Jamie's Phuket Blog

Jamie's Phuket Blog - The Original Phuket Travel Blog since 2006

25 June 2017

Black Rock Viewpoint - Pa Hin Dam (ผาหินดำ)

There's always something new to find in the Phuket area! Just about a year ago (May 2016) we found a newly opened viewpoint in Phang Nga, not far from Phuket, called Samet Nangshe - and it was quite a find, hardly known a year ago, but now on quite a few tour itineraries and websites. There are a lot a great views in Phuket, some are advertised viewpoints, some need a bit of a hike! Now, this new viewpoint which we can call "Black Rock", or maybe "Black Cliff" - the Thai name means "Black Rock Cliff". I've not seen an official name in English, not seen this viewpoint on any English websites or blogs, although I first heard about it 4 years ago, but was asked to keep it a secret, and until last weekend I never got around to visiting! Well, the secret is out already. Do a Google search in Thai for ผาหินดำ, and you find plenty of pictures and videos, plus the road heading there has been improved and signs are up (in Thai!), so I think I can safely blog about Black Rock or Black Rock Cliff or Pa Hin Dam without spoiling the place! Anyway, it's still not that easy to get to, there's not even one drinks stall, no signs in English and only a dirt road followed by a short hike uphill. Very glad we went and let's see how developed it gets in the coming year.

The viewpoint is above Naiharn beach, reached by a dirt road that starts not far from the Karon Viewpoint. It's the same dirt road that heads towards Nui Beach - a private beach that I have never been to, partly due to the steep dirt road, partly due to the compulsory entry fee. It was made into a "beach club" and was being investigated for land fraud, was raided by the navy, but I think it's still open! This dirt road has been improved recently. It's only about 1km along the dirt road which is signposted to Nui beach, then you keep left while the road to Nui heads right and steeply downhill!

Dirt road to Pa Hin Dum (ผาหินดำ)

(above) Dirt road heading towards the viewpoint

Sign by the road - ผาหินดำ

(above) When the road splits to Nui beach, keep left and follow to the sign to ผาหินดำ! Not much more than half a kilometer along the left turn we found a very obvious landmark - a big PA HIN DUM painted on a rock. A bunch of mopeds and another couple of cars were parked there. So the place is certainly known .. just not very well known yet.

Sign on the dirt road to the viewpoint

A small note about the Thai language - so the word ดำ means black. The way this is transliterated into English can be "dam" or "dum". The pronunciation is somewhere between the two :)

So, at this point we parked our truck and followed a small path up into the trees on the left side of the road. Not a long walk to the top, only about 10 minutes. The path is obvious enough, no proper steps, just a narrow forest path which runs alongside a barbed wire fence for a while. A few sections are kind of steep, watch your footing, but really nothing to break a sweat.

Hiking up to Pa Hin Dum

Path through the trees to the viewpoint

(above) A little hike up to the viewpoint.

And then ... at the top a small rocky area with this fantastic view ...

View at Pa Hin Dum (Black Rock Viewpoint)

It's really quite high up here - something like 290m (nearly 1,000 feet) above sea level. YOu're looking south and Nai Harn and Ya Nui beaches are way below. The wind turbine lookout between those beaches seems quite high when you are there, but it's waaaay down there! You can see Phromthep Cape and islands beyond including Koh Kaew Yai and Racha Yai islands (Racha Yai is 20km south).

A zoomed in view looking south ...

View from Black Rock Viewpoint in Phuket

Please note - there's not so much room at the viewpoint here, and the cliff drops off very very steeply, I advise caution! There's no railings or warning signs, just don't go jumping around near the edge! You can walk carefully down a few meters onto a small flat area just before the cliff, but do it carefully!

My boy at Black Rock Viewpoint

(above) My boy enjoying the view

View looking southeast from ผาหินดำ

(above) Looking a bit more to the east you can see Koh Bon Island and Coral Island

And here's a little iPhone video at the viewpoint. I think I will come up here again for a sunset.

We stayed up there taking in the view for about 20 minutes and then headed back home. Going the other way on the dirt road we had a nice view looking north along the hills. Phuket has plenty of hills, which is actually how the island got it's name - the Malay word for hill is Bukit.

Road back from the viewpoint

So, let's see how long this place stays quiet! Looks like the landowner has made access much easier now, with the dirt road being improved and the viewpoint being signposted. Easy enough to find, if you know where you are going! Many other viewpoints in Phuket are easier to reach!

Black Rock Viewpoint - Location Map

19 June 2017

Tiger Cave Temple (Wat Tham Suea), Krabi

On our little 3 day holiday in the Krabi area at the end of April 2017 there were a couple of well known attractions that we wanted to visit. We were not too bothered about beaches although for sure on our next visit I want to see Railey Beach. We did want to see the Emerald Pool, and will visit there again, but have noted that you have to get there early to avoid the crowds! Top of my list was the Tiger Temple, or Tiger Cave Temple as it's properly known - Wat Tham Suea (วัดถ้ําเสือ). Not to be confused with the Tiger Temple near Kanchanaburi (a couple of hours west of Bangkok) which featured tigers cared for by monks and was raided and shut down last year! The Tiger Cave Temple in Krabi has no actual tigers. It does have a cave although we somehow neglected to visit the cave! The main temple and cave are below a tall cliff with a temple on top. It's 1,237 steps up and quite steep. Sounded like a family challenge :)

This is something to be done early in the morning, or late afternoon. You don't want to do this in the middle of a hot Thai day. We were awake about 6:30am and based on this experience, I'd say that if we do this again we will start even earlier! We could actually see the Tiger Temple from our Krabi Town hotel room - on top of one of the hills in the distance (actually only about 7km away as the crow flies).

View from Krabi Town Hotel

We parked at the temple by about 7:15am. Very few people there. A new temple building is under construction and nearing completion. We skipped the cave (and then forgot to visit the cave after the hike) and headed to the start of the climb up the mountainside. First small problem - daughter was wearing shorts that were too short, so she had to rent a skirt (no charge for rental, but a donation is appropriate should you forget to dress properly). Oh, and there is no entry fee here, so I'd suggest a donation anyway, even if you have the right clothes!

Tiger Temple Dress Code

(above) Please dress politely!

So .. we begin a 1,237 step climb. Let's say you should be averagely fit to attempt this. And start early. And carry water with you. Here's us - I am 48, used to be an athlete many years ago, but now mostly sit at a computer and am about 20kg overweight. My dear wife admits that a year ago she'd not have been able to do this climb, but she has been doing a lot of exercise in the last year. Kids - no worries, they are pretty active. Our daughter (15) was worried that she'd struggle, but I think she found it easier than any of us. Our son (12) bounds up and down mountains like a mountain goat.

Tiger Temple 1237 Steps

(above) Ready?

The steps do start very steeply! After just a couple of hundred, I am thinking "1,000 more?!!" Mostly the steps are well built, and easy enough to climb, but in some areas they are quite big - each one is a big step up! There are numbers painted on the railings on the way up, so you can see just how many hundreds more you have to climb! After just a short climb you get a nice view of the temple that's being built below :

New Temple at the Tiger Temple

Steps to the Tiger Temple

(above) I was hoping there would be more shade on the way up, but much of the climb is hot and sunny, even though we started early. I guess, then, that a late afternoon start would be in the shade as you're climbing up the east side of the mountain. This photo taken on the "lower slopes".

Monk on the way up at Tiger Temple

(above) We did see a few monkeys on the way up. I have read that they can be a little naughty and try to steal food and drinks.

Way Up Tiger Temple

(above) Only 491 steps? A long way to go! You start to get nice views as you climb higher, but only looking east across the flat land to the east of Krabi. The mountain views are only seen right at the top ... Keep climbing ...

View from 1000 Steps

(above) View looking east from about 1,000 steps up

Tiger Temple Climb

(above) Our daughter on some steep steps and very nearly at the top! It took us just over 1 hour to climb up. A hot, sweaty climb and we drank all the water that I carried (2 1/2 liters!). I say again - don't try this in the middle of the day! In fact, I'd not start this climb on a sunny day after about 8am. It's hot here in Thailand! My wife's cousin's son did this climb a while back - he's a soldier and he ran up to the top in 15 minutes! Damn!

So ... despite some self doubt about half way up, once we hit 1,000 steps we knew the top was close. And as soon as we got there, it was one of those WOW! moments.

Tiger Temple Krabi

Mountain View - Tiger Temple, Krabi

Thankfully there was some shade at the top. We all needed a 5 minute breather! We stayed at the top for about 20 minutes enjoying the views, the quiet and basking in our family achievement :)

Buddha at the Tiger Temple

(above) Buddha at the top of the Tiger Temple

Buddha Images at Tiger Temple, Krabi

(above) And some more Buddha statues


(above) And time for my wife to say a little prayer

We were pretty thirsty after the hike up despite drinking 5 half liter bottles of water between us. I should have carried more. There is a tap at the top and the sign says that the water is drinkable, but ... well, up to you. We figured that it would not take too long to walk down, and you can buy drinks at the bottom! Well, going down took about 25 minutes, but my thigh muscles were sore and my wife's knees were buckling! We had to stop a few times. The kids got down well before us. It really is quite steep in places! Once back on terra firma we bought some drinks and left some money in donation boxes. Back at the hotel we wished that we'd not taken rooms on the 4th floor in a hotel with no elevator. Ouch! My legs were sore for a few days after the climb. But I think we all agreed that we'd like to do it again.

Related Blog Posts

Holidays in Krabi
Emerald Pool
Krabi Hotels
Temples in the Phuket Area

Tiger Cave Temple - Location Map

Tiger Cave Temple (Wat Tham Suea), Krabi  |  Jamie's Phuket Blog

8 June 2017

Emerald Pool, Krabi (Sra Morokot)

We had a very nice family trip to Krabi at the end of April 2017 (just a couple of nights away from Phuket). It's not too far, about 2 1/2 hours drive from our house to Krabi Town. We skipped the beaches, but had a couple of well known attractions that we wanted to visit. After checking in to our hotel we headed out of town looking for the Emerald Pool. It's a bit of a drive, about 50km from town or 60km from Ao Nang beach. We stopped for a quick lunch on the way and found the entrance to the Emerald Pool at about 1:30pm. As expected, things looked busy. The car park was quite full. I can say before saying anything else - we plan to visit again, but would aim to arrive much earlier when I know it'll be quieter. I can also suggest trying to visit on a week day and not a weekend or public holiday. Having said that, it was not so crazily crowded and as it turns out there is more to see here than just 1 emerald coloured pool!

Entrance fee is the usual double price - foreigners 200 Baht for adults and 100 Baht for kids, Thai price 20 Baht / 10 Baht. At the entrance are a bunch of little food/snack/drink stalls, but please do note that you are not allowed to take food and drinks in plastic containers with you to the emerald pool. We did find a small shop selling drinks nearer the pool too.

Food Stall at Emerald Pool Entrance

There are 2 paths from the entrance. Most people were opting for the easy wide gravel path, but we took the narrow twisty path through the trees and mangroves. It's further - the sign says 1,400 meters by this path compared to 800 meters by the easy path. Along this walkway we were immersed in jungle and the stream that flows out of the pool was often near the path. The water is mineral rich and leaves coloured deposits around the water. Looked like a prehistoric jungle.

Jungle Stream on the way to Emerald Pool

Walkway to Emerald Pool

(above) Walking to the Emerald Pool

Sra Kaew (Glass Pool) near Emerald Pool

(above) On the way you pass this green pool called Sra Kaew (Glass Pool). It was a pleasant, crowd-avoiding walk. Took about 20 minutes including photo stops to reach the famous Emerald Pool.

Emerald Pool Krabi

(above) The Emerald Pool, fairly busy. We stopped there for just a couple of minutes and walked further (somehow missing a section of path). A narrow stream of water had cut into the rock and the water left mineral deposits all around. We walked uphill from the emerald pool to find the path again ...

Walking above the Emerald Pool

Path from Emerald Pool to Blue Pool

And the reason for walking past the emerald pool was to find the Blue Pool. About another 10 minutes of walking and hoping to find a place to jump in the water and cool off on a hot day. We found the rather beautiful blue pool ... Very blue indeed!

Blue Pool

Blue Pool Near Emerald Pool

Certainly a wonder of nature, BUT you're not allowed to swim in the blue pool. The whole family was saying "I want to swim!", but rules are rules. A sign said that the blue pool is a natural hot spring, with water temperature from 30 - 50 degrees C. So from here we walked back to the emerald pool and we did have a little splash about. I think during our short walk to the blue pool and back the number of people at the emerald pool had increased. Afternoons are certainly the busy time. Mental note made to visit in the morning next time!

Emerald Pool, Krabi

Emerald Pool Krabi

(above) Me and the kids at the Emerald Pool. We splashed around for half an hour. The water is certainly not cold, since it originates at the blue pool hot spring above. Getting in and out of the water is a little tricky - it's been left natural, no concrete steps or ladders! Although a little crowded, it was not too bad, not too noisy. This was a Friday, but during school holidays, so there were quite a lot of locals there. We took the quicker path back to the entrance to buy a few drinks and take the drive back to Krabi Town which takes about 1 hour. On the way we took a tiny detour to the entrance of the 'Klong Thom Hot Spring Waterfall', but decided to visit next day, as it was already late afternoon. The Emerald Pool will be visited again!

• More about the Krabi area : Holiday in Krabi
Tiger Cave Temple
Krabi Hotels
• For Tours in the Krabi area ask my friends at Easy Day Thailand

Emerald Pool - Location Map

Emerald Pool, Krabi (Sra Morokot)  |  Jamie's Phuket Blog