Forest Park Hike (very easy)
This area in Phang Nga Province is almost entirely flat. Thick, verdant jungle with plenty of old-growth trees is the overall theme. Several small creeks with cool water make hiking comfortable. Plus, riparian areas (areas beside a river or stream) tends to offer the most biodiversity.
Walking beside majestic limestone karst cliffs is a big part of the attraction. There are a few caves and stunning cave-like features as well as springs coming out of the rock. One unique spring produces a lovely waterfall.
During the spring months, there is a lot of wild edible fruit available. There is always something in the plant kingdom to eat. Various gingers, mushrooms, and leafy plants offer year-round wild dining.
There is at least three days’ worth of hiking in the particular patch of jungle. If you walk each of these at a steady pace, they are about five hours in length. This can be shortened and it will take longer if you are on a survival-centric trip as you will be learning different survival skills along the way.
On multi-day trips, it is recommended to start off here and work your way to more challenging routes. However, if you are sure you want to try more challenging routes, this area can be skipped.
The ascent takes about 30 to 40 minutes and it is not very difficult. Once you reach the ridge, you will be treated to gorgeous old-growth jungle with many primary-growth trees.
The trail is undulating, but not challenging if you take your time. There are a few tricky spots, but there are always trees to grab to assist you.
This area is extremely good for wild edible fruit during the spring months especially. There are also a good quantity of orchids and other epiphytes, thus adding to the dramatic effect of the tropical jungle setting.
The largest flower in the world, the Rafflesia, is common in the jungle here. It is much easier to see here than in the more popular national parks like Khao Sok.
The downhill section is challenging, especially if it happens to be wet. If it is dry, it is not slippery. If it is wet, care must be taken.
If you walk at a steady pace, this jungle hike takes about six hours. You will end in a plantation area with dirt roads, necessitating the need for a transfer by truck as vans/buses can’t access these roads.
Starting off in a Palm Oil plantation, you will quickly start walking along a beautiful small river. It starts off with a splendid waterfall… one of many to come.
You will walk in the water most of the time. This is an area with very thick jungle, so walking in the river is the absolute best way to access the deeper parts. There are a couple of areas where you will walk on a jungle path to skip and difficult stretch of river. The path is easy.
There is a creek flowing into the river and you have the option of hiking up this creek or continuing on the river. The creek is more congested and difficult to navigate, but it offers a different look at some thicker jungle. If you continue along the river you will be treated to several small waterfalls. There are some wonderful places to take a break and go for a swim. The water is cold, at least by Thai standards, but very refreshing. This is an ‘out and back’ type of hike as there are no easy loops in the area.
This is normally about a four to five hour hike. It can be shortened or extended as desired. If you are focusing on jungle survival, this will take longer.
If you are comfortable on uneven terrain and willing to scale waterfalls and ascend steep mountains, this is the route for you.
Luckily, the rocks in this creek are not overly slippery. There are clean routes up the more tricky waterfalls with solid, flat, footholds right where you need them.
You will be in the creek for quite a while, and then you’ll veer off up a mountain. It is steep. You have the option of carrying a walking staff (supplied) and this does help. The walk to the top takes almost an hour and it is at a very steady sharp incline.
However, once you reach the ridge you will find that it was all well-worth it. The trail remains easy for the next hour or so. There are a lot of huge emergent tree species (species that towering way above the mean jungle canopy level).
You will eventually walk downhill to rejoin the creek. However, this time you are on the opposite side of the mountain. You have the option of doing a twenty minute hike (one way) in the opposite direction to visit a big pool full of big fish if you wish. If you choose not to, you take a left and head through the creek. There are a couple of tricky spots where it is safer and easier to wade or swim through a pool instead of scaling the creek bank.
At a certain point you will turn off of the creek and head up a steep mountain. This bypasses a very problematic section of the creek. It is not a long climb. The downhill section after it is actually more challenging, though there are trees to grab right when you need one.
This is a solid six hour hike. It is something you can build up to and do on your last day (recommended) of a multi-day hiking / jungle survival trip.
So, if you did everything listed here you could spend six days in the jungle.
You will be shown a variety of edible plants and fruits and will have the opportunity to sample many of them. The photos show just a mere fraction of what is available in the jungle.
Ginger - Etlingera megalocheilos
Luk Wai - Salacca Palm fruit
Ma Fai - Baccauraea ramiflora
There are some very pleasant places to stay in Phang Nga Town. There is a cheery guesthouse in the middle of town (capable of large groups), a small bungalow operation in the middle of a rubber plantation (with limited accommodations), and a new small row bungalow just outside of town.
One of the many great things about a visit to this area is the food. There are some awesome restaurants in Phang Nga Town. You do not have to eat spicy food if you do not want, but if you would like to try authentic Thai cuisine, you will get it. Either way, you will be stuffed when you leave the table.