Hidden Thailand - Phang-Na Province


Nov 3, 2013
Hat Yai, TH
A few months back, I rode back from Bangkok, on Rte.4. When you live in Songkhla province any twisty road blows you away. I was in heaven heading down the 4090 out of Phang-Na towards Khao Lak. So the wife and I headed out to Phang-Na over the holiday period. I didnt find the trip that enjoyable, the accommodation nothing to recommend, the food was a bit sub-par, the attractions seem a bit 'polluted' due to coach parties rolling en-mass out of Phuket, but heres a couple recommendations if your passing.

Heaven & Hell Temple AKA Wat Tham Ta Pan ( N8.45393° E98.52808° )

If you have ever indulged in LSD in your lifetime, you must to pay this place a visit.
Wat Tham Ta Pan is without doubt one of the most weirdly original temples in southern Thailand. Located in Phang Nga Town approximately 100km northeast of Phuket City, it offers a journey through Buddhist Heaven and Hell. At first sight the temple looks a bit abandoned and decrepit, and this adds to the scariness of the place. At the entrance you’ll see a fountain with five monk statues, each of them holding a bowl representing wealth, beauty, happiness, cleverness, and health. Try to throw a coin in the bowl of your choice and if you succeed you’ll get what you ask for, according to your choice. There are a few buildings located in the centre of the temple grounds, with a small shop where you can make a donation and buy snacks and drinks. The area behind these buildings offers a walk to a cliff through a luxurious garden dotted with statues of animals. The cliff itself displays various sculptures and representations of Indian deities, from Ganesh to Akhilandeshvari riding a crocodile.
Here are some images of hell ..


For me this was interesting - There a very few traditional temple buildings, and it was like an amusement park. When you walk through the dragons mouth on the way to heaven, you drop some coins and a tape loop of a monk reads you wishes, there are lots of these little coin slots and there are signs urging you to change money on the way in. There were people talking to the monk, in a building with 'Roosee' the sage (?) - So, I'm guessing they were getting their fortune read.
We spoke to a monk at the end of the day, at 5.00 PM and he was doing the rounds emptying the 1-5B out of the 'donation' boxes dotted around, there were several new 4WD's stationed beind the monks quarters, I wouldn't like to comment, as everyone knows monks need to travel. My wife spent a while talking to him, to me he appeared a little suspect, but she said he was interesting. When I asked what they talked about - It was the relevance of telephone numbers against the lottery numbers - LOL. In my eyes, the temple balances on the fringe of witchcraft and a hotchpotch of different religions. So it cost me a hundred baht throwing coins into the wishing well and into various 'attractions' that would wish me well in the future, an interesting hour or so ..

The best way to describe its location is, its very close to the T-junction traffic lights and you will see a concrete statue of 'roosi' on the corner of the road, guiding you in.

Wat Tham Pung Chang ( N8.44217° E98.51685° )

Major league disappointment - We arrived one afternoon to be greeted by 6 coaches of Chinese tourists, my wife enquired about the procedure - buy a ticket and wait for the raft to take you into the temple cave, against my better wishes she asked 'same price for farang ?' the young guy said yes. So we made a plan to come back the next day, before the coach parties. She even questions wether its worth paying 200B to enter these kind of attractions. When my wife went to pay, the guy said 500B for the monkey and 200B for you, another guy appeared and kept on repeating the 500B line and pointing to a noticeboard .. Now, its not a national park, its a temple, Monks go about their daily duties and these guys sit in a Sala waiting for the first coach load to finish their breakfast. I don't agree with extortion for personal profit for commercial gain within a temple. We bid them farewell and rode off.

Khao Khai Nui ( 8.559658 98.294886 - estimated )

I was tipped off about this by a local member of CVT, who took a party up to the summit earlier in the year. We stayed in Phang-Na and rode the 4090 in pitch black at 5.00 AM to reach for sunrise. The morning was a bit of a blur, you approach on the 4003, which is about 50 minutes from Phang-Na. The GPS took me into a school yard, but it is in fact the next turning, you will see a basic sign, put up by the locals, take this road, turn right and immediately left and head up through some rubber trees. We missed the turning and back tracked for 25 minutes, missing the sunrise completely. I was sure my contact told me that the road got better, we approached a long steep slippery track, and I went for it, hoping for a concrete path - and there was for 20 meters. We then saw more trucks parked up at the bottom of a slope, I stormed on and ended up dropping the bike. It was too rutted. A local came, we uprighted the bike and i continued solo to the next flat area while the co-pilot walked. The roads got increasingly rutted, wetter and slippery. We then came to a near vertical slope and watched a couple of custom off-road 4WD slipping down the track, they advised on leaving the bike at the bottom and continuing on foot. If I was solo, on a 250cc bike, it would have been do-able, but the fully loaded Versys was saying no. We staggered to the top, at over 200m above sea level somewhere after 7.30. There were a few tents at the top, the local muslim people at the bottom of the road seem to have tents set up in gardens and will organise transport to the summit, there are houses built on the summit and some basic homestay operations .. I have one number 0808 928737, the guy who helped with the bike. He says he has tried to organise trips for western tourists but didnt work out too well due to lack of toilet facilities, lack of western catering. The people in the village seemed nice enough and moving around very early - I would suggest if you have panniers, leave them at one of the local shops or restaurants or get someone to drive you up the night before and hire a tent. For the Northern guys this may not be something special, but for us 'southerners' its a real hidden treat.


One of the final hills, this was a lot better than the neat vert. On the left we had the Andaman, to the right - Thalay Mok.

Sa Nang Manora Forest Park ( N8.49415° E98.51525° Estimated )

A cool little excursion, nice tidy road ending up in one tidy little forestry commission park. There were a few bikini clad Eastern european girls with their ass revealing thongs amongst the Thai day trippers.


There is a 2 km ( ? ) path to caves and more waterfalls, we walked for the first 3 pools and the co-pilot wanted to turn back as the trail was becoming increasingly under-used. You could see that most tourists just viewed the first pools then hopped back in their cars.


We spent a fair time talking to the ranger who was a real funny guy, I talked to him about the difference between the national forest park and the national parks. I forget what he said now, but he wasn't impressed with the national park rangers, saying something about the entrance money going in their pockets.

Khao Nang Hong Viewpoint ( N8.53640° E98.55955° )

Situated in the centre of the exciting part of Rte.4 Features a small shrine ( don't forget to toot ) and a viewpoint over the valleys and hills.

Thai Muang Beach ( N8.43215 E98.23679 ) An amazing deserted pristine yellow sand beach, the first part is a public beach but as the road continues - turns into a national park. We rode to the gate, 20B for Thai, 100B for foreigners + 20B for the bike - irrelevant of WP, driving licence, yellow book, tax card, etc. As we sat there locals were zooming up the road with their fishing rods for the evening. We turned back 50m dropped by the side of the road and walked out onto the beach for free.

I hope traffic to GT-R picks up again, things seem to be slow since moving to the new site. Sorry for the inadequacies in my post, although I now have a Garmin, I find it a bit tricky to plot my tracks and get them off the unit which is a struggle to get off the bike - I find Basecamp a pain, and it doesnt seem to correspond with Motion GPS coordinates - I think a eTrex 10 is the way forward, and a resolution to take more photos in the future.


Dec 9, 2008
Love the "above the clouds" photos. That second pic with the sun's rays is a stunner. Thank you.

I live in the north but rarely seem to be in the right place at the right time to see this kind of thing. A few months ago in Petchabun, early rising on top of Khao Khor I did see it. Surreality at it's best.....
Oct 11, 2009
Thanks for the post very interesting and some gruesome photos like other displays I've seen  in Thailand.

I agree post a bit slow since new site but sure it will get better


safe riding