Khao Men is the third highest mountain in Nakhon si Thammarat Province and offers up some peace and quiet among a sea of green hills.
Friday evening after school had finished for the day we rushed home in order to begin our trip out to Khao Men Resort with the hope of catching a sunset. We packed our bags in a hurry, jamming hammock on top of hoodie on top of whatever t-shirts sat at the top of the drawers. A quick stop at the 7/11 on the way out of town and off we went chasing the quickly dipping sun.
After about three quarters of an hour on the road it was clear we weren’t going to make it on time and we braced ourselves for the last 30 minutes in the dark. The roads weren’t busy but the diminished light requires another level of concentration which can leave you exhausted quickly. At the turn off to Khao Men Resort you’re lucky enough to have a 7/11 right on the corner and we used this to stock up on beer and snacks for the evening.
The Khao Men Resort campsite has got everything you need as a camper, nearby toilets and showers, solid shaded ground and a campfire with a healthy supply of wood all around. We set up and rewarded ourselves with the first of our Friday night Leos. One led to more and our enthusiasm from then on tripped our attention on the Restaurant closing up across the way. A shot back down the road for a 7/11 dinner of campfire roasted Hotdogs and more Thai beer guaranteed our night rolled on over into the next day.
As the sun clipped the top of our tent we convinced ourselves that we were up early to make the most of the day and were not only fuelled by the desire for a cool breeze and iced coffee. Thai omlettes for breakfast helped us find the energy to start our day proper and set our minds to the beautiful landscape around us. We decided on a waterfall we hadn’t been to before and so set the GPS for Nam Tok Nan Plio and set off back along the deep green mountain roads.
It was an incredible drive with long rows of purposeful rubber trees becoming dense jungle and finally opening up on to expansive mountain views. Seemingly in the middle of nowhere long stretches of open road suddenly became bustling little towns, often marked by impossible to see do-it-yourself road bumps. Past the towns we were surprised as we rode past an ornate Chinese cemetery with well-kept and intricate grave sites. The roads curved and flowed in and out of beautiful green sceneries and views of Khao Men which left us gaping as we tried to take it all in. Eventually our path led us in close next to the mountain and the GPS announced we had made it to our destination.
The tarred road ended and a series of increasingly difficult gravel hills marked the next section of our trip. Leaving the ladies to walk as we pushed our little scooters to their limits we scrambled up further towards the sound of falling water. Finally we arrived at a hill where concrete had been poured down, enticing you to push your scooter that last step. Don’t. After my scooter (Scrappy) failed to make it even five meters further, a shout of warning came from our friend as he found himself unable to go further with the bike and was now firmly wedged between the undergrowth on both sides. A sensible rescue mission and a careful wheeling back down the hill we realised that we had gone far enough.
A small path on the right of us led down to a beached area, where the sun trickled in with the water as it tumbled off the rocks around us. We made ourselves comfortable and set on up over the rocks to see what was further up the river. Easy hops and tumbles led us about 100 meters further up the river where the water slid down a large surface of smoothed out rocks. The whole area was really actually quite beautiful and we spent the rest of the afternoon laying about rocks, taking slow refreshing dips in the pools and just enjoying what we had around us. As our hunger built and the sun slipped down behind the tall trees around us we decided to get back out on the road and find a nearby restaurant.
A typical Thai roadside restaurant took the sudden presence of six westerners in their stride and were happy to fill us up with Pad Krapow, Krung Gaeng and Pad See Yu. We said our goodbyes in broken Thai as they did the same in broken English and we made our way back to Khao Men Resort to enjoy another evening of beer and conversation as the sun made its way back down the other side of the camp site. Careful to not repeat the mistakes of the previous night we got our dinner orders in early and unwound with a French wine a visiting couple had brought from home.
We spent the rest of the evening round the campfire, relying on the flames to push back the biting ants which plagued the grass around us. As we stoked the fire and rose our glasses to a bright moon making its way over the trees, a day of sunshine and bike riding finally took its toll and we retreated back to the relative comfort of our tents. A storm threatened to break as the wind picked up and lightning lit up the mountains around us, but the clouds rolled wide of us and we were spared having to put our tents to the test.
Another early start on Sunday as we took time to appreciate the views around us. Leftover beer was piled in plastic bags around our feet and the tents and backpacks clutched and clipped around us made us easy to spot as we set out back under the cliffs of Lan Saka on our way to Nakhon si Thammarat city. An uneventful ride home ended with the best lunch in NST at Foo Foo Taco’s, the Taco on top of the weekend. An excellent weekend with great people in a seriously underrated part of Thailand. Thank you Nakhon si!
Nam tok Nan Pilo – It really was a beautiful little multi-tiered waterfall. There was a path that seemed to head further up into the mountain which could have possibly led to a bigger fall. We were content to relax on the little sand beach and little cold pool just as you come down off the path next to where the bathrooms are.
Khao Men Resort – It has a great camping area with all the amenities you need but if bungalows are more your speed they have fan bungalows for 500 Baht or aircon bungalows for 1000 Baht. It has great views of Khao Men itself and is close by to several waterfalls, such as Thae Pae Waterfall which is one of my favourites as there are deep pools you can jump off into.
Getting In and Out
From Nakhon si Thammarat head West on the 4016 and take the turn onto the 4015 heading to Lan Saka. Carry on this road for about 40km until you see signs for Khao Men Resort and view point. Take the left at the 7/11 and follow the road signs until you arrive at Khao Men Resort.
There might be songtaews which head out that way but I’d recommend brushing up on your Thai directions if you want to test it out.
Khao Men Resort has a restaurant that is open at certain times and is close enough to a 7/11 that you really have everything you need close at hand. There are lots of mosquitoes if the wind isn’t blowing so make sure you’ve got bug spray close at hand.
Amphoe Chang Klang, Nakhon Si Thammarat