Have you ever been asked, “what do you prefer; the forest or the sea?” Some people can answer right away but for others it’s not so easy because the beach and the forest are beautiful in their own ways. But what if you didn’t need to choose and if I could tell you of a perfect place where you can enjoy both the forest and the ocean at the same time? Well, I’d recommend the adventure tour in the mangroves in Tha Chat Chai, in the north of Phuket.
The Tha Chat Chai Phuket Marine National Park Research, Mai Khao, is located a bit further north from Sai Kaew Beach. If you drive past, you may take the place as just a formal government office and some might not want to stop to visit but the park features a cool adventure tour in its mangrove forest. Within the park there are millions of both plant and marine lives. There are information stands along the way, and you can kayak in the surrounding areas. You can visit by yourself or if you prefer to kayak and learn more about the park, contact the local officers in the centre in advance.
I recommend going on a tour with park guides as this saves a lot of time and you can also learn many things in this manner. There are several routes to take; a 600-metre walking route and two kayaking options; the first is about 800 metres long and takes about 45 minutes to an hour (depending on the tides). The second one is two kilometres long and takes about two hours to complete. The second route starts off at a confluence along the mangrove forest and fishermen’s village’s ‘canal’. You can also see how the local fishermen live along the waterway. Along the way here you’ll have to lie down flat in the kayak to get through the many low-lying tree branches and air roots. The park officer explains the difference between each mangrove type and how important the mangrove forest is, how it saved lives during the tsunami, what aerial roots are and what they do. There are so many things to learn at this park with more than 100 different types of plants here that make up a protective ‘nursery’ home for many young marine lives. The park is not only a ‘safe house’ for marine lives, a protective barrier from tsunamis, an outdoor classroom for tourists and children, but it also benefits the locals who live in the area. The park concept of management is to make the most for all living in the area.
On the way to the kayak deck, we take another route. You can both see and hear the creatures here including small birds and insects flying around. If you’re alert enough you’ll notice giant spider webs. It’s a peaceful feeling to be surrounded by nature like this.
The mangrove forest trekking activity is open daily, but if you’d like a guide to take you around and go kayaking, you should book the tour in advance. You’ll have to pay a small fee to support the Marine National Park Research. It’s also recommended to book your tour on a weekday. There are a few simple and logical rules to learn before entering the park such as not to make loud noises, not break any branches or try to touch any animals and of course don’t leave any garbage in the area. We must keep the park and the forest clean and make sure that the mangroves will serve the community for as long as possible while protecting both marine lives and those of the locals.
The Mangrove Tours in Tha Chat Chai Phuket Marine National Park Research. Address: 92/7 Moo 5 Mai Khao, Thalang, Phuket.