Prachuap Khiri Khan: My new favourite place in Thailand


Southern Thailand

Joanna Horanin

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Last updated at 24/05/2024, 01:30

Hi, I'm Joanna, the author of The Blond Travels. In the worlds of Thailand and Portugal, I feel like a fish in water - and it's no coincidence! I've been exploring Thailand for over a decade, and I've settled in Portugal for 6 years now. My mission is to support Dreamers - just like you - in discovering these fascinating countries and helping those in love with them find their own place on Earth, preferably for good! Let's uncover these unique corners of the world together.

Of the lesser-known places in Thailand that I have visited over the past 10 years of my travels in the country, Prachuap Khiri Khan has a special place in my heart. The town, which I decided to visit with no expectations, turned out to be a beautiful, local, uncut diamond that I would recommend to anyone who wants to see the real Thailand undisturbed by mass tourism.

I went to Prachuap Khiri Khan from Khao Sok Park, where I swam on the lake, the Thai Amazon and visited the town of Ta Kuapa. In my plan for Thailand, I didn’t have this town in mind at all. The visit was totally unplanned. I didn’t know where to go next, I ran my finger over the map and the choice was Prachuap. I am very glad that I ended up there, because it is a place that has enchanted me.

If you want to see something less popular in Thailand, then Prachuap Khiri Khan would be perfect. Go there for a couple of days, see the wonderful out-of-the-beaten-path locations and attractions and soak up the unique atmosphere of this city.

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    Some facts about Phrachuap Khiri Khan

    A street in Phrachuap Khiri Khan
    A typical street in Phrachuap Khiri Khan.

    Prachuap Khiri Khan is located 200 km south of Bangkok and in the north of the Malay Peninsula. It is surrounded by two provinces – Chumphon and Phetchaburi.

    This small town has a couple of beaches, a long promenade, and some interesting attractions, which I will tell you about in a moment.

    It is not a very touristic place, so there may be communication difficulties here, with access to organised tours. There are also no resorts designed for western tourists here (yet), so bikinis can also be a bit controversial.

    How to get to Prachuap Khiri Khan?

    A temple with a golden roof in Thailand, Prachuap Khiri Khan.
    The suburbs of Prachuap Khiri Khan.

    Prachuap is quite well connected to other parts of the country. I travelled from Khao Sok Park. I first caught the van to Surat Thani and then the train to Prachuap. The journey took almost a full day, but it was pleasant.

    You can also get to Prachuap from Bangkok by train or bus.

    You can order your tickets online a few days in advance.

    What to do in Prachuap Khiri Khan?

    Prachuap is not a very big city, but for a lesser-known place in Thailand, it has a lot to see and do. Here are a few activities I recommend.

    Beaches and water sports

    People standing on the beach in Prachuap Khiri Khan.
    Prachuap has a few wide, clean beaches.

    As I mentioned, Prachuap has beaches and the sea. It is a destination currently more for Thais on holiday, so you may not see sunbathing crowds on the beach.

    However, nothing is lost.

    I recommend snorkelling in the area. Masks and equipment can be hired from hotels or at the Thammikaram temple.

    In the afternoon the waves are quite high, so you can also go surfing. These will be good waters for beginners.

    Sunbathing is also recommended. I didn’t go there in a bikini and I don’t know how the locals would react. As Prachuap is a town populated mainly by Buddhists, you can always try and see if anyone will particularly pay attention to you.

    I also recommend taking a walk along the waterfront along the promenade. There are quite a few joggers and walkers there in the morning, as the temperatures are very pleasant.

    Climb the hill and visit the Wat Thammikaram

    A temple on the hill overlooking the ocean.
    This temple has amazing views over the sea.

    The beautiful temple of Wat Thammikaram reigns over the entire city. Entering there is quite difficult. There are a lot of stairs and even in the evening it is very hot. It’s worth the effort though, as the views are beautiful and the temple itself is amazing.

    Make sure you visit everything, including the cave hidden a little further away where, according to legend, the Monkey King lives.

    And while we’re on the subject of monkeys, the entire mountain is inhabited by these clever animals. During the day, they run around at the bottom, running into the road, accosting passers-by. In the morning, residents bring them food.

    In the evening, the monkeys sit on the steps leading upstairs. Opposite the temple is a car park. There you will find a grandmother who hands out broomsticks. Without these weapons, you are unlikely to go upstairs. The monkeys like to attack people and take all sorts of objects from them. Go up, keep the stick in your hand and look at the ground, don’t make eye contact with them and you’ll be fine.

    See funny langurs

    2 monkeys sitting on a rock in prachuap khiri khan. A man takes a photo of them with a phone.
    These monkeys inhabit one area in Prachuap Khiri Khan.

    Langurs are a different variety of monkey that inhabit the area. They look very different from the ones you will meet at the temple mentioned above. They are characterised by discolouration around their eyes, which looks as if the monkeys have glasses.

    These animals live on one of the trees on the outskirts of Prachuap. You can see them up close. They are not aggressive, but I would urge you not to get too close and feed them.

    Slow down among the 100-year old buildings

    Colourful benches standing against metal fence in thailand.
    The streets here have a lot of colourful features.

    I found this street by chance and immediately fell in love with it. Beautiful, old, lumbering buildings stand in a row on Sala Cheep Street. Some of them have beautiful graffiti.

    During the day, this street is quiet and peaceful. You’ll also find some interesting cafes with good coffee, and local restaurants with great food.

    Rest at a quiet bay

    Colourful ships standing in a bay in prachuap khiri khan, thailand.
    This bay is a stop for many beautiful fishing boats.

    A little further from the centre, about a 10-15 minute drive, you’ll find the bay and Bay Camp Cafe. It is a tiny place, with calm water, a few tables and sun loungers.

    Colourful fishing boats float on the surface and you have a view of the surrounding hills. This is one of my favourite places of Prachuap Khiri Khan.

    Take trips outside of town – See wild elephants and visit a famous cave

    Prachuap Khiri Khan is quite well located. From here you can set off to explore the area. I would recommend these tours during your stay.

    A woman sitting with her back to the camera. She looks at the fields and is waiting for the wild elephants to emerge, national park, thailand.
    I spent a lot of time on this bench waiting for the wild elephants to emerge.

    Elephants in Thailand are a controversial topic and if you care about the fate of the animals, I recommend taking a trip to a sanctuary or to Kui Buri National Park.

    Once you’re at the gate of the park, you can go on a safari. During a couple of hours riding through the park, you may have the chance to see wild elephants. This is unfortunately not guaranteed.

    Tours of the park are organised at 3pm.

    You will get here by scooter (please be very careful, because the road from Prachuap is really dangerous. The route goes through an expressway with a lot of trucks), which you can rent in town.

    You can rent a car, a motorcycle or hire a driver to get there. Find your driver here.

    A huge cave in Thailand with a little temple inside.
    This is one of the most beautiful caves in the country.

    Phraya Nakhon is a huge cave where a hall stands, dedicated to one of Thailand’s kings.

    You can also get to the cave by scooter or taxi. From there you can continue on foot. It is quite a strenuous trek. There is also the option of taking a boat to the beach adjacent to the cave. From there, however, you will still have to hike.

    A woman in a yellow top stands on the top of the hill in Thailand.
    Visit the Khao Sam Roi Yot and climb one of the viewpoints.

    Another national park where you will find many viewpoints, and a lake where you can take a cruise.

    This was probably the least interesting point of the whole stay for me. The area around the park seems to be an area where there is investment in road construction (I think). There is a lot of dust, concrete. Compared to other places, this park was moderately interesting, but you can still, for example, take a cruise on the lake and have a nice time.

    Additional Information

    If you’re looking to stay in Prachuap Khiri Khan for a few days, the following tips will definitely come in handy.

    When to go?

    Of course, as always in Thailand, winter is the best time to visit. Around January – March is certainly the best time. The weather is best then, the temperatures not so high and there is a light breeze from the sea.

    A man in a red top squats near the road and smokes a cigarette. He is watching the cow and looking in the camera and smiles.
    People here are lovely and very friendly.

    Where to stay?

    There are not that many hotels in the area, and they can sell out quickly during high season.

    As western tourists are rather rare in these areas, the standard and also the service may be a bit different from what you were/are used to in Chiang Mai, for example.

    I initially stayed at the Golden Beach Boutique Resort. The place I can recommend as it is in a very good location. The rooms on the other hand are outdated, the staff are not very friendly and in the evening it can be a bit noisy from the adjacent bar.

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    Due to the hotel being booked for the rest of the night, I had to move somewhere else and chose the Joy Hotel. Again, this is the place I would recommend, but there are a couple of things to bear in mind. The hotel is about 15 minutes from the centre by scooter. The nearby area is very quiet. The only thing that can bother you are the cleaning ladies, who shout to each other while working from 7am and can’t get a good night’s sleep. The rooms are clean and quite spacious, but choose one with a view of the water, otherwise you’ll end up like me – with a big water-tank obscuring the daylight.

    By the mountain and the main temple, on the previously-mentioned 100-year-old street, you’ll find local hostels and guesthouses. Thaimex Cafe and Homestay looks quite promising.

    A temple at the river and fishing boats seen from the other side of the shore.
    When you get out of the city, you will also stumble upon peaceful towns and villages.

    Where to eat and drink?

    One thing that reigns supreme in Prachuap is seafood and it’s really good, much better than what you’ll find on some of the surrounding islands (such as Koh Tao).

    Go to Seascape Bar and try the prawn salad or one of their fish. Similarly, you can find good fish at Rap Lom. I also had one of the better seafood salads at Bang Nang Rom Chom Restaurant.

    In the evening, head to Jimmy’s Small World at sunset for a drink and a chat with the owner. If you like to smoke, you can now do so legally in Thailand and that’s where you’ll buy a joint.

    Renting a scooter

    You can rent a scooter from the hotel. That’s what I wanted to do at first, but I was given a scooter that barely ran. I had to return it quickly.

    I rented a second one from the rental shop at the entrance to the temple upstairs. Here is a list of places where you can rent a scooter.

    Remember to be safe on the road. Prachuap itself doesn’t have too many cars and traffic is slow, but outside the city the roads are very dangerous. Take care. It is important to have a motorbike licence, international driving licence and travel insurance.

    Prachuap Khiri Khan is a great place for a holiday in Thailand. Here you will find peace, tranquillity, local life, good food and low prices. In addition, the town’s good location provides a powerhouse of entertainment for everyone.

    If you want to see a lesser-known Thailand that will steal your heart, Prachuap will definitely be one of those places.