Tha Chat Chai Mangrove Forest in Phuket


The island of Phuket is largely known for its white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters. What you may not know is that there are also exquisite nature spots hidden within the island.

Topping this list is Tha Chat Chai Mangrove Forest – a nature reserve that offers visitors a chance kayak through calm streams of water, surrounded by aerial roots and vast green canopies – and get up close and personal with the island’s flora and fauna to understand why it’s crucial to preserve them.

We’ll take you through exactly what to look out for, and what’s on the table if you’re planning a close encounter with nature.

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Trekking and kayaking among mangroves


Tha Chat Chai Mangrove Forest is not your typical nature reserve. It’s extremely well-hidden and tucked away within Centre 2 of Phuket’s Marine National Park’s HQ.

tha chat chaiImage credit: Baan Baan Hostel

As for what to expect upon reaching, moving through the expansive mangrove forest feels as if we’re stepping into a lush green and magical world in a Studio Ghibli movie, like My Neighbour Totoro.

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Image credit: Phuket E-Magazine

Visitors can also get a close-up view of the mangrove forest’s rich ecosystem while strolling along a 600M-long raised wooden walkway.

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Image credit: Phuket E-Magazine

Besides trekking around the reserve on foot, there’ll definitely be opportunities to kayak through narrows streams winding through the forest.

tha chat chai
Image credit: Baan Baan Hostel

At the end of the walking trail, visitors can either turn back, or venture on in the mangroves via a kayak.


The canals are said to be so clear you can see the fish swimming in the water
Image credit: Phuket E-Magazine

The latter option allows you to paddle along the blue canals and through the curtains of low-hanging trees.

Image credit: Baan Baan Hostel

The kayak ride costs ฿200 (~USD6) and can take up to two hours, depending on which route you take.


A safe haven for land and aquatic wildlife


Not only is the natural reserve a home to over 100 varieties of plants, but it’s also a safe haven for young wildlife – both land and aquatic species.

tha chat chaiImage credit: Baan Baan Hostel

In addition to the fish swimming under your kayak, you’ll also come across many small creatures while gliding through the forest.

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Image credit: Phuket E-Magazine

These critters big and small range from smol birds to uncommon insects residing peacefully among the branches of the trees.

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A kingfisher bird latching onto a tree branch
Image
is used for illustration purposes only
Image credit: Thai National Parks

One of the grand sights being the kingfisher birds, which are known to have a call so unique you would turn your head towards them.

mangrove-forest-phuket
Image credit: Phuket E-Magazine

There are a total of eight educational stops on the kayak trail where you can pause and read about each biome. This is also an opportunity to observe rare flora, the largest mangroves in the forest, and the animals dwelling within the sanctuary.

mangrove-forest-phuket
Image credit: Phuket E-Magazine

What’s also interesting about Tha Chat Chai Mangrove Forest is that it safeguarded many species lives during the 2004 tsunami through its abundant ecosystem.


Image credit: Baan Baan Hostel

Today, it is still contributing to the ecosystems as well as the community in Phuket – it’s also a home to the local fishermen in the area.


Guided tours and D-I-Y walking tours


Do note that there are two main ways to explore the area.

Independent travelers who are game to embark on ‘Do-It-Yourself’ walking tours should look out for large display panels that tell the story of how the mangroves came to be in both English and Thai.

mangrove-forest-phuket
Image credit: Travel Impact Newswire

If you prefer listening to someone, over reading about the place, park guides are available at the centre to assist you along the way.

tha chat chaiImage credit: Baan Baan Hostel


How to get to Tha Chat Chai Mangrove Forest


A visit to Tha Chat Chai Mangrove Forest will not only be an opportunity for us to learn more about Phuket’s biomes, but also to escape into nature.

A tranquil journey among lush greenery that’s bound to bring us the peace that we need every once in a while.

tha chat chai
Image credit: Baan Baan Hostel

If you’ve been longing for something like that, here’s just the place for you.

Just a final tip, if you’re driving over, be sure to slow down on the road, or you’ll easily miss this hidden gem.

Phuket Marine National Park Operation Centre 2
Cost: ฿200 (~USD6) / kayak ride
Opening Hours: 8.30AM-4.30PM, Daily
Address: 92/7 Moo 5 Mai Khao, Thalang, Phuket 83110
Telephone: +66-7-634-8526

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Cover images adapted from: Baan Baan Hostel. Images used are for illustrations purposes only.

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