Another chapter of my life has ended and a new one shall begin soon. I am very happy today. I am thankful for my wonderful life. I had a great time with my family in Betong, Thailand. Over the years, traveling around and seeing people in all sorts of circumstances makes me appreciate my life and freedom more and more. It has helped me become a better person. I am fortunate to have a great family and good friends who love me. Not everyone has that. There are many people who have hard lives and have not received the gifts I have received.
Betong in Malay meaning Bamboo is known as the beautiful city in the mist due to its hill-locked geography. It is the southernmost district of Thailand surrounded by mountains and sharing a border with Malaysia. It is common to see a morning mist floating above the town and tourists particularly enjoy the cold climate, flower gardens, natural attractions, historical spots, delicious Thai food and shopping. I went there with my family last Friday, in two cars for two days and one night, though short but it was enough for this little small town.
Driving from Malaysia to Thailand
How to drive to Thailand from Malaysia? It is about two-hour drive from Bukit Mertajam, Penang to Betong, Thailand. Petrol is cheaper in Malaysia so make sure you fill up the tank before you go.
Things you need to cross the border:
2. Visa (if you need one).
3. Driving license.
4. Car grant (to proof that you are the owner).
Steps you need to cross the border:
First, you will reach the Malaysian customs. There the police will ask you some questions and they may also inspect your car grant. Make sure you it ready. Next, you will reach the Malaysian Immigration. Just drive up to the kiosk and hand your passport to the Immigration Officer, there is no need to get out of the car.
Before the Thai Immigration there is a ZON Duty Free shop on your left. My uncle bought four bottles of Australian wine there for only 100 ringgit Malaysia. We bought some sweets and chocolates too. Shortly after the ZON Duty Free shop, you will come to the Kingdom of Thailand – Betong Customs House or Betong Immigration Check Point.
There, you have to park your car, fill the Thai Immigration Arrival/Departure card, stamp your passport, and obtain a “Simplified Customs Declaration Form” for your car at the other side. Do not forget this. This Form must be returned to customs officer on departure. Return to your car and drive through Thai Customs. The process at the border is very simple and straightforward, passport and car grant are the two most important things you should have. Processing takes no more than a couple of minutes. Keep your driving license, car grant, and Simplified Customs Declaration Form readily available in the car as these are the things you will most likely get asked for if stopped by the police or road-check. Malaysian Ringgit is accepted there so you do not have to worry about exchanging the money.
Betong Hot Spring
Betong is a quiet and laidback town. The first place we went is a Thai temple but I do not know the name of the temple. So I will skip it. Next, Betong Hot Spring located just a few kilometers from the city center and also near the Piyamit Tunnel. No entrance fees required. At there, you could bathe or soak your legs in the Hot Spring. There are also small hubs there at the hottest spot for boiling eggs and clams. Eggs are cooked in several minutes.
Hot Spring Benefits
1. Skin cleansing: cleanses and beautifies your skin.
2. Healing: Eases and soothes tired or aching muscles and joints. It heals some skin diseases.
3. Relaxation: Eases tension and de-stress with the comfortable water temperature (approximately 45 degree Celsius) provides more effective massage by deep heating the muscles prior to your treatment.
4. Blood circulation: Skin temperature rises and blood vessels relax to circulate and cool the body.
It is believed that hot spring can cure muscle pain and minor skin irritation.
If you are looking for handicraft product in Thailand, there is one OTOP center near the Hot Spring. OTOP stands for ‘One Tambon (meaning sub-district) One Product’. It is open daily from 10 am to 7pm.
Located near the Hot Spring, the Piyamit Tunnel is the Malaya Communist’s base build for Bombshells and storing food supplies. The battlefield bases are located on the mountain top in the midst of the deep forest which separates the boundaries of Thailand and Malaysia covered the area of Yala Provinces. The Piyamit Tunnel was built in 1977 with the length of 1 KM and 5 to 6 feet wide. It took three months for excavation of 50 hard manships and there are 9 entrance exit paths. At present there is an exhibition about its history including the way of life in the forest. It is open to the public from 8 am to 4.30 pm. Entrance fee is 20 Baht for children and 50 Baht for adult. Bear in mind that you have to climb a distance to the tunnel itself. There are many huge trees inside the forest.
Piyamit Tunnel Map
B Guan Shi Yin
C Stove for preparing charcoal
D Shelf for Bake Clothes
E Guard Post
H Play Ground
I Assembly Hall
J Temple Bai Gong
K The Bridal Chamber (Family)
L Medical Service Station
M Guerillas’s Hostel (Single Man)
N Combat Group
O Well to Extract Earth
Stove for preparing charcoal
Smokeless stove a.k.a. Kong Ming Stove
Cooking utensils used by the communists
Before we entered the tunnel, there was an ex-communist explained the architectural features of the tunnel and the life of communists hiding in this forest and tunnel during the war to us. The communists were very smart.
Container for keeping food
Underground store room
After exiting the tunnel, we were led to a small museum. At there you can read the history of communists and how Malaysian communists reach here. There are also tools and weapons displayed inside. However, photography and video are not permitted. I took the photo before I knew, I am so sorry.
Piyamit Tunnel Museum
Temple Bai Gong
Winter Flower Garden
With the cold weather for the whole year at Betong, there are many cold place flowers which can be planted. Winter Flower Garden is surrounded with hills at Piyamitre 2 village and the project is held by the Princess Sirinthorn command. Entrance fee is 30 Baht per person. Open from 7.30 am to 5.30 pm
The Clock Tower
There is a clock tower situated at the intersection at the center of the Betong town. It is a beautiful construction made of marble and is as old as the town itself. The base of the tower is decorated with a sculpture of ‘Hemara’ which is an animal in a Thai Myth, and that of a swallow. There are many restaurants and small pubs in the town.
The Biggest Mailbox
The Biggest Mailbox used to be located at the Bell Tower intersection of Betong. It was built in 1924 before World War II as the communication post for the townspeople, through the radio implanted on top of the box, and the mail slot below it. At present a new box had been built in a larger size (nine meters tall), and is located at the City Convention Hall (Sala Prachakhom). Open Monday to Sunday.
Phra Mahathat Chedi Phra Phutthathammaprakat
Phra Mahathat Chedi Phra Phutthathammaprakat is located on a hilltop in Betong city center, on the ground of Wat Phutthathiwat, Thanon Rattanakit. This chedi is built in the modern Sivijaya style, covered in gold color. It is 39.9 meters high, built to commemorate the 69th birthday anniversary of Her Majesty the Queen. From the chedi one can see all of the temple ground and part of Betong city center.
Other Betong Attractions
Betong Mongkolrit Tunnel
Established on Amornrit Road croosing with Pakdeedamrong Road, Betong Mongkolrit Tunnel is a car tunnel, 268 meters long.
Places that we did not go.
– Inthasorn Waterfall a.k.a. Namtok Inthason
– Thoni Shaine
– The Central Mosque a.k.a. Betong District Central Mosque
– Betong Foundation building
– Kuan-Im Temple
– Bala-Hala Forest
Hotels in Betong Thailand
Bor-Nam-Ron Resort & Spa
Where to stay? We stayed at the Bor-Nam-Ron Resort & Spa, the Betong Hot Spring resort. There are 43 bungalow, standard and economy rooms available. All rooms are tastefully furnished with practical amenities for your convenience stay. Each room is well equipped with TV, minibar, air-conditioned, telephone and generous storage space.
Bungalow was built from the Thai-Muslim architecture. Each bungalow is well appointed with luxurious decorations and modern conveniences such as TV, mini bar, telephone, air-conditioning etc.
Spa and sauna
They offer two mineral baths, a hot mineral water bath and a normal water bath. Hydrotherapy involves the use of water for pain-relief and treating illness. Then, you can take the sauna. Sauna heat also gives many benefits such as overall perspiring, skin cleansing, relaxation, blood circulation and also weight loss.
1. Overall perspiring: The hot saunas reach over 160 degree Fahrenheit, helping people sweat heavily and flush out body toxins through perspiration.
2. Skin cleansing: Sauna heat opens skin pores so that profuse sweat washes out body oils and dead skin cells.
3. Relaxation: Sauna heat, whether dry or moist, warms tense muscles and eases aches from joint arthritis and physical exercise.
4. Blood circulation: Hot sauna air makes skin temperature rise and blood vessels relax to circulate and cool the body.
5. Weight loss: As body temperature rises and metabolism increases, the body burns calories similar to walking or other exercise.
There are two mineral water swimming pools for children and adults. Clean, convenient and safe.
Coffee shop and karaoke
They serve a variety of foods and drinks. You can enjoy eating and singing. They also offer big screen karaoke (in several languages such as English, Chinese and Thai), private rooms plus a VIP room for hire.
Address: 168/1 Moo. 2 Tambol. Tanohmearoh, Betong, Yala, Thailand 95110
Tel: 073 2722212
Fax: 073 272220
H/P: 089 6555016
We stayed at the Bungalow room which is 1000 Baht/night and 250 Baht for an extra bed. Standard Room is 750 Baht/night and I do not remember the price for economy room. Everything is good except for the room cleanliness. It shall be improved.
Winter Flower Garden Resort
For Winter Flower Garden Resort, the price per night for small room is 700 Baht, big room is 750 Baht. I did not stay there but I got the contact details. They also serve a variety of foods and drinks and offer big screen karaoke where you can enjoy eating and singing.
Contact: Wang Thian Hok (Ah Yang) Manager
Tel: 081 7389417, 087 8991153
Fax: 073 360856
Grand Mandarin Betong Hotel
I suggest you pay a little bit more to stay at Grand Mandarin Betong Hotel, located in the center of Betong. You can see it from the clock tower. I did some research on the net. It is the newest hotel so far in Betong and the room is spacious, clean and comfortable. Price is about 1400 Baht for one night.
When you come back from Betong, again, park your car the Betong Customs House or Betong Immigration Check Point, stamp your passport and do not forget to return the “Simplified Customs Declaration Form” to customs officer. When you reach the Malaysian customs, expect some questioning, an inspection of the boot, and perhaps the need to have your luggage x-rayed.