Where I come from, waterfalls are generally not marked with their own sign along the road unless they’re something truly impressive. In Thailand, however, every little trickling stream seems to be advertised as this or that “waterfall”, and more than once I’ve hiked several kilometres only to find something less impressive than a fountain you might find in front a three-star hotel. At Manora waterfall just north of Phang Nga town, however, you’ll be rewarded by something justly worthwhile.
The multiple layers and refreshing natural pools of Manora are just a short motorbike ride away from Phang Nga town. Upon entering the trail visitors are greeted by a pristine swimming hole with cool, clear water that flows straight from nearby mountain tops. This is where Phang Nga comes to cool off, and if you’ve had it with Thailand’s tropical heat, it’s a welcome sight indeed.
Just beyond the swimming hole visitors will find a wide and relatively deep stream bridged by a fallen tree. If it weren’t for the hundreds of small fish that thrive here, this stream would also be a good spot for swimming. At least it makes for a nice photo.
Dip your feet in the water of the stream: the fish will mistake your toes for something edible and dozens will start nipping at your toes all at once. It doesn’t really hurt — and some might find it oddly pleasurable — but in any case it’s sure to make you giggle.
A little further up the path from the fish stream the first of Manora’s waterfalls comes into view. With less of a roar than those further up, this is a tranquil little spot to enjoy the entrancing sound of water gushing over rocks.
After passing another shallow swimming hole along the path, where you can swing like Tarzan on a vine over the water, Manora’s larger and more dramatic falls are found. Okay, so they’re not Niagara or Angel falls, but Manora is impressive, especially considering that six different sets of falls of different shapes and sizes thunder alongside a winding path of several hundred metres draped in lush jungle canopy.
After taking our time at a place where it’s possible to lounge on some rocks with a small waterfall gushing right over head, we headed back down the trail. Along the way we spotted a long and very poisonous brown tail green tree viper scaling the low branches over head.
A few metres on we spotted a baby green snake on the ground, and after that we didn’t waste time heading back to the road. Yes, we suffer from something of a snake phobia, but it would be a shame for anyone to avoid the falls just because we spotted a serpent or two. Let’s be honest — snakes are very common in the forests of these parts. As with any tropical jungle, just be mindful where you put your hands and feet.
Manora waterfall is located a few kilometres north of Phang Nga on Phetkasem Road with clearly marked signs leading right to it. A sign at the parking lot said there was a 100 baht admission fee for foreigners, but the women working the booth were watching TV and just waved us through. Don’t forget your swimsuit!
By David Luekens
Last updated on 29th April, 2015.