Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Bob up

Reposted from Soaking in Siam, a visit I made the other month, to Phang Nga province in southern Thailand.

Off the trail
Despite it's presence to the nearby tourist center of Phuket (and Khao Lak), Kapong hot spring seems to be well off the tourist trail. That said the lazy environs of Kapong are altogether located in what one would suspect another world, one without tourists.

The main hot spring area. Sandbagged and ready for a soak.
The spring itself is located at the start of the pond.

Kapong (or Ka-pong) hot spring is otherwise known (probably locally) as Plai Phu. Located in the district of Kapong in Phang Nga province, in the south of the country it's just a 2 hour drive from the hub of Phuket's hot tourist spot (Patong) or just 1 hour from Khao Lak. The town itself seems very laid back and for a district head quarter not much seems to be going on. Economic activity revolve around rubber planting with evidence of recent palm oil plantations slowly attributing to local economic significance. Furthermore, mostly small villages located between quite heavily forested mountains.

The parking area with a market stall. Some other housing (unused) behind.

The Site
There is quite a bit of parking space on gravel belong side the Le stream. Behind between the trees there are a number of bungalows and other structures which seem unused. Downstream one sees (a now cut off from the main stream) side channel with some huts and a number of port-a-loos besides. The side channel has been blocked with a dozen or so sand bags creating a half meter deep pool which is warmish. Go to the far end of the channel and the water is definitely hot. Nearby in the main stream, are a number of springs in the river bed which are hot and the main stream itself heats up.

Merge between the hot stream (left) and the main cold stream (right).

A great place to soak up the heat especially now while the weather is cooler. But alas the main area is totally devoid of trees so during the day having a soak without getting a heat stroke is not possible so it seems. Possibly that's why the place is so deserted. What I like is that though enhanced one can see that the site has remained mostly natural. I can also imagine that come sun down this is a great place to hang out and around.

Out There
From the internet one does not become more knowledge, so it seems.
  • This site mentions water temperatures of 65 degrees Celsius.
  • A foreigner (presumably English: the_wibblywobblies notes a word of caution:
    'On departure we stopped off at a Hot Spring near Kapong. Our 5 year old inadvertently stepped into the small pool of extremely hot natural mineral water and suffered 2nd degree burns to her feet. We are planning to have a warning sign erected there but in the meantime please be careful'.
    There's no danger sign and there were some certainly very hot pools. If this were somewhere else in the western world there would be big fences around it and no bathing facilities at all.
  • Wikitravel's otherwise excellent Thailand entries fails to note the existence of the hot springs in Kapong (as laid down on the Phang Nga provincial page) though does mention the surrounding waterfalls.
  • Finally though is more explanatory:
    'Some of the hot springs spring up in a very cold stream that flows from the mountain. It is marked by arranged-cobble stones. On the level besides the stream there are concrete wells 2 meters high, with steps up and down 3-4 wells connecting altogether, in the area of 200 square meters to contain hot spring water that bobbed up. Nowadays (2007) these hot spring have lower bob ups, which may be caused by changes underground'.
    The site also has some (better?) photo's. That includes a picture of stone structures which just might have been some soaking facilities in the past.
Did I mention forested hills?
Well opposite the soak site they are doing their best to correct this impression.

Getting there: The hot springs are just 8 km out of town. Once past the district offices heading north one needs to take the first right towards Nai Le village. The good roads continues for roughly 4 km, when this time a well signposted turn heads to another right and up the valley the road continues onward until a sudden halt as one drives into a teak forest. The unpaved track continues for another 500m and one has arrived at Kapong hot spring.

Soaking experience: Natural and alternate use of cold water are a plus. Pity the water levels are not deeper, but a superior experience. Come morning early or during sun down.

Overall impression: The place is well worth a soak if a mid day visit can be avoided. Though evidence of use widespread it'sd by no means trashed. A place to get to know.

Lots of smaller springs around the river bed.

The main spring.

The main pond with the port-a-loo's and market stalls.


  1. I love the toilet without a door. I may suggest this for a new product for us in the UK!

  2. this is my new favorite website, and you may be my hero! i'm a hot springs LOVER but haven't made quite the career of it has you have! anyhow i'm in thailand for just another week and thinking of trying to at least hit a couple of these, if i had my own car it'd be another story but gonna have to stick to tours/busses...


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