A quiet paradise: Sangkhlaburi – Thailand

A quiet paradise: Sangkhlaburi – Thailand

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The small town of Sangkhlaburi offers a quiet, chill, and pastel-colored spot, perfect for a relaxing retreat. No more and no less. Located in the western Thailand, at the Burmese border, this place looks like a dead-end on the map, which might be confirmed by the fact that if you go further, you will be in Burma! Yet, this is exactly what gives all its charms and serenity to the place.

The city itself being very small you can do all the in-city sights by walking around. This is confirmed by the fact that there are not many moto-taxis around. The richness of this town comes from its ethnic diversity. Due to its location and to past Burmese conflicts and civil wars, Sangkhlaburi is habited by Thai, Burmese, Lao, Mon and Karen (two ethnic groups from Burma) people. However, they all live in a relatively peaceful cohabitation. The market is probably the best place to observe the mix of cultures and languages, as you will find both Thai and Burmese dishes, women wearing the Nakha (traditional Burmese white powder applied on the face) and men the Longyi (the traditional Burmese dress for men), and good Lao-style coffees. If you are in a desperate need of coffee, Oh Dee makes a delicious black coffee and other fresh blended beverages, and also provides free wifi access.


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The highlight will be found down the main road, with the lake Kao Leam and its Wooden Bridge. The ancient village of Sangkhlaburi was flooded after the Kao Laem dam’s construction in 1982, forcing the villagers to relocate to the actual site. During the dry season you will see the top of Wat Sam Prasop, the temple from the ancient village. After the rainy season, the wooden Bridge is often destroyed and a temporary bamboo floating bridge serves as a replacement. A floating village stands beside the Mon Bridge, with people playing cards and enjoying a beer on their floating terraces. Looking at the bridge, you might fear for your safety as it is made of wooden sticks and boards, piled in an apparent random way. Yet, it is actually not dangerous and worth crossing, as you will enjoy not only the view of the whole lake, but also the local land and lake life. Locals are fishing and bathing in the cold and calm lake, as well as trading their goods from one side of the bridge to another. Both sunrise and sunset worth a visit at the lake, dawn bringing an incredible pastel-colored painted sky with the wooden bridge at the foreground. Rent a boat and you will enjoy the best of the lake, including a visit to the half-submerged temple. Another sight is the Wat Wang Wiwekaram temple, built by the Mons, and located across the bridge.

There are much more to discover around the small town: waterfalls, temples, the Three Pagodas Pass, but also the jungle or other parts of the lake. Early in the morning you might experience the dense and cold fog enveloping the whole city, that gives a mystical side to Sangkhlaburi.

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How to get there

To get to the paradise, you need first to reach Kanchanaburi, which is quite easy from Bangkok, by bus or minivan, from either Mo Chit or Southern (Sai Tai Taling Chan) bus stations. The town of Kanchanaburi is only few hours from Bangkok and the trip will cost you between a 100 to 200 bahts depending on your mean of transportation. Buses are leaving very frequently daytime and you will also find night buses. Once in Kanchanaburi bus station, you can take a bus or a minivan, the minivan being a bit more expensive but much more convenient knowing the trip takes between 3 to 4 hours. On the road, you will see several waterfalls parks, as well as the famous Tiger Temple. Before reaching Sangkhlaburi, you will enter the Khao Laem National Park, a 1,500 square kilometers park, from where you can already see the Khao Laem Reservoir.

/// Written by Camille Pesquer, Thailand