Published/Last edited or updated: 16th October, 2018
Sra Morakot, or “Emerald Pool”, is the main draw in a distinctively beautiful forest protected as part of a wildlife sanctuary in Khlong Thom district, 60 kilometres southeast of Krabi town. Most visitors hit this natural travertine pool in conjunction with Nam Tok Ron, a hot-spring waterfall that flows nearby.
The experience begins at a set of shops and eateries slinging grilled chicken and noodle soup near the entrance to Emerald Pool. After buying tickets (200 baht for foreign adults) you can stroll down an 800-metre gravel lane straight to the pool, or take a concrete walkway that winds for 1.4 kilometres through a forest of crystal-clear ponds and stone striking shades of beige and turquoise. We suggest opting for the long way.
Rimmed by banyan tree roots and a slope of rock on one side, the actual Emerald Pool looks and feels like a busy public swimming pool even though you’ll find no concrete or other artificial additions. Most of it is shallow enough for adults to stand with head above water, deepening to around two metres at some points. On one side flows a clear stream that was shallow and calm enough for small children to frolic during our June 2018 visit.
We shared the pool with perhaps 200 others, which felt crowded but not to the point that we weren’t able to swim around without colliding into people. Expect the pool to be busier during high season, especially on weekends when locals join the many foreign visitors. Arriving early in the morning or after 15:00 would give you a chance of averting the crowds. While the pool is refreshing and the landscape striking, we wouldn’t say that it ranks among the best mainland attractions in Krabi province, especially when considering the crowds.
Another walkway cuts 600 metres deeper into the jungle to the Blue Pool—it’s closed to visitors from May through October so we couldn’t take a look. In photos the colour of the water is almost neon, resembling sports drinks with names like “blue crush.” When the Blue Pool is open, visitors are forbidden from swimming or straying from the trail due to quicksand and a fragile ecosystem.
Both pools are part of Khao Pra Bang Khram Wildlife Sanctuary, which covers 183 kilometres of the Khao Nor Chu Chi hills that extend south into Trang province. You might spot a gurney’s pitta, an extremely rare bird that exists only in certain lowland regions of Thailand and Burma—Nick Upton’s terrific birding site claims that the Blue Pool vicinity is the most accessible place on earth to see one. Birders should also keep their eyes peeled for kingfishers, green broadbills and black-thigh falconets, to name a few.
The entrance to Khlong Thom’s hot-spring waterfall or Nam Tok Ron, literally meaning “Hot Waterfall”, is around five kilometres west of the Emerald Pool off the same access road. We arrived during torrential rain to find the gate closed due to downed trees on the trail, but we reckon the falls and its warm pools are worth the additional 160-baht ticket.
The Khlong Thom area hosts a few other thermal hot springs that are privately run as part of spas. Both Wareerak and Nattha Waree offer day passes along with midrange accommodation and a range of spa programs including hydrotherapy, herbal baths and hot-stone massages. Managed by the group behind Phra Nang Inn in Ao Nang, Wareerak also does retreats that combine yoga and meditation with the spa treatments.
If you want to stay near the Emerald Pool without doing a spa treatment, Morakot Resort is one of a few affordable options found along the access road.
Several tour companies run group trips to Sra Morakot and Nam Tok Ron from Ao Nang, Krabi town and Ko Lanta. Expect to pay 1,200 to 1,800 baht per person. We visited independently from Krabi town by motorbike and it was a long ride, with much of it coming beside trucks on busy Phetkasem Road (Route 4). You could also head up here from Trang on a long day trip.
Morakot Resort: 15 Klong Thom - Bang Tyo Rd, Khlong Thom; T: (081) 415 1982; https://www.facebook.com/Morakot-resort-krabi-Thailand-780456065377083/
Nattha Waree Hot Springs Resort and Spa: 393 Moo 5, Khlong Thom; T: (075) 601 642; firstname.lastname@example.org; https://www.natthawaree.com/en-us
Wareerak Hot Spring Spa: 18 Moo 7, Khlong Thom, T: (075) 637 130; http://www.wareerak.co.th/
There is no public transport to Emerald Pool or Nam Tok Ron, both of which are located 10 or more kilometres east of Phetkasem Road (Route 4) and are clearly marked by signs the whole way.
David Luekens first came to Thailand in 2005 when Thai friends from his former home of Burlington, Vermont led him on a life-changing trip. Based in Thailand since 2011, he spends much of his time eating in Bangkok street markets and island hopping the Andaman Sea.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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