Ocean and mountain views
Published/Last edited or updated: 1st February, 2016
Venerable dipterocarp trees tower over spindly reeds that stand at least 10 feet tall. Python-esque roots crack the footpath. Dragonflies, butterflies and all sorts of bugs smack into our faces as we motor upwards, pausing to let a long black snake slink across our path. Travellers looking for a two-wheeled adventure will find it on Khao Dat Fa.
The narrow road that winds up Khao Dat Fa passes through overflowing jungle, fruit orchards and several spots to soak in views of the Gulf of Thailand, to the east, and a landscape of rolling mountains that stretch as far as the eye can see in the west. With thick tropical growth squeezing in on either side, maintaining this roughly four-kilometre-long lane is no small feat.
Just after turning off Route 4041 and beginning to climb, a lack of railings beside a cliff where the edge of the road had cracked and fallen off made it clear that this is no ordinary tourist site. The road is steep, rough and slippery thanks to abundant moss and loose gravel. We wondered why a road like this, and its accompanying electrical lines, would be maintained at all (read on to find out).
Though locals often cruise up here to relax amid the cooler air, Khao Dat Fa has not been developed for tourism; you won’t even find a broken-down pavilion let alone restrooms and souvenir stands. We parked our bike next to the road and hopped off whenever we noticed a striking vista. Looking west, we’re pretty sure that the 1,835-metre-high peak of Khao Luang was barely visible beyond a host of other mountains and a patch of durian trees.
Further up the slopes we paused to gaze back east over the Gulf of Thailand. If it weren’t for a smaller mountain partially blocking the view, all of the 10-kilometre-long Ao Khanom coastline could be viewed from here. On a clear day, you should be able to see as far as Ko Samui.
Convinced that there must be some sort of viewpoint further on, we kept chugging uphill to what proved to be a very anticlimactic ending. The road terminates at a fenced-off cell tower, explaining why anyone bothers to keep it passable in the first place. Despite the boring finish, we’re glad they do.
While not out of the way, Khao Dat Fa is a bit tricky to find. Heading west out of Khanom town on Route 4041, a small blue sign in English points straight to Dat Fa Mountain, but the actual turnoff is located several km further on and is not marked in English. Look for a brown wooden sign with yellow Thai script (pictured below) on the left. From there, your only option is up.
Best-suited to motorbikes, the mountain road is barely wide enough for a car. It took us around two hours to ride all the way up and back, stopping a half-dozen times along the way. Cyclists looking to put their uphill stamina to the test couldn’t ask for a better challenge. Take it real slow around sharp corners, as pick-up trucks occasionally run up to the cell tower for maintenance. After hitting the mountain, you could go a few kilometres further south down 4041 to take a dip at Tha Noi Waterfall.
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.