The Emerald Pool and the Blue Lagoon are part of the Khao Phra Bang Khram Nature Reserve, and their waters come from thermal hot springs that are deep underground. As such, the whole area becomes a hotbed for backpackers and tour groups from all over south eastern Thailand, and this leads to a lot of cramped conditions, where your enjoyment of the pools will be curtailed by the sheer number of people sharing the space with you.
This nature reserve is quite a way out of Krabi Town, even if it is fairly easy to reach down Highway Number 4. I had been enjoying the atmosphere at Ao Nang Beach the previous afternoon and then proceeded to check out the Krabi Night Market before heading back to my hostel (which was also in the Ao Nang district, but not on the beach). So in the morning when the time came to get the tour bus up to the Emerald Pool, I was a little jaded from the previous night’s excursions.
The first problem I encountered was the tour group that I was with on my way up to the nature reserve. They were noisy and raucous! Most of them were Australian, and they didn’t shut up for the entire journey! There was always something for them to giggle at (including my trilby at one point!), and even the slightly older tourists on the bus were getting a bit peeved at the whole situation. Anyway, this 1 hour long journey from Krabi Town made me somewhat crabby before we even arrived at the Khao Phra Bang Khram Nature Reserve to see the beauty of the Emerald Pool.
For the most part, I loved what I saw in the nature reserve. It felt like something in a theme park, where a lot of effort had been made to make you feel like you were in the Thai jungle – only this was the Thai jungle! Usually, you get a few trees, a stream, and the noise of a cacophony of crickets, and that’s your lot, but here the foliage was dense, and the tree canopy seemed to trap in the air and noise, so even the very smell of the water and the nature could not escape. I am pretty sure anyone who has visited the Emerald Pool or the Blue Lagoon around here would say the same thing. But that leads me on to the next issue I had with this nature reserve – it was just too crowded, and not a single thing was being done by the staff (or rangers, as they like to be called) to try and calm matters. For example, I saw many people littering in the jungle, and some people feeding monkeys with crisps, and this was in full view of the ticketing office! Not one of the staff members said a word!
Despite getting annoyed at some inconsiderate people, I did enjoy a quick swim in the Emerald Pool. The waters were fairly warm and fairly clean, although not as clean as I would have liked. There were lots of mosquitoes around, and this reminded me of my experience in Luang Prabang at Kuang Si Falls, which has a similar kind of vibe to this place in more ways than one. Although the Blue Lagoon cannot be entered by tourists, it is still remarkable to look at, as well as being a true photo opportunity – and judging by the crowds here, it seems half of Surat Thani province has the same opinion!
The entry price in 2016 is 200Baht per “foreigner” to enter the park, and if you travel here by moped or private car (instead of tour bus), then there is also a 20Baht parking charge. From the parking area, it is a leisurely 10 minute walk through the forest to reach the Emerald Pool.