“The Lion Stones”.
Where is Laem Sing?
The District of Laem Sing is in Chanthaburi Province on the coast of eastern Thailand. Laem Sing beach is on the estuary of the Chanthaburi River, which contains extensive mudflats and mangrove forests. Laem Sing Beach is a prominent tourist attraction.
Just off the beach is the small island of Ko Chula, there is a legend regarding the rocks that form the island which resembles lions.
There were a pair of lions living on Laem Sing Mountain close by. The lions always went everywhere together and washed in the sea every day. A group of French hunters tracked the lions, killing one of them while the other ran into the sea. On the death of the second lion, both lions turned to stone and appeared on the edge of Ko Chula island.
There they sat until the French navy tested their talent by shooting the head off one of the lions, it fell into the sea. Leaving just one lion head. This can still be seen today on the left-hand side of the island as you view it from the mainland beach.
There are also some important historical sites in the district. A hundred years ago the area was controlled by the French. Traces of the past remain for visitors who are interested in history.
Laem Sing beach itself is shaded with pine trees lining the entire shore. It gets a constant gentle cooling breeze, coming off the Gulf of Thailand. The beach is not like many of the crowded beaches along the rest of the east coast. Even though it is not a pristine white sand beach, the shade of pine trees and the quietness offer the chance of peaceful relaxation.
There is a daily market which sells fruit, vegetables, and clothes. For all other needs, there is a 7 Eleven supermarket and various other shops, all sited on the main street. Outside the 7 Eleven are a couple of ATM’s.
Our journey from Hpa An to Laem Sing was by bus and minivans.
During our time in Laem Sing, we chose to stay at two different resorts. Our initial accommodation in Laem Sing was at the Nisasiri Boutique Resort.
Our room was clean and spacious, has an LCD TV with cable channels, air conditioning, a fridge with daily free bottled water, tea/coffee making facilities, and a private patio with table and chairs. The large ensuite bathroom had a hot water shower and daily toiletries were provided.
The hotel is just a few steps away from Laem Sing beach and has a swimming pool and a beachfront seafood restaurant. Buffet breakfast is included. The wi-fi strength is good. We stayed here for 4 nights before moving.
Not really a resort, more of a few rooms on the beach. A reasonably sized clean room with air conditioning, a fridge with daily bottled water, a small dressing table, and a wardrobe. The ensuite bathroom has a hot water shower.
The owner lives in one of the rooms and is always on hand to help. Although his English is limited. Right on the beach is the small open-aired seating/breakfast area, which has the tea/coffee making facilities. A good choice for good accommodation on a budget.
Places of interest
With Laem Sing being the base for our holiday. We hired a scooter to allow us to get out to see the sights it had to offer.
Our first trip out took us across the Taskin Maharaj bridge and down to the secluded beach at Ao Krathing on the edge of the Khao Laem Sing Forest Park. There are toilets and changing rooms, with a small shop at the top of the path down to the beach.
Namtok Phlio National Park
A short 20 minute drive away is Namtok Phlio National Park. Covered in tropical rainforest, the park’s main attraction is the Phlio waterfall, whose pools are home to large numbers of Soro Brook carp. The fish brush against you as you swim around.
Standing or sitting still in the water, the fish will give you a free exfoliating pedicure, gently nibbling away at your feet. The park is also host to an abundance of different bird species. These include herons, brahminy kites, hornbills, woodpecker, and bulbuls. Entry to the park is 200 Baht per person.
Wat Chak Yai Buddha Park
A 7-minute drive from the Namtok Phlio National Park is the Wat Chak Yai Buddha Park. Filled with multiple statues illustrating the life of the Buddha. Each of the scenes or statues depicting a key moment in his spiritual life. They include a reclining Buddha, a giant Buddha protected by Mucalinda, the protective serpent and a statue representing the Blessed Preaching on a waterfall.
The Buddha Park is a peaceful place, with assorted plants and rubber trees lining the pathways. Founded in 1955 by Phra Dhamma Visuddhi Mangala to serve as a meditation centre, monks are accommodated on-site in basic living quarters. The roofs of these living quarters are covered with Nypa palm leaves. Entry to the Buddha park is free.
Oasis Sea World
A 10 minute scooter ride from Laem Sing beach is Oasis Sea World. A marine park that does dolphin shows and where you can swim with dolphins. There are two types of dolphins at the park. The Bottlenose Dolphin and the Irrawaddy Dolphin. The entry to the park was 300 Baht per person.
Sea Farming Demonstration Unit & Kung Krabaen Bay Royal Development Study Center
A day trip out in a songthaew, which was 1000 Baht for the whole day, took us the 40 minute drive to the Sea Farming Demonstration Unit. A centre for the study and safeguarding of marine species on Kung Krabaen Bay.
There were a number of large net tanks, immersed in the sea in which there are rope grown oysters and several species of fish. Bull sharks, Leopard sharks, Sea Bass, Giant Groupers, and Sea Turtles, to name a few.
A couple of minute’s drive away was Kung Krabaen Bay Aquarium. An aquarium with plenty of sea life to see. Entry to the aquarium is free. The road outside the aquarium is lined with Street food vendors. Locally caught fish and other food can be bought here.
The beach here looks very inviting. Be aware that swimming from the beach here can be dangerous. This is owing to the presence of the Box Jellyfish. The sting from which contains an extremely potent venom that can be fatal to humans.
Another couple of minutes drive away is the Kung Krabaen Bay Royal Development Study Centre, an elevated timber boardwalk through the mangrove forest. A long relaxing walk along the boardwalk, taking about an hour, at a leisurely pace. There are information boards along the walk and a lookout tower offering excellent views out across the bay. Entry to the boardwalk through the mangrove forest is free.
Wat Khao Laem Sing Buddhist temple
Again crossing over the Taskin Maharaj bridge. Turning left again, as if going to Ao Krathing beach. On the left-hand side is Wat Khao Laem Sing Buddhist temple, an unusual white temple, with a large golden Buddha statue.
Phairi Phinat Fort
Continuing along the road from Wat Khao Laem Sing Buddhist temple, we turned left and passed through a colony of Macaque monkeys before arriving at Phairi Phinat Fort.
Not really much of a fort, apart from the two cannons. However, there is a tilted pagoda with a Buddha figure and a nice view of the bay and bridge. Definitely a good place to visit should you wish to see some monkeys.
Laem Sing Lighthouse
Continuing a further few minutes along the road, we arrived at the access path going up to Laem Sing Lighthouse. It takes about 15 minutes to walk up a rough track to get to the lighthouse. Climb up the ladder to the viewpoint at the top for the commanding view. On the way back we stopped at Krom Luang Chumphon Shrine.
Khuk Khi Kai
Literally translated, means Chicken Poo Prison. Khuk Khi Kai is a small prison built by the French to house anti colonist Thai rebels. Prisoners were kept on the ground floor with a mesh roof above which is where the chickens were kept. Chicken poo would then fall through the mesh onto the prisoners below.
The natural lean of the building created a tiny sheltered area on the left side inner wall. Prisoners could receive a reprieve from the droppings in this spot. Making this a very sort after location.
Food was served through an opening on the other side of the prison. Meaning to eat, a prisoner would have to leave the sheltered area and lose their place to another prisoner.
This practice either broke the morale of the prisoners or sent them insane.
Hat Ao Yang beach
Hat Ao Yang beach is about a 10 minute ride from Laem Sing beach. Here, we stumbled across Tim’s Place, (Yang Kaloon Bay). A lovely little cafe on the waterfront, selling vintage clothing as well. Also the home to a vintage split screen VW campervan.
Ko Chula Island
The following morning we took a local boat out to Ko Chula Island, about 15 minutes away for a relaxing swim. The island has a tiny beach and no inhabitants, so it is ideal for any hour away from it all. Just to enjoy a peaceful time floating in the sea.
We took the opportunity to walk around to see the stone lion. Unfortunately, you don’t get the same visual effect as you do from the mainland as you are too close.
Wat Pak Nam Laem Sing
Within walking distance from the town. Wat Pak Nam Laem Sing is a Monastery and grounds where a community of monks lives in seclusion. The temple is beautiful and ornate externally. Just behind the temple is the fishing pier.
Along its length are the small fishing houses, from where the fishermen drop chinese style nets into the sea. Waiting until they see fish over the net, before they pull it back up to retrieve their catch.
Restaurants & Cafes
A nice restaurant on stilts in the mangrove forest, with a stunning view of the sunset.
A lovely beachfront restaurant offering fresh locally caught seafood.
A regular haunt of ours for an evening meal on the beach. Good local food at reasonable prices.
Great seafood at this beachfront restaurant. Good atmosphere.
A great rustic restaurant and bar. Offering authentic local cuisine and a range of western dishes as well. The food is excellent, the beer is cold, the prices are right and the atmosphere is wonderful.
Set over a lake, as you savour your coffee, you can feed the fish or watch the goats in their pen. Coffee was good here.
A lovely little coffee shop, serving good coffee. The owner is friendly and welcoming.