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I’m willing to bet that epic hiking trails aren’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Thailand. Or maybe they are. But either way, there’s much more to Thailand than island hopping, all night parties and street food. The Khao Ngon Nak viewpoint hike, starting at Tub Kaek Beach, offers one of the best views in all of Krabi. And I’m guessing that if you’re reading this guide, it’s because you’ve seen a photo of the iconic view from the top and are thinking of adding this hike to your Thailand itinerary.
If that’s the case, you’ll find everything you need to know in this guide to hiking the Khao Ngon Nak trail in Krabi, from the best clothing to wear and what to take with you, to safety information, tips and advice.
How to get to Khao Ngon Nak viewpoint
The starting point for the Khao Ngon Nak viewpoint hike lies at the entrance of Hat Noppharat Thara National Park, which is close to Tub Kaek Beach – the hike is also sometimes known as the Tub Kaek Hike or Dragon Crest Mountain.
As you enter the national park, you’ll notice signs to indicate your arrival. It’s a little confusing at first, as it’s not clear whether you should continue along the road past the signs. But after checking with a local, we continued to the end of the road where we saw a large hut on the left-hand side. We parked our bike here for free and checked in at the hut.
The park is open daily from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM. It’s strongly advised you start hiking early, because latecomers have to pay a fine and you’ll also avoid the midday heat and crowds.
Safety on the trail
It’s reassuring to note that you have to check in on arrival, before starting the daunting climb to the Khao Ngon Nak viewpoint. You’ll be required to provide your name and contact details before commencing the hike – I guess for safety reasons and to ensure everyone makes it back down the mountain safely. It was great to see the authorities taking safety seriously – they even check that you have enough water.
While on the topic of safety, it’s very important to remember that you’ll be climbing for at least 2 hours each way in searing heat and humidity, so make sure you have an abundant supply of sunscreen, water and snacks. The trail is mostly covered by rainforest trees overhead, so for the majority of the hike, you are in the shade, but cover up with sunscreen anyway to be safe. There is a small hut selling drinks and snacks at the trailhead but I would advise you take your own supplies just in case this is closed.
Also, make sure you wear good shoes (trainers recommended) and comfortable, breathable clothing – the ground under foot is very uneven and it’s not appropriate to climb in heels (we witnessed a woman attempting this, believe it or not). I wore Nike running shoes, gym leggings and a gym top to wick away sweat, keep me cool and make sure I was comfortable.
The most difficult part of the hike is hiking uphill in the humidity and heat and it’s important not to underestimate the difficulty of this trail and be sensible.
Should I book a tour?
You absolutely can do this hike without a tour guide. The trail is clear and easy to follow and as long as you’re sensible, you’ll be perfectly fine. But if you are nervous about hiking this trail alone, you can book a tours with Get Your Guide.
Hiking to Khao Ngon Nak Viewpoint
From the car park, you’ll spot the trailhead and begin to make a gradual ascent to the top. The hike is pretty much uphill the whole way, so be prepared to get sweaty!
There are two viewpoints along the trail before you reach the main viewpoint at the top. We stopped at each viewpoint to catch our breathe, have a snack and enjoy the epic landscape before us. The first viewpoint will deliver a stunning vista over the bay, National Park and Hong Islands and the second viewpoint looks inland across a valley with incredible limestone cliffs.
As this is technically a jungle hike, keep your eyes peeled for wildlife along the trail. We were lucky enough to see lizards, water monitors, the biggest ants I have ever seen and a giant spider hanging in a web!
About three quarters of the way up, we spotted a sign that pointed to a waterfall, with a path veering off to the right but we decided to carry straight on up to the main viewpoint as a passerby told us the waterfall really wasn’t worth the detour.
Reaching the top, there were quite a few people, so don’t expect peace and quiet. This is quite a popular hike and we met a lot of people along the way, although it wasn’t overcrowded and there was plenty of space for everyone. If you want the viewpoint and trail to yourself, be sure to arrive early in the morning. This would also be a good solution if you want to avoid the midday heat too.
There are several different places to stop and enjoy the view at the top of the mountain. Unfortunately, it’s actually prohibited from climbing to the iconic rock that you’ll see in many of the photos and the area is fenced off. It’s strongly advised tourists don’t take the risk but from the photos on Instagram, it’s clear many people ignore the signs and climb to it anyway.
The view at the top is 100% worth the effort. The sprawling landscape of Krabi below is only made even more spectacular by the islands dotted out at sea and the mountains in the distance.
How long does it take to hike Khao Ngon Nak
The hike is approximately 2 miles in length each way and it took us a little less than two hours to reach the top, with stops at the viewpoints to take in the scenery. We enjoyed a little break at the top, sitting on one of the large boulders overlooking the incredible view over Krabi before heading back down the mountain.
In total, we probably spent around 4 hours on this hike, stopping to take in the scenery, stopping for snacks and water and spending a little bit of time at the top – we definitely didn’t want to rush. If you want to fit in other activities during the day, you could definitely squeeze this into a morning. If you leave early you can be back on the beach for lunchtime.