When you live in Bangkok you actually need to escape this city from time to time otherwise you go crazy! It was time for me to get out of the city and so I asked my friends Brian, Alessandro and Jane if we can go on a roadtrip. After some planing we decided to explore the countryside around Pranburi, which is about 30 minutes away from Hua Hin. They picked me up at around 5am in the morning on a Saturday. I could hardly open my eyes and the security guard at my Condo looked confused too; as he never saw me that early (if you don’t know me, I hate waking up early, but sometimes it’s worth it). After a 3.5 hours drive we finally arrived at Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park.
Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park
You need to know that Thailand is a vast country with plenty of natural wonders. Visitors are spoiled for choice when they visit Thailand, and it can be difficult to narrow down the choices of what to see during your stay in Pranburi or Hua Hin, but the Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, should certainly be on the shortlist. Visitors from around the world travel to this incredible park each year and there are many reasons why it’s one of the most popular locations in Thailand.
When you arrive at the main parking area, you can either take a boat to the beach where the cave hike starts (300 baht per boatload), or hike 1 km over the hill (which is then followed by another more difficult hike from the beach to the cave). We decided for the boat tour. The boat took us to hidden islands and a small fishermen village where you will see even rarer forms of the beauty that attracted you to the park in the first place. The driver asked us if we are afraid of monkeys and after we declined he stopped the boat at one of the islands. All of a sudden we were surrounded by monkeys who entered the boat immediately. Quite scary when they are right in front of your face.
Exploring the Caves
Our next stop was the most famous attraction in the park, Phraya Nakhon Cave. It is the most touristy spot, but totally worth it. The “cave” is really a series of huge sinkholes with trees growing in them and of course the iconic temple which you see in all the pictures. It is beautiful. The hike up from the beach was longer than we expected and quite steep. By the time I reached the cave I was drenched in sweat (as were most of us, except Jane. I wonder why Thai people don’t sweat!), so bring plenty of water and try to go earlier in the day if possible. Also, I am guessing the best time for lighting is late morning.
Best Hotel in Town: Sheraton Hua Hin Pranburi Villas
After exploring the National Park we needed to relax a bit and headed over to our place for the night: Sheraton Hua Hin Pranburi Villas. We got the spacious Pool Villa – It consists of an outdoor tub, infinity pool, outdoor dining area for 4 – 6 people with sofa seats under a roof. The bedroom is in one building and the living room is in the other. Great when you need separate spaces. Both rooms have indoor and outdoor shower areas and separate toilets. A perfect place for a group of friends. The whole resort has 54 villas and is beautifully planned and landscaped. Feel free to contact me if you want to stay at the resort as I have very good connections. 🙂
Pranburi – Fisherman Village
After some fun at the pool we decided to check out our neighbourhood. The hotel offers complimentary bikes and we started our journey along small fisherman villages. The contrast between this peaceful and small village and crazy Bangkok could not be more dramatic. It’s like no-one cares about the time, date or deadlines. You just live in the day and see what happens. Easy life. In the evening we enjoyed local food at a Seafood Restaurant near the beach surrounded by Thais. I always love the attention I get when I’m the only blonde girl in a local restaurant. 🙂 We took home some beer and enjoyed the rest of the evening in our private Pool Villa.
Hua Hin Railway Station
The next morning, after a delicious breakfast, we headed back to Bangkok. As we passed Hua Hin we stopped at the well-known Hua Hin Railway Station. It is indeed Thailand’s most beautiful train station. The rise of Hua Hin began with the construction of this railway station in year 1968. Its main feature is The Royal Waiting Room that used to welcome King and his court when they were visiting the town. It is now the must-visit place when travel to Hua Hin, both locals and tourists love this place so much. When there is no train passing through, feel free to capture the best moments with the long railway. But do watch out for next coming train’s time for safety purpose.
Maeklong Railway Market
The second stop on our way back to Bangkok was the Maeklong Railway Market. It is a small authentic market set on the railway tracks just outside of the Railway Station. One minute there is a bustling market under umbrellas with stalls scattered everywhere. The next minute a train passes right through the middle of it all, only to turn back into a market a few minutes later. Quite an amazing experience! The train market is open 7 days a week from 6.20 am to 5.40 pm. That is matching the schedule of first train departing to the last train arriving at Maeklong Station. The best time to visit the market is in the earlier morning. Midday and after is fairly hot and uncomfortable as shown by the vendors who are all dozing off. If your only option is to go later it is still a bearable heat.
Thailand is brimming with opportunities for exploration, excitement and exploits. Whatever you choose to do, don’t let your experience in such an exotic country be muddled by overcrowded tour buses, cliché dining options, and stereotypical activities. Instead, throw yourself into Thai culture, thought, and way of life by experiencing it with friends and locals. Thais are some of the nicest people I have ever met. They’re always happy, always smiling, extremely polite, and always helpful. They’ll help you out if you’re in trouble and help translate for you if you can’t speak Thai. So go out and explore!