Prachuap Khiri Khan is one of the longest geographic provinces in Thailand with an important route to the south. The province has many different attractions such as sea, mountain, mangrove forest and local lifestyle. It's modern holiday destination. However, I will point out the two main aspects that many people are not familiar with in this review. These are beaches in Mueang Prachuap Khiri Khan District and the mangrove forests in Pran Buri District.
This trip is part of a diving trip in Chumphon Province. (Click here to view the first part with video under the sea > http://bit.ly/1OxrW9m). It's a joint trip with Marketing Information Department of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) at the end of last August. It's a chic campaign called "Chill Out Thailand" to explore the three southern provinces on the Gulf of Thailand including Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan and Chumphon. After starting with Chumphon, it's now a turn of Prachuap Khiri Khan.
Talking about Prachuap Khiri Khan, many people may have heard its nickname as "City of Three Bays". In fact there are more than three bays in the city such as Hua HIn, Pran Buri, Sam Roi Yod, Bo Nok, Wanakorn, Thap Sakae, Ban Krut, Bang Boet and Bang Saphan. The nickname "City of Three Bays" comes from the three bays that line up in the geographic area of Mueang Prachuap Khiri Khan District. These three bays from top to bottom are Ao Noi, Ao Prachuap and Ao Manao.
TAT goes to every bay to see the differences. Every bay has its character and uniqueness. Unfortunately, the sky is cloudy during rainy season thus the picture looks sad but the atmosphere is still chill.
Starting from the bottom up. The first beach we stop by is Ao Manao. It sounds familiar because it's the city's most famous beach situated in the base of the Wing 5 Royal Thai Air Force. It's a military base, which some parts are developed as a tourist attraction. There are accommodations provided which are well maintained by the internal authority of Thai Air Force. The safety and cleanliness are guaranteed and it's considered as a five star beach.
Apart from a long sandy beach, there are also beach chairs and swim tubes for rent. You can also bring your own mat. There are many foodstuffs. It's shady by pine trees that line up on the beach. Ideally, it's enjoyable to rent a bike to ride here.
Visitors still periodically come here although it's on weekday and quite cloudy. Children from field trip run and jump into the sea after seeing this beach.
From Ao Manao head up through the base of the Wing 5 Royal Thai Air Force till the Historical Park and Museum of Wing 53 division (a former name of Wing 5 division). This means we are out of Ao Manao area and arrive in Ao Prachuap but it's still in the military area next to Khao Lom Muak. It's very comfortable atmosphere. There are monuments to commemorate soldiers who died during the World War II when the Japanese army invaded here. Nowadays, visitor must send a written notice if want to visit the museum.
Beyond the Wing 5 Royal Thai Air Force area is the town of Mueang Prachuap Khiri Khan District. It's clearly that this is not a vacation beach where you can swim. It's a city beach stretches several kilometres along the seaside. There are hotels and accommodations moderately.
A notable spot is the red bridge in the middle of the bay. It's recently built to serve as a venue for cultural activities and considered as a new landmark of the province. HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn names it as "Saranvithi". It should not be missed when visiting Mueang Prachuap Khiri Khan District. There is a bustling evening walking street at this beach every Friday to Sunday.
Up to the north is Ao Noi. It's completely different from the other two bays. It's a fishing village. It's a way of fisherman life. Thus, it's not a beautiful sea for relaxing but it's perfect for those who enjoy taking photos of local way of life and small or big boats with a beautiful sunset in the evening as a background.
Ao Noi is the location of Ao Noi Temple (or Wat Ao Noi), which is totally made of teak wood. Unfortunately, we arrive in the evening after the closing of the temple at 17:00hrs. We don't see how beautiful inside the temple is. Nearby is a walkway up to an old natural cave on the mountain where the large image of sleeping Buddha is situated. It must be really beautiful viewpoint, never mind let's come back next time.
These are the three bays of Mueang Prachuap Khiri Khan District. There are more places in this district such as Khao Chong Krachok, Khao Ta Mong Lai Forest Park, Khao Lom Muak, City Pillar Shrine, Khlong Wan Village or go slightly south to King Mongkut Memorial Park of Science and Technology Waghor. The downtown is quiet, not crowded. You can easily take the train from Bagkok then rent a bike or a car to chill around easily.
Apart from the city of three bays, TAT proudly presents a mangrove forest as another form of travelling. It's not a coincidence that there are many beautiful mangrove forests in Prachuap Khiri Khan Province. However, these are not in town. You have to head up to Pran Buri District where is a major source of mangrove forests in the Gulf of Thailand.
The first place that TAT and I proudly present is Sirinart Rajini Ecosystem Learning Centre. It's the project in the royal thought to restore destroyed areas because of the former concession of shrimp farming till it becomes plentiful mangrove forests again. Whoever visits here and doesn't fall in love is really heartless. This reforestation of mangrove forest is so beautiful, shady and lively. It's a great source of learning. I have been here before but always willing to come back here again.
The centre consists of two parts. The first part is exhibition displaying the history and general knowledge about mangrove forest. There is a video shown to visitor who comes here by the evening.
Another part is the area of mangrove forest. The whole area is large but the nature trails are well managed and it is not too long or too tiring to walk. It's about the size of a football field and doesn't take long time. I really fall in love with the atmosphere here. I'm so glad that this destroyed land is restored to be a beautiful forest like this.
However, the highlight is to go up and see the view overlooking mangrove forest at Chakhram tower. It's a 6-story height building. Here you can see the widespread land of lush mangrove forest. It's so refreshing and you must breathe up and fill your lungs fully.
Another mangrove forest in Pran Buri National Forest Park is about ten kilometers away from Sirinart Rajini Ecosystem Learning Centre. This time TAT doesn't go there but I have been there before thus I want to introduce a bit more of this. I post herewith the photos from last time. Most people come here to relax at the seaside while having the forest park atmosphere. It's shady with pine trees. However, the highlight that I like the most is mangrove forest that is so well maintained. It is located at the mouth of the Pran Buri River. There is one kilometer nature trail and boat trip is also available. I really have to say it's as good as Sirinart Rajini Ecosystem Learning Centre.
For those who love mangrove forest must know that these are not all. There is another one in Cha-Am District, Phetchaburi Province. It's not far from Prachuap Khiri Khan Province. It's located in Rama VI army camp or Maruekhathaiyawan Palace. Drive straight in you will see a white building before arriving at Maruekhathaiyawan Palace and that is the destination "The Sirindhorn International Environmental Park".
The Sirindhorn International Environmental Park has more interesting nature trail than others because human cultivates the entire forest. To make it easy to understand, Sirinart Rajini Ecosystem Learning Centre is the reforestation in the destroyed land that used to be mangrove forest while here is the afforestation of mangrove forest in the land that has never grown mangrove tree before.
The difference is that trees at the Sirindhorn International Environmental Park are stunted and undersized when compared to another mangrove forest. As i said, this is the afforestation in the land that is not suitable for the growth of mangrove tree in the first place. It requires the development of the land and young plant gradually. However, it is good sign that human not only can reforest but also afforest. We may be able to create more mangrove forest in another area of the country if there is more research and development.
There is a nature trail like other mangrove forests. Let's take a walk, don't waste time as the atmosphere is so good.
I have an opportunity to participate in afforesting this time. Visitor can do this as well. There are many more interesting activities because this place focus in researching on the environment in all aspects. I encourage you to visit and take a look by yourself what there are.
That is Chill Out Thailand with TAT; Marketing Information Department. A very easy and chill trip that full of enjoyment and knowledge in a version of Prachuap Khiri Khan Province with a little bit of Phetchaburi Province (haha...). It's a funny trip. I am still looking for more opportunity to experience Prachuap Khiri Khan Province on my own because this long geographic province always gives me a big smile every time I visit.
Tourism Authority of Thailand, Prachuap Khiri Khan Office: 0-3251-3885, 0-3251-3871
Sirinart Rajini Ecosystem Learning Centre: 0-3263-2255, 08-6607-7712
Pran Buri National Forest Park: 0-3262-1608, 08-9787-4812
The Sirindhorn International Environmental Park: 0-3250-8405-10, 0-3250-8379
Who is more interested in my reviews, wants to chit and chat or asks for more information (if I have) or invites me for travelling. I will be really pleased.