Samet Nangshe – A slice of heaven

I’m not exaggerating when I call I say Samet Nangshe Viewpoint “Slice of heaven.” A spectacular view of mountains standing on the sea surrounded by greenery must belong to heaven! Unlike James bond island and Maya Bay, this place isn’t on every tourist’s radar.

WATCH OUR EXPERIENCE OF HALF-DAY AT SAMET NANGSHE IN ONE MINUTE

Index

Reaching Samet Nangshe

The nearest airport is Phuket international airport. The viewpoint is located in Phang Nga province, 80km from Old Phuket. A bridge after Sai Kaew beach called “Thepkrasattri Bridge” connects the mainland of Phuket with Phang Ga ( actually, the rest of Thailand).

Getting to Samet Nangshe viewpoint by public transport seemed to be a bit of a headache. You need to find a bus to Phang Nga town, then book another tuk-tuk to get to the viewpoint. There were no direct ferries from Phuket to Phang Nga bay either. Taking public transport here is more of a circus hoping to coordinate, and consequences go in order.

If you are coming by bike and it is your first time to Samet Nangshe, you will likely miss that right turn from the main road of Phuket. After crossing the Thep Kasattri Bridge, go straight for five more kilometres and take a right before the Khokkloy bus station. With years of experience, our driver Alex missed the route in the morning. The deviation is hard to notice unless you keep an eye on it.

I did the easiest – book a private taxi. I booked a cab from Alex Phuket taxi one day prior. It costs around 2250 Bahts (4500 INR), excluding the entrance fees and includes your waiting time. Since it was not the peak tourist season, Alex was ready to wait for more than three hours once we reached the point. But during peak season, you must specify the duration excluding your journey.

Once you reach the base point, you can either hike to the viewpoint or opt for a 4w drive. These drives aren’t private, so you have to wait until the car is full of 6 to 8 people. The roads are muddy, slippery and super rugged, so it is impossible to take your regular vehicles when it rains. 

Best time to visit Samet Nangshe

Every blog you read talk about that yellowish-orange miraculous sunrise at Samet Nashe. My dream, too, was the same. Trying my luck, I went to Phuket in June. With my island hopping trip cancelled due to bad weather, soon I realised” I will consider ourselves “the chosen ones” by God if at all I get the glimpse of floating mountains from the top at Samet Nangshe.” 

When I asked Alex the previous day about the sunrise trip, he had the same opinion. So we had to settle for a morning trip instead of a sunrise trip. Anytime other than Monsoon is the best time to see the view. Saying that, the sight we got to see was no less -, I told you “we were chosen”

Things to know before going to Samet Nangshe

The viewpoint is located near a small village with the most population belonging to Islam. Ladies at The tea shop, the ticket counter wore a hijab. We even saw children with Hijab on the way. So when you go hiking in summer, it is better to dress conservatively.

You get to see the mountain view at multiple levels once you begin hiking or driving up. If you are hiking, you have the luxury of stopping by wherever you want. But hiking isn’t an easy one. I consider it to be on the harder side.

Admission to Samet Nangshe Viewpoint was 90 baht per person( 180 INR) in 2019. That includes both ways 4W drive from the base to the viewpoint. If you want to hike up the road, you can buy a ticket for 30 Baht. Be clear with the cashier at the ticket counter, or you should speak fluent Thai to buy the exact ticket you want to buy. Usually, they tear 30 baht tickets for every visitor unless you ask.

The 4w drive took us around 10 minutes to reach the top. Mind that, the ride is bumpy. It is usually a pickup truck. So you can sit inside or outside. I prefer outside that has no shade over the head. Every turn reveals and shows you a different side of the mountains. Even when it rains, it is fantastic to sit outside to savour every moment and the sight.

You can hire tents for overnight camping or get a room (that looked like huts) to stay at the topmost viewpoint. There is a small cafe that maintains those huts.

Once you are at the topmost viewpoint, you can hike down to the Samet Bay restaurant and Samet Nangshe boutique hotel. You are closer to the water body there. Staying there overnight is indeed rewarding with that sunrise that reveals the mountains slowly.

The 4w drive took us around 10 minutes to reach the top. Mind that, the ride is bumpy. It is usually a pickup truck. So you can sit inside or outside. I prefer outside that has no shade over the head. Every turn reveals and shows you a different side of the mountains. Even if it is raining, it is fantastic to sit outside to savour every moment and the sight.

Why is it my mom’s favourite place in all of Thailand?

Paying 2250 Baht (4500 INR) for an 75km journey is a lot for a budget traveller like me. When I was reading through the blogs, I admired this heavenly view. But I was a little doubtful when I got to know the price. Even on the day, I texted Alex, I was not sure about the worth.

My mom is more of a mountain person than the beach. Unfortunately, with her knees and arthritis, she hadn’t hiked and trekked in a while. A 4w drive to the top sounded perfect for her. Nobody whom I knew personally had been to Samet Nangshe. The bloggers said the same – “It isn’t a tourist hotspot because of the connectivity” Package tours don’t find it worth it because driving 75km to see the mountains don’t work for them. Finally, for mom, my curiosity and a break from Sino-Portuguese street, I decided to go to Samet Nangshe.

Though the plan was to go there for sunrise, the weather made it a clear point –” I ain’t going to let you see the sunrise. I am all cloud and rain tomorrow” Plus, the previous day’s scuba diving exhaustion needed time to vanish. As suggested by Alex, we left Old Phuket around 8 am.

Crossing the less chaotic traffic of Phuket, we were on the road that connected to the airport. Slowly we were out of the town on a cloudy day near the Sai Kaew beach. The beach was so calm, clean and empty that we couldn’t resist asking Alex to stop. Alex did stop but warned us,  ” If you want to see the mountains, you need to be there before 11. It is going to pour heavily in the noon.” 

The Phang Nga province is less developed compared to Phuket. Like in southern India, fruit stalls were selling Mangosteen, Rose apple and Rambootan by the highway side. After the right turn, the road got narrower. That was like a typical Indian village road with no trash and well maintained narrow streets. As we moved further away, a tip of a tall blunt mountain was peeping behind the Jackfruit trees! All I knew was that I only saw the mountains from the top – I never knew that the road passes right next to those mountains! The village children were on their move somewhere. Girls wore a hijab, and boys were in their full sleeves shirt and pants with an umbrella or a polythene raincoat were waving at every vehicle that passed by.

The sparsely populated village passed by the asphalt road, and a shade of never-ending silver foil appeared. There stood the unique shaped mountains as if someone dropped them from above. The sight was so incredible that its worth couldn’t be measured. If the view from the road excited us this much, what about the view from the top? The car stopped at a village where most women wore Hijab. That was the first time when I saw Southe East Asians in Hijab! Trust me, I found it strange and felt like looking at them for a while.

Without wasting much time, we took the tickets and grabbed our seats in the backside of a pickup truck. Four more young tourists chose comfort over adventure and nature in the same pickup. So the rear of the truck was solely for Mom and me. The ride began with a big bump! I was worried about mom not wearing her neck support collar. She seemed to be least bothered about anything – she was in her happy place! The forest and mountains, just like her home, but this time with an incredible view of mountains that look like floating on the endless sea.

Each metre up, the view got better. Sometimes behind the banana plants and sometimes behind a mud mound. The mountains were playing hide and seek throughout the ride. Ultimately, after that steepest and bumpy part, it revealed to us! We were just a few steps away from heaven.

Thanks to the rain – It added more beauty to the place with its fog. The floating clouds, pouring clouds, were all a part of this nature’s canvas. When you stare at the horizon without blinking -you feel as if the clouds float and move or the mountain slides!

The beauty of nature is, it follows a pattern without making a statement out of it. There is harmony in the irregularity. A small mountain, the blunt one, semi-circular, flat – everything is unique yet the same! After a short photo session, we wanted to get further go down. I knew about those two restaurants further down. The time gets better when you have coffee and a sight like this. With many cravings, we took one of the narrow paths nearby to go down. Thanks to my shoes for saving my ass when I fell sliding! The road was not meant for walking at that time. It was muddy, watery and ultra slippery.

MOM KEPT WATCHING ME FALL LAUGHINGLY AS SHE TOOK TIME TO WALK DOWN – SO I WAS THE ONLY ONE TO FALL SLIDING

There was no caffeine to keep us high; the sight was enough to keep us captivated. Maybe after 15 minutes of sitting on that bench, we became sober – listening to the breeze and hearing the sound of rain droplets. The fog was trying to cover the mountains as if it wanted to protect them from our evil eyes.

Blissfully we spent 45 more minutes soaked and admiring what was before us. The drizzles didn’t affect us much, but our caffeine cravings increased. That group of young tourists had left long back. The cafe owner there came and told us in Thai. The only two words I understood was” Too much rain Road wrong. Go fast” The weather was about to get worse. Before it switches to the angry mode, we left in the pickup truck after knocking on the doors of heaven.

Have you seen heaven like this? I am sure many of you can relate this to Hanoi of Vietnam. Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Published by Sahana Kulur

Traveller | Blogger | Architecture and history

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