Hidden gems are those points on a map that few people know about. They’re worth a visit yet unknown to many, which is a good thing: You get to see something truly unique without having to deal with the crowds.
Where It Is
Thale Noi (‘Small Sea’) is a lake in southern Thailand, famous for its sea of lotus flowers and waterfowl reserve protected under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.
The Thale Noi Waterfowl Park is the largest of its kind in Thailand, covering 450 square km and serves as a habitat for over 180 species of birds and plants. Some birds live here throughout the year but come winter, migratory species from as far away as Siberia begin their long flight to Thale Noi.
How To Get Around
Thale Noi is accessible from both the Songkhla and Phattalung districts- you can rent a car from Ranot, Sathing Phra and Mueang (Songkhla) or Pak Phayun and Khuan Khanun (Phattalung). One option is to take Highway no. 4048 from Muang District to Khanun and onward to Thale Noi, a journey of 32km.
If you want to try the local trains, get down at Pak Khlong station and travel the remaining eight kilometres by taxi to Thale Noi.
Once you reach the Thale Noi pier, you’ll see boats waiting to take people around the lake. Boats are available for 1-2 hour trips for 450 baht a ride.
What To Eat
Since Thale Noi is located in southern Thailand, you can be sure there will be an abundance of fresh seafood. You’ll see plenty of restaurants in Khuan Khanun where Thale Noi is located, as well as in Amphoe Muang Phattalung nearby. Look out for the usual suspects like tom yam goong, fried fish, fried squid and chicken with basil.
The Thale Noi Waterfowl Park is open daily from 8am-5pm, for enquiries call +667468 5239. Here you take a boat ride, walk around the lake or visit the surrounding towns.
If you have a particular interest in the waterfowls and would like to conduct research, you will need to hire a guide at the center.
Where To Shop
You might have some difficulty finding large stores in this part of Thailand, but that’s why you came here, right? Having said that, you will see plenty of family-run souvenir shops, stalls and markets as well as 7-Elevens, attractions in themselves in Thailand. There is a row of shops right in front of the Thale Noi pier, where you can buy souvenirs, food and drinks.
Where To Stay
Accommodation: There are two options – guesthouses or hotels. Guesthouses such as Baan Taweesuuk and Baan Laan Buweh are located along the lakefront, with rooms ranging from 500Bht to 750Bht. If you’re looking for the Lampam Resort and Hotel in Amphoe Muang Phattalung, a 15-minute drive from Thale Noi. There are various rooms to suit different budgets, priced from 500Bht to 1,800Bht.
-The months from May to August are the hottest in southern Thailand, so you may want to avoid going to Thale Noi then. As for rain, the months from October to December have the heaviest rainfall and are not recommended for travel in this area.
-The best time to visit appears to be from January to March when the weather isn’t too hot and when the lotus flowers at the Thale Noi Waterfowl Park are at their prettiest.
-Note that if you are love photography or interested in studying the wildlife in the area, bird populations expand significantly from November-February.
-A supply of drinking water is essential, as is a good pair of walking shoes or sandals.