About an hour’s drive from the touristy beach town of Hua Hin is Sam Roi Yot National Park. The coastal park’s diverse landscape consists of stretches of beaches, pockets of pine forests and mangroves, as well as impressive mountain ranges. The park boasts many species of birds as well as primates. One of its most famous attractions is the Phraya Nakhon cave. With its postcard-photo worthy landscape, the beautifully located royal pavilion and its history, many have listed the cave as one of the places you must visit in your lifetime!
For an entrance fee of approx. 5.60 USD (200 THB for foreign visitors) or 1.40 USD (50 THB for a Thai national), you can explore different areas of the park for the whole day.
Walking to Phraya Nakhon cave
At the starting point to Phraya Nakhon Cave, there are a few food and souvenir stalls, and restaurants where you can energize yourself and use the bathroom before you start your walk. Bear in mind that there are no bathrooms on the way. The walk takes about an hour and a half to get to the cave at a leisurely pace.
The walk consists of crossing a steep hill with little shelter from the sun. However, being on top of the hill will provide you good photo opportunities with a view of the coastline. Once you are done crossing the hill, you will end up at a wooded area with native pine trees and coconut trees. There is an opportunity to take a dip in the sea and relax on the beach. The area is also a small residential area for park rangers.
However, if you do not feel like walking the whole way, there are some long tail boats in the area that will take you halfway there for about 2.83 USD (100 baht) per person. The ten to fifteen minutes boat ride will save you the half an hour walk over a hill.
Keep a lookout for dusky langurs and mainland serows
To get to the cave, just follow the path and signs. However, this is where some level of fitness is required. The walk up to the cave can be rather steep, with slippery rocks (polished by so many people walking over them). If you are lucky, you might spot some dusky langurs above you. They are not shy and will stay around, providing you are watching them quietly. The rare mainland serows are also known to have been spotted in the area.
Halfway up the path there is a small rest stop and viewpoint. Once you are nearing the cave, you will start to see some impressive limestone rock formation. A small tiger statue greets you with a donation box before you take the steps down into the cave.
The royal pavilion and the cave
You are dwarfed in comparison to the high stalactites ceilings and the wide area inside the cave. The cave comprises of two chambers. The smaller chamber is located in the back of the first chamber. Both are beautifully lit with sunlight through gaping holes in the cave’s ceiling. Trees and bushes grow inside the cave, making the whole place resemble a scene from a film or a novel about a lost world. In the middle of the cave, there is the royal pavilion, Kuha Karuhas, marking King Chulalongkorn’s visit to the cave in 1890.
Apart from the stunning scenery, Phraya Nakhon cave has a fascinating history behind it. It was first discovered about two hundred years ago by Chao Phraya Nakhon Sri Thammarat (governor of Nakhon Sri Thammarat) while he was trying to find shelter from a storm. Thus, the cave is named after him. Since then, a number of kings have visited the cave, earning it a symbolic status. The Kuha Karuhas pavilion has been made into the symbol of Phrachuap Khiri Khan province, its image adorning the province’s emblem.
The closest town to Sam Roi Yot is Hua Hin. You can drive to Sam Roi Yot, hire a scooter or arrange a tour via Hua Hin’s tourist information centre. The park is located south of Hua Hin in Pranburi district. If driving there, a GPS is recommended, especially since the park has several entrances and not all the park’s roads are connected.
Useful information for your trip to Phraya Nakhon Cave
Make sure to bring sunscreen and water, especially if you plan to get there after 11AM, as it can get very warm. Anti-insect spray might also be a good idea, especially if you are travelling during rain season (July to October). You can bring additional snacks and food with you to eat along the way, as restaurants are sparse in the park but like always, make sure not to leave anything behind. Good walking shoes are recommended, as part of the ascent to the cave can be a bit slippery and having good grips will make the trip less tiring.
If you want to explore other areas in the park, you can ask for a map at one of the park’s entrances. There are several boat tours in different areas of the park and it is best to inquire on the spot for what is available during that time of the year.
Sam Roi Yot is a great place for people who enjoy spotting wildlife and being outside. It is probably not for those who prefer the luxurious kind of getaway. However, for those who enjoy a bit of adventure, Sam Roi Yot’s rustic setting of small villages and the beautiful natural landscape is worth a visit, especially if you are staying in nearby Hua Hin.
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