Prachuab Khiri Khan, and Hua Hin in particular, was once a summertime retreat for royalty and aristocracy. Nowadays, the province’s white sands, blue seas and proximity to Bangkok attract all classes of holidaymaker…
Prachuab is a great place to learn or practice water sports, especially sailing and surfing, which take advantage of the cooling offshore breezes. Hotels of all prices can be found with full sports packages for every member of the family.
Inland, Prachuab has much to do. Get back to nature at one of the province’s many national parks or travel deeper into the countryside to the Pa La-u Waterfalls in nearby Kaeng Krachan National Park. Or bring along the trusty drivers and play a round on one of the many championship golf courses to be found in Prachtiab Khiri Khan. Hua Hin Beach
Hua Hin Beach lies approximately 185 km – a three-hour drive southwest of Bangkok. It is recognized as Thailand’s most traditional beach resort. In 1926, King Rama VII built Klai Kangwon, his summer palace, at the resort, starting a fashion among high society to retreat to Hua Hin during the summer months to escape the heat of Bangkok. Klai Kangwon Palace is still used by the present Royal Family at certain times of the year.
Hua Hin is a well-established beach destination, with full facilities for the tourist. Unlike Pattaya on the other side of the Gulf of Thailand, Hua Hin provides a quieter, more relaxed environment, with a typically Thai ambience. Hua Hin is ideal for families or for those who wish to simply escape the bustle and heat of Bangkok. Many activities are available for the tourist, from just swimming or watching the sunrise through to fishing, golfing, water sports and horse riding.
From Bangkok, Hua Hin is accessible by car, bus and train. To get there by car, the usual route is along Phetkasem Road (Highway No 4) via Nakhon Pathom or Thonburi-Pak Tor Road (Highway No 4) via Phetchaburi. Buses to Hua Hin leave from the Southern Bus Terminal. For timetables, call 02 434-5557-8 for air-conditioned services, or 02 4351199, 02 435-1200 for non air-conditioned buses. Trains also leave Hua Lampong Station for Hua Hin. Check schedules at 02 223-7010,02 223-7020. For Jack Holiday Service call 081 731 6466
Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park
The 98-sq-km ‘Three Hundred Peaks’ national park includes some of the finest examples of shoreline habitat remaining in Thailand. Located on the western seaboard of the Gulf of Thailand at the thinnest part of the southern isthmus, the park includes fine beaches, caves and wetland habitats. Limestone hills, rising as high as 605 meters, present fine views of the coast of Prachuab.
Khao Sam Roi Yit is one of the country’s best bird watching sites It is particularly notable for migratory shore birds and waterfowl Of 275 recorded bird species, 60 are mainly confined within the park. Sightings include rare species such as the purple heron (one of only two breeding sites in Thailand), white-bellied sea eagle, and spotted and imperial eagles. Mammals include the goat-antelope or scrow, still widespread in the park, slow loris, Malayan porcupine crab-eating macaque, mongoose, leopard cat and leopard. Irrawaddy dolphins can sometimes be seen offshore.
Visitors can see the main attractions along the hiking trails that criss-cross the park. The Khao Krachorn trail leads to the top of the tallest hill, near the center of the park. Steep trails lead to the fine beaches of Sam Phraya and Lacm Sala or alternatively boats can be hired from Ban Bang Pu. A popular trip is the two-hour boat cruises along the Khao Daeng Canal, from near the park headquarters. Passing through mangroves and wetland habitats, the trip is most popular at sunset.
The park has three outstanding caves. Phraya Nakhon Cave can be reached on foot from Ban Bang Pu or by boat. The trail is steep and rocky. Tham Phraya Nakhon has two sinkholes and a pavilion built for a visit by King Rama V in 1896. The cave was named to Phraya Nakhon, ruler of the city-state of Nakhon Si Thammarat who inadvertently discovered it over 200 years ago when a gale forced his ship ashore.
Deep tunnels and interlinked chambers characterize Kaeo Cave. You can rent a lamp to see the calcite-encrusted walls, which glisten like jewels, giving it the name ‘Crystal Cave’. Sai Cave is lo cared off the road between Sam Phraya Beach and Pranburi. A 20 minute climb gets you to the single large caves where villagers rent out lamps to see the calcified ‘waterfalls’.
Khao Sam Roi Yot is located about 320 km south of Bangkok, 37 km south of Pranburi. Songthaews run from Pranburi to Ban Bang Pu from where you have to walk to the park headquarters Better is to charter a vehicle for around 300 baht for the whole trip Forestry Department bungalows for eight to 20 people are avail able at the park headquarters or at Sam Phraya Beach. Tents can also be hired. Restaurants are available at both the park headquarters and at Sam Phraya Beach. For advanced reservations, call the Forestry Department in Bangkok on 02 561-4292.
The best time to visit the park is between September and March when the migratory birds are present in great numbers. Bring along binoculars or hire a pair from the park headquarters. Bring along mosquito repellant too. King Mongkut died from malaria two month after contracting the disease at Khao Sam Roi Yot. There isn’t much risk of malaria these days, but the mosquitoes can still be irritating.