One question we kept on asking to ourselves was, “Where to go after Bangkok?”.
All we knew was that we were heading south to Chumphon where we would get a ferry to the Gulf islands. A long tiring 7-hour bus trip wasn’t appealing, so we opted for a stop along the way.
And Prachuap Khiri Khan was a great destination to visit right after Bangkok, Thailand’s chaotic mega city.
The trip eventually was Bangkok-Prachuap Khiri Khan-Chumphon. Visiting a couple of lesser known towns before heading to Koh Tao, Koh Phangan and Koh Samui is a great option for those with time to spare.
➳ Are you planning your trip to Thailand’s Gulf Islands, that is, to Koh Tao, Koh Phangan and Koh Samui? Then, check these links which will help you decide on which island to visit. Or better still, help you plan your trip to all 3.
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Prachuap Khiri Khan Town
Prachuap is a small tranquil fishing village and vacation town for locals 290km from Bangkok. Although not bustling with activities, some attractions surrounding the area are unlike any other in Thailand.
Things to do and see in Prachuap Khiri Khan
Absorb the 360 degrees view at Khao Chong Krajok Temple
Upon arrival in Prachuap Khiri Khan this is the first thing to be noticed, a temple atop a mountain over looking the town. The temple is located on top of Khao Chong Krajok hill just before the shoreline north of Ao Prachuap bay.
The temple is reached by climbing a fleet of some 400 steps. During the day these stairs are occupied by a large number of macaques, by far the largest troop of monkeys we have seen so far. At times these monkeys can get aggressive especially when any food is present. Best way to avoid any mishap is to not take any food with you and most of all not try touching the monkeys, especially the babies.
The summit here offers views of the long curved beach lying beneath and the surrounding areas.
Swimming and sunbathing at Ao Manao
Ao Manao is a lesser known tropical beach in Thailand. It is somewhat different to your typical beach stop as it is situated inside an air force base. To reach it you will have to leave your details (including passport number) at the gate and checkout by 18:00. The area surrounding the beach is pristine and very well kept and it is an attraction in itself.
Ao Manao is seemingly enclosed by mountainous rock formations on either side with sea water shallow for quite a distance. Islands jutting out of clear turquoise waters and a backdrop of perfectly aligned trees are what makes this beach a must visit while in Prachuap.
Watch the monkeys at Khao Lammuak
At the further northern part of Ao Manao is Khao Lammuak mountain offering a spectacular view over Ao Prachuap and Ao Manao. The reason this is one amazing view is the fact that it is challenging to reach in every possible way. Firstly the mountain is only open on certain public holidays and second reaching the summit is a challenge where at certain hard to reach parts ropes must be used. The foot of the mountain is occupied by troops of the Dusky Langur which still offer an attraction when the mountain is closed.
Trekking to Phraya Nakhon cave
This cave in Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park is one of the main reason Prachuap ended up on our list. The pavilion inside this cave is one of Thailand’s hidden gems and just a few travelers get the chance to experience it.
Phraya Nakhon is a 1 hour drive from Prachuap and first you will need to get to the small village of Bang Pu. From here there are 2 options: either a 45 minute trek around the mountain offering some great views of the surrounding area or a 10 minute boat trip to Laem Sala beach.
The boat trip option (including return) costs 400 Baht per person. Access to the park comes with a fee of 200 Baht per person.
From Laem Sala is a 430 metres trek to reach the cave. Although this might not seem like much, the trek is made challenging by uneven slippery stairs and rocks although this does smoothen out before descending back into the cave.
The beauty in the cave lies within it’s brightly lit up areas. Naturally lit by skylights where over time the rocks have given in and has helped vegetation set roots here and give the beauty to this cave.
Over the wooden dark path leading to the second cave is the main draw. Upon entering, the pavilion is seen standing atop a small hill surrounded by green vegetation. Best time to get here is between 10:00 and 11:00 when the light shines through the opened up area and directly onto the pavilion making this a mesmerizing and enchanted experience.
Take a stroll along Ao Prachuap
The 2 km promenade along Ao Prachuap bay is one way to start or finish off the day. Stalls selling meals, fresh fruits and drinks are set up just off the sidewalk. A Thai massage is also set up here. Although this did seem quite odd and out of place, is worth considering. This side of the coast is best to enjoy at sunrise. Just before sunset the large troop of macaques is seen leaving the previously occupied stairs of the temple and heading elsewhere for the night.
Prachuap Khiri Khan Map with Attractions
The map includes Prachuap Khiri Khan attractions. Before choosing accommodation, pinpoint the hotel on the map above to check its location relative to the town’s attractions.
Things To Do in Prachuap Khiri Khan at Night
Prachuap Khiri Khan Nightlife
The nightlife scene in Prachuap is limited pretty much to an evening meal accompanied by a couple of beers at one of the restaurant or food stalls. Top Deck is the only bar we are aware of and located 200 metres south of the pier in Ao Prachuap.
Prachuap Khiri Khan Night Market
The market at Kong Kiat Road is open daily and offers traditional Thai dishes at cheap prices. Also along the street are a few restaurants. The street is opposite the train station, leading down to the pier.
Every weekend the street in Ao Prachuap is closed off to traffic and turned into a lively night market where locals meet and catch up during this weekly event. The market is open on Fridays and Saturdays.
Prachuap Khiri Khan: Best area to stay in
The street along Ao Prachuap beach features a promenade which stretches out to one side providing an opportunity for a long walk with nice views. Every night, there are some street food stalls here and further north there is the Mirror Mountain or Khao Chong Krajok and Wat Thammikaram. To the south, some restaurants line the beach selling freshly-caught and cheap seafood.
Staying close to Ao Prachuap beach is the best accommodation option in Prachuap Khiri Khan town. It should be noted that Ao Prachuap beach is not good for swimming.
Prachuap Khiri Khan Accomodation
Hotels, guesthouses and hostels are found all within walking distance from one another in Prachuap Khiri Khan. We found our accommodation by chance and isn’t listed on any of the mainstream search engines. The name of the accommodation is Kuntong Hotel in Soi 6 Khong Rong Phayaban and is more a guesthouse than hotel but was clean, had air condition and price was reasonable. Other guesthouses are along this street which is just a 10 minute walk from the promenade.
Transportation from Bangkok to Prachuap Khiri Khan
Buses and mini vans from Bangkok to Prachuap Khiri Khan
Buses and mini vans heading south are stationed in Sai Tai Mai Terminal or the Southern Bus Terminal. The terminal is located about 11km from Khao San Road (check out our blog post of Bangkok featuring the famous Khao San Road here), to the west of Bangkok. The same building houses both the terminal and a small shopping mall.
Buses and minivans go to Prachuap Khiri Khan from the terminal. Minivan tickets are bought at the stands which are located outside the terminal buidling. Each stand clearly shows the journey’s final destination. The cost of a ticket to Prachuap Khiri Khan is 200 Baht per person.
Mini vans are not catered to transport bulky luggage, in fact, they are mostly used by locals. Note that there was just enough space to carry our 2 backpacks in the van.
The drive straight to Prachuap Khiri Khan takes about 3 hours but expect travel time to be more than that as the driver may do multiple stops to pick up and drop off other passengers on the way. If your accommodation is in Prachuap Khiri Khan town by the bay agree with the driver to drop you somewhere close by.
Bus tickets can be bought from inside the terminal.
Transportation to Bangkok’s Southern Bus Terminal
Getting to the terminal from Khao San Road in Bangkok, one can take the public bus to the Southern Bus Terminal which we found straight forward, efficient and budget friendly.
Bus number 511 goes along Ratchadamnoen Klang Road (the main road in which there is the Democracy Monument and is about 600 metres from Khao San Road) and takes around 20/30 minutes to the terminal, costs 15 Baht per person and makes only a few stops on its way. At Ratchadamnoen bus stop, there is a bus information point, with helpful and knowledgeable staff who checks on tourists making sure they are on the right bus stop. As per this website the following bus numbers go to the Sai Tai Mai bus terminal: 28, 35, 66, 507, 511.
Other transport options to the terminal is by taxi (metered or Grab) or through the BTS sky-train to Victory monument and then take a bus, minivan or taxi to the terminal.
Train from Bangkok to Prachuap Khiri Khan
Another option to Prachuap Khiri Khan is by train, either from Bangkok’s main train station Hua Lamphong Railway Station or Thonburi train station. Travel duration is around 5 to 6 hours. The journey by train has some good scenes and offers a great experience for those who have never used this mode of transport in South East Asia
Travelling around in Prachuap Khiri Khan
Like many other small towns in Thailand, Prachuap does not have local buses or car taxis. The only public transport available are the motorcycle taxis or motorbike tuk-tuks which are identified by the red vest worn by the driver. These are a good option for short distance travel such as travelling to the minivan station or getting to the nearby beach. Always negotiate a price before the start of the journey, although the prices here don’t seem to be so much negotiable but still worth a try.
Another option to travel to some places of interest outside of town is hiring a motorbike. Before hiring a bike, make sure that you are qualified to drive in Thailand and check your insurance policy to ascertain whether you are properly insured in an unfortunate event of an accident. There are good bike rental options seafront.
We rented a motorbike from a place along Ao Prachuap, KOB For Rent. Take a stroll along the promenade and you will surely see the bikes on a ramp leading to a house. The price was good at 200 Baht per day so we didn’t shop around.
Transportation out of Prachuap Khiri Khan
A minivan station is located about 4km from Prachuap Khiri Khan centre. A motorcycle taxi to the station (taxis have a bench at the side with enough room to accommodate 2 persons and luggages), costs 40 to 50 baht per person. The station is small and is easy to identify the van for your next stop.
Chumphon city, was our next destination, and the minivan ticket cost 180 baht per person. The drive to Chumphon takes about 2 hours, but as always, expect travel time to be more than that because of multiple stops, picking up and dropping off passengers.
➳ Check this travel guide to Chumphon and you might be convinced of extending your stay once there!
Trains go through Prachuap Khiri Khan train station heading further south multiple times everyday. Trains make a number of stops on the way down south and one of which is Chumpon train station.
➳ If you feel lost when planning your trip to Prachuap Khiri Khan, read through our 4 step approach to planning a trip here. (Scroll to the section titled ‘Travel Itinerary Planner – Bangkok’). This approach can be catered and used for planning any trip in fact we use this same approach to plan our trips.