)
Nakhon Si Thammarat lies 780 km south of Bangkok. From Bangkok, take Highway No. 4 towards Hua Hin and then Highway No. 41 until arriving in Surat Thani; finally, take Highway No. 401 along the coast to Nakhon Si Thammarat City.
Traveling to Other Provinces
Traveling from Nakhon Si Thammarat to other provinces is easy as there are many van, train and bus routes connecting the city with other popular destinations in Southern Thailand. The most popular routes are serving Surat Thani, Phuket, Krabi and Hat Yai.
Finding the van stops to each province can be difficult as they park in different sides of city.
Nakhon Si Thammarat bus station is located near the train station. There are a number of bus company offices selling tickets for buses departing to the provinces north and south of Nakhon Si Thammarat.
Getting around the city
There are songtaews running on a number of routes along Ratchadammouen Road and Patthanakarn Kukwang Road in Nakhon Si Thammarat.
Metered taxis can also be found in Nakhon Si Thammarat. As taxis here are not as common as in Bangkok, you can call to the call center 24 hours a day to pick you up. Nakhon Si Thammarat taxi phone number is 075-357888.
Weather in Nakhon Si Thammarat
From January to March you can expect good weather in Nakhon Si Thammarat, with little if any rain, and refreshing winds helping to keep temperatures more moderate. From March, temperature starts to rise, usually reaching peak levels in April and May.
In May and June a little rain is expected, usually in the form of an hour-long afternoon shower, clearing the way for more blue skies and bright sunshine. In September the monsoon is expected, bringing plenty of rainfall and a rise in humidity. Rainfall usually peaks between October and December.
For the best time to visit Nakhon Si Thammarat check our weather ratings chart.
You are planning to continue your trip up north or visit other destinations in Southern Thailand after visiting Nakhon Si Thammarat? Check when is the best time to visit Thailand's other destinations and choose destination with the best possible weather conditions.