When we want to escape Bangkok, one of our favourite destinations is Prachuap Khiri Khan. Once you have broken free of the Bangkok traffic (and that can take a while!), it is an easy 3 hour drive south to a relatively quiet area with magic mountains and beautiful beaches.
The province’s name means the ‘land of many mountains’, which it is, if you consider the border regions with Myanmar, but none of the mountains is very high: Khao Luang, at 1494 metres, is the highest. Still, with altitudes varying from 0 – 1200 meters above sea level, the terrain is sufficiently interesting. The coast is dotted with pretty fishing villages and the inland has its share of National Parks. And, as is the case with most of Thailand, almost every hill, on the coastal side at least, has a temple and/or a buddha image on top of it.
With its golden spires and red tiled roofs, Wat Thang Sai sits like a little girl’s fairy-tale dream castle above the little fishing village of Ban Krut.
I’ve mentioned before that Prachuap is the narrowest province in Thailand, running between the mountainous border with Myanmar and the beaches along the Bay of Thailand. Dan Singkhon is a border crossing at the narrowest point of Thailand, and so is easily accessible form the highway. Although only Thais and Burmese can cross here, it is interesting to have a look at what the orchid vendors have on sale. And, the coffee is good: for some reason, Thai border crossings sell some of the best coffee in Thailand, and this one is no exception.
You never have to drive far in Thailand before there is another hill to climb. Khao Chong Krajok in the town centre of Prachuap Khiri Khan promises (and delivers) great views over the Gulf of Thailand. Before tackling the 396 steps up, we bought bags of corn on the cob – not for us, but to placate the resident monkey hords who live on the hill. The monkeys seemed to belong to at least two distinct groups, and were indulging in some sort of turf warfare while we were there, racing back and forth at each other with lots of snarling and baring of teeth… Not at all the “sociable monkeys” that were written up in the guide book.
Thailand is a nation of “grazers” and you are never far from food – depending, of course, what you like to eat. Seafood is cheap and fresh all along the long Prachuap coastline. We also found tiny fried frogs, and a full range of insects, from larvae to full-grown. Not exactly my cup of tea, but extremely popular with the locals. We satisfied ourselves with more mundane, but equally fresh, stir-fried vegetables with noodles before continuing on the road north to return home.
Enjoy your next escape!