Experience the Magic of Mangrove Forest at Pak Nam Prasae in Rayong Province
Explore Pak Nam Prasae community, an area fully abundant in natural resources and ecotourism attractions, and learn about diverse cultures through a local way of life of people living around this river bank.
If talking about Rayong province, many of us will think of the sea, beaches, waves flooding the shores, beautiful islands e.g. Samet Island and Mun Islands, or even think of delectable local dishes. In this trip, however, we will take you to visit another interesting place in Rayong called “Pak Nam Prasae community”. It is a community in Klaeng district with its people still living their simple lives and keeping their true identities despite an advancement of present-day technology. This riverside community has so many things to discover, namely its plentiful natural resources and diversity in local cultures. Under the supervision of Pak Nam Prasae community tourism enterprise, the people here have transformed their local produce into valuable processed merchandise which can create sustainable incomes to the community. Moreover, Pak Nam Prasae community has been approved by the Community Based Tourism Development of Thailand.
Pak Nam Prasae: A Community Born from the River
Pak Nam Prasae community has been around since the Ayutthaya era. The community was built along the 26-kilometer Prasae River, which is formed by a confluence of several different tributaries. The Prasae River has been nourishing the community and its people for a long time. This river has generated a number of occupations to the locals such as fishery, shrimp farming, fish farming in brackish water, and even growing coconut and mango trees. Besides, there are homestays open for visitors who would like to experience the local way of life and partake in various activities with the locals.
"Tung Prong Thong": A Nature Trail at the Golden Mangrove Field
"Tung Prong Thong" or the Golden Mangrove Field is an ecotourism attraction which covers an area of 6,000 Rai. In the past, this area was used to be agricultural and animal farms. Nevertheless, the surrounding natural resources had been destroyed by a forest encroachment and arson. Therefore, the Municipal Office and the local residents have worked together to rehabilitate the mangrove forest and its ecosystem. They have also built a 2-kilometer wooden pathway through the mangrove field for the convenience of visitors to walk and explore inside the forest. Once you reach a viewpoint, all you can see is a vast field of Prong trees (Ceriops decandra). The color of Prong tree foliage will change according to the direction of sunlight. During 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. is the best time to see the tree leaves change their color and turn the whole field into golden. Tung Prong Thong is open every day from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. with no entry fee.
Cruising along Prasae River and Enjoying the Beauty of the Gulf of Thailand
Pak Nam Prasae is home to luxuriant mangrove forests with the countless number of tropical plant species. It is also a habitat for juvenile aquatic living organisms, namely shrimps, shellfish, crabs, and mudskippers. One activity that is very popular among the visitors is to get onboard a boat and cruise along Prasae River. On both sides of the river, the beautiful views of mangrove trees, black mangrove trees, and mangrove apple trees can be seen. Looking at a flock of seagulls in the Gulf of Thailand will surely make you feel relaxed and content.
Rafting and Watching Brahminy Kites
Another popular activity for the homestay guests who love adventures is to float on a bamboo raft. The raft can carry up to 15 passengers per round and one round of rafting will cost 200 Baht per person. While the raft is floating through the river, you can put your legs in the water and just chill out. Once the raft has reached its destination, you and your friends can jump into the river and have fun. Before going back, you will get to see a flock of brahminy kites flying around like they are welcoming and exciting to see the visitors. A raft operator will prepare some meats for the visitors to feed the birds. The perfect time to watch the brahminy kites is around 5 p.m. which is the time that the birds come out and hunt for preys.
Tasting Flavorsome Local Dishes
Local dishes of Pak Nam Prasae community are also second to none. A menu that captures the visitors’ hearts is called "Jang Lon" or a local-style spicy fish cake. It is made by mixing chili paste and shredded coconuts with finely-minced fish meat and then grilling it until cooked and fragrant. Another famous food item is shrimp paste or "Kapi". Some Kapi shops are educating the consumers on how to make Kapi from the first step – selecting opossum shrimps, mixing, fermenting, and pounding – until it becomes an aromatic shrimp paste which can be used as an ingredient in a variety of menus.
Experiencing the Local Way of Life at the 100-Year-Old Market
Since the community is located nearby the sea, there is a seafood wet market that the local people usually go to buy food ingredients during 4 to 5 in the morning. From 8 a.m. onward, people will start to gather around in an old-school coffee shop to have conversations over a cup of coffee or tea with light snacks. A picture of children frolicking in the sun and merchants talking to passersby is truly enjoyable to watch. The visitors are recommended to visit the market to taste delicious local street food and picking some souvenirs back home for their family and friends such as sun-dried shrimps, sun-dried squids, salted threadfin fish, and Kapi.
Pak Nam Prasae is such a fascinating community. Aside from being a very long-lasting village, its residents are also able to live peacefully with the nature around them. If you are interested in ecotourism and would like to get closer to the simple life by the river and the ocean, Pak Nam Prasae community is the answer for you!