Province of Phetchaburi often overlooked by tourists, located not far away from the bustling Bangkok, offers many things. Cultural destination and former royal retreat are just few of the things to mention. It is also the place in Thailand that impressed me the most during my 3-week travel last year. Sure, Koh Phi Phi is nice, Angthong National Marine Park even more, but there’s just something about Phetchaburi. It doesn’t have that over-touristy feel that other parts of Thailand might have. And that is a rare find these days. What makes Phetchaburi different and interesting is the fact that there are barely any tourists, almost nobody really speaks English, there are no restaurants in the traditional sense, only street food. So you can imagine we had quite some trouble finding something to eat when we didn’t even know what we were getting, but hey that’s part of the fun!
So, how it all happened? We took the train from Bangkok for 30 BHT (3rd class) which took us around five hours to reach Phetchaburi. In Phetchaburi I would recommend having your own driver, since the attractions are kind of scattered around the town and there really is no other option. We decided to simply ask our tuk tuk driver that took us from the train station to our guesthouse if he would be willing to drive us around. I don’t remember exactly how much we paid, but I believe we bargained for somewhere around 400 BHT for the whole afternoon and three different locations. If you are looking for a place to stay I would highly recommend White Monkey Guesthouse. The location is good, price is reasonable and you also get breakfast with your room rate. The place is new or recently re-decorated, everything was clean, and the receptionist was super nice and went out of her way to help us with all our questions.
So what is it that makes Phetchaburi special and worth visiting? There are many things, of course, but let me highlight the ones we visited and that left a great impression on us.
Phra Ram Ratchaniwet Palace
The magnificent palace built in 1920 in art nouveau style was meant to be King Rama’s Vth summer palace to escape rainy season. It was designed by German architects in order to show that Thailand is keeping up with ‘modern’ architecture. The palace is on a military base, guarded by soldiers and the fact that we had the whole place to ourselves when we visited made it a really special experience.
Phra Nakhon Khiri historical park
This former palace on hilltop full of monkeys offers great views over the city. A mixture of European and Chinese styles give it a unique feel. Allow a half-day to visit and explore it fully as there are three different summits with temples.
Tham Khao Luang Caves
Situated a couple of kilometres out of town these magnificent caves full of buddhist shrines are a peaceful oasis. When the sunlight falls dramatically through a heart shaped hole it makes this place even more magical. The entrance to the caves is free, you can get a local guide to show you around if you want, but in my opinion this is not necessary, since the caves are really easy to explore. Access to the caves is through a steep set of stairs full of monkeys and stray dogs, so beware. The caves are beautiful to explore and have such a peaceful and calming feel.