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Explore: Whitewater rafting in Phang Nga

It’s been a long time since I tried whitewater rafting. Back in my young, fit days I did it a few times. The first was in Zimbabwe on the Zambezi river and that was pretty scary! I also did easier – but colder – rafting trips in Chile and Wales. And here in Thailand we've tended to shy away from tourist activities, preferring to find our own adventures, but sometimes we certainly do what the tourists do, I mean you have to visit Phi Phi and James Bond Island and see the FantaSea show and so on, there are some “must see” things around here!


By Jamie Monk

Saturday 19 September 2015, 07:34AM


To the north of Phuket you have Phang Nga province, which we visit often. It’s a huge area with a lot to see, and even this year we have done several trips exploring roads that were new to us, including the Klong Kian area and the Tone Pariwat Waterfall. Along the road to this waterfall, which followed a river, we saw many rafting companies and lots of elephants (for elephant trekking).

So when our friends who run the Easy Day Thailand tour company asked us to join a fun “company
trip” including rafting and a night in Khao Lak, we knew where to go and looked forward to another drive in that direction. Very nice scenery around there. It's only about a 90 minute drive from where we live near Phuket Town – out of Phuket, over the bridge, to Phang Nga Town and then about another 15km after the town.

And we got lucky with the low season weather, which during July and early August had seen plenty of wind and rain. On Saturday, August 15, the weather was beautiful. We reached the “Best Rafting 4U” headquarters at about 9:30am and had time to get some coffee, take a little walk by A fun day out Whitewater rafting in Phang Nga the river and wait for the whole group to arrive in dribs and drabs.

We launched a raft into the calm water above the dam, and the hardest part of the trip for big, clumsy me was climbing over rocks to get back into the raft just below the dam. This dam is not huge, but holds the water about 5m higher than the river below, so once they open it, there is quite a rush. Our rafts waited until the water was high enough and then set off pretty darn fast.

They do recommend not taking phones or cameras. We took an older iPhone and had a dry bag. The photo of me and my son (right) was taken as we started moving. Though I guess there
were a few little sections that had me falling over backwards in the raft and nearly squashing my son, I think in hindsight I could have taken a nicer camera in the dry bag and snapped photos between rougher sections of river.

But this is ideal GoPro camera territory, or any small waterproof camera. My helmet even had some kind of mount built in. A selfie stick with a GoPro would be even better. But I can’t stand people who, instead of enjoying something, are constantly taking their own picture, so they can enjoy watching themselves later. Enjoy the NOW!


And as the rafting company takes photos as you head down the river which they will frame and sell you later for B200, you will get a good action shot of yourself.

The whole rafting experience was over in about 30 minutes. I am sure they told us it was a 5km ride, but if I look on Google Earth, looks like about half of that. And at times as we rushed down
rapids and into calmer areas, it did seem surprisingly crowded, especially as this is low season. There were rafts from several different operators at the same time. Although when I say “low season”, it’s probably the best time for rafting. If you try this in a dry February, the river might have low water levels, but after some rain, it was just about perfect.

BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, PHUKET

We finished our rafting right next to the Best Rafting 4U camp, where they have decent bathrooms so we could change, dump wet clothes in our cars, and they provided a big buffet lunch. We were just here for rafting, as the weekend was to be combined with a relaxing stay in Khao Lak, which
lies about 50km to the west. Most people would sign up for combination adventure tours with rafting, visiting the waterfall, maybe elephant riding, ATV rides, jungle zip-lining.

There are several options. For a run down of what’s available, you can ask our friends at Easy Day Thailand about these trips. We just came for a bit of whitewater fun, and then headed off for some time by the pool in Khao Lak at The Leaf On The Sands Resort.

Now that we’ve done this trip, yes I do recommend it if you are of a sporty nature (and can swim). The hills and rivers in Phang Nga make a nice day out, especially if you are staying at a busier beach area in Phuket.

It’s good to see more than just the beach here in Phuket, and a bit of rafting combined with other things is something to add to the Phuket “to do” list. And now we’ve done it. 

 

Jamie Monk works at liveaboard dive specialists Sunrise Divers. For more information call: 084 626 4646 or visit: sunrise-divers.com

You can read more about Phuket on Jamie's Phuket Blog or follow Jamie on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Flickr.

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