Phetchaburi is one of Thailand’s central coastal provinces. If you imagine (or even look at!) a map of the country, you’ll notice that there is a very thin strip of land running towards the south and away from Bangkok and the large landmass above … Phetchaburi is right above where the country goes long and thin. The province's name is sometimes shortened to Petburi.
Home to Thailand’s biggest national park, the province also has a number of cultural and historical attractions to enjoy. With beaches, nature, and loads to see and do, Phetchaburi is a great place to take a break when travelling up or down the country.
Here are six great things to do in Phetchaburi to whet your appetite for adventure:
1. Enjoy the pretty and calm beaches
Phetchaburi boasts some lovely beaches, most of which are noticeably quieter than their southern cousins. Popular with Thai tourists, the provinces beaches are great for escaping the international tourist masses and enjoying a typically Thai seaside vibe. Fresh and tasty seafood dishes abound, and you can sink your teeth into some crunchy crab or succulent shrimp as you soak up the pretty ocean views.
Cha Am Beach has the most facilities for foreign visitors, with a good selection of accommodation options, restaurants, and bars within easy walking distance of the sandy beach. At Hat Puek Tian (Had / Haad Puek Tian), you can marvel at the large and unusual statues that sit proudly on rocks in the water, and the low-key Hat Chao Samran is great for those looking for peace and quiet. Hunt for seashells, join in with a game of beach volleyball, paddle in the sea, or take a short stroll and flop down on your own secluded spot of sand. There is a small but enticing food court close to the sands. You may see the beach's name also written as Had / Haad Chao Samran.
2. Explore the beautiful architecture of Phra Nakhon Khiri Historical Park
A gorgeous hilltop complex, Phra Nakhon Khiri Historical Park is home to elegant palaces, revered temples, stunning pavilions, tall pagodas, and striking royal halls. Blending traditional Thai styles with elements from Chinese and European designs, the architecture is interesting and diverse.
Spread across three hill hills, it is easy to get to from the heart of the city. Visitors can either walk up the hill to the entrance or ride a funicular. Even if you’re feeling active, it may still be worth taking the funicular up the hill to avoid the inquisitive monkeys that line the pathways! If you do decide to walk, keep a tight grip on your belongings and hide all food and drink … unless you want to be involved in a grab and run escapade! The "safe" funicular option costs just 40 THB (approximately 1.10 USD) for a return trip.
A former royal summer retreat, this is now one of the province’s top attractions. Admission to the park costs 150 THB (approximately 4.20 USD) for non-Thai visitors.
3. Soak up the views from Khao Wang
One of Phra Nakhon Khiri Historical Park’s mountains is Khao Wang; the Royal Hill. From here you can admire stretching views of the rest of the complex and beyond towards the main town of Phetchaburi. Verdant trees, opulent buildings, tiny homes in the distance, and the bright blue sky certainly make for some gorgeous pictures!
4. Venture into the spectacular caves of Khao Luang
Climb down the stone steps into the first large cave of Khao Luang and be prepared for a dazzling sight! Watch your footing though – the steps are very irregular in height and it is easy to lose your balance if you’re not careful. Entrance to the caves is free.
As you reach the bottom of the stairs look to your right and you will see a Buddha footprint impression, a spiritual reminder of the Lord Buddha having actually walked upon the earth whilst creating a path for Buddhists to follow. There is also an interesting rock formation that strongly resembles an elephant’s trunk.
A hole in the roof causes the main chamber to be bathed in natural light, allowing visitors to fully admire the impressive stalactites and stalagmites. There are many Buddha statues, as well as a larger seated Buddha image draped in a golden cloth.
A darker tunnel leads through into another chamber, and you will spot fascinating animist statues, some of which proudly don animal print patterns, as well as even more Buddha statues in an assortment of postures.
5. Dodge fiendishly cheeky macaques
Phetchaburi town is home to hundreds of macaque monkeys, and they certainly aren’t shy when it comes to trying to steal people’s belongings. The main concentrations of macaques can be seen around Khao Wang and Khao Luang and vendors sell food at each place for brave souls to hand to the rowdy rabble. In particularly hot weather, you may even spot the monkeys taking a dip in fountains and water-filled pots for floating plants!
6. Dine at the lively evening markets
For some of the cheapest eats around, head to one of Phetchaburi’s evening markets and fill up on inexpensive and tasty Thai fare. The markets are in different locations on each day of the week, but they are not difficult to find – just ask around!
Watch as vendors flip grilling meats and fish with dexterity, pound ingredients with a pestle and mortar, and quickly swish a mélange of items around their large pots on top of their gas burners. If the sight of all that delicious food isn’t enough to tempt you, the enticing smells are sure to hook you in!
Other Phetchaburi highlights
Keang Krachan National Park is the biggest national park in Thailand, covering almost 3,000 square kilometres. Home to an abundance of flora and fauna, there are also caves and waterfalls to enjoy. A sparkling lake and picturesque dam make for great photos and rafting is popular along the raging river. History buffs will enjoy the ancient remains of Wat Wat Kamphaeng Laeng. Make sure to add Phetchaburi to your Thailand itinerary!