Some 120 kilometers South West of Bangkok bordering Myanmar in the West and the Gulf of Thailand to the East lies Phetchaburi province.
The province, sometimes also called Phetburi, is best known for its long, sandy beaches and its natural beauty. Thailand’s largest national park is contained in this province.
The capital of the province, also called Phetchaburi, dates back to the 8th century. Evidence of Khmer presence can still be seen at the Wat Kamphaeng Laeng historical site. It is a city with a strong Royal history, with the Phra Nakhon Khiri Palace, the Phra Ram Ratchaniwet Palace and the Khao Luang caves where King Rama IV used to meditate are all open to visitors.
To do & see in Phetchaburi
Phetchaburi’s main beach destination is Cha Am. With its long and sandy beach it is very popular with Thai people and during weekends and holidays it can get very busy. A number of less known beaches like Hat Chao Samran and Hat Puek Tian are mainly popular with Thai tourists. Hat Puek Tian between Phetchaburi town and Cha Am is known for its huge statue in the sea of a female character from a famous Thai epic.
The city of Phetchaburi has a lot to offer for those interested in history and culture. The Wat Kamphaeng Laeng with its four 12th century prangs was a Southern outpost of the Khmer empire, which had its best known historical sites like Phimai and Angkor Wat more the the North. Later on, the temple was converted into a Buddhist temple.
Palaces in Phetchaburi
A strong Royal presence shows in Phetchaburi town with two Royal Palaces, the Phra Nakhon Khiri Palace located on top of a small mountain that can be reached with a cable car to the top and the Phra Ram Ratchaniwet Palace a few kilometers away. Both Palaces are open to the public.
Another Royal Palace, the all wooden Maruekhathaiyawan Palace can be visited further South in Cha Am. This beautiful Palace was built on the beach in 1923 by King Rama VI.
Phetchaburi province has many beautiful caves, of which the Khao Luang caves in Phetchaburi town is the best known. This cave was used by King Mongkut (Rama IV) who meditated in the cave and had a large number of Buddha statues places in the cave.
Another hill in Phetchaburi town worth visiting is the Khao Bandit It which is some 120 meters high. On top is the Wat Khao Bandai It temple complex dating back to the Ayutthaya era. There are several caves in the mountain, with one of them containing a large Reclining Buddha image.
The city of Phetchaburi is very rich in Buddhist temples. One of the most beautiful one is the Wat Mahathat Worawihan located in the center of town right next to the river. Its most recognizable feature is a large white prang with five spires built in Khmer style that can be seen from far away. The tallest spire that is 42 meters high contains relics of the Buddha. The ubosot (main prayer room) and viharn are in early Rattanakosin style.
Getting to Phetchaburi
With Phetchaburi only 120 kilometers away from Bangkok, getting there is easy and quick. The Southern line of the State Railway of Thailand has multiple trains daily to the province with stops in Phetchaburi town and Cha Am. The trip from Bangkok’s Hualamphong station should take around 4 hours.
Quicker are the air conditioned buses that leave from Bangkok’s Southern bus terminal. They stop in Phetchaburi and Cha Am. From the Victory Monument in Bangkok you can book a van to either place. They are fast and cheap, however luggage room is limited.
The quickest way is by private air conditioned taxi. Most hotels will be able to book one for you, always agree on the price first. Alternatively, you can stop any metered taxi in Bangkok, be sure the driver switches on the meter.