Phetchaburi, locally known by Thais as Muang Phetch, is located 160 kilometers south of Bangkok. One of Thailands central region provinces, Phetchaburi is situated on the western shore of the Gulf of Thailand with an overall area of approximately 6,225 square kilometers. Its terrains throughout the western border, where Tanaosri Range lies as a natural border between Thailand and Myanmar, are mountainous dense jungles. In the east, there is an 80-kilometer long coastline towards the Gulf of Thailand.
A very old city which used to be an important royal fort town, Phetchaburi had been given several names such as, Phripphri, Phripphli or Phetchaphli. Some historians have gone as far as to say that Phetchaburi could have been named in Indian style, as the Indian influence in those days day was strong. Others put forward the idea that the name Phetchaburi might have originated from Maenam Phetch the most important river of the town.
Whatever the assumptions are, the fact that Phetchaburi is an ancient city with a very long history is undeniable. This has been proven by many archaeological findings which could be dated back to the Dvaravati Period.
During Sukhothai and Ayutthaya Kingdoms, Phetchaburi was a strategic royal fort in the west. Only a lineage of Kings had the rights to rule this historical city. That is why Phetchaburi has been called by some scholars as the "Living Ayutthaya" as the town shares many similar things to the City of Ayutthaya. The prosperity of the Ayutthaya Kingdom can be seen and appreciated in Phetchaburi's wealth of fine old temples.
In the Rattanakosin Era, Phetchaburi has changed its character to a town of charming beauty, with peaceful seaside resorts and superb natural reserves. The three Kings of the Rattanakosin Period, King Rama IV, V, and VI established their retreats here. They built the three palaces namely
Phranakhonkhiri, Phraramrajanivet, Phrarajnivesmarugadayawan in Phetchaburi thus, Phetchaburi is also known as Muang Sam Wang (the city of the three Palaces). The province is also well known for its splendid historical park, ancient temples, wonderful beaches and caves, as well as a great variety of local and fresh seafood. Phetchaburi also has a popular resort town, Cha-am which is the premier beach resort in the province.
The majority of the local residents are engaged in agricultural activities including rice farming, upland crop farming, fruit farming, palm sugar production, animal husbandry and sea and fresh water fisheries.
There are three important Maenam in Phetchaburi including "Maenam Phetchaburi with an overall length of 227 kilometers, "Maenam Bang Kloy", with an overall length of 44 kilometers, and "Maenam Bang Tabun", with an overall length of 18 kilometers.
How To Get There Getting to Phetchaburi and around
By Car from Bangkok:Drive along Highway No. 35 (Thon Buri-Pak Tho) passing Samut Sakhon and Samut Songkhram Provinces and then take Highway No. 4 to Phetchaburi Province. The total distance is 123 kilometers. Alternatively, it is possible to travel via Nakhon Pathom and Ratchaburi Provinces.
By Bus from Bangkok:
There are buses leaving regularly from the Southern Bus Terminal in Thonburi for 50 baht (ordinary) on the new road, 46 baht on the old road (via Ratchaburi and Nakhon Pathom), 60 baht for 2nd Class air-conditionedditioned and 75 baht for 1st Class air-conditioned. The bus takes about 2 1/2 hours to reach the destination. Contact 0 2435 1199-200 or Phetchaburi Tour, Tel: 0 2435 7408 for more details.
By Bus to Cha-am and Hua Hin:
There are several buses depart from Phetchaburi's city, fares ranging from 18 baht (25 air-conditioned) to 22 bahts (31 air-conditioned). It takes 60 and 90 minutes to reach the destinations respectively.
By Train from Bangkok:
Trains leave Bangkok's Hualamphong Station at 12.20 p.m. (rapid train), 2.15 and 2.35 p.m. (special express), 3.50, 5.35 and 6.20 p.m. (rapid trains), 7.15 p.m. (express), 10.30 and 10.50 p.m. (express diesel railcar). All these trains offer 1st, 2nd and 3rd class seating except for the 2.35 p.m. special express (1st and 2nd class only) and the 10.30 and 10.50 p.m. express diesel railcar (2nd class only) and take about three hours to reach Phetchaburi. Fares are 34 baht, 78 baht and 153 baht, not including rapid or express surcharges. Call 1690 or visit www.railway.co.th for more details.
There is no ordinary train service between Hualamphong and Phetchaburi, but there are three ordinary 3rd class trains daily from Thonburi (Bangkok Noi) Station at 7.45 a.m. and 1.30 and 2.00 p.m. (34 baht, no surcharges).
Getting Around Phetchaburi and Cha-am
Samlors and taxis (motorcycles) can go anywhere in the center of town for 20 baht. It is possible to charter one for the whole day for 150 baht. Shared songthaews cost 6 baht around town including to and from the railway station.
Festivals Phra Nakhon Khiri Fair
Phra Nakhon Khiri Fair Phra Nakhon Khiri, also known as Khao Wang, is an important historical site. During the reign of King Rama IV, it served as the king's out-of-town palace.
To celebrate Phetchaburi's cultural heritage-particular Phra Nakhon Khiri-the people of Phetchaburi hold the Phra Nakhon Khiri Fair regularly around the end of February at Khao Wang Compound.
The five-day fair presents a parade of people enacting the procession of monarchs who ruled Phetchaburi; during the Dvaravati and Srivijaya Periods. Apart from that, there are exhibitions on Phetchaburi's history and archaeological objects. Cooking demonstrations on the provinces famous dishes and sweetmeats are among the main attractions of the fair. Also featured are various kinds of entertainment and contests.
Thai Song Dam Festival
Thai Song Dam Festival, a merit-making at Song Dam Village, Khao Yoi district. Games, entertainment and the authentic cuisine of Thai Song Dam villagers is all on offer. Many villagers wear their traditional costumes a sight rarely seen today. The festival is held annually on April 18.
Khao Chae (rice served with ice and sweetened meat) is a renowned local dish and is popular during the summer season as it cools you down. Khanomchin Thotman (rice noodles with fishcakes) is also a popular dish.
Phetchaburi Fruits Fruits from every season are found here and the most famous are sweet and aromatic Chom Phu (rose apple), fresh Palm seed, pineapple from Don Khun Huai, cantaloupe and also the well-known goldn banana from Amphoe Tha Yang.
The most famous souvenir of the province is sweets made of tanot (palm) sugar, flour, eggs and coconut cream. In the city and along Highway No. 4 are numerous sweet shops with names starting with the word Mae that are Thai dessert specialists, particularly in Phetchaburis specialty Khanom Mo Kaeng. In addition, Thong Yot, Thong Yip, Foi Thong, and Khanom Tan are also popular purchases.
Other souvenirs include womens accessories and housewares made of hemp, palm sugar products and a large variety of preserved fruits.
Hat Laem Luang
This white sandy beach, which stretches for 2 kilometers, is located 4 kilometers north of Hat Chao Samran and is crowded during weekends.
Wat Khao Takhrao
The temple, which is located at Ban Laem District, 12 kilometers from Phetchaburi City, houses a highly respected sitting Buddha image locally known as "Luang Pho Khao Takhrao". The image was found at the mouth of Maenam Mae Klong in Samut Songkhram Province by Ban Laem villagers, who migrated from Ban Laem to Samut Songkhram during the fall of Ayutthaya in order to move away from the route of the Burmese troops.
The premier beach resort of Phetchaburi, Hat Cha-am is just as beautiful as the neighboring Hua Hin Beach. Located approximately 163 kilometers south of Bangkok, 40 kilometers south of Phetchaburi and 20 kilometers north of Hua Hin, the beach is famous for being long and clean. In addition, it serves excellent fresh seafood. Originally a fishing village, Cha-am received much attention after the royal palace, Maruekhathaiyawan, was built near Hua Hin in the reign of King Rama VI. At that time, the Royal Family and the elite occupied the land in Hua Hin and its vicinity as a holiday seaside resort. When people started looking around for twin seaside resort town for Hua Hin, Cha-ams beauty was discovered and quickly developed.
Today, Cha-am is a popular lively resort town offering a large variety of accommodations and challenging activities. Boredom is rare in Cha-am as there are a variety of water sports that can be enjoyed, while a possible alternative to water sports is bicycle riding along a 6-kilometer sandy white beach. During the weekdays the beach is virtually deserted and there are beach umbrellas and sling chairs are available for hire.
The State Railways of Thailand operates a special trip to Cha-Am at every holiday. Detailed information can be obtained from Travel service Section, Tel. 02 237- 010, 2237020.
This is the place where the Hup Kraphong Royal Development Project is located. King Bhumibhol initiated the project in 1962 with the support of Israel to help local farmers experiencing agricultural difficulties as a result from infertile soil. Several studies on soil improvement, various crash crops and production efficiency have been conducted. This is one Thailand's leading Royal Projects where travelers can visit to purchase farm produce, crafts (usually made of hemp) and folk art products which have been exported to many Asian and European countries.
The summer seaside palace, often referred to as "the palace of love and hope is located midway between Cha-am and Hua Hin. It was built in 1923 under the royal command of King Rama VI using golden teakwood from the demolished Hat Chao Samran Palace. An Italian architect designed the palace with a dazzling composition of verandahs and latticework in regal proportions.
The palace is a two-storied wooden pavilion with a series of connecting halls and a long corridor leading to the sea. Residential halls of royal family members are on the right wing while those for royal retainers are on the left wing. The central group of halls consists of royal drawing, sitting and reading rooms. In addition, a two-story, open pavilion located next to the central hall was once used as a royal meeting place and theatre. Two famous plays performed in 1941 for King Rama VI were Phra Ruang and Wiwah Phra Samut.
The palace is open to the public daily, Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday, Sunday and public holidays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission fee is 90 baht per person.
Kaeng Krachan National Park
The most extensive national park of Thailand, occupying a largely unexplored area of 2,915 square kilometers (1.7 million rai of land), Kaeng Krachan was declared a national park on 12 June 1981. The park is located 53.5 kilometers from the city and is 3 kilometers beyond Khuean Kaeng Krachan (Kaeng Krachan Dam).
The park covers a reservoir and year round green jungle in the Tanaosri Ranges, which are the origins of many rivers, including Maenam Phetchaburi and Maenam Pranburi. The unexploited, wholesome jungle makes the park rich in flora and fauna. In addition, visitors may spot leopards, tigers and elephants. The 18-level waterfall named Namtok Tho Thip, located approximately 54 kilometers from the Park Office on the Sai Wang Won-Namtok Tho Thip route is worth a visit. There are viewpoints along the route are not only suitable for bird and butterfly watching but also provide magnificent views of misty mountains in the morning.
For trekking enthusiasts, Khao Panoen Thung (currently being promoted by the TAT) offers a challenge at a height of 1,207 meters above sea level. This is a great place to witness the spectacular morning sea of mist with the best part being when visitors have to walk down to see the morning mist and then walk back up to the camp. Other popular activities include bird and butterfly watching and rafting along Maenam Phetchaburi, which takes approximately 6 hours, passing rapids and several smaller rivers. The starting point for river rafting is the park area. Please not that only 4 wheel drive vehicles can take visitors to the starting trail and that the only facilities provided are a camping area and toilets.. Please contact the park ranger for additional information at 032 459293.
Khuean Kaeng Krachan
Kaeng Krachan Dam, which has a height of 58 meters, length of 760 meters, was completed in 1966. This dam was constructed because the Phetch Dam cannot store water and when the water level in the Phetch River is too high it has to be released uselessly. Therefore, Kaeng Krachan Dam was constructed to store water, to be delivered to the Phetch Dam for distribution into the irrigated area. The Dam provides visitors with a stunning scenic viewpoint of the reservoir and its islands while the most popular activity is a cruising trip on the reservoir.
Natural Pine Tree Hill
This place is located 9 kilometers from the park office along the road on top of the dam. On the hilltop, there are scenic stopovers, cliffs and rock garden to visit.
Getting there :Take Highway No.4, then make a right turn at kilometer 186-187 markers and continue for another 30 kilometers.
Accommodation & admission
Kaeng Krachan National Park provides accommodations overlooking an extensive landscaped reservoir. Book your accommodation in advance at 032 459293. Admission fee is 200 baht / person.
Rafting along the Phetchaburi River
The trip takes approximately 5-6 hours to complete, depending on the current. The route passes lush forests and a Karen hill tribe Village. The journey from Phetchaburi City to the starting point may take approximately 3 hours on a 4-wheel drive vehicle. Call 02 918 6067 or 034 410695 for more details.
BRG Adventure Park
BRG Adventure Park at Khao Yoi offers challenging sport activities including sliding, crossing a Tyrolean traverse, via ferrata, and abseiling 100 meters. All activities are under the supervision of well-trained staff. Contact 02 434 610002 435 5797 for more details.
Lao Song (Thai Song Dam) Tribal Villages
The descendents of Lao Song, whose ancestors have migrated from Laos, live in the villages of Ban Nong Prong and Ban Thap Khang. Their customs and traditions have been preserved and are still practiced. In April, they organize social events with entertainment and folk plays.
Tham Khao Yoi
This cave is located on the hill, which is clearly visible from Highway No.4, behind the railway station of Khao Yoi District, approximately 22 kilometers north of Phetchaburi town. It was the place where King Rama VI practiced meditation while he was ordained. Today, it houses several Buddha images.
The temple is located at Bang Khem sub-district, north of Khao Yoi District. It houses a Bot or a ritual hall made entirely from carved teak wood. The outer surfaces of the walls are carved into scenes depicting the Ten Incarnations of the Lord Buddha and the door panels into openwork of intertwined spray patterns.
Khao Bandai It
Situated 2 kilometers south of Khao Wang is the site of an ancient temple of the Ayutthaya Period Wat Khao Bandai It. This hill is 121 meters high and offers several stunning natural attractions (caves) such as Tham Prathum, Tham Phra Chao Sua, and Tham Phra Phuttha Saiyat.
Phra Nakhon Khiri Historical Park
Phetchaburis well-known landmark, the locally known as Khao Wang (Palace Hill) is located up on a 92-meter high verdant hill, in the city of Phetchaburi. It was built under the royal command of King Rama IV and in 1860 became his summer palace. The whole compound is comprised of royal halls, palaces, temples and other buildings which were elegantly constructed in a well-balanced Thai, neoclassical Western and Chinese architectural styles.
There are a group of royal residences on the western side of the hill consisting of the Phetchphoomphairot Building, Pramotmahaisawan Building, Wetchayanwichienprasat Building, Ratchathammasapha Building and Hor Chatchawanwiengchai Observatory.
The original main residence, Phetchphoomphairot and Pramotmahaisawan Buildings are now being used as a museum exhibiting the royal paraphernalia of King Rama IV and King Rama V, decorative sculptures, and ceramics from China, Japan and Europe.
The big white pagoda situated on the middle peak of the hill is Phrathat Jomphet. King Rama IV ordered the renovation of the old pagoda and later added a Buddha image inside. Visitors to the Palace should not miss the panoramic view of Phetchaburi City and other buildings on another two nearby mountaintops.
There are several temples to be admired on the Eastern Mountain, one of which is Wat Maha Samanaram, which has a history that can be traced back to the Ayutthaya period and the place where murals by Khrua In Khong, a renowned Thai artist is located. Another temple located on top of the mountain is Wat Phra Kaew Noi, the Royal Temple of Phra Nakhon Khiri that was constructed based on the model of the Grand Palace in Bangkok.
The Ordination Hall and Phra Sutthasela Chedi are also popular attractions. The ordination hall is a small beautifully symmetrical structure that is noted for the stucco at the gables, which is said to be a Phetchaburi masterpiece. In addition, the design of the Hall was based on King Rama IV's royal emblem. Phra Sutthasela Chedi was built from greenish gray marble. The marble was first sculptured into pieces to form a pagoda at Ko Srichang, an island off the coast of Pattaya on the eastern coast of the Gulf of Thailand, then it was dismantled and resembled at the Chedi which is on the western coast of the Gulf of Thailand.
Getting to Phra Nakhon Khiri Historical Park
The site is located on Phetkasem Road, just one kilometer from the town entrance junction. It is possible to climb the mountain by walking or by cable car.
Walking up is a strenuous activity but it is the traditional way to approach the Park. For those choosing the cable car option, the fare, which inclusive of the museum admission fee is 50 baht for adults and 30 baht for children. Service is provided from 8:15 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Phra Ram Ratchaniwet
Originally called "Wang Ban Pun", the European style palace is situated to the south of the town. The construction began in 1909 at the command of King Rama V to be his rainy season palace. A German architect, Mr. Karl Deurring designed the palace, while Admiral HRH Prince Boriphat of Nakhonsawan and HRH Prince Damrong supervised the construction. The construction was completed in 1916 in the reign of King Rama VI. The place was used to welcome and accommodate state visitors during the reign of King Rama VI.
Tham Khao Luang
The cave is located approximately five kilometers from Khao Wang. Smaller in size, the cave is regarded as the largest and most important in the province. This is due to the fact that it houses a Buddha image cast under the royal command of King Rama V as a dedication to King Rama III and King Rama IV. At the foot of Khao Luang Hill, a large monastery locally known asWat Tham Klaep or Wat Bun-thawi is located. Attractions within the compound are a large multi-purpose hall and a chapel laden with beautifully carved door panels.
Wat Kamphaeng Laeng
This monastery was originally a Khmer place of worship constructed in accordance with Bhramanism. Originally, there were five prangs (Khmer-style pagoda) made of sandstone in the original worshiping place. When the influence of Buddhism in the region prevailed, it was turned into a Buddhist temple. A Shrine hall was later constructed. Today, visitors can only admire the remaining four prangs which remain next to the sandstone walls.
Wat Maha That Worawiharn
Situated by Maenam Phetchaburi in the town centre, the large white pagoda of Wat Maha That, which can be seen from a distance, is a mixture of the late Ayutthaya and early Rattanakosin style with an adaptation of the prang of Lopburi. This Five Peak Prang housing the Lord Buddha's relics was constructed according to concept of Mahayana Buddhism. The elegantly designed stucco decorated on the viharn and the ubosot is proof to the excellent skill of Phetchaburi's local craftsmanship.
Wat Yai Suwannaram
Another important temple in the town, Wat Yai Suwannaram is situated 1 kilometer east of the city hall. The temple, featuring a windowless main shrine hall, houses magnificent 300-year-old murals of mythical angels. Its Sala Kanprian (multi-purpose hall) which was once located in Ayutthaya's Grand Palace, was entirely built of teakwood and decorated with fine woodwork especially at the door panels. There is also a preaching throne with magnificently elaborated Bangkok style woodcarvings and gold gilt works located in the hall.
Hat Chao Samran
This beach, which is located approximately 15 kilometers from Phetchaburi Market, has a history that can be traced back to the Ayutthaya Era. The name Hat Chao Samran meaning Royal Leisure Beach was derived as a result of several visits for extended periods of time made by King Naresuan the Great and his brother, King Ekathotsarot.
In addition, the beach was the most popular one among other beaches in Thailand during the reign of King Rama VI when he ordered the construction of Hat Chao Samran Palace in 1918.
Hat Puek Tian
This wide and long beach is popular among local tourists. It is 7 kilometers south of Hat Chao Samran.