In Thailand, we often think of Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, and Mae Hong Son in the North or Loei, Nongkhai, and Ubon Ratchathani in the Northeast when we talk about cities adorned with blankets of mist. However, only a few people know of the South’s misty city, which is surrounded by the Andaman Sea.
The misty city that repeatedly goes unnoticed is Kapong (กะปง), a district located in a valley in Phang Nga. Surrounded by three national parks, Khao Sok (เขาสก), Klong Panom (คลองพนม), and Khao Lak-LamRoo (เขาหลัก-ลำรู่), Kapong is truly the South’s hidden gem.
Although I only spent one day and one night in Kapong, I fully immersed myself in its unique scenery and vibrant local life. I have jotted down places that I want to revisit as well as attractions that I wish to visit one day (there were simply too many to choose from!).
At the break of dawn, our host, Billy, picked me and my friend up in his new truck. Our drive to Kapong was almost indescribable as the route was surrounded, what I thought, a thick cloud of smog. However, after checking the “AirVisual” app on my phone, I realized that I had mistaken the fresh morning mist for polluted smog, like the one that has recently been permeating throughout Bangkok. Astonished by the air’s purity rating, I asked Billy to stop the car so that we can all breathe in the crisp air that only exists in the rural parts of the country.
After our quick stop, Billy took us to Intaphum Temple, which sits at the highest hill of Paktak Village. We paid our respect to the statue of Luang Po Cheng, a former temple abbot.
Our next stop was a local coffee shop in the mountains, where we had a better view of the sea of mist while sipping coffee and chatting with locals. The owner of the café brought delicious homemade, coconut-based sweets for our coffee. All of the treats are 5 baht (16 cents) and they have a distinct delicacy and aroma that can only be found at this coffee shop as the owner has a special recipe that cannot be replicated elsewhere.
It felt refreshing to switch from the fast-paced life in Bangkok to a simpler lifestyle that can only be found in the countryside. Everyone in the village seemed so content with a more laid-back lifestyle. Personally, it felt refreshing to switch from the fast-paced life in Bangkok to a simpler lifestyle that can only be found in the countryside.
After filling our bellies with amazing food, Billy took us for a trek up the mountain to “Hin Lad” waterfall (นํ้าตกหินลาด), where water from three main streams travel between rocks and down from the hilltop to king Rama IX’s reservoir at the foothill. Unfortunately, there was no rain for a few months, so the waterfall’s stream was gentler than usual, but it was still worth it to go for a walk along the forest.
We also travelled to a well-known natural hot spring, called Plai-poo (ปลายพู่). The locals usually use the hot spring to cook eggs as its 75 °C temperature can perfectly poach eggs in 20 to 30 minutes. However, Mother nature intended for the hot spring to run down the crevice of the mountains and meet with another stream of cold water from a neighboring lake nearby to create another pond for people to bathe in. The locals can adjust the dam’s temperature to their liking by moving rocks from the hot or cold stream. The pond is also said to have minerals that benefit your nerves and help balance your body. Moreover, the spring is surrounded by lush greenery, which makes the experience ten times more remarkable as you get to relax in a natural setting with the birds chirping and the wind whispering into your ears. It is the perfect escape from the busy city life that most of us know.
The hike got us in the mood for more food, so we spent some time enjoying the lovely weather while eating some hot-spring-poached eggs and taking a dip in the warm water. Afterwards, Billy brought us back into town to meet Uncle Nin, the Juti Tin Dredger company’s museum keeper. Uncle Nin enthusiastically and proudly talked to us about the history and present state of Tin mining in Phang Nga. He tells us that he usually waits to welcome visitors on Saturday and Sunday when the museum usually opens for free. Uncle Nin is another example of a friendly local, who simply wants the world to see Phang Nga’s rich history and culture.
At the end of the day, Billy took us to the Resort Kapong ATV. Uncle Lek, the owner, welcomed us with warm hospitality. The hotel is unlike any other as the guests get to freely use an ATV to navigate the large facilities. Overall, it was truly an incredibly special stay at the resort, especially after a full day exploring the wonders of Phang Nga.
Unfortunately, we did not get a chance to see the 360° panoramic view of the sea of fog at the top of Phu Ta Cho (ภูตาจอ) as we had limited time. However, the next time that I go to Kapong, I will definitely make time to visit all the places that still remain on my bucket list.