Phetchaburi is a historical town which is seldom talked about, though it’s only a couple of hours’ drive from Bangkok. Among its highlights are a stunningly beautiful temple cave, long stretches of beach, centuries old palaces and… MONKEYS!
1. Khao Luang Cave
Let’s get right down to business, shall we? Khao Luang cave is the unquestionable highlight of any visit to Phetchaburi. Don’t miss it!
Conquer any fear of monkeys you might have, because to get down to the cave you’ll have to brave 21 steps filled with dozens of monkeys, all waiting for just the right moment to pilfer anything they can get their hands on from your bag. Nevertheless, at the bottom of the stairs, an oasis of calm awaits you.
In Khao Luang Cave you’ll find more than 170 Buddha statues, sitting and reclining, big, small and hidden, all scattered along three different chambers. But most impressive of all were the gigantic openings in the roof of the cave, allowing in sunny rays, which in their turn, allowed for some excellent photo opportunities.
We spent more than an hour in this remarkable cave in which, to our surprise, there were never more than a handful of tourists.
Khao Luang Cave lies atop a hill that’s 100 meters high, which itself is located a couple of kilometers to the north of Phetchaburi. The rays of sunlight are at its most beautiful in the morning and the location is nice and quiet. It’s a two-hour drive from Bangkok and a one-hour drive from Hua Hin.
Opening hours: 7:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Entrance fee: Free
2. Hat Chao Samran
This beach near Phetchaburi is a great place to leave the city, the temples and the monkeys behind you for a few hours. No more than half an hour away, this is a long stretch of beach where fishermen empty their nets and fully clothed locals like to take a nice dip in the sea. Ideal for unwinding a bit!
Having your own means of transport is essential; we didn’t notice a lot of buses or taxis near the beach.
3. Phra Nakhon Khiri Historical Park
Phetchaburi’s Historical Park lies on a hill that looms 92 meters above the small town. Locals call it “Khao Wang” which roughly translates as “hill with palace”.
As Mariska had been suffering from a serious strain of temple-fatigue, I decided to head out on my own. And I have to admit: I did experience some moments of abject TERROR!
While going up, I was constantly checked out, stared at and followed by dozens, if not hundreds, of monkeys. They were very brash and even aggressive. Small wonder then, that there weren’t any companions in misfortune (meaning other tourists) with me. Every now and again, a security guy, carrying a slingshot, or some employee on a motorbike, nimbly negotiating his way through the crowd of monkeys, would pass by. But other than that, it was the monkeys who were in charge.
Armed with a rock I struggled past the different temples. It was pretty. Very pretty even; the view, the old temples, the decorations on the flower pots, the mysterious trees… but still, I wasn’t able to fully enjoy it.
Opening hours: 8:30 AM – 4:00 PM
Entrance fee: 150 Thai Baht
4. Fancy diner
We very rarely go out for a luxury dinner. Our budget simply won’t allow it. But while on TripAdvisor, we read about the Swiss Palazzo Restaurant in Phetchaburi. And being in the neighborhood, we decided to give it try. The homemade desserts and pastas were what won us over in the end!
The food was fantastic and, all in all, pretty affordable too. We paid around 800 Thai Baht for a three course meal and the food was excellent. Definitely try the beetroot pasta with Italian meatballs!
Opening hours: 10:00 AM – 10:00 PM
Prices: ± 180 Thai Baht per course
5. Wat Khoy: monkey free temple
On the way back from the Historical Park is a beautiful, luminescent, modern temple, with surprising and interesting statues at the front and the back. Being able to walk around without the constant fear of being pounced upon, felt like a breath of fresh air.
Opening hours: 7.00 AM – 7:00 PM
Entrance fee: Free