Phatthalung southeast of Krabi is quite an unknown province to foreign tourists but a popular destination among Thai people. Located between Songkhla Lake to the east and the mountains to the west, Phattalung is an excellent destination to see some of the country’s natural beauty without the massive crowds. The big attraction is the Thale Noi Waterfowl Reserve in Khuan Khanun which is a protected freshwater wetland with millions of pink lotus flowers.
We grabbed a boat for an hour for 450 baht to go bird-watching and to cruise through the beautiful lotus flowers. The flowers are at their best from February-March while the bird population is at its highest from October-March. The best time to see the lotus flowers in full bloom is around 7-8 in the morning. After 10 when the temperature rises, the flowers will be fully shut.
Thale Noi, also known as lotus lake, is the largest waterfowl reserve in Thailand and according to the man steering our boat, there are between 4 and 5 millions lotus flowers at the moment — the highest number in 15 years.
A closer look at the pink lotus flowers. This picture was taken at 8:15 a.m.
Thale Noi Waterfowl Reserve or Thale Noi Bird Watching Park is the first non-hunting area ever founded in Thailand, and more than 180 species of birds make their homes here for at least part of the year. The picture above shows a large Purple Heron with a standing height from 70 to 94 cm.
We passed some fishers putting fishing baskets to the lake making me wonder what kind of fish living in this lake with an average depth of 1,20 meter. There is also a big chance to see water buffaloes swimming underwater. Unfortunately not this day.
Where to stay
We stayed at the lovely Sripakpra Andacura Boutique Resort 10 km south of the reserve with a pool overlooking Thailand’s largest lake — Songkhla Lake. You can grab a boat from the resort to the lotus lake, but if you have a car I recommend that you drive the 15 minutes it takes to get there and then grab a boat from there. It’s cheaper and quicker.
The sunrise and the traditional bamboo square dipping nets as viewed from the resort is another popular attraction in Phatthalung — especially among photographers.
How to get to Phatthalung
Phatthalung is located 3 hours from Krabi, and 1 hour from Trang both reachable by air from Bangkok. We drove a car from Krabi to Trang and stayed one night at Ban Aothong Hotel for just 600 baht (20 US Dollar) before continuing to Phatthalung the next morning. If you don’t have a car, minibusses depart from Trang every half-hour from 06:30 to 18:00.