Prachuap Khiri Khan is not a touristy town and that is what makes it so much fun to explore. Our family originally planned a two-night stay there and we ended up staying for eight nights! It is a great place to kick back, explore on a bicycle or motorbike, have some beach time, and marvel at how cheap it is compared to Southern Thailand.
Ao Manao Beach
Ao Manao Beach is the place to swim in Prachuap Khiri Khan. Rent a bicycle, a motorbike, or hire a tuk-tuk to get there. It is located South of town and you have to drive through the army base. You may be asked to sign in at the entrance to the army base, this isn’t a big deal, just go into the building write your name, the time and how many are in your party and then do it again on your way out with the time you leave.
Thailand has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and Ao Manao isn’t one of them BUT compared to your average beach Ao Manao is very pretty. The beach is long and curving and is lined by huge trees that donate their shade all day long. Beach chairs can be rented for 10 Baht a day and you can order lunch and have it brought to you while you soak up the sun and the sea breeze.
The water is quite shallow which makes it perfect for kids and when we were there there were just enough waves to make swimming fun. If you head to the south end of the beach the sand is carpeted in seashells, which makes a beach walk turn into a treasure hunt!
On the way to Ao Manao beach hang a left instead of a right once you are inside the military base. There are four old World War II airplanes on display along the side of the road. During World War II the Japanese tried to overtake the Thai military here. After a three-day siege the powers that be negotiated a ceasefire and the Japanese were allowed peaceful passage to Burma.
Follow the signs past the warplanes and head for the karst formation at the end of the base. Here you will find a troupe of Languor Monkeys. Normally our family is not a fan of monkeys but these ones were not at all aggressive and they were pretty darn cute too! You can buy bags of peanuts and the monkeys will come right up to you and take the peanuts out of your hand!
The Buddha Cave – Khan Kradi Cave
If you are up for climbing a whole bunch of stairs up a mountain that overlooks the sea to explore a humongous cave full of Buddha statues this is the place for you! It is totally worth the work out, the cave is massive and the view from the top is stunning. To find it head North on the ocean front road to the next town of Aow Noi and take a right when you see the sign for Sea View Bungalow. Stay on this road and you will see the steps going up the mountain at the point.
The Teak Temple
Even if you are totally “templed out” this one is still worth a look. There are not many temples made entirely of teak in Thailand and this one is simply stunning. You will pass it on the way to the Buddha Cave, so pull over and have a look.
The Weekend Market
On Friday and Saturday nights the street along the ocean near the playground (yes, there is even a children’s playground!!!!) is closed to vehicular traffic and vendors set up their wares. There is nothing touristy to buy here of course but the whole town seems to come out to socialize and shop and it is fun to people watch here! There was a huge bouncy castle that our kids worked up a sweat in for 20 baht each, and of course this is also a great place to get some cheap eats and try something new.
The Waghor Aquarium
I wouldn’t call this a world-class aquarium but it makes for a fun day trip. We rented motorbikes and took the slow costal road south of town to the aquarium and then hit the beach on the way back. The best part of this aquarium was the admission price: 20 baht per adult and 10 for children. So for a total of two dollars we had half a day of interesting fun!
The Burmese Market – Dan Singkhon
This is the skinniest part of Thailand, only 11 kms from the ocean to Burma at its thinnest part. There is a small Burmese market at the border of Dan Singkohn. Mostly the market is filled with cheap goods from China, super bling bling jewelry, orchids, and beautiful wooden furniture. We didn’t find it that interesting but if you are in Prachuap for a while you might want to check it out.
For us, the best part of Prachuap Khiri Khan (besides playing at the beach) was just walking around the town and observing daily life. We were greeted with smiles and hellos from the locals everywhere we went in this town that is not yet jaded by tourists. If you find yourself in Prachuap, enjoy yourself and let me know if you liked it as much as we did!