Top of the World! (Well maybe just Koh Phangan) – Khao Ra Hike

If you’re going to do Nature Walks on Koh Phangan you just have to do the “Khao Ra” hike.

Khao Ra is the tallest mountain on the island (627m) and is a steady incline that will take you roughly 1.5 hours or 3 hours return at an average pace.

The following image shows you Khao Ra from the Chaloklum pier.


As per almost every Nature Walk on Koh Phangan finding the start of the walk can be more time consuming than the actual walk itself! To help you save time the following GPS view and video showing how to find the start of the hike should hopefully help you out.


Firstly a GPS view of how to access hike. You’ll note that the image shows the route from both the Chaluklum 7/11 (red route) and the 7/11 (blue route) on the outskirts of Thongsala (Ban Tai end).


Start points for Khao Ra – from both Thongsala and Chaluklum 7/11s

The following video is taken approaching the start from Thongsala. I would have liked the instructions at the end of the video to be a bit clearer but a 10 year old managed to get his truck stuck right at start of the walk – took a good hour to help recover the situation where he promptly reversed directly into some poor punters scooter πŸ™‚ ! Don’t worry – I suspect that was an exception rather than a common place event for the start of the Khao Ra walk!


And for those of who would like to see the topography of the walk the following shows the elevation and speed. Note the track starts from the Chaluklum 7/11 (hence the initial speed as the start is on board a scooter) and the red cross marks where you leave your scooter and begin the hike.



Now we’ve got you to the start of the walk it really is pretty straight forward from here on in. After about 10 minutes you’ll reach a dam, as per other dams you came across on the other hikes I suspect this is providing the water supply for Thongsala, and at this point you cross the dam and follow the trail.

The trail is well established; probably the most well established of all the hikes outlined on this site. You will hear that a guide is recommended but unless you’re planning on doing the walk solo or have a fear of somehow losing yourself in the jungle a guide really isn’t necessary (now you know where to start). The gradient is about 15% and increases to a max of about 25% and given the duration of the walk shoes are advised (although you could do it in Jandals/Thongs). The following image shows you the first major landmark of the hike – the dam.


Once past the dam the walk dives into a beautiful jungle section and out of no where after another 20 minutes a beautiful Thai house appears! Fortunately the owner was at home when we arrived and my friend spoke Thai so we were able to confirm that this indeed isn’t his holiday home rather his house and that he motor-bikes up to this place every day. Quite a feat when you retrospectively consider the terrain you’ve just covered! If he’s at home fire out a hearty “Sawadee Krup/Ka” as i’m sure he gets quite a few visitors. The path continues to the right of the house past his beautiful garden and from here you’re heading up the ridge to the summit.


It’s encounters like this that really makes Thailand such a special place. We spoke to this chap for a good 20 minutes. He makes a living off the surrounding land and is off to the market every day to sell his produce. No electricity up here!


As previously mentioned from this point it would be almost impossible to get lost. The gradient increases and remains at a steady 20-25% from this point on. Just on the very off chance you’re not sure you’re on the path there are constant reminders.


These signs appear right to the top of the climb. After roughly one hour you’ll get a great view of Thongsala, Ban Tai and across the straight to Koh Samui. Note you can only see North (e.g. Chaloklum) when you reach the summit so it is worth your time stopping at this point to have a break and take in the view.

Like any kind of physical activity the best time to do the walk is during the morning before the heat of the day arrives. We did the walk mid to late afternoon and that unfortunately reduced our visibility from the summit due to haze. Regardless the view is spectacular and is well worth the time taken.


You can see Chaloklum bay in the foreground of the above image and I’m sure on a day with good visibility you would also be able to see across to Koh Tao.

Even in the rainy season I suspect this hike would be achievable. And if you’re thinking to yourself – “Argh, it all sounds like hard work!” – I actually did it a week after dislocating my shoulder so you really have no excuse! Enjoy πŸ™‚


Related Links:

Haad Rin Radio Tower Walk
Bottle Beach Walk
Haad Rin to Haad Yuan and Thian Nature Walk

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