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Head inland to enjoy Thailand

Lush rainforests and mangroves offer a journey of discovery for holidaymakers

By Yang Wanli in Surat Thani, Thailand | China Daily | Updated: 2023-01-26 10:17
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The Khao Na Nai Luang Dharma Park consists a total of six pagodas in different shapes and colors from brick red to white and gold.[Photo by Yang Wanli/China Daily]

What comes to mind if you are planning to visit Thailand? Beautiful sea views, island hopping, or Tom Yum soup? Why not leave those ideas behind and try something fresh,such as an inland tour to discover a different Thailand?

In the South Thailand province of Surat Thani, you will experience another side of Thailand. Granted the name from King Rama IV, Surat Thani means "city of the good people". Most Chinese tourists are fascinated by the province's islands, such as Koh Samui and Koh Tao.

But few have explored its amazing inland,which includes one of the oldest evergreen rainforests in the world — Khao Sok National Park — or the magnificent Buddhist temples in the Khao Na Nai Luang Dharma Park, and boat trips along the rivers.

For most travelers who arrive in Surat Thani by plane, the nearest site to explore will be the provincial center. Located close to the sea, the provincial center has countless small rivers connecting residences to the east Thailand Bay.

Taking a boat along the river, you can witness fishermen's lives in Bang Bai Mai community. Also known as "Nai Bang", the community still lives in a simple way. In this area, hundreds of small canals flow into the Tapi river, which finally meets the ocean.

On a small wooden boat, you can see the mangrove nipa palm trees and coconut trees lined up on both sides of the canal. For animal lovers, the trip will provide a chance to closely observe local birds and water lizards.

"Nipa palm trees are important to us. The leaves can be used for wrapping sweets or making brooms. It can be also processed to make desserts," a boatman told us.

Every Sunday, the sightseeing boat can also take you to Bang Bai Mai Market — an old floating market in Surat Thani known for a wide selection of local dishes and Thai snacks such as Toddy Palm Cake, Black Coconut Sweet Pudding, and Mango Sticky Rice.

The market is surrounded by greenery and a canal, which makes it stand out from other markets in the city. While the market offers plenty of food stalls, it's a good choice to try the deep-fried banana blossom and the Thai curry puff, each priced at about 30 Bhat ($0.89).

After exploring the market, visitors can drop by a nearby coffee shop with outdoor seating next to the canal. A local cafe named Korjak sitting at the riverbank is one of the most popular choices with a forestlike atmosphere due to its lush surroundings.

As some travelers may be interested in local coconut products, Suan Lung Song is on the recommended list. It is a knowledge center where people can learn every aspect of coconut farming. They can also experience making cold-pressed coconut oil and soap.

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