A Historical & Tourist Guide For Prachuap Khiri Khan, Thailand

So, you’re planning a trip to the serene coastal town of Prachuap Khiri Khan in Thailand? You’ve made an excellent choice! Being a history enthusiast, I have explored Prachuap Khiri Khan’s fascinating past. We will explore its role in World War II and its connections to historical events and figures. In this article, I’m going to share the more uncovered gems, not usually put in your classic “top 10 best places” article. By the end, you’ll learn the place where the Japanese invaded. You’ll also discover where 300 bodies were buried. Additionally, you’ll find out where King Mongkut predicted an eclipse and got malaria, ultimately dying. Plus, much more than just historical landmarks… beautiful beaches, countryside, fishing ports, a strange stone park with naturally standing granite boulders, rock climbing areas with a Buddhist monastery built-in, and much more!

This is not your standard “best things to do here” article. It’s a peel-back-the-layers guide that shares the local gems no one else bothers to write about!

Interesting fact: Prachuap Khiri Khan was the last place to fall in the Japanese invasion of Thailand, with over 33 hours of fighting. You’ll learn more in this article.

Here’s a video I made about the history of WW2 and communism in Thailand during my trip (Prachuap Khiri Khan is the first stop):

Attractions & Things To See (At A Glance)

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Just before Saranwithi Pier, there is a small Police station. This is a monument to the Thai Police who lost their lives fighting the Japanese here in Prachuap Khiri Khan

This is not a “must-see” but it’s a very interesting part of the town’s history and role in WW2. If you’re into this type of travel, definitely check it out while you’re on your way to the Wing 5 Airbase.

Just out of the centre of the town, you’ll find a huge beachfront with a beautiful pier where you can walk out into the middle of the sea and be rewarded with some fantastic views. Many of the locals fish here. It’s also a fantastic place to view the sunset, coming over seamounts in the morning.

There’s a beautiful beach to the right of the pier, and you can see some very interesting translucent crabs (Ghost Crabs) on the sand. They make these little holes in the ground where they all retreat as you walk past.

Wing 5 is the airbase where the Royal Thai Police and Airforce would hold back the Japanese invasion in WW2. The fighting would last a total of 33 hours, and would only stop after an official had traveled from Bangkok to wave a white flag. There was a total of around 150 casualties, but Thai estimates claim closer to 300.

Interestingly, the Thais actually received a telegram before the car with the white flag arrived, and were ordered to ceasefire. This is because Japan and Thailand had already agreed (in Bangkok) while the fighting was still happening. But, suspecting this was a trick from the Japanese the soldiers at Prachuap Khiri Khan continued fighting.

This is a must-see in Prachuap Khiri Khan.

You can walk pretty freely around the airbase, the military personnel are extremely friendly, and there are some monuments + museums you can visit here. Before you enter you will have to sign your name into a book, and you have to vacate the airbase before 5pm.

This is the way you also get to Ao Manao Beach. You can stay on Ao Manao Beach after 5pm, but you won’t be able to go back through the airbase, so if your hotel is on the other side of the base, you’ll have a VERY long walk back.

Luckily for us, a lady gave us a ride on her market-stand motorbike thing.

Another thing to note is that you’re not allowed to take photos or videos in the airstrip area. This is taken very seriously, so do not do it. You will see the signs that tell you not to.

Ao Manao is a stunning beach located on Wing 5. The chairs are 20-30 baht, you can ride quad bikes, do archery, eat food, and swim here. It’s a great place to spend the day. You’ll also find it’s where many of the locals go for drinks. People are extremely friendly so you’ll likely make some friends and get invited to join them.

It’s a huge beach in a beautiful U shape, and you’ll find a lot more action here. It’s still a very quiet part of Thailand, so don’t expect any booming beach parties. The locals do drink here with friends, but it’s more like a small gathering.

The beach is absolutely beautiful, extremely clean, and the water is clear, crystal blue. This is also the point where the Japanese invaded in WW2. You’ll weirdly see a lot of Japan, and even more weirdly, Rising Sun flags dotted around this area. I still have no idea why to this day, but I think they are there to show respect for the dead.

A very interesting point just beyond the beach is the “Sarn-Jow-Mae-Ta-Kean” shrine. When speaking with a local they told me that over 300 bodies were buried in this area. An interesting point for you if you’re interested in history.

To get to the beach you have to pass through Wing 5, if you’re coming from the main centre of Prachuap Khiri Khan. If, however, you’re coming from the other side, you don’t need to pass through the base or sign your name at the entrance.

The base shuts at 5pm, so if you do come from the centre, make sure you’re ready for a very long walk back to the centre of town.

Just past Ao Manao, there’s a huge plaza with a monument and a museum to King Mongkut (the father of Thai science). Here you’ll find a huge museum, the monument to King Mongkut, and an aquarium. It is the place where King Mongkut predicted the exact time of an eclipse, propelling Thai science into the future, and where he contracted malaria and shortly died after.

Here in Prachuap Khiri Khan, King Mongkut famously predicted the exact time of an eclipse, inviting officials from both France and Britain to watch. Astrology was the method used at the time in Thailand to predict eclipses etc. But Mongkut wanted to swap the old methods for the new, Western Sciences of Astronomy.

Astrologers questioned this method at the time and thought of it as interfering with deities or gods. Comets, eclipses or other phenomena were considered as bad omens, or blessings depending on where they were spotted in Siam during this period.

Despite popular astrologers disagreeing with Mongkut’s new methods, in an effort to change Thai science, he proved to them that the new methods were superior by predicting this solar eclipse down to the exact date.

Unfortunately, Mongkut contracted malaria here and shortly died after predicting the eclipse.

When we went the aquarium was shut, and we didn’t get to go inside, but the museum is fantastic. You could easily spend a couple of hours here, and there are some brilliant things to see here.

There are many great night markets you can head to for food in Prachuap Khiri Khan. One is in the centre of town (dalaat doh roong bra juap ตลาดโต้รุ่งประจวบ), and it is where most locals will go to eat out for the night. There is also one that runs across Sanawithi Pier, but in my experience, this had a worse selection and the other is a short 5-minute walk from the pier if that’s where you would like to eat for the view.

If you want grilled chicken, you MUST check out this restaurant ร้านตุ๊ก ไก่ย่างชะอำ (raan dook gai yaang cha am). They do the BEST grilled chicken I had in all of Thailand. Very reasonable prices too.

Here is a map of the main night markets I visited:

Not a must-see, but if you’re interested in border towns then this is a good place to travel to. It’s pretty run down since COVID, and you can’t currently pass across the border. There is a great shop here that sells old antiques. There is so much history in that shop, and I would recommend going just for that.

If you have the extra time you can also try Khao Soi, which is a curry noodle dish that is usually only found in the north, but there is an Isaan guy here who runs a restaurant by the border.

I hope it has picked up since I last went. Cool place. Not a must-see, but if you have time it’s a fun drive with a motorbike rental. You can also see the Khao Hin Monastery on the way. A great temple/monastery where you can do some rock climbing!

Khao Hin Thoen is a beautiful monastery that is built into huge boulders. These great granite stones balance naturally, atop a massive hill. Here you’ll find a stone park, where you can do a little rock climbing if you’re feeling brave, and you’ll also find a small kind of temple.

On top of some of the climbing areas, you will find small statues of Buddha, with little pools of water. These are shrines that the monks who live in the monastery look after.

If you are headed to the Myanmar Border Town, you should stop by this spot. I think that this is a must-see here in Prachuap Khiri Khan. Most people miss it, as it’s not on any tourist guide that you’ll find anywhere online.

The views are absolutely phenomenal when you climb atop some of the stones. One in particular has a 360-degree panoramic view atop all of the trees and forests nearby. It’s breathtaking.

Khao Lom Muak is a mountain located around Wing 5 airbase which offers the most breathtaking views of Ao Manao beach and the surrounding areas of Prachuap Khiri Khan. Currently, times are controlled by Wing 5 airbase, so you can only take on the challenge on the days it has been approved by the Wing 5 airbase.

You can find those times here.

It’s completely free of charge to attempt the challenge, and soldiers are on hand to help you ascend the mountain. It’s a very difficult climb which requires rope climbing in some areas, and could take around 2-3 hours.

An interesting fact about this mountain is that, during the invasion of the Japanese in WW2, “the families of the airmen took refuge in guest houses on Mt Lom Muak”.

Unfortunately, when we went it wasn’t open for climbing. So, if you really want to do this, make sure you go when it’s possible. You can register when you are at the mountain on the day, so there is no need to book tickets in advance.

During this climb, you’ll also encounter some friendly black monkeys.

If you don’t get to climb Khao Lom Muak, you can try heading to Wat Khao Chong Krachok. It’s not as high or rewarding, but it’s a temple that is built on a hill that overlooks the town from the centre of Prachuap Khiri Khan. It provides a beautiful view of the beachfront, Ao Manao, and the town.

To get to the temple there are 395 steps. It is completely free to climb and visit, but many Thais will often leave food, drink, and other items as offerings to attract good spirits.

At the top, you might be greeted by some cheeky, friendly, black monkeys.

Past Ao Manao Beach, there’s a small little fishing village/town. Here you’ll find fantastic restaurants for freshly caught fish, and beautiful, basically empty beaches, with incredibly clear waters and mountain ranges.

This is a quieter area of the town. You won’t find much action going on, but if you prefer quieter, serene walks, then this is a fantastic area to check.

It’s also extremely close to the King Mongkut Museum, Aquarium, and Monument. So, you could spend a couple of hours there before, then move on to this small town for some lunch/dinner and a nice, quiet walk to end the day with calm.

Good Food Spots in Prachuap Khiri Khan

There are some great food spots in Prachuap Khiri Khan, but some are better than others. From my experience traveling to the town twice and spending an extensive time here, I’ll share some of my favourites in the town centre of Prachuap Khiri Khan.

Here is an interactive map of the best markets for food here:

Dalaat Doh Roong Bra Juap (ตลาดโต้รุ่งประจวบ) – Best Night Market

This is by far the best night market for food located in the centre. The food is cheap, delicious and you’ll find many options to choose from here. You’ll find that most of the locals eat here at night too. It’s a very busy, bustling part of town and comes alive at night with conversation, laughter and good times.

Just copy and paste the Thai spelling of this into Google Maps and you’ll find where it is.

It’s extremely close to the beach, so you can grab food here and then head to Saranwithi Pier to eat with a beautiful view of the sea at night, and the lit up temple Wat Khao Chong Krachok.

Raan Dook Gai Yaang Cha Am (ร้านตุ๊ก ไก่ย่างชะอำ) – Best Grilled Chicken in Thailand

My absolute favourite restaurant of my whole 4 month trip across Thailand, from north to south – this is the best grilled chicken I found. I love grilled chicken and could eat it every day (and pretty much did during my 8-month travel).

For about 200 baht ($3-5), you can get a huge portion of grilled chicken on the bone. The flavour is phenomenal, and whatever sauce they marinate this in is divine. I recommend getting the grilled chicken breast on the bone (ok gai yaang), with a portion of sticky rice (kao nieaw), and a papaya salad (som dam).

With one portion, you’ll easily be able to eat for 2 people, and my partner and I did this every lunch we spent here. At night we’d head to the night market above.

Khlong Wan Food Market (ตลาดสดคลองวาฬ) – Great Food Market Near Ao Manao

You can find great fish dishes around this area. It’s located in the Khlong Wan fishing village, which is near to Wing 5, Ao Manao and the King Mongkut monument. If you’re around that area, it’s the closest place to find cheap, great-tasting food. It’s much cheaper than the markets on Ao Manao beach, so if you want to save a little money, then head here.

Khlong Wan Fishing Village Restaurants

Also, close to Khlong Wan Food Market, you’ll find many restaurants on the beachfront of the fishing village. This is the best place to eat fresh fish, from the seas of Prachuap Khiri Khan. If you are a fish eater, you must go to one of these seaside restaurants.

Getting To Prachuap Khiri Khan

The easiest way to get to Prachuap Khiri Khan is by Thai Railway. You can get an AC ticket from Bangkok for around 250 baht ($3-5). Since Hua Lamphong station has been closed, you will need to get the train from Bang Sue station in Bangkok.

If you are coming from other parts of Thailand, it may be beneficial to fly to a major city and, from there, get a train or coach down to Prachuap Khiri Khan.

Most tourists get this train to Hua Hin, which is a more popular resort/holiday destination. You will get off at the stop just before Hua Hin. It is right in the centre of the town, so there will be no need to get a Tuk Tuk or Taxi, unless you’ve pre-booked a resort that is outside of the town.

I personally recommend staying at Yuttachai hotel. They have decent rooms, and very reasonable prices, plus it is located right in the centre, close to everything. If you want something higher-class, go for one of the resorts further out.

Getting Around Prachuap Khiri Khan

There aren’t many transport options around Prachuap Khiri Khan. You’re pretty much limited to Tuk Tuks or renting a motorcycle. We opted for renting a motorcycle. You can find motorcycle rentals at Yuttachai hotel, which is a 5-minute walk from the train station. You should pay 300-500 baht/day to rent a 125cc, depending on the term of your rental.

They have fantastic bikes that are kept in great condition and they provide all of the helmets etc. You can also park your motorcycle inside at night.

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