Wednesday, 19 November 2008


Bor Klueng revisited
A recent article on Suan Phung district in Thailand's Rathcahaburi province in the Bangkok Post (Nov. 9, 2008) cites a 'holidaymaker' and his / her experience while visiting the Bo Klueng (or Bor Klueng) hot springs. Here follows the part of the article concerning the visit by the author, just in case the original article fails to be retrieved:
' "One of my favourite things to do is taking a dip in a hot spring at night and lighting a candle".

Bor Klueng Hot Spring, probably [or not] the nearest hot spring to Bangkok, is privately owned. There are two pools open to the public. The outdoor pool is set in rock, while the roofed pool has a tile floor.

Despite the obvious appeal of the hot springs, we had Bor Klueng to ourselves. "If there are no tourists, the owner of the hot spring allows me to organise special programmes for my guests", Mr. Kammawit [owner of Buawattana Hillside resort] said.

A dip of my hand into the water revealed that the temperature is comfortably warm and surprisingly, there is no sulphur smell.

I feel sad I am in such a rush and haven't the time to enjoy it. But I promise myself I will not miss a night time hot bath next time I am here'. By Peerawat Jariyasombat
This article describes the same hot springs which I visited in March, earlier this year. Clearly the author was impressed and to a degree I agree: the site had been nicely enhanced without over-developing. Would it help that the springs are privately owned? Maybe.

Future of Thai hot springs
But, as in the case of my recent visit to Phra Ruang, more development of Thai hot spring sites, seems to be on the cards. Both the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and the Bangkok Post (once again) mention developing hot springs. TAT (mid 2008):
'... further develop and promote new tourism products in 14 different clusters'.
Among which are hot springs. Bangkok Post (un-dated, but of around May / June 2008):
'The minister [of Tourism and Sports] also drafted a four-year plan starting this year to increase tourism revenue, and pledged to invest up to 6.5 billion baht [more than 150 million US$!] in new projects. The new projects cover the four key regions of the country and include hot springs, Lanna northern traditional culture, eco-tourism in the North, riverside tourism in the central region, and development of the Gulf of Thailand coast in the South'.
So, will there be more changes a la Phra Ruang? Let's hope not, anything with more taste will be warmly welcomed. For instance like Pong Duet, which after all was developed by the government. I dare say that ensuring more naturalness in the development would assist in drawing more visitors.

Access to correct information please!
Another great way to get more visitors is to make known where the hot springs are and how to get there (including signboards).

Take the case of two hot springs located in Klong Wang Chao National Park. The (poorly accessible due to deep linking failure) web-site of the National Parks of Thailand states:
Hot Spring
  • Nature trail study
  • Mineral water bath
Hot Well
Hot Well warm water erupts from the earth face with average temperature of 50-70 degrees Celsius. The area covers 1 rai or 0.0016 km2. Located about 1.5 kilometers from Tao Dam. It is also a habitat of wild pig, barking deer and asmber deer.

  • Nature trail study
  • Mineral water bath
The site also includes a photo of each, surprisingly the same photo! The info above is insufficient to pursue a visit, but as they are within the National Park, possibly the authorities could add more information. The 'Hot Spring' refers to a spring near the Klong Pong waterfall, a day's walk away. The other (Hot Well) refers to hot springs near Tao Dam waterfall, which can only be reached over a 30 km track accessible only to 4-wheel drive vehicle's.

From the Wang Chao National Park's visitor's center, photo's of Tao Dam waterfall (left) and the 'hot well' right.

Already in these few sentences there's more information than obtainable elsewhere on the internet.

Off the net, a TAT brochure (July 2008) on Kamphaeng Phet province notes:
'Geyser in this area are 2 spots; namely, on the way to Namtok [waterfall] Klong Pong and to Namtok Tao Dam for a distance of 1,500 meters'.
Surprisingly though, neither on the net nor off, is mention made of Baan Pong Nam Rong, a nearby village where soaking facilities exist. How do I know? This list. (Beware though this list contains some mistakes ...) Otherwise in the whole of the internet no mention is made of the possibility, that's until today! Well perhaps in Thai language sites, such as this list related to the list just mentioned. It's far more extensive than the links of this Soaking in Southeast Asia site, but seeking other verifiable sources is proving very difficult.

Health issues
Another article of interest to Southeast Asian soakers is the news that in Taiwan
'8 hot springs fail inspection'.
Unfortunately the article fails to state the reasons why. I briefly touched on this subject in my latest blog concerning a visit to Phra Ruang, which was chosen by the Thai authorities to be developed due to it's health claims. On internet there is an abbreviated list of hot springs in Thailand with some of the spring water qualities. However there is no comprehensive quality control in Thailand, neither do I believe that this takes place elsewhere in Southeast Asia.
Important? I would believe, especially if the springs are being enhanced, as to attract more visitors.

New places to soak
In Lao a new resort has opened, close to the remote Muang La hot springs in Oudomxai province. The name of the resort? Muang La Resort. Including the following:
'Add to these magical moments by relaxing in the natural warmth of the hot-water spring. For centuries, the secret of this natural resource was closely guarded and only a few Laotians know these nearby sources and come to pamper themselves. A small part of this beneficial natural asset has been tapped to supply the incredible hot water spa - at 4m in height it offers unparalleled views of the river and the forest. This unique and exceptional experience can be extended in the sauna. This traditional candlelit Laotian sauna runs thanks to the steam from the hot water spring mixed with scented grasses and herbs; offering the ultimate in relaxation'.
Photo from the Muang La site!

I'm packing my bags!

Another new(-ish) hot springs resort in Pai, Mae Hong Son province, Thailand.

More from the net
A soaker's visit to San Khamphaeng near Chiang Mai, Thailand on the Soakers forum:
'It's a large beautifully landscaped park near the mountains. The visible source is an elevated pool that is 105 Celsius. They've built a series of long canals where the water gets cooler the further away from the source that you get. People sit on the edge of the canals and hang their feet in the water. There's a medium warm pool for soaking and in another part of the park a larger pool that is warmer and basically acts as a big swimming pool. There are food vendors though they are relatively discreetly kept away from the pools. They have a Thai foot massage building and another where you can get a full body massage. It's very clean and very well run'.
This and more (incl. photo's) by following the link above.

Site changes

Finally, those who have been paying attention will have noticed some changes in the links, which I have been updating; until now I've covered northern Thailand and Lao, changing some of the dead links adding a few more, the site is slowly nearing 300 links to hot springs in Southeast Asia. Google nearly any but the most popular hot springs and Soaking in Southeast Asia is nearly always on the first page of results. This is also clearly indicated by the ticker slowly increasing from just under 100 monthly visitors last year November until nearly 300 this November.

Elsewhere, I am redistributing my flickr photo sites, the free hosting stops at 200 pictures, but by now I have much more than that. I will be transferring the Thai photo's to a separate site. A pity is that I will be losing the counter of the number of views per photo. The range is anything from 1 until over over 1,000 views, if there is any hint of something untoward!

In the coming weeks possibly more updates and gradual review of most of the links. More postings in the new year from Indonesia / Singapore, would you believe it?

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