Day Trip from Hua Hin #2 - South of the city
For most of our time in Hua Hin we stuck close to home, getting around on foot or by Songthaew. But we decided to take a few day trips with a rented car to get to know the place a little better. On our first day trip away from Hua Hin we headed north and east. This time we decided to head south to see some of the beautiful coast of the province of Prachuap Khiri Khan.
Our first stop was close to where we were living in Khao Takieb, but just too far away to reach by foot in the current summer heat. Rajabhakti Park opened just a few months earlier, in September 2015 and honors past kings of Thailand. It was built by the Thai Army and is on an immense scale. All of the signage and information was in Thai so we never really understood why some kings made the cut and others didn't. Still, it was an impressive first stop before we hit the road to head south for an hour or two.
The town of Prachuap Khiri Khan is the capital of the eponymous province and is about 100km south of Hua Hin. The road is good if a little busy with trucks and we made it in just over an hour. We headed to the coast a little earlier than the GPS recommended directions to take the more scenic route. The town is a smaller, more modest destination than Hua Hin. It has been suggested that it may become a future headline destination in Thailand and it is easy to see why. It is set in an incredibly beautiful sweeping bay and still less than 300km from Bangkok. It truly is a beautiful spot, yet still sleepy and undeveloped.
We stopped at Wat Thammikaram in the center of the city and decided to climb the nearly 400 steps to reach the top of the hill for a fantastic viewpoint over the bay. The place is completely overrun by monkeys and stunk of monkey poop. We made sure not to touch anything as we climbed up the hundreds of steps since it was kind of disgusting. We did make it to the top, it was crazy hot but we were rewarded with wonderful views, even though it was a little hazy.
We stopped for lunch in the town and jumped in the car to head back north. Our next destination was the Sam Roi Yot National Park. We stayed off the main road as much as possible to avoid the trucks, and were rewarded with cute Thai villages and towns along the way. We finally made it to Sam Roi Yat and stopped at the visitor center to take a walk through the mangroves. The park is definitely scenic and would have been a great hiking spot. Unfortunately I am still nursing a sprained ankle which has hiking off the menu for me right now, and honestly it was way too hot to consider spending too long out of the shade. Even if you got up super early I am not sure it is doable at this time of year. So we satisfied ourselves with a walk over a rickety boardwalk that took us through the mangrove swamps followed by some pretty scenery from the car window as we drove through the park.
From the national park we stayed on the coast road to reach Pranburi Forest Park. It's a very pretty park with another beautiful, deserted beach, although there is a very ugly condo development nearby. Most of the development we have seen around Hua Hin is quite tasteful, but this monstrosity is a real blot on the landscape. The park itself though is a great spot and we had a lovely walk on the peaceful beach as the day was nearing an end.
The coast between the forest park and Khao Takieb is scenic with some swanky resort developments and cute coffee shops and cafes. After a coffee stop we headed back to Hua Hin, tired after another hot day, but grateful of an air-conditioned ride home.