Some 130 kilometers South of Bangkok in the town of Petchaburi the Phra Nakhon Khiri historical park has a dominant presence in the area. On top of an almost 100 meter high hill, Phra Nakhon Khiri overlooks the area and can be seen from far away approaching the city.
King Mongkut (Rama IV) loved this area so much, he decided to build a summer Palace here to be used as a Royal retreat when visiting the area. The Palace named Phra Nakhon Khiri, which is also known as Khao Wang meaning mountain with the Palace, was completed in 1860.
In 1979 the Palace was declared a historical park, where the Fine Arts Department has an exhibition of personal items of King Rama IV and King Rama V on display, including ceramics from a number of foreign countries.
The historical park comprises of Palaces, Temples, Royal Halls, pagodas, chedis and other buildings and is spread out over three hill peaks. Some of the buildings are in classical Thai style, while others are greatly influenced by European neo classical or Chinese style.
The three peaks of Phra Nakhon Khiri
The historical park is actually spread out on three peaks, the Western peak being the one where the Royal Palace and the museum are located. If you take the cable car to the top you arrive at the Western peak. From here it is a pleasant walk to the two other peaks.
King Mongkut’s Palace is located on the Western peak. One of the most important buildings here is the Phra Thi Nang Phet Phum Phairot Throne Hall, which is the largest building of the Palace.
The King had his personal living quarters in this building as well, like a bedroom, a dining room and a dressing room. The rooms and the Royal personal items in them give a great impression of how the Thai Royals lived back then.
Another important building is the Phra Thi Nang Pramot Mahaisawan, that is believed to have been used as the Queens Royal bedchamber.
The Phra Thi Nang Wetchayan Prasat was used for worshipping, and has the form of a prang, a building style originally used in Khmer architecture originating from Cambodia.
The Ho Chatchawan Wiang Chai is a tower used by King Mongkut as an observatory. The King was very interested in science, innovation and astronomy and was known as “the Father of Thai science”. Apart from these, there is a number of smaller buildings used as stables, quarters for the guards and servants and a kitchen. The Palace was protected by a fort on each corner of the complex.
The Central peak holds a 40 meter high white chedi, called Phra That Chom Phet. This chedi is believed to contain relics of the Buddha. This peak is a great place to view the Royal Palaces on the Western peak and the Wat Phra Kaew Temple on the Eastern peak.
The Eastern peak is where the Wat Phra Kaew Temple is located. It was built in the same style, but smaller, as the Wat Phra Kaew Temple in the Grand Palace in Bangkok (the Temple of the Emerald Buddha) and is therefore in classical Thai architectural style. The huge red pagoda, Chedi Deang, is very recognizable and can be seen from far away.
Getting to the top of the hill
Getting to the top is easy. There is a cable car service that costs 40 Baht for a round trip. Walking to the top is another option; this can get pretty hot quickly in the heat of the day. On your way you will probably see some monkeys that live on the hill. Be careful showing food, as they are pretty cheeky and might try to grab it.
How to get to Phra Nakhon Khiri historical park
Phra Nakhon Khiri Palace is located on top of a hill in Phetchaburi town. You can visit the palace as a day trip from either Bangkok or Hua Hin. Private air conditioned taxi is the most convenient and quickest way. Most hotels will be able to book one for you. Booking round trip is recommended, be sure to agree on the price before leaving.
The train service from Bangkok’s Hualamphong station to Petchaburi takes about two and half to three hours. To arrive there early, the 8:05 am train that arrives at 10:40 would be your best option. From the train station, you can take a local bus or taxi. From Bangkok’s Southern bus terminal in Thonburi you can catch an air conditioned bus to Petchaburi, which takes around two and a half hours.
Opening hours & admission
Phra Nakhon Khiri historical park opens daily from 8:30 am until 4:30 pm. Admission is 150 Baht per person including the museum at the Western peak.