Phatthalung and Songkhla south of Krabi are two lesser-known provinces for western tourists. I was excited to see some of the country’s natural beauty without the massive crowds. When we drove from Krabi in the morning our aim was to get to the Thale Noi Waterfowl Reserve in Khuan Khanun, Phatthalung to see those gorgeous lotus flowers fully opened before the petals close in the afternoon. Unfortunately, we were a little bit late, and the flowers were already fully shut.
Bang Pat (Bang Toei subdistrict) in Phang Nga, located 1 hour and a half north of Phuket, is a Muslim village built entirely on the water next to a mangrove forest – connected to the mainland by a few hundred meters long bridge. About 80 families are living here which some of them offer homestays where you can sleep in one of the stilt houses, share meals with the owner, experience mangrove planting, fishing and cooking.
Emerald Pool and Blue Pool are two beautiful natural pools in the middle of the Khao Phra-Bang Khram Wildlife Sanctuary, about one hour from Krabi Town. This sanctuary is part of Khao Nor Chu Chi, an extremely rich birding location and home to rare birds like Gurney’s Pitta, Rufus-colored Kingfisher and Black Hornbill.
Now, we didn’t come here for birdwatching, but to beat the crowd and swim in Emerald Pool absolutely alone. To be able to do that, you need to get there before opening at 8.00 a.m. on a weekday and ask if you can go in before opening. There’s a big chance they let you in like they did to us. If they don’t, you will still be the first one in the pool.
Once you get in, there are two trails; a 1,400 meters jungle trail on boardwalks, and one shorter, 800 meters path directly to the pool. Choose the shorter trail if you just want to beat the crowd.
It was a wonderful feeling swimming in the pool all alone. The water was not warm but not cold either. After about 20 minutes a few other people showed up. Please be aware of slippery rocks around the pool.
A 5-minute walk from the Emerald Pool is the Blue Pool. Do not miss this!