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DailyOperating time: 06.00 - 20.00
Category : National Parks & Marine Reserves
Attraction Details :
Declared a national park on April 19, 1974, and ASEAN Heritage Parks and Reserves by UNESCO in 1982, Thailand’s first marine national park is renowned for its history and natural beauty. It is located in the Andaman Sea, around 40 kilometers from the town of Satun or 22 kilometers off the shore from the Pak Bara Pier. The park borders the Muko Phetra National Park on the north and Malaysia sea border in the south. The park covers an area of about 1,490 square kilometers including islands and sea. Of the total 51 islands, there are seven large islands; Koh Tarutao, Koh Adang, Koh Rawi, Koh Lipe, Koh Klang, Koh Batuang, and Koh Bitsi. These islands have been formed into two major groups; namely, Muko Tarutao and Muko Adang–Rawi. The best time for a visit is during November to April.
Ko Tarutao is the largest island of the park covers an area of 152 square kilometers. Most of the areas are mountains with a moist evergreen forest home to interesting species of plants and wildlife. There are many bays, both small and large, with beautiful beaches. In the sea, various species of fish, including 4 endangered species of sea turtle, can be seen. The word ‘Tarutao’ was gradually changed from ‘Talotrao’ in Malay, which means having many bays.
Apart from an abundance of nature, Ko Tarutao has a memorable history. In 1936, the government had a policy for the Department of Corrections to set up a reformatory estate and a prison. Being a remote island having natural elements which pose obstacles against escape, Tarutao was, therefore, chosen for this purpose. An office building, houses for warders, a sleeping hall for prisoners, and an occupational training center, were built at Ao Talo Wao and Ao Talo Udang. In 1938, the first group of 500 prisoners was sent to the island and the number of prisoners gradually increased to a maximum of 3,000. In 1939, the government sent 70 more political prisoners resulting from the Bowondet and Nai Sip rebels, to be detained at Ao Talo Udang.
In 1941, World World II caused an impact on the Tarutao reformatory estate making it short of food and medicine thus a great number of prisoners died of illness. The warders and some prisoners decided to attack commercial ships sailing in the sea at the Straits of Melaka and rob goods from them which made commercial ships were scared to come by the area. In 1946, the British government who ruled Melaka at the time successfully suppressed the pirates of Tarutao by force upon permission from the Thai government. Later, the Department of Corrections announced the dissolution of the Tarutao reformatory estate. After that, the island was left deserted for 26 years until the Royal Forest Department declared the establishment of the Tarutao National Park in 1974 making it became the first-ever marine national park of Thailand.
Ao Phante Melaka is a bay with a clean long white beach. The headquarters of the Tarutao National Park is located here. There is a tourist service center where an exhibition has been held about the nature and history of Ko Tarutao. This bay also offers a viewpoint for a beautiful sunset. From Ao Phante Melaka, visitors can walk up to a viewpoint on Pha To Bu (To Bu Cliff).
Ao Chak; this small bay is next to Ao Phante Melaka.
Ao Mo Lae, it is 4 kilometers from the park’s headquarters. The bay possesses a clean white sandy beach. There is a beautiful grove of coconut trees amidst tranquility, as well as bungalows suitable for recreation.
Ao Son, it is 8 kilometeres from the park’s headquarters. This curve-shaped bay has sandy beaches interspersed with rocky beaches. It is also an egg-laying ground for sea turtles. A camping site is provided here with food and beverage service is available. There are small waterfalls: Namtok Ludu and Namtok Lopo which are ideal places for forest trekking and a nature study.
Ao Talo Wao is a bay located to the east of the island, and provides another viewpoint for a beautiful sunrise. The Park’s Ranger Station To To 1 (Talo Wao) is situated here. It is a historical area where the reformatory estate for detention and critical prisoners was established. Nowadays, the park has imitation buildings of the past, such as houses of the warders, a sleeping hall of prisoners, an occupational training center, a cemetery of 700 corpses constructed in the area.
Ao Talo Udang is a bay located to the south of the island, 8 kilometers from Ko Langkawi. The Park’s Ranger Station To To 2 (Talo Udang) is situated here. In the past, it was where political prisoners from the Bowondet and Nai Sip rebels were detained.
Namtok Ludu is a small beautiful waterfall, around 3 kilometers from Ao Son. There is a nature trail from Ao Son to Namtok Ludu.
Tham Chorakhe is a cave of 300 meters in depth. Inside, beautiful stalactites and stalagmites can be found in different forms. To visit the cave, take a long-tailed boat for 20 minutes. The boat cruises along Khlong Phante Melaka (Phante Melaka Canal) where numerous mangrove trees grow all along its banks. About an hour is needed to explore the inside of the cave. Visitors should bring their own torches. Visitors should contact the Visitor Service Centre of the park for more information or get an officer to lead the way.
Pha To Bu Viewpoint. Pha To Bu is a 60-meter cliff above sea level. A 20-minute-walk up to the viewpoint passes by a dry evergreen forest. The viewpoint behind the park’s headquarters overlooks the beach of Ao Phante Melaka, Ko Bulon, Ko Klang, Ko Khai, Ko Adang, Ko Rawi, and Muko Phetra. A beautiful scene of the sunset can also be seen from here.
Nature Trails in the area of Ao Phante Melaka. This nature trail goes through an evergreen forest to Ao Talo Wao with 12-kilometer distance. The path is flanked by dense woods and shady plants. Wild animals such as common wild pig, mouse deer, and many interesting species of bird, particularly hornbill, can be often seen along the way.
Another nature trail is to Ao Chak, Ao Mo and Ao Son. The 8-kilometer walk takes about two hours to pass through a virgin rain forest. It’s suitable for bird-watching such as hornbill and drongo.
Cruising around the Island. This cruising route is the best way to study nature as a part of ecotourism. The park provides boats with guiding officers to visit beaches. The one-day boat trip will take visitors to see birds at Ao Chak; the white sandy beach at Ao Son which is the longest one on Ko Tarutao; historical traces at Ao Talo Udang; and nature at Ao Talo Wao; dive on a coral reef, and visit a mangrove forest. For more information, contact the Visitor Service Centre on the island.
Opening hours: 6am-8pm
Admission: 200 baht for adult and 100 baht for children
Contact: Department of National Park, Wildlife and Flora at Tel. 02-562-0760 or the Visitor Service Center of the Tarutao National Park at the Pak Bara Pier in Tambon Pak Nam, Amphoe La-ngu, Satun 91110, 074-783-485, or the Tarutao National Park Ranger Station To To 1 (Ao Phante Melaka) on the island, 074-729-002/3, or visit the website: www.dnp.go.th
How to get there :
•Pak Bara Pier – Tarutao National Park: During the Tarutao tourism season from November to April, a boat service is available to islands in the Tarutao National Park. A boat service for Pak Bara Pier – Tarutao route is available daily. A return fare is 400 Baht per person. From Pak Bara Pier, the boat leaving at 12:30pm and 3pm. From Tarutao, the boat leaving at 9am and noon. Timetables of Service by Ferry Operators to Koh Tarutao and Koh Lipe (The service is subject to change. Please check it with the operators before taking a trip.)
◦Adang Sea Tour: From Pak Bara to Koh Tarutao and Koh Lipe—10:30am, 11:30am, 3pm, 1:30pm, 2:30pm, 5pm. From Koh Lipe to Koh Tarutao and Pak Bara—9am, 11:30am, 12:30pm, 10am-12:30pm. To Koh Tarutao, a single fare is 250 baht, a return fare is 400 baht. To Koh Lipe, a single fare is 550 baht, a return fare is 1,000 baht.
◦Lipe Ferry and Speedboat Company Limited: From Pak Bara to Koh Tarutao and Koh Lipe—11am, 11:20am, 11:30am, 12:30pm, 1pm, 1:20pm, 1:30pm–2:30pm. From Koh Lipe to Koh Tarutao and Pak Bara—9:30am, 10:30am, 11:30am, 10:30am, 11:15am, noon. To Koh Tarutao, a single fare is 350 baht, a return fare is 600 baht. To Koh Lipe, a single fare is 650 baht, a return fare is 1,200 baht.
◦Tiger Line Travel Company Limited (Express Air-conditioned Ferry): From Pak Bara to Koh Tarutao and Koh Lipe—11:30am, noon, 1:30pm, 1:30pm, 2pm, 4pm. From Koh Lipe to Koh Tarutao and Pak Bara—9am, 10:30am, 11:30am, 2pm and (festival occasions only) 2:45pm, 3:30pm. To Koh Tarutao, a single fare is 350 baht, a return fare is 600 baht. To Koh Lipe, a single fare is 650 baht, a return fare is 1,200 baht.
•Distances from Piers to Islands
◦Pak Bara Pier
▪Ao Phante Melaka (Koh Tarutao) 22 km
▪Koh Adang 80 km
▪Koh Lipe 82 km
▪Koh Tarutao - Muko Adang–Rawi 40 km
▪Koh Lipe 40 km
▪Koh Khai 14.5 km
▪Koh Adang - Koh Lipe 2 km
▪Koh Hin Ngam 2.5 km
▪Koh Khai 17 km