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Asia > Southeast Asia > Thailand > Southern Thailand > Central Gulf Coast > Nakhon Si Thammarat

Nakhon Si Thammarat

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Nakhon Si Thammarat City Pillar Shrine

Nakhon Si Thammarat (นครศรีธรรมราช) is a city in Southern Thailand.

Understand[edit]

Nakhon Si Thammarat Province is the second largest province in the south. It boasts verdant jungles abundant with luxuriant vegetation as well as picturesque beaches and beautiful waterfalls.

The city of Nakhon Si Thammarat is the capital of the province. It is about 780 km (485 mi) south of Bangkok, on the east coast of the Malay Peninsula. The city was the administrative centre of southern Thailand during most of its history. Originally a coastal city, silting moved the coastline away from the city. The modern city centre around the train station is north of Old Town.

It is one of the most ancient cities of Thailand, previously the Kingdom of Ligor, and contains many buildings and ruins of historical significance. With the fall of the Siamese capital of Ayutthaya in 1767 it regained independence, but reaffirmed its allegiance on the founding of Bangkok. In the 17th century British, Portuguese, and Dutch merchants set up trading posts here and engaged in extensive commerce.

Get in[edit]

By car[edit]

Take Hwy 4 on the Bangkok-Prachuap Khiri Khan-Chumphon route and then Hwy 41 past Surat Thani-Thung Song until arriving in Nakhon Si Thammarat or Phun Phin in Surat Thani, then take Hwy 401 along the coast to Nakhon Si Thammarat, total distance of 780 km.

By plane[edit]

Two airlines operate flights between Bangkok and Nakhon Si Thammarat:

By train[edit]

Thai Railways offers rapid and express trains departing from Bangkok Railway Station to Nakhon Si Thammarat at 17:35 and 19:15. For more information, Tel. 1690, +66 2 2237010, +66 2 2237020 or call Nakhon Si Thammarat train station at tel. +66 75 356364, +66 75 346129. The train takes anywhere from 12-14 hours.

Trains leave the NST Terminal for Bangkok daily at 13:00 and 15:00. The NST station is to the west of town centre. Nearby are hotels, restaurants, and cafes.

Trains also depart NST station for Hatyai at 06:00 and 10:00.

By bus[edit]

Regular and air-conditioned buses of The Transport Co. and private companies depart from Bangkok’s Southern Bus Terminal. The trip takes about 12 hours. Air conditioned buses, 3 types, leave Bangkok at the following times:

  • VIP Bus: 17:15 and 19:00
  • Standard 1 Bus: 09:00, 18:00, and 20:30
  • Standard 2 Bus: 06:40, 18:00, 20:00, and 22:00

For more information, contact Tel. +66 2 4351199-200 (air conditioned buses).

Nakhon Si Thammarat Bus Station, Tel: +66 75 341125. The provincial bus station lies just outside the town, to the west. On the streets near the train station there are a number of bus company offices selling tickets for buses leaving for provinces north and south.

Travel within the province is easy with minibus service around the city. Transport to nearby provinces includes vans, taxis, buses, and trains.

Get around[edit]

See[edit]

  • City Museum. Admission free.
  • The City Wall (กำแพงเมือง). The city chronicle already mentions a fortification when the town was reestablished in 1278. Restorations were recorded at the time of King Ramesuan (14th century), as well as King Narai (1686). The latter was aided by the French engineer, M. de la Mare. The walls spread 456 m from east to west, and 2,238 m north to south, enclosing an area of about one square kilometre. The northern wall had only one gate, called Prathu Chai Nua or Prathu Chai Sak. The southern wall had only one gate. To the east there were three gates, which connected the town with the sea. To the west were five gates. Today only the northern gate still exists, together with a short stretch of the northern city wall.
  • National Museum Nakhon Si Thammarat (พิพิธภัณฑสถานแห่งชาติ นครศรีธรรมราช). The museum has on display artifacts found in four southern provinces, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Phatthalung, Surat Thani, and Chumphon. There is a good collection of rare books and important books sent by the National Library in Bangkok.
  • Wat Phra Mahathat (วัดพระมหาธาตุวรมหาวิหาร). The most important temple in Nakhon Si Thammarat and southern Thailand. It was constructed at the time of the founding of the town, and contains a tooth relic of Buddha. The 78 m high chedi is surrounded by 173 smaller ones. While the chedi is now in Sri Lankan style, it is said to have been built on top of an earlier Srivijaya-style chedi. At the base of the chedi is a gallery named Viharn Tap Kaset, decorated with many Buddha statues and elephant heads emerging from the chedi. Viharn Phra Song Ma is the buildings which contains the staircase which leads to a walkway around the chedi above the gallery. At the bottom of the staircase are demon giants (yak) as guardians. Adjoining to the north is the Viharn Kien, which contains a small temple museum. South of the chedi is the large ubosot building, the Viharn Luang. Living quarters are across the street in a separate temple, Wat Na Phra Boromathat. The chedi is the symbol of Nakhon Si Thammarat Province, prominent on the seal of the province. It is also displayed on the 25 satang coin.
  • Wat Phra Mahathat Woramahawihan (วัดพระมหาธาตุวรมหาวิหาร) A royal temple. Inside the temple are many buildings of importance, especially the royal building which has architecture from the Ayutthaya period and the Sam Chom building where the Buddha image, attired in royal wardrobe Phra Si Thamma Sokarat, is housed.
  • Phra Phutthaishing (พระพุทธสิหิงค์) This sacred image was believed to have been ordered by the King of Lanka in 157 CE and was brought to Thailand during the reign of King Ramkhamhaeng the Great. The hall housing the image was originally the Buddha image hall of the palace of Chao Phraya Nakhon (Noi).
  • Ho Phra Isuan (หอพระอิศวร) is a historical site of the Brahman religion. It has on display the Shiva Linga which is the symbol of Shiva, the Brahman god. There are also several bronze images such as the Siwa Nattarat image, Phra Uma, and Phra Phikkhanet.
  • Ho Phra Narai (หอพระนารายณ์) is a Brahman place of worship opposite Ho Phra Isuan. A gray sandstone image of the god Narai wearing a hat and holding a conch in the right hand was discovered in the hall.
  • Phra Wihan Sung (พระวิหารสูง) The building houses plaster images with a fat clay core. The images are either from the 23rd-24th Buddhist century or from the late-Ayutthaya period.
  • The Thai-style monks' residence of Wat Wang Tawan Tok (กุฏิทรงไทยวัดวังตะวันตก) The three houses have a pointed roof connected to the other and there are exquisite Nakhon Si Thammarat designs on the walls, doors, windows, and vents. The Siam Architects Society named these houses the best conservation effort in the area of historical sites and temples in 1992.
  • Wat Chai Na Meditation Centre (สำนักวิปัสสนากรรมฐานวัดชายนา) Meditation courses are held for Thais and foreigners. The famous monk Phutthathat Bhikkhu established the centre as a branch of his monastery in Surat Thani.
  • Chinese buildings at Wat Pradu and Wat Chaeng (เก๋งจีนวัดประดู่และวัดแจ้ง) Built in the early Rattanakosin period, they house the ashes of Phraya Nakhon and believed to also have the ashes of King Taksin the Great.
  • Chedi Yak (เจดีย์ยักษ์) is the province’s second-tallest pagoda after Phra Borom That pagoda. It is said that the pagoda was built by Khotkhiri, a wealthy Mon, and his employees when they took refuge in the city in 1003.
  • Residence of Ok Ya Sena Phimuk (Yamada Nagamasa) (จวนออกญาเสนาภิมุข – ยามาดา นางามาซา) who was a Japanese volunteer soldier living in the Ayutthaya period during the reign of King Songtham. He was rewarded for his many contributions to the palace by being appointed Ok Ya Sena Phimuk and as the lord of Nakhon Si Thammarat in 1629.
  • Wirathai Monument (อนุสาวรีย์วีรไทย) is made of blackened copper. The locals call this monument Cha Dam or Chao Pho Dam. It was erected to honor Thai soldiers in southern Thailand who died fighting the invading Japanese in World War II on 8 December 1941.
  • Arts and Culture Centre of Nakhon Si Thammarat Rajabhat Institute (สำนักศิลปและวัฒนธรรม สถาบันราชภัฏนครศรีธรรมราช) It is the centre of information on archaeological sites discovered in the province. The most important artifacts here are the stone inscriptions found at Khao Chong Khoi and artifacts from the ancient community at Wat Mok Lan.
  • Somdet Phra Sri Nakharin 84 Park (สวนสมเด็จพระศรีนครินทร์ 84) Originally part of Ratcharudi Park in the time of King Rama V, the park has an open zoo, a bird park, a health park, and a lake which is home to waterfowl that migrate here during January to March every year.
  • Mueang Nakhon Reception House (เรือนรับรองเมืองนคร) was built to receive the king and Crown Princess Maha Chakri when they visited the city. It is in an old fruit orchard of the Thongsamak family which built the house for the royal family on behalf of the city's people.
  • Wat Khao Khun Phanom and the Khao Khun Phanom Scientific Study Centre (วัดเขาขุนพนมและศูนย์วิทยาศาสตร์เพื่อการศึกษาเขาขุนพนม) Wat Khao Khun Phanom is a temple of historical and archaeological importance. The temple has a cave lined with brick and marked with heart-shaped stones marking the limits of the temple similar to those along the city wall.
  • Wat Tham Thong Phannara (วัดถ้ำทองพรรณรา) It became tradition that on the first full-moon night of the 11th lunar month (October) people would pay homage to the reclining image and the images representing the nuns called Phra Pring and Phra Prang.
  • Khao Kha (แหล่งโบราณคดีเขาคา) is a sacred religious place of the Saiwanikai sect which worships Shiva as its highest god. Many artifacts used in rites have been found here including phallic symbols, holy water pipes, ruins, and an ancient pond.
  • Wat That Tharam or Wat Khao That (วัดธาตุธารามหรือวัดเขาธาตุ) The entire pagoda is made of coral in the shape of an inverted jar. The pagoda is surrounded by Buddha images of red sandstone.
  • Wat Parian (วัดป่าเรียน) This new wat has a museum and is founded on remains of an ancient temple where Ganesha statue was found.
  • Museum Honouring the King for the Development of Pak Phanang Basin (พิพิธภัณฑ์เฉลิมพระเกียรติเพื่อพัฒนาพื้นที่ลุ่มน้ำปากพนัง) is a museum dedicated to the king's Project to Develop Pak Phanang Basin in Nakhon Si Thammarat, Phatthalung, and Songkhla.
  • Wat Nantharam (วัดนันทาราม) (formerly Wat Tai) houses Luang Pho Phut, a red sandstone Buddha image from the Ayutthaya period. In addition, the temple houses a giant phallic symbol found at Khao Kha archaeological site and is believed to be around 1,200 years old.
  • Kuan Im Goddess Image (พระโพธิสัตว์กวนอิม) is a large white plaster image. The image is in the middle of a large pond surrounded by fountains.

Do[edit]

  • Thalad Park (2km N of the city). A good place to spend a relaxing day. The landscaping is impressive though it is not well maintained. The city museum is near the entrance.

Festivals[edit]

A procession of Buddhists bearing a long cloth during Hae Pha Khuen That Festival at Wat Phra Maha That Woramahawihan, in Nakhon Si Thammarat Province
  • Hae Pha Khuen That Festival (ประเพณีแห่ผ้าขึ้นธาตุ) is celebrated at Phra Borom That Chedi. The pagoda is considered to be the representative of Lord Buddha and is believed by locals to possess unsurpassed might of righteousness as it contains holy relics. Every year Buddhists pay homage to the pagoda by organizing a procession bearing a religious cloth to wrap around the pagoda to bring good fortune and success. This festival is held twice a year during Makha Bucha Day (the 15th full-moon night of February) and Wisakha Bucha Day (the 15th full-moon night of May).
  • Festival of the Tenth Lunar Month (ประเพณีเทศกาลเดือนสิบ) is a grand event of the province and of southern Thailand. This festival is held from the 1st waning-moon night to the 15th waning-moon night every September. It is held to pay respect to deceased ancestors. According to Buddhism beliefs, the dead had many sins and were sent to hell to become a demon. The demons are allowed to come up to meet their relatives for 15 days in September, but must return to hell before sunrise of the 15th day. The living tries to appease the spirits by taking food to temples to make merit. Beginning on the 13th day, people will go shopping for food to be given. The 14th day is spent preparing and decorating the food tray, and the 15th day is the actual merit-making day. The tray presented nowadays has elaborate designs but still retains traditional components. Contests to find the most beautiful tray are held. A magnificent procession proceeds along Ratchadamnoen Road on the 14th day.
  • Chak Phra or Lak Phra Festival (ประเพณีชักพระหรือลากพระ) is influenced by Indian culture, which expanded into the province a long time ago. The festival signifies the joy that people had when Buddha returned from a star and was invited to sit on a throne and carried to a palace. In practice, locals bear a Buddha image holding a bowl in a procession around the city. This is a great way for escape from daily routine and it is a fun competition to find who is the most religious. Held in October, the festival is preceded by activities seven days before, such as beating drums, playing castanets, and decorating the ceremonial throne for the image. The actual ceremony is usually held only on the last day of the Buddhist Lent. People take the image from the temple in the morning and proceed to Benchama Rachuthit School in Amphoe Mueang. This is also done in front of Ron Phibun district office. In addition, there is a water-borne procession on Pak Phanang River in Pak Phanang, which coincides with an annual boat race for a trophy from the crown princess.
  • Cow fighting (กีฬาชนวัว) is an ancient sport of Nakhon Si Thammarat. Many details are involved in staging a contest. Cows selected will have the best breeding and will be trained and carefully looked after. The contest itself is held weekly with districts not far from the city, Mueang, Pak Phanang, Chawang, Thung Song, Hua Sai, and Ron Phibun.

Buy[edit]

  • The Big C supermarket is around 10 min walk from the train station within the city.
  • Robinson is a shopping mall with a basement full of computer and mobile shops. The main mobile companies all have their support centres here.

Local products[edit]

  • Niello ware (เครื่องถมนคร) (Souvenir shops along Tha Chang Rd). There are two types: black surface with white designs and black surface with gold designs. Niello ware of this province is popular for its durability and intricate designs by hand. The finished product is a bright, shiny black object with beautiful patterns. Niello on Wikipedia
  • Yan Li Phao basketry (จักสานย่านลิเภา) (Ban Tha Rua on Rte 4019, 11 km from town). Yan Li Phao (ย่านลิเภา) is a clinging vine that grows in damp places. It split into threads and woven into beautiful products The trunk is very tough and durable, so locals found a way to make good use of it by making household goods such as handbags, tobacco boxes, and utensils. Locals have been making it for over 100 years. Very nice stuff, but pricey, so don't be bashful about bargaining.
  • Necklaces (สร้อยนะโม สร้อยเงิน สร้อยสามกษัตริย์) have long been the work of local silversmiths who can create gold, silver, and mixed (gold, silver and an alloy) necklaces.
  • Shadow play figures (การแกะหนังตลุง) is an art that goes with the popular southern entertainment of shadow play. Thai shadow play figures have been transformed from those found in Java so that they are now very Thai. The hands and feet of the figures are fully movable during performances. The hide used can be either cow or goat hide.
  • Kapho fans (พัดใบกระพ้อ) are made from a kind of palm called "ton pho" by locals. The leaves are dried and then woven into fans. Some are dyed into bright colors and sold at reasonable prices. Kapho fans are well known and sold throughout the country.
  • Pha Yok is a cloth woven only in Nakhon Si Thammarat. The patterns and colours of the fabric are exquisite.

Eat[edit]

  • JE Cafe and Restaurant, 1763/6-7 Rd, Jamruenwithee, Thawang, +66 75 356963. Small cafe and restaurant, with Wi-Fi.
  • Kanom La Nim (ขนมลานิ่ม). A ready-to-eat sweetened flour treat which comes in sheets. It cannot be preserved for more than a week.
  • Kanom La Tod (ขนมลาทอด). A crispy fried sweetened flour confection which is folded into small bite-size pieces.

Drink[edit]

Sleep[edit]

Budget[edit]

  • Bua Luang Hotel, 1487/19 Chamroenwithi Rd (Near night market / Train station), +66 75 341002, fax: +66 75 343418. The name on the sign of the hotel is Bueloung Hotel. The large rooms are clean and it's hard to beat at 170 baht for a single room with bath. The owners are very genuine. It has 235 rooms. Double fan private bedroom, 240 baht; single air-con private bedroom, 340 baht; double air-con private bedroom, 420 baht. 240+ baht.
  • Montien Hotel, 1509/40 Yommarat Rd (Beside the train station and opposite the night market), +66 75 341908, fax: +66 75 345561. The rooms are average, the staff speak limited English and the hotel isn't even signposted in English. It's not worth spending the extra money especially when the Thai Hotel is just down the road. 80 rooms. Single fan private bedroom, 260 baht; double fan private bedroom, 290 baht; double air-con private bedroom, 450 baht. 260+ baht.
  • Muang Tong Hotel, 1459/7-8-9 Jamrernvitee Rd. Well visible, newish looking hotel but inside the air smells of stale cigarettes. Very popular with Thais. Double air-con rooms for 350-400 baht (warm water, Thai TV, desk); fan rooms 250-300 baht. Free Wi-Fi in rooms. Most uncomfortable pillows known to man, hard beds. Lots of street eateries and shopping options just outside. 350+ baht.
  • Nakhon Hotel, 1477/5 Yommarat Rd, +66 75 356318. A cheaper version of the Bua Long. The rooms are large need decorating and the bathrooms are in dire need of a makeover, but at least the beds are comfortable. Rooms are clean and windows have mosquito nets. 5 min walk to train station. The staff speak a little English. 42 rooms. Double fan private bath, 200 baht; double air-con private bath, 350 baht. 200+ baht.
  • Phech Phai Lin, 1835/38-39 Yommarat Rd (Near the train station), +66 75 341896. The polite staff are the biggest asset here. Unfortunately, the rooms look more like a YMCA sans the Village People than a hotel and the appearance makes the hotel look run down. 78 rooms. Double air-con private bedroom, 360 baht. 360+ baht.
  • Siam Hotel, 1403/17 Chamroenwithi Rd (Near the train station & night market), +66 75 356090. The price for a single with fan is more expensive than other hotels. However, the price for an air-con room is very affordable. The bathrooms could use an upgrade. 60 rooms, Single fan private bath 200 baht; double air-con private bath, 300 baht. 200+ baht.
  • Silver Mansion (Light green 6-storey building on an alley off Jamroenwitee Rd, a stone's throw south of Muang Tong Hotel), +66 75 342888. Not signposted in English, also no English spoken at reception. Spartan rooms, but reasonably clean (have a cockroach problem though). Double air-con rooms 270 baht (cold water, Thai TV, no fridge, curiously no sink); fan rooms 220 baht. Wi-Fi available at lobby area. Lots of cheap food stalls on Jamroenwitee Rd in front. 220+ baht.
  • Thai Hotel, 1375 Ratchadamnoen Rd, +66 75 341509. Central, large clean rooms. Free Wi-Fi in rooms. Has a cafe that serves fresh coffee and a bar that stays open late. The night market is two blocks away. Looks like a more expensive hotel, but rooms are from 320 baht. 320+ baht.
  • 1 Blue Hip Apartment Nakhon Sri, 2/271 Pattanakarn-Khukhwang Rd., Tambon Nai Mueang, Mueang Nakhon Si Thammarat District, Nakhon Si Thammarat 80000, +66 971106486, . Apartment for rent near Home Pro Nakhon Sri Thammarat, 28 sqm. room with fully furnish 400 - 500 baht.
  • 2 V.House Nakhon, 1209/30 Yomaraj Rd, +66 75 314777, . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. V.House Nakhon is fully furnished and many even provide such as internet access – wireless (complimentary), air conditioning, telephone, television, satellite/cable TV. 320-400 baht.

Mid-range[edit]

Cope[edit]

Medical facilities[edit]

  • Maharaj Nakhon Si Thammarat Hospital. Maharaj Nakhon Si Thammarat Hospital on Wikipedia
  • Walailak University Hospital. Walailak University Hospital on Wikipedia

Go next[edit]

Routes through Nakhon Si Thammarat
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