Despite its close proximity to Phuket, very few people can probably confess to visiting the area just over Sarasin Bridge, home to the Thai Muang beach township in Phang Nga.
Thai Muang, around 25km north of Sarasin Bridge, loosely translates to “the last stop of the tin mine” in Thai, and was home to many Chinese tin miners who migrated to the area during the industry’s boom in the late 18th century.
History suggests the name came from when Chinese families lived on the banks of the river, and the husbands worked in the tin mines.
The family members would sit by the river, not much more than a wastewater stream, to collect small reject particles of tin to sell. This was effectively, the “last stop of the tin from the mine.”
When the boom was over, the Chinese either returned home or found work in Phuket. These days there are few reminders of the once booming tin mine industry in Thai Muang, but the beachfront location is perfect for a day trip – or a longer stay for those wanting to relax and get some peace and quiet.
The Turtle Sanctuary at the Phang Nga Coastal Fisheries Research and Development Centre is well-worth a stop if you’re in the area. Located on the Thai Muang Beach road, it is around 1 km from the Thai Muang National Park HQ.
The centre was first set up in 1985 as a culture mollusc culture research station to produce cockle and oyster seeds and shrimp larvae. It was turned into a research centre in 2002, and now operates as a turtle rescue centre as well.
While it is home to many aquatic creatures, by far the largest draw card is the impressive turtles, which swim in large concrete tanks in the centre. Visiting the centre is bound to be a hit with children, due to the ability to easily get up close and personal with some very large animals – including the endangered green turtle and the threatened Olive Ridley species.
Many of the turtles in the centre have been injured. They are rescued and taken to the sanctuary, where they are nursed back to health before being released back into the wild.
There are signs out the front so the centre is relatively easy to find, and also there is a lot of construction going on, as shown by the large green tarpaulins hung up everywhere. The nearby Aleenta Resort and Spa holds a yearly gala event to raise money to support the turtle sanctuary.