Unseen South Thailand
South Thailand sees a lot of tourists. Cyclists find their way too into the main tourist areas but there is still a lot to explore. This page is about some hardly visited places in South Thailand that I think are worth visiting. Some are already shown elsewhere on the website (Betong, Pak Barra) but others are not far away and are great to find Thailand is still very much a rural Asian country without much tourism. This page shows 3 distinctive different areas you may want to explore:
Pak Meng and the road to Kantang
Pak Meng is a very local beach. You won't see many tourists here. It's especially busy during school holidays and weekends when the day trippers from nearby cities like Trang come for a day out at the beach, enjoy a good meal and go back home in the evening. The rest of the week the beach is virtually empty.
How to get there?
From Krabi, take road #4 south towards Trang. After about 60km you will find a junction with road #4046, a shortcut to Trang. It's a quiet road that starts slowly swindling through the hills until you reach the junction with #4162.
On the way you will see plenty of road signs already for Pak Meng. The last 12 km bring you directly to Pak Meng beach.
From Trang: take the #4066 out of Trang, it leads straight east out of the city. Continue for 30 km until the junction with #4162.
A few km before Pak Meng beach you can decide to visit the aquarium.
The road to Kantang
Exploring Unseen Thailand, this is one of those gems. This is as local as you can get it in south Thailand. The road leads away from Pak Meng beach. Road signs tell you Kantang is 45km away. The road follows the coast for more than a dozen km until it turns inlands. The road continues through the hills with a few slight curves.
Signs for Kantang become few so you have to pay attention. There is ONE signboard for the Kantang Primary School. This is the junction you need for taking the ferry to Kantang.
There used to be a guesthouse but the last time I was in Kantang (October 2013), it was closed.
There is only one way out of the city: the #404 to Trang, 24km away. It's a highway. Some maps show alternate routes that should lead to Yan Ta Khao but I have not found it.
If you have no desire to visit Trang, you can take the junction to the airport which is a beautiful little road that ends at the airport 16 km further on at road #4. From here it's another 15 km to Yan Ta Khao where you can find accommodation at the market (bare room with bed and shared bath bathroom for B250!).
The alternative is to continue to Thung Wa where the Green Garden Resort offers better (but not much) rooms for the same price. Thung Wa is another 55km south.
Trang - Thung Wa
The easiest option for this 70km journey is road #4. It's also the most uninteresting. There is an excellent and very remote alternative with potential visits to some waterfalls.
Take the road out of Trang towards Phattalung, road #4. Follow the highway for 17 km. At that point you will find a junction with the #4264 and a sign for the Lan Kan bird park. This is a road that swindles through the eastern part of the hills that divides South Thailand.
It leads to Lan Thu and Ban Nong Kan before it joins the #404 for the last 28km to Thung Wa. On the way there are two waterfalls to be visited. Be aware the #4264 turns into the #4125 before you reach Palian. The whole road is in excellent condition and the distance from Trang to the first junction is 17 km, followed by another 50 to Palian and 28km to Thung Wa.
Hat Yai to Malaysia, two alternative ways
So you have arrived in Hat Yai and you want to visit Malaysia. There are several options. You can of course take the road to Sadao and cross the border at padang Besar. However, if you still have some time on your visa, why not try one of the following options:
Both roads start the same way: cycling out from Hat Yai to Sadao until you reach Khlong Ngae, 28 km . Turn onto the #42 to Na Thawi which is another 29km. This is where both roads split. Continuing east leads over some nice hills (not very steep nor high) to Yala. It's a quiet and scenic road passing villages and ends at Khok Pho. Here you have to go either north (left) to Patani and cycle the last 43 km to Yala or you go south (right) and follow the hills to Niang from where Yala is only a few km away. Personally I prefer the second option as that road is a bit more quiet. And in Yala you can stay a night before continuing to Betong, a very scenic road down south.
If you do not want to visit Yala but you still like to go via Na Thawi, turn south in Na Thawi and cycle the next 50km through a very green land to Ban Prakop which is the border village with Malaysia. The border is still another 5 km away (seriously bad road when I did it in December 2012) but the border is open for foreigners and easy passing (there's no one else passing anyway.
Durian Burung is the first village in Malaysia but for a hotel you still have to cycle another 35 km to Kuala Nerung. Again, there may be more beautiful parts of Thailand, but there are certainly not more remote and yet easy to access places.
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Hat Yai to Yala and Betong
This is a little traveled road. Backpackers don't do it, cyclists feel the need to visit Langkawi so this is your change to experience a little of remote south Thailand. And it's really good here
The Thai-Malaysian border posts
There are a total of 8 border posts available to cross from Thailand into Malaysia. Which one do you want to use? And are there arguments to use one of the lesser known posts? Here are the answers:
Perlis is the smallest state and most travelers do not even realize they're in another state when they cross the border. But perlis deserves a little extra attention. Here is why:
Cycling in South Thailand
South Thailand is very well accessible and well known with places like Krabi, Phuket and Ko Samui. There is more: