Monkeys in Khao Lak

Of all of the animals that inhabit the Khao Lak countryside, monkeys are one of the most popular among tourists. There are several opportunities for tourists to see monkeys in Khao Lak. The most common monkey experience for tourists is a visit to the Suwankuha Temple in Phang Nga. Usually included in most James Bond Island tours, the temple is located in a wide cave system and is home to an impressive reclining Buddha which is ‘guarded’ by a large troop of macaque monkeys. Although these monkeys are technically wild, being visited by so many tourists each day has taught them to associate people with food. You can buy packets of peanuts and corn to feed the monkeys outside the cave for just a few Baht, so of course people do. Feeding the monkeys can make a great photo opportunity, but be aware! These monkeys are no longer nervous and scared of people, so they will steal anything that interests them. Last time I was there one of them stole my coffee, straight out of my hand. It had been an early start that morning and as you can imagine, I wasn’t impressed. However I know that it is not worth fighting these monkeys. If they try to take something, just let them. If it isn’t something they can eat or drink they will soon get bored of it and they don’t usually go far. Each year several tourists end up paying for expensive rabies shots after getting bitten by these monkeys. Most bites occur when people refuse to let go of what they are holding, or when they are trying to tempt the monkey to pose for the perfect photo using peanuts.

Monkey Troop in Khao Lak

Macaques are the most common species of monkey in this area. Thailand is home to six different species of macaque. The crab-eating macaque and the Rhesus macaque are usually the most common. Found throughout Southeast Asia, these monkeys are the third largest population of primates in the world. Behind only humans and rhesus monkeys. In recent years they have said to have already evolved to reach the ‘stone age’, they have learnt to use stones and rocks as tools to help them open shells and nuts or to peel roots and bark. Macaques will mostly live in large groups called “troops”, each troop will usually be made up of up to about 20 females and only a few males. The troop leader will usually be a dominant female. Males and females can be differentiated by their size and facial hair. Although females will also have whiskers, only males will have moustache. Males will also usually be larger in size. They have a lifespan of about 15-30 years.

Despite their name, crab eating macaques do not normally feed on crabs. They are opportunistic omnivores, meaning they will feed on a range of animals and plants whenever they can. Normally about 60%-90% of their diet is made up of seeds, fruits, flowers, bark and leaves. However, they will also feed on smaller animals such as young or nesting birds, lizards, frogs and fish. In certain areas, the Khao Lak Mangroves included, these monkeys have become good enough swimmers to dive for crabs and other crustaceans.

Monkey at temple cave in Phang Nga

The monkeys in the Khao Lak Mangroves live a much more ‘natural’ life. They travel between the surrounding plantations and mangrove forests in search of food and shelter. They can often be seen as the tide drops making their way to their favorite hunting grounds where they will search for shellfish, crabs, shoots, nuts and leaves. They are much more wary of human activity in this area as they are often considered a pest by local plantation owners and crab collectors. However it is possible to kayak in among the troop and watch their activities without disturbing them provided you have an experienced guide.

Phang Nga Province in Thailand

Phang Nga Thailand is one of the most beautiful places on earth. The limestone cliffs rising out of the dense jungle are truly inspiring. Add a variety of waterfalls, caves and the majestic Phang Nga archipelago to the mix and you have the makings of an unforgettable holiday. Millions of people visit Thailand every year but only a small percentage actually spend any amount on time in this amazing province. Phang Nga is far removed from the noise and bustle of the other major vacation destinations in Thailand such as Bangkok, Phuket and Chiang Mai. The pace is a lot slower. It is easily the safest province in the country. Phang Nga has clean air and little if any heavy industry. This place thought “green” long before any other area in South East Asia. One only has to come and see for themselves.

One of the best ways to see this amazing place is by renting a motorbike or car and just hitting the road. The next best way is to book one of many trips offered by the local tour agencies. There are numerous waterfalls, rivers and national parks to explore. The city of Phang Nga is small but functional and it’s easy to fall in love with its scenery. It reminds me of the meeting between the modern world and primitive jungle. Anyone who flies south from Bangkok or Chiang Mai to Phuket during the daytime will see the stunning Phang Nga archipelago from the air. The waters are crystal clear and you would swear that you were traveling back in time to another era.

The Similan and Surin Island chains are off the coast of this province with the gateway to these places being Khao Lak. The islands are renowned for the world class diving and snorkeling to be had. Khao Lak consists of former fishing villages strung together along Highway 4. The area is one of the more family friendly destinations in all of Thailand. There are kilometers of unspoiled beaches, impressive waterfalls and with the laid back atmosphere it is always a pleasure to go on tours in Khao Lak.

The people who live and work in Phang Nga are extremely friendly and helpful. If you are into fishing then this is also a nice place to hire a long-tail boat and drop a line into the calm waters. Finding a place to stay is easy too. There is accommodations to fit any budget. There are backpacker lodges, 3-5 star resorts and even 6 star super luxury resorts available.

There is also a large Burmese presence in the northern part of the province. If you go to visit the Surin Islands there is a small Moken village to visit. The Moken are nomadic sea gypsies who rely on the ocean for their livelihoods. After the 2004 tsunami uprooted them from their former villages, they settled in a quiet bay in the southern part of the island chain. If you want to have a truly inspirational holiday experience mixed with the natural beauty of the tropics then Phang Nga Province is a must visit for you and your friends and family.