Sirinat National Park (or Sirinath National Park) located on the western side of Phuket, is one of Thailand smallest national parks, and is situated within the Thalang district. This marine national park which measures approximately 90 square kilometres in size starts at the island's most northern tip and extends down past Phuket's international airport, or about 30 kilometres north of Phuket town.
This destination is unique in that it stretches along Phuket's popular coastline (including Nai Yang Beach) and includes a 68 square kilometre sea component that incorporates the surrounding mangroves and spectacular coral reefs. These reefs are located approximately 700-1,000 metres offshore and include coral species such as soft coral, plate coral, sea anemone and sea fan and during good weather can be reached without chartering a boat.
But the national park also covers a large 22 square kilometre land section which includes dense forests which are home to a variety of flora and fauna and is therefore a popular tourist destination for campers, hikers and bird watchers alike. This is a part of Phuket where you can get away from the hustle and bustle of the foreign tourists in Phuket town and relax and take in the natural beauty that can appear hidden at times.
The area became Thailand's 51st national park back in 1981 but it was not until 1991 that it was named Sirinat National Park, being in commemoration of the 60th birthday of Her Majesty, Queen Sirikit. Once inside the park there is a walking path which provides easy access to most areas, and the signs are usually written in both Thai and English so there's no issues with getting lost.
The national park is well known for it's 13 kilometre stretch of pristine coastline including four sandy beaches called, Nai Yang, Mai Khao (Phuket's longest beach), Nai Thon and Sai Kaeo. However, more importantly, the area is a sanctuary for the endangered species of leather-back sea turtles which come ashore between the months of November and February to lay their eggs.
This turtle nesting area is surrounded by the park's beach forests which apart from helping to stabilize the beaches from natural erosion, also provide a habitat for the numerous bird species which live there and these include the Spotted dove, Magpie robin, Oriole, Common myna and Greater racket-tailed Drongo to name a few. These bird species help to attract a large number of birdwatchers to Phuket each year.
The Sirinat National Park is actually a popular retreat for both Thai's and foreigners who come to admire the natural beauty of this location and to take advantage of the local food which is for sale along the beachfront locations.
Swimming and snorkeling are quite popular activities especially along Nai Yang Beach while the pathway which takes you along the mangrove forest is another popular activity in the northern section of the park. While the mangrove forest covers a relatively small 1 square kilometre area it is important because it is the most pristine mangrove to be found on Phuket.
There are some basic style amenities within the national park such as toilets and showers and a number of canteens also. If you are looking to stay within the national park, there are several resorts and hotels including the Marriott, Anantara and the Renaissance but they are located away from the coastline, so if you wish to stay close to the beaches, the only option is to set up a tent an camp for the night. Camping is only allowed on two beaches on Phuket which both happen to be within the national park. These are Mai Khao and Nai Yang beaches. Sleeping bags and tents can be hired and you will need to register at the headquarters at Nai Yang Beach.
However, if you are looking for a little extra fun while visiting the national park there is a water park located near Mai Khao Beach called Splash Jungle Waterpark (see image below). This attraction which opens daily between 10 AM and 6 PM is situated within the 3.5 acre grounds of the Centara Grand West Sands Resort and has a number of fun rides for the kids (and big kids) including water slides, a wave pool, and an aqua play pool along with a sauna for the adults.
If you fly to Phuket International Airport then the best way to travel to Sirinat National Park is by taxi. The park entrance is located close to the airport at 89/1 Moo 1, Ban Nai Yang, Sakhu, Thalang district. The park opens daily between the hours of 8.30 AM and 4.30 PM. Admission is 200 Thai Baht per adult and 40 Thai Baht per child.
The best way to travel to Phuket is by plane or bus. Flights from Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport to Phuket's International Airport occur daily with a number of local airlines servicing the island including Nok Air, Air Asia and Thai Airways.
Being an international airport direct flights are available to Phuket from a number of countries including Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan to name a few. There are an abundance of taxi's and mini-vans located outside the Phuket airport to transport you to your hotel.
Buses to Phuket depart Bangkok's Southern Bus Terminal daily with the journey taking approximately 13 hours.