Takua Pa is a town approximately 32 km north of the Khao Lak centre. Takua Pa is also a district that incorporates both the town and the Khao Lak area. By car, it takes about 35 minutes to drive from Khao Lak to the Takua Pa bus station which is located in front of the market. There are many open-aired and ordinary taxis that transport visitors between the two towns. Takua Pa itself, is conveniently divided between what has become known as the new town and the old town. The total population of the combined towns is 48,000.
Takua Pa is not well known as a tourist attraction, especially compared to its closest neighbour, Khao Lak, but it has some interesting things to do and see. It also has some shopping options that complement those found in Khao Lak. Indeed, I often come to Takua Pa to buy food items in the fresh food market, and supermarket items in the Big-C complex. Which, incidentally, also houses clothes and footwear shops, as well the latest smart-phones and associated paraphernalia. It also has a KFC which, when no-one is looking, I sometimes slip into and indulge my sometimes insatiable desire for fried food and lots of salt and sugar! I also have to come to Takua Pa to renew car and motor-scooter licenses and vehicle registrations at the Phang Nga Transport Office.
Several Khao Lak reviews have previously been posted on this website. Given that it is sometimes worthwhile traveling to nearby destinations while on holiday, this post deals with some Takua Pa attractions that have had me coming back on a fairly regular basis. Occasionally it’s simply great to simply get out of the confines of Khao Lak and venture into the more unknown. In some regards, Takua Pa can be considered a snapshot of a typical Thailand town.
Takua Pa Municipal Food Market
The New Takuapa market is located behind the bus station on the main road. Flanked on either side of the bus station are many shops selling items such as smartphones and accessories, as well as newspapers and food items. There is also a food-court on the right-hand-side facing away from the street, which comprises several Thai restaurants. A visit to the key-copier on the left-hand-side can be really useful as there are no key-copiers in the Khao Lak centre or, indeed, in any of the Khao Lak villages! Behind the key-copier is a barber who charges a mere 70 baht for a haircut, in contrast to hairdressers in Khao Lak who can charge as high as 250 baht. For an additional 10 baht you can even get a quick shave!
Takuapa Market Stalls
The above video takes us on a winding sightsee along the corridors of the Takua Pa market. There is a large section selling fish that has been caught early in the morning prior to the market opening. Poultry, pork products, vegetables and fruit are also for sale, as are clothes and packaged food and beverages. A couple of ladies sell eels from buckets filled with water; these eels are often purchased by people who release them back into the Takua Pa river that flows adjacent to the market. The release of the eels is accompanied by lighting candles and incense, and reciting ritualistic prayers. The practice is part of a Buddhist custom designed to “make merit”. Thailand is approximately 95% Buddhist, although the country is comprised of 4% Muslims. The new Takua Pa has many Muslim women selling their wares, and it’s always a treat to see how easily Thai Muslims integrate into the general Thai society.
Book Tree Cafe
To the right of the market looking away from the main street is a parallel small road that accommodates the Book Tree Café, so called because there is a large bookshop next to the café. This café is my favourite in the area, including the Khao Lak center, and I regularly travel to Takua Pa in order to eat the simple dishes, drink a cappuccino, or indulge in a fantastic triple ice-cream with whipped cream. There is even a cherry on top of the sundae!
The café has free Wi-Fi, a number of bookcases filled with books written in several different languages, and even a hammock for those who want to take a nap before heading off. There is also a dentist next door in case you have a sweet-tooth that has decayed from all the sundaes you have eaten at this café!
Takua Pa Square
Takua Pa Square is one of the hubs of activity in Takua Pa. It’s located on the main road, on the right-hand-side as you travel north, only a few metres from the Takua Pa market on the other side of the road. One of the main attractions of Takua Pa Square is the Big-C supermarket at the back of the building which often has items that are not available in the Khao Lak region, such as salad dressings and sauces. Next to the supermarket are several smartphone and wrist-watch stalls. There are also several clothes and shoe shops, as well as an outlet selling suit-cases.
I always get hungry when I wander through the Big-C supermarket, and even hungrier when I shoot basketballs through the ring in the children’s games section at the back of Takua Pa Squre! There are two choices for alleviating the hunger – the Halal Restaurant and KFC. I usually eat at the former because I have a particular like of Halal food in general (and one of the Halal Restaurants in Khao Lak in particular). This Halal restaurant has some decent chicken soup with noodles and vegetables that costs only 50 baht. One quirky thing is that in order to pay the shop proprietor, you have to first buy a coupon at a counter a few metres away at the front, then present the coupon to the proprietor after the meal has been cooked. This method is quite common in Thai food shops located in large supermarket complexes.
The alternative place to eat is KFC. Now, I’ve got to admit, I have a thing for KFC that goes back decades to a time when the franchise was known as Kentucky Fried Chicken. In Thailand, you also get the option of having the food spiced up with typical Thai spices – spicy KFC chickens! I never specifically order the spicy stuff, but whatever is ordered in Thailand nearly always comes with a degree of spiciness. Add oversalted French fries and over-sugared coleslaw, and you get a very tasty meal indeed, even though the health value of the meal is somewhat compromised!
Sahagaan Department Store and Kitchenware
One of the most useful shops in the new Takua Pa town is the Sahagaan Department Store and Kitchenware. It has just about everything one could want in a kitchen and much of the rest of the home. Row after row after row of utensils of every kind –drinking glasses, plates, cutlery, pots and pans, etc., and even raincoats and umbrellas, both of which are very useful during the Thailand rainy season in general, and for me, the Khao Lak rainy season in particular.
The address of the shop is 137 Tambon Bang Nai Si, Amphoe Takua Pa, Chang Wat Phang-nga 82110, which can be looked up in Google Maps. It takes about 10 minutes to walk there from the Takua Pa Market, or a minute or two by motor-scooter or car. It’s well worth the visit if looking to stock or replace items in the kitchen or home.
Takua Pa Old Town
The Taku Pa old town has a rich and wonderful history. It is often overlooked by tourists to the region who presume it to be dull, and therefore not worth visiting. The old town may not be a bustling centre of activity like its other half, the new Takua Pa town, but it does have a certain charm that goes back more than a century.
The main road that runs through the centre of the town is flanked on either side by many buildings of Sino-Portuguese origin, as well as tea houses and Chinese temples. My friend and I stopped in at the Coffe Chai, a delightful place for breakfast, run by a warm and engaging man who explained some of the wall photos, including one that showed him as a little boy more than half a century ago!
On the way to the old town is the Khok Kanoon Bridge which crosses the Yan Yao river. Although the bridge stands on private property, the owners have allowed the public to cross it, either by foot or by motor-cycle. If you begin the crossing on the old town side and maintain the journey till the end, you end up at the Takua Pa bus station. The video below shows just such a crossing.
Khok Kanoon Bridge
Other Useful Places in Takua Pa
Although there are many things to do in Takua Pa, there are 3 places worth pointing out as places of particular importance or interest. The Takua Pa Hospital is, of course, of utmost importance in the event of a medical emergency. It is located on the main Takua Pa road on the south end of the town. This hospital featured in the movie, “The Impossible”.
The second place of importance, especially for those who wish to reside in Phang Nga province, is the Takua Pa Transport Office. This is the place to go when wanting to obtain a driver’s license or having to register motor vehicles, including motorbikes and cars. There is a short course out the back of the building for those wanting to obtain a motorcycle license. The building itself is located north-west of the Takua Pa market approximately 1 km away.
The third “useful” place is a Takua Pa nightlife venue called the “Rat Jai Karaoke Bar”. Thai people love their karaoke, as evidenced by the many karaoke bars that line the streets of Phang Nga. This venue, however, is somewhat different. There is a stage at the front of the large room where young ladies entertain visitors by singing along with the background music. In addition, the sides of the building have smaller rooms where the ladies entertain gentlemen in more private settings.