Our new favorite town in Thailand? Why we love Prachuap Khiri Khan (in Photos)

Our new favorite town in Thailand? Why we love Prachuap Khiri KhanWhy Prachuap Khiri Khan is our new favorite town in Thailand

When planning our trip from Chiang Mai to Singapore, a few readers had mentioned the town of Prachuap Khiri Khan to us. With our last few stops being about temples, big cities, and partying, we figured a nice quiet beach town would be the perfect break. It ended up being exactly that – with impressive karst geography and lots of monkeys thrown in (including a protected species. More on that below).

 

Our new favorite town in Thailand? Why we love Prachuap Khiri Khan. Map

Prachuap Khiri Khan is about 5 hours south of Bangkok by train (it’s on the main train line connecting Bangkok and Hat Yai).
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What makes Prachuap Khiri Khan special? 

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I’ll describe through photos.
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1. A beautiful geographic location

views of Prachuap Khiri Khan

Bay of Prachuap Khiri Khan, Thailand

Prachuap Khiri Khan is situated on a bay between two large limestone hills. It has a long boardwalk that comes alive in the evenings. Days were too hot when we were here (April) but evening is when locals come out to walk or bike along the boardwalk. Very quiet and peaceful.

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2. Ao Manao Beach

Ao Manao Beach. Prachuap Khiri Khan, Thailand

Ao Manao Beach. Prachuap Khiri Khan, Thailand

Ao Manao Beach. Prachuap Khiri Khan, Thailand

Ao Manao is the nicest beach in Prachuap Khiri Khan and is (weirdly) accessed through the Wing 5 Airforce base. You enter (by Tuk Tuk is the best), have to sign in, and then drive through the base – and across a runway – to the beach. Our first time there we actually had to pause for 5 minutes because a plane was landing. Despite this the beach is very popular and has tons of little restaurants set up where you can sit down and enjoy some food, drink, and a day at the beach. 

 

3. Dusky Langur monkeys

Dusky Langur monkeys, Prachuap Khiri Khan Thailand

Dusky Langur monkeys, Prachuap Khiri Khan Thailand

Also on the Wing 5 Base is a Langur preservation area. Known as Dusky Langurs or Dusky Leaf monkeys, they’re nothing like the aggressive macaques you’ll see further down on this post. They’re calm and gentle and will even take fruit out of your hand (although I wish people like the girl above wouldn’t tease them. I wonder how much she would like it if I teased her with food). Dusky Langurs are only found in parts of Thailand, Malaysia and Myanmar. Their numbers have been going down, the reason for the preservation area on the base. You’ll notice something peculiar with the photos above – babies are born orange. Even if you’re afraid of monkeys you don’t have to be afraid of Dusky Langurs.

 

4. Really Good Seafood

Seafood in Prachuap Khiri Khan, Thailand

Seafood in Prachuap Khiri Khan, Thailand

Seafood in Prachuap Khiri Khan, Thailand. Our new favorite town in Thailand? Why we love Prachuap Khiri Khan

Our new favorite town in Thailand? Why we love Prachuap Khiri Khan

There’s tons of good seafood in Prachuap Khiri Khan. You can see it drying at the beach, buy it fresh in the market, or sit down at a restaurant along the beach road and eat a variety of fish, squid or crustacean.

 

5. Fishing Boats and Old Planes at the Wing 5 Airbase

Wing 5 Airbase, Prachuap Khiri Khan Thailand

fishing boats at Wing 5 Airbase, Prachuap Khiri Khan Thailand

boats at Wing 5 Airbase, Prachuap Khiri Khan Thailand

planes at Wing 5 Airbase, Prachuap Khiri Khan Thailand

plane at Wing 5 Airbase, Prachuap Khiri Khan Thailand

Very close to the Langur preservation area, Wing 5 Airbase has a section full of old planes. Right next to them is a beach full of fishing boats and views on the town.

 

6. Great views and braving the Macaques on ‘Monkey Mountain’

monkey mountain, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Thailand

Khao Chong Krachok is the most noticeable landmark in Prachuap Khiri Khan. You’ll see the hill and the yellow staircase leading up to the temple at the top: Wat Thammikaram Worawihan. But most people just call this hill “Monkey Mountain”, which sounds kind of sinister – as it should be because the macaques that live up there have a reputation of being aggressive. Reviews on Trip Advisor tell you that they’ll rip anything that looks like food out of your hand and will bare their fangs and hiss at you.

After being warned by a few people I decided not to go. But it nagged at me. I wanted to see the views. I also felt like a coward and knew I would regret it later. So on the last day in PKK I decided to do it. I took my Go Pro stick (people tell you that you should bring a stick) and started the 396 stair climb.

I didn’t have any problems. Most of the monkeys made way as I climbed up the stairs. They were calm and barely looked at me. A few stared too intently and I warned them off with the stick. I saw about 150 macaques on my way up the stairs. I was the only person up there.

And I’m glad I did it. The views are spectacular. But best of all I conquered a fear.
So my tip: don’t let your fear win. And bring a stick just in case.

Macaques at monkey mountain, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Thailand

monkey mountain, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Thailand

monkey mountain, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Thailand

 

7. Weekend Market

weekend market, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Thailand

On Friday and Saturday nights Beach road breaks out into a large market. It reminded us of Nong Khai’s Saturday market (our other favorite Thai town). And just like Nong Khai suddenly the whole town is out there, eating and shopping. It happened on our last night and we regretted not having stayed an additional night.

weekend market, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Thailand

fish at weekend market, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Thailand

weekend market, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Thailand

cooking at weekend market, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Thailand

weekend market, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Thailand

fishing, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Thailand

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So why should you visit Prachuap Khiri Khan?
It’s a pretty, chilled out kind of place with beautiful geography, nice beaches and cute monkeys. It’s also inexpensive and a good substitute to the beaches further south (which is another reason we ended up here. In PKK we paid $25 US/night for accommodation, on the southern islands you’ll pay about $100 US this time of year and the place will be packed with young backpackers).

How about living here as an Expat? Lissette said she loved it and if she had to choose a place in Thailand Prachuap Khiri Khan would be it. She liked the people, she found them kooky. I think it’s too quiet for me. I don’t know what I would do in PKK. But I love the geography and nature, how clean the town is (very, very clean streets), and the friendliness of the people. 
Prachuap Khiri Khan is also close to Sam Roi Yot National Park which is full of natural highlights including the Phraya Nakhon Cave Temple.

 

Related: Things to consider before settling in Hua Hin, Thailand. And why it isn’t for us

 

At the very least you should visit Prachuap Khiri Khan if looking for a spot to spend some time on your travels between Bangkok and Southern Thailand. It really is a special town.

 

Milano coffee and guesthouse, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Thailand

Above: Milano Coffee and Guesthouse.
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Practical Information:

– We stayed at the Prachuap Beach Hotel. We stayed in their recently finished 2nd building and it was fabulous and a bargain at 800 Baht/night. The room was incredibly clean and management is friendly and helpful.

We found good quality restaurants in Prachuap Khiri Khan. We always had breakfast at the Milano Coffee and Guesthouse (great Western breakfast, super coffee, and the lady who works there is the best. They also have a guesthouse), lunch at Grandma’s House (Western and Thai food, coffee and great smoothies), and dinner at Pizzeria Khiri Khan (great pizza, friendly Rustafarian Thai owner) or at one of the seafood places along the beach road.

Getting to Prachuap Khiri Khan. There’s the train as I mention above. If you want to get there even faster from Bangkok or Pattaya, you can get a private transfer. We pre-bought our tickets online using 12Go Asia. They have lots of transportation options.

Powered by 12Go Asia system

 

To go to Ao Manao beach and to go see the Dusky Lemurs, you need to enter the Wing 5 Airbase. Foreigners need to bring their passports and to sign in when you enter the base.

 

Related: Bbqboy’s Ultimate Guide to the Best of Thailand (for adults)

 

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Why Prachuap Khiri Khan is our new favorite town in Thailand

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36 Comments

  1. I’ve lived in Prachuap Khiri Khan for five years. Some of the positives are noted here already. The negatives are that after a month it gets really boring. It’s really too small and too quiet. Occasionally I’ll go to Hua Hin (a busier, tourist town) for a few days to break the boredom. After a few days in Hua Hin, I’ve had enough of the noise and traffic and love to go home again. I even rented a room in HH for six months with a view of moving there permanently. But I finally decided to stay in Prachuap. I think for a newcomer the decision is easy. If you can handle the slow pace, boredom and repetition then Prachuap is a good place to live. If you need more action, choice, restaurants, shopping, other expats, etc. then Hua Hin is a better bet. Because both places are only an hour drive away. Another candidate place I’ve looked at that maybe not too small but not too big to live is Songkla.

    If Frank thinks PKK will be too quiet for him he’s right. It will be.

    1. Thanks Chris for this. I think it really depends on the individual. I (Frank) DO think it would be very quiet but on the other hand I really don’t like HH. I’d still choose PKK. But yes, I can see going a bit crazy. I think PKK good if you have a wife, maybe kids, and are just looking for a quiet place to settle. Not the place for a single guy on the prowl 🙂

      As a place to visit I think PKK a great place and a breath of fresh air compared to many beach locations in Thailand. We really enjoyed our week and it was very affordable.

  2. Super post Frank, Macky and I will add it to our list of places to visit when we venture away from Macky’s Riverside Kitchen and outside of Nong Khai. Continue the great work.

  3. I am excited to go here. It will be my first time in Thailand. I have no interest in temples etc, but want to see wildlife. I’m going to Khao Yai national park straight from Bangkok for a while and then taking a long series of trains so I can see this area (seeing Kui Buri and Sam Roi Yot) and I think I will stay in PKK instead of HH. I really want to see those adorable monkeys 🙂

    1. If you enjoy nature you’ll like PKK. Warning: there’s not much going on, it’s quiet. But it’s clean and the people are friendly. And you’ll get to see all those monkeys. We didn’t see those national parks but I hear they’re beautiful. Sounds like you’ll get a lot of nature and wildlife 🙂

  4. Wonderful article. We’ve booked to stay here in October 2018. Now, having read this, I am even more excited. And I’d agree with the above comments. Trang is wonderful.

  5. Langur preservation area – don’t think it was there 5 years ago. Glad you made it to PKK, awesome seafood at low prices. It’s the only town I’ve been to where every dish I ate was great.

    I can also recommend Trang town for your next trip.

    PKK is quiet though. Not sure about living there either but for 3 to 5 nights it’s great. The beaches are very shallow though so it’s more about the food and views which are both top notch.

    I also think you would like Ko Chang despite not being beach people. Very nice food there too plus a mountain inland to climb and waterfalls. Laidback atmosphere.

    1. Thanks Tom. I think I remember you came to the blog a few years back on my Hua Hin post and even back then you recommended PKK.
      I was thinking of going to Trang and from there seeing a few islands…maybe next time.

  6. Hey Frank….I’m happy to read that you and Lissette really enjoyed your time in PKK. It was quite hot when I was there last Nov. I can just imagine what it must have been like in April. Still, there’s an easy going pace in PKK and as your brilliant photos show…..it’s a gorgeous setting!

    Yeah those macaques made me nervous going up Monkey Mtn and I made sure I finished my watermelon before heading up……but the views are definitely worth it. Interesting about the dusky langur colony on Wing 5 -I wasn’t aware of it. BTW, that night market along the promenade moves to the market area adjacent to the train tracks on other days. I liked that it was more oriented to Thais rather than to farangs as in other night markets.

    I’m on Lissette’s side with regards to PKK as a potential expat location. If you need a bit more action, Hua Hin is just up the hwy (1.5 hrs I think). There are enough expats living in PKK that there’s a bit of a community….in the week I was there, I met many, some permanent, some seasonal. I’ll probably head back there this coming winter, this time stay for a month or so.

    Great photos….I already miss that warm Asian smile and those gorgeous tropical beaches. I’ve been in Puglia, Italy for the last month taking Italian lessons and while I find the local folks always ready to help, it does seem difficult to make a connection the way you frequently can in SEA. And while the Italians rave about their stony Adriatic beaches and the “frutti di mare” here, there is simply no comparison to what you can have in SEA.

    Enjoy your time in Malaysia
    dg

    1. Thanks for the the feedback Don. In many ways PKK reminds me of Nong Khai – except PKK even quieter. You’re right, HH 1.5 hrs up the road – we didn’t like it though. We found Hua Hin very dirty (I wrote about that here). In contrast, PKK prides itself on it’s cleanliness. We were very impressed by the clean roads and sidewalks and didn’t see any rats/roaches during our time (although stray dogs an issue).

      I love the way you travel Don. Taking Italian lessons huh? The day we go back to Italy, Puglia is one of the areas we’d like to explore (the other is Sicily).
      You really should have your own blog 🙂
      The “stony” Adriatic beaches. Yes. Same in Croatia – it’s famous for it’s beaches but they are in fact very overrated. you’re right , compared to SEA no comparison. On the other hand, there are aspects of SEA that don’t appeal to us and after another 3 months there I don’t think Lissette and I would chose to live in the region. We always prefer Europe. But I think that’s for another post…

      Thanks for your always interesting comments Don.
      Frank

  7. This is a definitely a place we would want to visit. Being quiet isn’t an issue for us and the laidbackness is exactly what we enjoy…
    Thanks for sharing this post! Never would have heard of this place otherwise.

  8. So glad Lissette found a Thailand town that she could picture herself living in. There’s a recommendation right there for why Prachuap Khiri Khan (what a mouthful) would be a good place to visit and your photos and $25 US/night for a nice hotel room are some more. I love your pics of the Dusky Langurs who look decidedly more docile than the macaques. However, it looks like the macaques were well-worth braving (with a little protection) so that you could enjoy the views in solitary splendor!

    1. Lissette always loves those places where there’s almost no one around. Her favorite island in Croatia is Vis, which says a lot (small town and it’s deserted in winter. She went and loved it). If you like quiet places with beautiful geography then PKK might suit you!

    1. Hi Victor. That’s Hua Hin that you’re thinking about – but despite that streets were dirty there. Never saw as many cockroaches/rats per square meter as we saw in HH.
      PKK was very clean. Why I don’t know. I think it was about residents just taking care of their own patch.

  9. This is more my style Frank. I’m not fond of aggressive monkeys, but they’re better than a party crowd, tho you can scare both away with a stick lol. Glad you went up, you would have regretted not doing that.

    1. I’ve had a lot of people tell me recently that they’re afraid of monkeys. But yes, I would have been punching myself in the head if I hadn’t gone.

      1. Just don’t take any food of drink with you on show. And the monkeys won’t even bother you. As I found out myself. Them steps on monkey island really make your legs burn the next day ?

        1. For sure don’t bring food, that’s just asking for monkey trouble 🙂 You’re right it’s quite the walk up. But worth it right?

  10. Looks lovely..and l would be like you, maybe a little too quiet. I could never go though, not even with a stick with my fear of monkeys and pretty much anything that is not a dog :-). Glad you found a favourite place in Thailand..the prices are definitely good!

    1. There was no way Lissette was going. She was even too scared to see the Langurs – but she regretted that after seeing the photos.

  11. The Dusky Langur monkeys are seriously cute. The big macaques at “Monkey Mountain” look a little sinister and menacing. They remind me of the ones found at the top of the Rock in Gibraltar, one attacked my then 14 years old son…all ended well. The food looks so yummy…I love Thai food so much and could eat it everyday. Will keep this town in mind when I next visit Thailand?

    1. Yes, macaques basically the same everywhere. Sorry to hear about your son, must have been scary!
      We’re leaving Thailand in a week and I’ll miss the food 🙁

  12. Wonderful! Thanks Frank. Some time ago I looked for information about PKK and this is the best by far. Good on you for not letting the monkeys get to you. I read somewhere that along the coast here at certain times there are some really savage sand fly type insects so bad that you have to stay off the beach. Do you know anything about this?

    1. Thank you very much John.
      I didn’t hear anything about that in PKK and we didn’t have any issues. But I just googled it and I see comments that it can be a problem up in the coast in Hua Hin (note: I don’t know if it has anything to do with sand flies, but Ao Manoa beach a lot cleaner than the beaches in HH).

  13. Wow, guess I have a reason to return to Thailand. I have never even heard of Prachuap Khiri Khan. To be honest, I never went to any city on the Gulf of Thailand but after looking at your pics I really regret not hitting that area. The seafood alone makes me wish I had that Mary Poppins magic where I could just pop into photos and explore.
    Love all the wild monkeys running around and I bet Darcee would have a field day in the Weekend Market. So many things to see and do.

    1. Thanks Eric. We were looking for a stopoff somewhere between Bangkok and Hat Yai. A few years ago we tried Hua Hin and didn’t like it. But a few people we know, mostly Thailand regulars, mentioned PKK to us as the nicest town along that stretch. We really liked how tranquil it was and the geography. It was a bit like Southern Thailand without the crowds.

      1. my number one place in Thailand, we decided to buy house here ,,,, so happy.. hope tourist will not read your post ;)) , it is quiet here, it must stay like that… except monkey in town that. are extending they territory every year

        1. Yes, those monkeys. A lot of people complain and they just keep reproducing…
          I’ve had a lot of people mention buying homes in PKK. Great investment I think!

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