Beyond Thong Pha Phum the views get increasingly spectacular as Highway 323 climbs through the remaining swathes of montane rainforest, occasionally hugging the eastern shore of the Vajiralongkorn Reservoir until 73km later it comes to an end at Sangkhlaburi (often called Sangkhla for short). In the early 1980s, the old town was lost under the rising waters of the newly created Khao Laem (now Vajiralongkorn) Reservoir. Its residents were relocated to the northeastern tip of the lake, beside the Songkalia River, where modern-day Sangkhla now enjoys an eerily beautiful view of semi-submerged trees and raft houses. It’s a tiny town with no unmissable attractions, but the atmosphere is pleasantly low-key and the best of the accommodation occupies scenic lakeside spots so it’s a great place to slow down for a while.

Cultural interest is to be found in the villages, markets and temples of the area’s Mon, Karen and Thai populations, including at Ban Waeng Ka across the water, and there’s natural beauty in various waterfalls, whitewater rivers and the remote Thung Yai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary. It sees relatively few farang tourists, but it’s a popular destination for weekending Thais (come during the week for better deals on accommodation) and resident NGO volunteers add a positive vibe. Though the Burmese border is just 22km away at Three Pagodas Pass, at the time of writing it was closed to foreigners.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Thailand features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Go solo: the 20 best places to travel alone

Go solo: the 20 best places to travel alone

Solo travel can be one of the most rewarding ways to explore the world. Whether you'd rather spend it on a desert island or in a frenetic new city, here are th…

21 Dec 2016 • Rachel Mills camera_alt Gallery
Video: a 1 minute guide to Thailand

Video: a 1 minute guide to Thailand

Consistently voted as one of the best places to travel by our readers – most recently as one of the world's friendliest countries and one of the best place…

05 Dec 2016 • Rough Guides Editors videocam Video
The truth about elephant tourism in Asia

The truth about elephant tourism in Asia

Elephants are born free, but are everywhere in chains – and it’s tourism which is increasingly to blame. Riding an elephant used to be on every visitor’s …

25 Nov 2016 • Gavin Thomas insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month