Taste the flavors of Kuiburi at this quaint local market found at the main three-way intersection in town. The best time to visit is between 6am and 11am, when rice shops offer delicious Kuiburi-style curries and other dishes. During festival times, hundreds of vendors are added to this area and open from 4pm till around 11pm.
Architecturally inspired by inspired by Maruekhathaiyawan Palace (the summer palace of the king) farther north in Hua Hin, this classic teak-plank railway station dates to the early 20th century.
This small shoreline park in Waghor District, 10 km south of the city of Prachuap Khiri Khan, was founded to commemorate King Mongkut’s forecast of a total solar eclipse on 18 August, 1868. The king invited Sir Harry Ord, the British Governor of Straits Settlements from Singapore, as well as a party of French astronomers and scientists, to watch the total solar eclipse of at this spot, which the king had calculated himself as the best place to observe the event in Thailand. King Mongkut’s calculations (“East Greenwich longitude 99 degrees 42′ and latitude North 11 degrees 39′”) proved accurate, but during the expedition both King Mongkut and his son Prince Chulalongkorn were infected with malaria. The king died six weeks later in the capital, and was succeeded by his son, who survived. The royal expedition – known in the annals of international eclipse lore as “King of Siam’s Eclipse” – is today considered a landmark in the development of scientific disciplines in Thailand.
Along with historical exhibits chronicling the eclipse, the park offers a number of displays intended to educate young Thais in science, focusing mainly on astronomy. The highlight of the park is Waghor Aquarium, which features an impressive glass-tunnel walkway through which visitors can observe a rich variety of local and regional marine life.
A vintage steam locomotive that once operated along the Royal State Railways of Siam (now the State Railway of Thailand) is also on display on the grounds, along with a modest butterfly garden.
Covering 969 square kilometers through parts of the districts of Pranburi, Sam Roi Yot and Prachuap Khiri Khan, and extending right up to the Thailand/Myanmar border, Kuiburi National Park is a well-protected haven for much of the country’s rarest wildlife. The hilly terrain encompasses pristine dry evergreen and moist evergreen forests, along with a great variety of other flora. The park is believed to harbor the largest herd of wild elephants in Thailand, testament to the fact that Kuiburi was once an important source of elephants for logging work as well as military and royal functions. The park forests are also home to tigers, leopards, gaur, gibbons, banteng, serow, dusky langur, Asiatic black bear, Malayan sun bear, stump-tailed macaques, Malayan tapir, Sambar deer and four species of hornbill, as well as hundreds of other species.
Huay Dong Ma Fai Waterfall, the largest of several waterfalls found inside the park, boasts 15 separate levels of granite, a few of which offer shallow pools for swimming. Pha Ma Hon Waterfall is a steep, triple-tiered waterfall has that drops strongly over a cliff all year-round. The middle level contains a large natural rockpool suitable for recreational dips. Visitors may also follow a nature trail from bottom to top. The park entrance lies around 35 kilometers west of Kuiburi town.
Established in 1966, Sam Roi Yot was Thailand’s first coastal national park. It covers 98 square kilometers of limestone mountains, mangroves, freshwater marshes, mudflats, salt pan, sandy beaches, forest trails and offshore islets. The steep limestone mountains are sparsely covered by dwarf evergreen and deciduous trees and shrubs which grow in the thin soils and on the barren rock. A mixed deciduous forest, including areas of secondary growth and bamboo grows on the foothills and in the valleys. The limestone topography has eroded naturally in places to produce beautiful limestone caves
The mountainous interior supports a population of serow, a dark-furred goat-antelope now rare in Thailand. To catch a glimpse of the serow, try scanning the rugged mountain crags with a pair of binoculars in the early morning or evening when it is most active.
Three primate species are also common include the dusky or spectacled langur, the crab-eating or long-tailed macaque, and the slow loris. The park is one of the best spots in the world to observe the amusing and delightful dusky langur, which is easily recognized by its distinctive “spectacle” eye patches. To see the slow loris try searching the tree canopy at night with a flashlight which will pick up eye reflections.
Other mammals found in the park are barking deer, Malayan pangolin, fishing cat, common palm-civet, Malayan porcupine, Javan mongoose, Siamese hare and the grey-bellied squirrel. Dolphins can occasionally be observed in the coastal waters.
Thung Sam Roi Yot, the largest freshwater marsh in Thailand, provides an important environment for a large number of birds, amphibians, reptiles and small mammals. On the East Asian/Australian Flyway, the park is particularly important as a habitat for migratory birdlife, boasting some of the highest annual bird counts anywhere in the country (approximately 300 recorded species). In addition, the freshwater marsh near the village of Rong Jay provides a good opportunity to view a number of large waterbirds, songbirds and raptors. The marsh is one of only two sites in Thailand where the purple heron breeds. The area around the headquarters also makes an ideal location to see birds associated with deciduous woodland, scrubland, and mangrove.
In many areas the limestone topography has worn away to become caves and abysses. The most famous of these, Phraya Nakhon Cave, is found near Laem Sala Beach and consists of two majestic sinkholes and a royal pavilion built in 1896 for a visit by King Rama V. The cave was named for Phraya Nakhon, ruler of the city-state of Nakhon Si Thammarat, who inadvertently discovered the cave over 200 years ago when a gale forced his ship ashore.
Tham Kaew, two kilometers from the Bang Pu turn-off, features a series of chambers connected by narrow passageways. One enters the first cavern by means of a permanent ladder. Stalactites and other limestone formations, some of which glitter with calcite crystals as if diamond encrusted, are plentiful. Lamps can be rented, but Tham Kaew is best visited in the company of a park guide because of the dangerous footing.
Tham Sai is ensconced in a hill near Ban Khung Tanot, about 2.5 kilometers from the main road between Laem Sala and Sam Phraya beaches. Villagers rent lamps at a shelter near the cave mouth. A 280-meter trail leads up the hillside to the cave, which features a large single cavern. Be careful of steep drop-offs in the cave.
Several pristine beaches enjoy park protection. Sam Phraya Beach lies beneath of magnificent limestone peaks and features sand, marshes and a shallow sea pond. Peaceful Chao Phraya Bang Pu Beach stretches for 400 meters and is found near the fishing village of Bang Pu. Bang Pu is worth a visit to observe the homes and lifestyles of local fishermen.
Laem Sala Beach features a small sandy cape with a modest estaurant, some bungalows, a small visitor centre, picnic shelter and washrooms.
Fronting Vartika Rosovilla Kuiburi and extending for several kilometers, this long and peaceful stretch of sand is backed by casuarina trees and scenic coconut palm plantations. During high tides the beach consists of a brilliant stretch of golden sand, while in low tides, mudflats are exposed. Local villagers use this mud medicinally to condition their skin, and to treat arthritis and a variety of other conditions.
Without doubt one of Bo Nok Beach’s main attractions is the Pygmy Bryde’s Whale (sometimes referred to in tourist literature as “Bruda Whale”), a relatively rare species of whale native to the Gulf of Thailand. The best time of year to see the whales is from August to October, when the mammals swim along the sea surface close to shore. Although they can be seen from shore with binoculars, Vartika Rosovilla Kuiburi can arrange boat rides out to view the whale from a distance of around 200 to 300 meters.
The Pygmy Bryde’s Whale, called Balaenoptera edeni by zoologists, is one of the rarest whale species in the world and the smallest whale resident in the Gulf of Thailand. Like other Bryde’s whales it is named after a Norwegian who established South Africa’s first whaling stations, Johan Bryde, whose last name is pronounced broo-da (hence the common misspelling as “Bruda”). It is one of the least researched and least known whales of the rorqual species (whales with a dorsal fin and long throat grooves on the lower side of their bodies).
As a species, the Pygmy Bryde’s Whale prefers warm waters and is usually coastal-bound, rather than pelagic. These mammals are mostly found along the coasts of India and Myanmar. It’s preference for tropical climes had led to its less common name, Eden’s Whale.
Typically the whale measures around four meters wide and around 10 to 12 meters long, and weighing up to 25 tons, which is relatively small by rorqual standards. The Pygmy Bryde’s Whale has two blowholes, featuring a low splashguard to the front. The nose of the whale is quite pointed, the back is dark charcoal to black in color and the stomach white. They reach full maturity between nine and 13 years of age. Females calve only once every two years, with a 10- to 12-month gestation period. Calves feed on milk from their cows (mothers) for about 12 months.
The Pygmy Bryde’s typically displays an easy-going nature and seems to tolerate human presence well, often swimming alongside local fishing boats. The fact that they choose to feed in the vicinity of Bo Nok Beach, Kuiburi, suggests that the sea in this area is rich in aquatic life, particularly plankton, crustaceans and schooling fish (anchovy, herring, sardine, mackerel, and pilchards), upon which the whale feeds.
Found five kilometers south of Prachuap Khiri Khan, this beautiful curved bay is under the protection of the Royal Thai Air Force. Part of the beach is lined with souvenir stalls. The remainder, and the greater part, is tranquil and largely untouched by commercialism. During World War II the Japanese navy invaded Thailand here, setting off a short but fierce battle with Thai defending forces.
This white-sand beach is lined with casuarina trees and coconut palms. Islands off the coast to the south, including Ko Thalu and Ko Sing offer good snorkelling and diving from the end of January to mid-May.
Nearby Maha Chedi Pakdeeprakas (also known as Maha Chedi Kao Yot), a large nine-tiered stupa in which the Phra Buddha Kittisirichai Buddha image is enshrined, was built jointly by the people of Ban Krut and surrounding towns to honor King Bhumibol Adulyadej on the Golden Jubilee of His Majesty’s accession to the throne in 1996.
This beach offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape with coconut palms fringing the sand, A small coral reef is found offshore.
This gently bay runs eight kilometers in front of the provincial capital of Prachuap Khiri Khan. It is popular for its seafood restaurants and the opportunity to jog or bike along the seawall, with a view of exotic-looking, uninhabited islets parked offshore.
Just south of Prachuap Khiri Khan is a road leading west to Dan Singkhon, on the Myanmar border. This is the narrowest point in Thailand between the Gulf of Thailand and Myanmar – only 12 kilometers across. The border is open to Thai-Burmese citizens only. On the Thai side there is a small frontier village and a Thai police camp with wooden semi-underground bunkers built in a circle, as well as a flourishing border market famous for Burmese gems and live orchids.
Off the road on the way to Dan Singkhon are a couple of small cave hermitages. The more famous one is at Khao Hin Thoen, and is surrounded by a park of the same name. It contains some interesting rock formations and sculptures. The road to Khao Hin Thoen starts where the paved road to Dan Singkhon breaks left. Khao Khan Hok (also known as Phutthakan Bang Kao) is a less well-known cave where an elderly monk, Luang Phaw Buaphan Chatimetho, lives.