Khao Ra

A legal high

What we say: 3.5 stars

Khao Ra is the highest point on Ko Pha Ngan. Located near the centre of the island, it affords the best view on the island. The trail to get there is difficult to find, and with the return journey taking at least two hours, it’s not for the faint-of-heart. But if you’re keen to go, here’s what you need to know.

The way to Khao Ra

Hint: Turn left!

In the tropical heat, a two-hour trek means you’ll need to take lots of water — we’d suggest at least three litres per person, and maybe some fruit and a Snickers bar or two for quick energy. Wear sensible shoes such as trainers or hiking boots — flip-flops are not an option. Smother yourself in mossie repellant and take extra along for when you sweat the first lot off. Don’t go alone, and advise someone of where you’re going and when you expect to be back.

From Thong Sala, head north to Phaeng Waterfall on the Chaloklum highway (head to the lights, turn left, drive straight for seven or eight minutes). Turn left and follow the signs to Khao Ra Bungalows. Follow the road until it turns to dirt (approximately three minutes), and then make a right turn, again following the Khao Ra Bungalows sign. Here, you’ll park your bike and take the path on the far left — thus begins your trek on foot up Khao Ra.

View from Khao Ra

The thing that makes it worthwhile.

The trail is just wide enough for one person to walk at a time, and in some parts, you’ll need to clamber up and over rocks. Roots snake along the ground, so pay attention and don’t trip! Also, when grabbing trees to help steady your stance, be sure to watch for jungle critters like spiders and snakes — there are very few that are poisonous on Ko Pha Ngan, but best to take precautions. Find a good walking stick to help with your balance — it’ll help complete the “I’m-climbing-a-mountain” look too.

There are no rivers or streams along the way, so if you bring a furry friend to frolic with you, make sure to bring extra water for them to drink. Two lovely resting areas afford lovely views along the way.

The jungle seems to have grown twice as quickly near the top as the bottom, so the trail becomes more difficult to navigate as you continue, but don’t give up! The views really do make it worthwhile.

Last reviewed by:
Canadian Kaila Krayewski is a journalist who is passionate about everything travel-related. Kaila lives on Ko Pha Ngan where she continues to hone her beach volleyball game.

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