Phatthalung is an ancient city in southern Thailand. It is a land of mountains. In town is Khao Ok Thalu, which is clearly visible from afar. Phatthalung is regarded as the birthplace of the shadow play and the Nora dance. From ancient times to the present, Phatthalung has been closely linked to Songkhla Province, particularly in terms of geography, history and migratory settlements through many ages.
During the Sri Vijaya period (13th-14th Buddhist century), the Phatthalung community received Indian cultural influence in the way of Mahayana Buddhism. In the reign of King Ramathibodi I (U Thong) of Ayutthaya, Phatthalung became one of twelve royal cities. Later during the reign of King Rama I in the Rattanakosin period, the king had the Ministry of Defense oversee Phatthalung, upgraded it to secondary city status and moved it to the mouth of Pam River. When there was an administration reform in the reign of King Rama V, Phatthalung prefecture came under Nakhon Si Thammarat prefecture until 1924, when King Rama VI relocated the city to Tambon Khuha Sawan where it has been ever since. Upon the abolition of the prefecture system in 1933, Phatthalung became a province outright. Phatthalung city is situated on the west bank of Songkhla Lake, about 846 kilometers from Bangkok. It has an area of 3,424.473 square kilometers and is divided into 10 districts and 1 subdistrict, as follows: Muang Phatthalung, Khuan Khanun, Pak Phayun, Kongra, Tamot, Khao Chai Son, Pa Bon, Bang Kaeo, Si Banphot, Pa Phayom, and the subdistrict of Si Nakharin.
North: Chauat in Nakhon Si Thammarat and Ranot in Songkhla
South: Rattaphum and Khuan Niang in Songkhla and Khuan Kalong in Satun
East: Songkhla Lake, Ranot, Krasae Sin, Sathing Phra, and Singhanakhon in Songkhla
West: Nakhon Si Thammarat (Banthat) mountain range, Huai Yot, Muang Trang, Na Yong, Yan Ta Khao, and Palian in Trang.
Distance from Phatthalung city to its districts
Bang Kaeo 40 kms.
Si Banphot 35 kms.
Pa Bon 50 kms.
Khao Chai Son 28 kms.
Khuan Khanun 17 kms.
Kong Ra 40 kms.
Pak Phayun 66 kms.
Pa Si Pa Phayom 38 kms.
Si Nakharin 16 kms.
Tamot 39 kms.
Nakhon Si Thammarati 99 kms.
Satun 134 kms.
Songkhla 121 kms.
Trang 56 kms.
Things to see & do sights & experiences
Phra Phutthanirokhantarai Chaiwat Chaturathit
or called “Phra Si Mum Muang” is a Buddha image of southern Thailand and is a sacred relic of Phatthalung. It is housed in a square pavilion in an area between the provincial hall and the provincial court. This bronze image in the meditation posture was given to the province by His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej in 1968.
Wat Tham Khuha Sawan
is at the foot of Khao Khuha Sawan near Phatthalung market. A left-hand road at Khao Hua Taek takes visitors to the temple. The temple was built in the Ayutthaya period and was later upgraded to be the first royal temple in the province. Inside the cave is a large reclining Buddha image and another in a sitting posture. The cave walls and entrance are full of initials of many kings and royal family members.
Phu Khao Ok Thalu
can be accessed from Wat Khuha Sawan by taking Highway No. 4047. Khao Ok Thalu rises majestically east of the train station. This mountain is a symbol of the province. It is about 250 meters high. Stairs lead up to the summit where visitors can get a panoramic view of the province. The name of the mountain derives from a hole near the top that allows people to see through it.
is in Tambon Lam Pam, 6 kilometers from the city on Highway No. 4047 (on the same route as Khao Ok Thalu). This is an important historical site of the province. It was built by Phraya Phatthalung (Thongkhao) in the reign of King Rama III and was once the place where government officials performed allegiance pledges in the early Rattanakosin period. Inside the convocation hall are murals of dusted paint in the time of King Rama IV about the biography of Lord Buddha and about angels. The main plaster Buddha image is from the same period. A total of 108 images line the balcony around the building.
Wang Chao Muang Phatthalung (Wang Kao-Wang Mai)
is at Tambon Lam Pam, near Wat Wang. Originally a government place and the home of the city lord, the part called Wang Kao built in the time of Phraya Phatthalung (Noi Chantharotchanawong) when he was the provincial governor. The palace later became the property of Mrs. Praphai Mutamara, the daughter of Luang Si Worachat. The new palace, or Wang Mai, was built in 1889 by Phraya Aphaiborirakchakrawichitphiphitphakdi (Net Chantharotchanawong), the son of Phraya Phatthalung, then the provincial governor. The Chantharotchanawong family has given this palace to the country. The Fine Arts Department declared it a national historical site in 1983
Phraya Thukrat monument (Chuai)
is at Tha Miram intersection in Phatthalung municipality. Records show that Phraya Thukrat was a monk named Phra Maha Chuai who resided at Wat Pa Lilai during the reign of King Rama I. When the Nine Armies War took place, Phra Maha Chuai rallied villagers to help Phraya Phatthalung defeat Burmese forces. When he left the monkhood, he was appointed by the king to be Phraya Thukrat to help the city lord. His title of Phraya was of the same level as the city lord.
Hat Saen Suk Lam Pam
is about 2 kilometers past Wat Wang on Highway No. 4047. This shady pine-fringed beach on the bank of Songkhla Lake, the largest freshwater lake in Thailand. In the middle of the rotary is a sculpture of a school of Lam Pam fish native to the area. A water pavilion named Sala Lam Pam Thi Rak is ideal for viewing the scenery. A bridge spans the beach and an islet created by sediment from the river. In Lam Pam Lake are dolphins, which can be seen frequently.
is Ban Khok Wua, Tambon Chai Buri, Amphoe Muang. The village is about 6 kilometers from the city on the road from Sai Yuan intersection. The village is famous for making products from coconut shells, now called the Million Baht Coconut Shell Village. The community leader, Mr. Plum Chukhong, pioneered the idea of getting villagers to make products from coconut shells that can be found locally. Products include kitchenware, household items and decorations. Eventually over 100 households began such an industry and later received support from the Industrial Promotion Department. Popular items are spoons, coffee cups, mugs, ladles, plates, bowls, lamps, and other decorations sold domestically and to 16 countries worldwide. Visitors interested in seeing demonstrations and buying products can contact Mr. Plum Chukhong, No. 42, Mu 1, Ban Khok Wua, Tambon Chai Buri, tel. 01-4655751.
Amphoe Ban Kaeo
Khlong Hu Rae
is in Tambon Tha Madua, approximately 33 kilometers from Phatthalung city. Take the Phetchakasem Road for about 20 kilometers, turn left onto Khao Chai Son-Chong Ke road (Highway No. 4081) and turn right at the Khao Chai Son district office onto a laterite road for around 5 kilometers to the site. There are hired motorcycles in front of the office. Khlong Hu Rae is a wide canal with clear water. The canal bed is sandy, with rocks in the deeper parts. The canal is ideal for rest and swimming. Food stalls and restaurants provide good food for tourists.
Shadow play handicrafts village
is at Mu 1, Ban Bang Kaeo, Tambon Tha Madua. It is about 9 kilometers from the Phetchakasem-railway intersection and 200 meters from the railway to the center. The total distance from Phatthalung city to the village is about 36 kilometers. The village has 25 members, all of whom make shadow play figures from hides in various styles made to order. The work is delicate and beautiful. The products are sold nationwide and exported to about 16 countries. For persons interested in seeing and buying shadow play products, please contact Mr. Im Chanchum, the center’s president, or the Amphoe Bang Kaeo Community Development Office at tel. (074) 697380.
Amphoe Khao Chai Son
Than Nam Yen hot spring
can be reached by driving southerly from the province on Highway No. 4 for 25 kilometers to Km. 47 (Ban Tha Nang Phrom), then turn left onto Highway No. 4081 to Amphoe Khao Chai Son for 7 kilometers. At Sukhaphiban Road, Soi 2 next to the district office is an asphalt road on the right-hand side. Take that road for 1 kilometer to Khao Chai Son cliff. The spring area is a recreation site. About 300 meters further is Wat Bo Nam Ron. The hot spring is believed to be holy in that spring water can cure a few ailments.
Wat Khian Bang Kaeo
is on Highway No. 4081, 7 kilometers past Khao Chai Son district office, in the area of Ban Bang Kaeo at Km. 14. A left-hand road leads to the temple. Wat Khian is situated on the bank of Songkhla Lake. This old monastery has the sacred Phra That Bang Kaeo, built in the same style as Phra Maha That Chedi in Nakhon Si Thammarat but smaller. This is one of the oldest historical sites of Phatthalung, dating back to the early Ayutthaya period. It is believed that the temple area was once the site of Phatthalung town because many laterite ruins and Buddha images have been found here.
Laem Chong Thanon
is at Tambon Chong Thanon. To get there from Amphoe Muang, drive along Phetchakasem Road and turn left past Khao Chai Son for 12 kilometers. The total distance is about 39 kilometers. Laem Chong Thanon is a fisherman’s village on a dirt hill that slopes down to Songkhla Lake that has saline water. The village has a good view of islands and the surrounding area.
Amphoe Kong Ra
is in Ban Phut Forest Protection Unit in Khao Banthat Wildlife Reserve, Tambon Khlong Chaloem. To get there, go from Khlong Muai by the Tambon Lam Sin-Ban Kong Ra road (Highway No. 4122) for about 20 kilometers. The waterfall entrance is to the west about 3 kilometers away. This is a large waterfall with serene natural surroundings that are rich in tropical flora. A parking area and a restaurant are available.
Amphoe Khuan Khanun
Thale Noi Waterfowl Reserve
is the largest waterfowl reserve in Thailand. It can be reached via Highway No. 4048 from Amphoe Muang to Amphoe Khuan Khanun and to Thale Noi, for a total distance of 32 kilometers. The road is paved asphalt all the way. The reserve is the responsibility of the Royal Forestry Department and covers 450 square kilometers, divided into 422 square kilometers of land (94%) and 28 square kilometers of water (6%), or Thale Noi.
The sea is 5 kilometers wide and 6 kilometers long with an average depth of 1.2 meters. The sea is covered with assorted flora such as lotus, bulrush, reed, and grass used for thatching. More than 187 species of waterfowls, migratory and indigenous birds make their home at Thale Noi. Some live here throughout the year and some migrate only in winter from October to March when the population density is at its highest.
The low season is June-September which is the nesting period. Species that are prevalent here are those of the heron and stork family such as yellow bittern, great egret, painted stork, red stork; ducks such as lesser whistling duck, cotton pygmy goose, and garganey; grebe; rails such as white-browed crake, white-breasted waterhen, watercock, common moorhen, and Eurasian coot; jacanas such as pheasant-tailed jacana and bronze-winged jacana; cormorants such as great cormorant and little cormorant; black-winged stilt; Brahminy kite; red-wattled lapwing; whiskered tern; common kingfisher; and barn swallow. The best time to study flora and fauna is during October-March when there is an abundance of birds and pink lotus in full bloom cover the reserve. Moreover, tourists can visit villages and see cottage industries like reed mat making. Thale Noi has been named the first world wetland site in Thailand. This aims to preserve the sustainable ecology of the area, one that is being developed into one of the country’s most important nature study centers. As such, there is careful control of eco-tourism in Thale Noi in order to minimize impact on the environment. Tourists can take boats from Thale Noi pier and go on two routes; the first one for tourists with services by the Thale Noi community and the second for academics and nature study by requesting permission and guide from a reserve official. The reserve has comfortable accommodation. For more information, please contact the Royal Forestry Department in Bangkok, tel. 5797223, 5795734, and Thale Noi Non-hunting Area, Tel. (074) 615722. Travel to Thale Noi is easy by boat and car. Access can be made from seaside districts like Ranot, Sathing Phra and Muang of Songkhla, and Pak Phayun, Khuan Khanun and Muang of Phatthalung. Visitors by train can alight at Pak Khlong station and continue by car to Thale Noi for 8 kilometers.
Amphoe Pak Phayun
Ko Si and Ko Ha
is in Songkhla Lake and can be reached by leaving from Tambon Lam Pam pier (25 kilometers) or Pak Phayun pier (10 kilometers). The traveling time is about 1 hour. The islands are home of flocks of sea swallows, so many that they are called Ko Rang Nok (bird’s nest island). Concessions are given out for the collection of the nests for sale. The natural beauty of the islands is one of the finest in Phatthalung. King Rama V once visited here and left his initials on a cliff. Nearby is a monument of him. As Ko Si and Ko Ha are concession areas of the private sector, permission must first be obtained in Pak Phayun district.
Amphoe Si Banphot
Khao Pu Khao Ya National Park
is in Ban Nai Wang, Tambon Khao Pu, about 37 kilometers from the city. Take Highway No. 41 to Amphoe Khuan Khanun, then turn left onto Highway No. 4164 to Amphoe Si Banphot. Drive for 17 kilometers, and then turn left for 4 kilometers to the park headquarters. The area is still a dense jungle. Flora here includes hardwood trees and animals are rhinoceros, tapir, monkey, and birds. The total area is 694 square kilometers. The park has the following places of interest:
Matcha Pla Won cave
is near the park headquarters. Inside the cave are beautiful curtain-like stalactites and stalagmites. A pond 400 of square meters is full of fish. This pond was formed from water that flows through Khao Nai Wang. The cave entrance is black rock and covered with shady trees.
Riang Thong waterfall
is around 3 kilometers from Talat Khao Pu community. The source originates from the Banthat and Nakhon Si Thammarat mountain ranges. The waterfall is called the Hundred-level Waterfall. The loveliest level is the 13th level where visitors can see Thale Noi and Khao Pu-Khao Ya.
Pha Phung observation point
is about 250 meters from the park headquarters. The outstanding feature of the cliff is that during February-April of every year, bees will make hives here numbering in the hundreds. When the rainy season comes, the bees will abandon the hives. The observation point gives a good view of the park and its flora.
Nature trails are near the park headquarters. There are 2 trails that are ideal for studying flora.
Moreover, in the area of the headquarters is a tourist service center that is a small exhibition place for publicizing useful information for tourists. The park has set up a good exhibition of pictures with captions, plus a park official to help explain and answer questions. A meeting room is available for conferences and seminars. It can hold up to 30 people. In addition, there are about 50 tent sites around the park. For information on overnighting, please contact the park headquarters at Mu 9, Tambon Khao Pu, Amphoe Si Banphot, tel. (074) 619654.
Tamot waterfall or Mom Chui waterfall
is 12 kilometers from the district office. Take Highway No. 4121 and Highway No. 4137 (south of Phatthalung city) from Highway No. 4 all the way to Wat Tamot. The waterfall is located in Tamot Wildlife Protection Unit, about 4-5 kilometers past the temple. The waterfall is in the middle of a lush forest. The waterfall falls down several levels that have different names to a pool below. A wide rock plateau is suitable for relaxation.
Si Nakharin sudistrict
is at Tambon Ban Na, about 21 kilometers from Phatthalung city on the Phatthalung-Trang road (Phetchakasem Highway No. 4). The cave is about 500 meters from the road. The cave features stalagmites and stalactites, as well as a huge hall that is a natural work of art. The cave has two levels; the first is on level ground whereas the second is underground. The cave houses many Buddha images in different postures. Apart from its natural tranquility, the cave is noteworthy as a famous place for meditation.
is in Mu 4, Tambon Ban Na, on the same way to Khao Khram waterfall. It is about 3 kilometers from Highway No. 4 (Phetchakasem Road).
Khao Banthat Wildlife Reserve
is at Tambon Ban Na, 27 kilometers from Phatthalung city on Highway No. 4. The park has an area of 167 square kilometers, covering Trang, Songkhla and Satun. The topography is mountainous. It is a watershed of several rivers and the home to many valuable plants.
Festivals & events what’s happening on the local scene
Long Rua-Lae Nok Thale Noi Festival
was first held in 1998 as a special activity to mark the Amazing Thailand project and promote the most important tourist destination of Phatthalung. The festival consists of eco-tourism activities lasting 1 month (14 February-15 March) when there are plenty of birds and Thale Noi is at its most beautiful. The festival takes place in the Thale Noi Non-hunting area. Daily activities include boating on long-tailed boats to observe flora and fauna, local performances, agricultural produce for sale, demonstrations of native life, and an assortment of local products for sale.
Phon Lak Phra Festival
is the most important festival of the province. This popular Buddhist tradition is held at the end of the Buddhist Lent when people have a Buddha image procession by land or water. Phatthalung normally has a land procession accompanied by drums to give the procession a good rhythm. When a procession from one temple passes another temple, the procession participants will challenge the temple people to come out and see who can beat drums to give the best rhythm. This tradition has evolved to become a grand festival of Phatthalung. It is held every October. Processions will go take Buddha images throughout Phatthalung city. The festival is held at Phatthalung Provincial Stadium and Saen Suk Lam Pam beach in Amphoe Muang. Activities of the festival include drum competitions of temples in the province, dramatic arts, boat procession contest, folk plays, religious ceremonies, water sports on Lam Pam Lake such as boat races and water boxing, exhibitions, and arts and culture demonstrations of Phatthalung and nearby provinces like reed mat making and coconut shell products.
Local flavor from food to handicrafts
Local Culture and Traditions
Manora or Nora is southern Thailand’s native cultural performance. Phatthalung is regarded as the birthplace of Nora. It is surmised that Nora influence spread over from South India together with Lakhon Chatri (another type of performance), but the dance postures were adapted to the liking of the people in each region. The Nora performance hall has a raised stage similar to that of a Likae show. A band and vocals sit in front of the stage. The dancers wear close-fitting trunks and a long sash, with cloths draping the torso like a tail. In addition, the dancers wear a sash of gold and diamonds, an embroidered neck brace and long nails. The Nora has 12 main postures that are all lovely. The dancers also sing ad lib or according to verses that are memorized. The Phatthalung College of Dramatic Arts has preserved this important art form. Several local troupes also put on shows in the province.
Talung (shadow play) is a regional performance of southern Thailand that is as popular as Nora. Like Nora, Phatthalung is also regarded as the birthplace of Talung. Each shadow play figure is made from raw cowhide that has been dried and then cut into shapes. Each figure is ornately printed with designs, with black usually covering the entire figure. Thinner hides will have coloring. The figures are held up by bamboo sticks, with the mouth and hands movable in tune with the narration. The Talung hall has a thatched roof and three walls. It has a white cloth screen. Behind it is where the figures are kept. The entire troupe of musicians and puppeteers number not more than 8 persons. Musical instruments include pipe, drum and gong. The figure performance is the duty of the head of the troupe who both operate the figures and narrate. The stories are from literature or newly written tales.
Local products of Phatthalung are mostly from cottage industries like basketry, the most famous being reed mats that are very common in the Thale Noi Non-hunting Area. Others are shadow play figures of Bang Kaeo and coconut shell products of Ban Khok Wua in Chai Buri. Popular souvenirs are caramel of Tambon Nang Lat, dried banana and Indian beech candy of Amphoe Muang, and dried shrimp of Pak Phayun.