We decided to go to Khao Khitchakut (เขาคิชฌกูฏ) about ten minutes before we got into the car. Timmy was off school last Thursday because of Teacher’s Day, and I wanted to get away from the computer. Oa gets annoyed with my habit of springing these trips on her at the last minute, but she didn’t mind this time because she’d heard some positive reviews about the mountain – many Thai people believe climbing up to the temple on Khao Khitchakut brings good luck.
Khao Khitchakut Rollercoaster Ride
It took us just over an hour to drive from Rayong to Khao Khitchakut. There are kiosks at the entrance to the park, but there was no admission fee – at least on Thursday. We had to leave the car outside in a car-park and pay 50 THB each (Timmy rode free) to enter the park in a pickup truck. I thought this might be a bit of a scam until I saw the roads – there is no way I would have made it up the mountain in a car.
The ride up in a pick-up started out fun, but it became a bit of an ordeal. We were alll were smiling for the first couple of minutes of steep climbs and crazy turns on a dirt-track – even Timmy enjoyed it – but after about five minutes everyone was looking a bit ill and worried.
I felt relieved when the pick-up reached a clearing where there were a few buildings. I thought we’d made it, but it turns out we were only half-way to our destination. We needed to change pick-ups and pay another 50 THB each. This seemed a bit unfair until I considered how much damage these trips must do the pick-up trucks – it would be much worse if the same vehicle had to go all the way from the bottom to the top. The second-half of the journey was even more hair-raising than the first – especially when we needed to pass other vehicles coming in the opposite direction.
Khao Khitchakut Temple
It is a 1 km climb from where the pick-ups dropped us off to Khao Khitchakut Temple –it took us half an hour to walk it. It’s a nice hike with steps for the steepest parts. Timmy is six years old, but he was easily able to manage it alone. There are bells along some patches of the walk, and making them all ring with the help of a coin is a way to make merit. The only disappointing thing was there weren’t any views of the world below on the way up because there were too many trees, but it was nice to have so much shade from the sun. The highest point of Khao Khitchakut is only 1,085 meters (3,560 feet), but it felt much higher because we were coming from sea-level.
We could hear people chanting at Khao Khitchakut temple long before we got there. It added a nice transcendental quality to the walk. When we got there, we found hundreds of people sitting around most of them listening to a monk give a sermon. It felt crowded but apparently it gets much busier on the weekends during February and March. There were a couple of stalls selling fruits and snacks at an inflated price. The temple itself is really just a covered area where the monks can sit in the shade.
Once we got passed the crowds there was a short climb to a man-made balcony that offered an excellent view of the temple and local scenery. It was a bit cloudy, so we couldn’t see too far.
Strange Rocks on Khao Khitchakut
We decided to keep on walking, and we followed a path leading towards an area called Paa Deang – it is given this name because it is traditional to take a piece of red cloth there for good luck. We found a stall selling red strips of cloth, and we paid 20 THB for one piece.
It is another 1 km walk (mostly uphill) to Paa Daeng, and there are some nice scenic points along the way with lots of Buddha statues on display – often in the most unexpected places. Khitchakut is famous for its strange standing rocks that are named after objects they sort of look like – one of them did sort of remind me of giant whale diving out of the water. We saw lots of people who were camping in the woods, and this looked great fun.
We ended up spending about five hours on Khao Khitchakut. We all enjoyed it, and we are planning to go back again soon. I think it would be much better to arrive early in the morning and spend the whole day here – or better yet, bring a tent and stay overnight.
View Khao Khitchakut District in a larger map