Prachuap Beach lies just 4 hours South of Bangkok in the province of Prachuap Khiri Khan.
With small fishing villages and sandy beaches this area is mostly off the tourist trail for all but the most ardent explorer.
Most Thailand tourists can only make it as far as the ritzy hotels of Cha-Am and Hua Hin and anything further is not on their radar.
As you go further South past Khao Takieb, the resorts are less well known internationally and accommodation is mostly local Thai style small hotels and homestay places.
But with a Google map and the Agoda website open, there are plenty of possibilities to have a great experience in a Thai hotel.
Of course, choosing a Thai resort might mean that there are no croissants for breakfast and there certainly will not be a selection of French cheese on offer.
These small towns and villages have noodle shops, fresh seafood restaurants and streetmarkets with a selection of the best Thai foods available, so there will be plenty of foods to choose from.
After conducting some intensive research on places to stay farther South than Hua Hin and having previously stayed at the Namaste Resort in Dolphin Bay in Khao Sam Roi Yod, then the town of Prachuap was the final choice.
I booked the Prachuap Beach Hotel as the Agoda reviews were quite positive and the price was about 1000 baht per night for a seaview room, not including breakfast.
The car left Samutprakarn around 6:30 am to avoid the heavy traffic on the Route 9 motorway and around the roadworks in the Bang Khun Thian area.
As of October 2019 these roadworks are still ongoing.
In fact, we probably didn't need to leave so early as it turned out that the Monday was a public holiday.
It was mid-October and the rainy season was not quite finished in this part of Thailand and there was still the odd thunderstorm around.
Leaving Bangkok, the hope was that the weather would hold for the journey down to Prachuap Beach.
Once out of Bangkok and travelling on the main Route 4 the road is quite straight forward and clear.
Normally for my trip planning, it is enough to use the Google map for the general direction and then use live Google Map data on a phone, to finish the last few kilometres.
That usually gets me to the final hotel or tourist destination without too much trouble, although sometimes on the 3G network the data can lag a bit, so it is best to drive more slowly once almost there.
On the road out of Bangkok there are plenty of petrol stations that have great facilities.
Usually there are noodles, Amazon coffee or even a 7-11 on site as well as toilets.
The drive was uneventful and well before lunch we arrived just in front of Prachuap Beach and stopped near Wat Khao Chong Kaeo to have a walk around.
To get to Wat Khao Chong Kaeo we had to pass through the night market that was in the process of being set up, ready for the evening rush of Thai tourists.
The weather was sunny and around 30 Celcius and we grabbed a couple of bottles of water from one of the stalls, before making the climb to the top of the mount.
The temple had a stairway flanked by yellow ballustrades leading all the way to the top
As we started to climb the steps the monkeys would dart around us and over into the trees.
They weren't a nuisance, but if you have any loose food be careful they don't grab it off you and run away.
About a third of the way up the stairs was a small resting place shaded from the hot sun.
It was a welcome place to sit and catch a breath before continuing up the steps and there were many other people taking the same opportunity to have a rest; there were even a few monkeys resting there also.
As we went higher and higher the view of the surrounding town and bay became evident.
Although the walk was tiring it wasn't that difficult if you just kept plodding on.
There was one more resting place before reaching the final destination at the top of the mount.
From the top there are various vantage points looking in different directions and there is some shade from the sun.
You can move between the different lookouts and see Ao Noi and Ao Prachuap, as well as the inland area over to the mountains separating Myanmar and Thailand.
The sea breeze was a pleasant relief from the heat, as it wafted over us.
People often say the descending a mountain is harder than the ascent, and so it is with temple steps.
By the time we got to the bottom of the temple stairs our legs were shaking like jelly and we needed to seek refreshment from the market stalls again, as all the water had been consumed on the climb to the top.
After recovering from the temple climb, we continued our journey to the Prachuap Beach Hotel, which was only a few kilometres farther along the seafront.
There are not many multi storey buildings in Prachuap, so it was easily identified and we stopped outside Building One to check where we should park.
There were renovations in progress but we were told to go down the side soi to the other side of the building; park the car and check-in.
Our room was not quite ready so we waited in the foyer and the older lady came to speak to us.
I don't know if she was the owner or manager, but she was very helpful in telling us all about Prachuap and the different places to go eat and the interesting sights around the place.
We got some good ideas from her for the coming days.
Our room was located on the fourth floor of Building Two, which was just across the road.
This is the newer building of the Prachuap Beach Hotel and even though it is set back a street from the sea, it still has great views of the sea and the limestone cliffs.
Building Two also has a large car park, which is very convenient if you drive down to Prachuap Beach.
Building One of the Prachuap Beach Hotel is the older building, but it looked like it was being renovated when we arrived.
Some of the rooms on the front section of Building One have fabulous views of the bay and mountains at either end.
It will be interesting to see the new pricing for this building once the renovations are complete.
Now Prachuap beach is not all that exciting, as the sea comes nearly up to the seawall and there is really no beach to speak of.
Apart from a couple of sections, you really cannot sit on the beach.
So what is there to do in Prachuap Beach?
Well there is a long promenade the length of the bay, there is large pier that is used for fishing or just for walking on.
At the Northerly end, just before you get to the Wat Khao Chong Kaeo temple there is the night market.
The night market has all sorts of food available, as well as an on street massage for just 100 baht for 30 minutes.
Massage is foot or neck and shoulder and I would highly recommend trying the neck and shoulder massage as it is very relaxing.
There are also three outdoor seafood restaurants next to the street market.
One evening we ate at one and I must admit I have never been served food so quickly, and although it was tasty, it had a little too much salt for my liking.
At the back of the street market there is the thump of loud music and here you will find an evening aerobics dance class; just bring your shoes and leotard and join in.
In the evening, people seemed to congregate along the promenade and set out their mat and eat with the family.
It was hard to tell if these were local people or Thai people on holiday.
About 500 metres from the Prachuap Beach hotel is the entrance to the Ao Manao Wing 5 Air Force base.
These Air Force guys really have got the best beach all to themselves and so if you ever do come to Prachuap then you must visit Ao Manao beach.
There is no charge to enter Ao Manao Beach and you could easily cycle there from the town, as the beach is only a couple of kilometers from the Air Base entrance.
Ao Manao beach area is set out with deckchairs, umbrellas and mats that can be rented by the day.
Food and drinks can be served at your table if you wish.
If you bring your own mat, then you should sit down the far end of the beach under the Casuarina trees.
On the roadside are plenty of restaurants and cafes, so you will have lots of choices of things to eat.
Toilets are available for washing and showering in after a swim, but there was a nominal charge for the use of these facilities.
Ao Manao beach has its own hotel called Fachomkluen hotel.
This hotel gives preference to Thai Service personnel and so you may have difficulty staying on a weekend.
Weekdays should be fine, unfortunately there is no English website or booking system and so you have to call or email to book.
The link to the fachomkluen website is here
In the future I would like to revisit this place and stay at the Farchomkluen hotel as it is reasonably priced and is in a great location.
Standard pricing for the hotel is below, but sometimes they have promotional prices that are worth looking out for if you live in Thailand and can take advantage of near term offers.
Prachuap is known as the three bays, Ao Manao, Ao Prachuap and Ao Noi and during our visit we got to go to all three bays.
Another interesting Thailand Buddhist temple to visit is located in Ao Noi, and not surprisingly it is called Wat Ao Noi.
As you drive North from Prachuap Beach you cannot miss the wooden temple on the right.
At the front is what looks like a newly constructed timber temple with large Naga leading from the front steps to the boht.
The interior of the boht is all constructed from teak wood and is finely carved in ornate patterns.
Once you leave the boht, continue walking along the temple road to the right.
If you walk down the back of the temple grounds, then there are some steps leading up the mountain, leading to a cave containing a reclining Buddha image.
It seems of note that one of the Buddha images is laying on its left side, which is unusual as most reclining Buddha images lie on the right side.
As you ascend further there are some side steps to to residences supported on pillars with a Naga staircase.
Don't worry this cliff climb is not as difficult as Wat Khao Chong Kaeo, but it leads to a couple of caves, each with a reclining buddha image.
The bay overlooked by the temple seems to be unnamed and itself seems to be mainly a fishing boat port, with lots of fishing activity going on.
There did not seem to be anything tourist related in the area as most of the activity appeared to relate to commercial fishing.
Google maps shows a couple of wineries in the area, but not really much in terms of accommodation and restaurants.
The headland gives a safe anchorage for the local fishing boats from the prevailing winds and storms that pass through from the Gulf of Thailand.
The views as you climb up the steep steps are not really spectacular, but the cave is worth the walk if you ever get to Ao Noi Temple.
As you reach the top of the steps there is a cave in front of you.
The cave has electric lighting, so you won't need a torch to find your way.
Inside the cave is the first of two Buddha images; this one is laying on its right side, which is the more common pose.
As you walk farther into the cave then there is another chamber with a second reclining Buddha image.
In this chamber the Buddha image is laying on its left side.
There are about 32 full size seated Buddha images draped in gold cloth, arranged in rank and file near the head.
Inside the cave I could hear some bats screeching, although I did not get to see any hanging from the roof.
After taking some photographs we turned around and headed for the cave exit and back down the stairs.
As we exited the cave another thunderstorm passed over us and as we had no umbrella it was a case of go as fast as possible without slipping on the steps.
Halfway down the steps is a small shelter, so we waited for the worst of the storm to pass over before continuing.
Wat Ao Noi is certainly worth a visit if you ever come to Prachuap Beach.
The seafood in Prachuap Beach is certainly worth trying.
Thailand seafood is some of the best in the world and being so close to the fishing boats it is sure to be fresh.
There are many restaurants along the seafront in Prachuap, but on our short trip to Prachuap Beach, it only gave us one opportunity to visit a seafood restaurant.
When facing the sea, turn left out of the Prachuap Beach Hotel and within about 50 metres there is a place called 77 Seafood.
The restaurant doesn't look much, but outside they have all the fresh seafood on display, so we sat down and ordered.
Our order consisted of fresh crabs, some mixed seafood and a large fish with lemongrass and chilli and a large Leo.
The final bill was less than 1000 baht, so this was not expensive at all
As we chose to eat earlier than usual, we sat down to eat at around 6:30 pm and were the first table seated out on the footpath.
We chose to sit outside so we had the view of the sea, but there was indoor seating as well.
The real test of any good restaurant, is how many people it serves.
However, although it was quiet when we arrived, by the time we were ready to leave at around 08:00 pm, the restaurant was packed inside and out.
This just goes to show how popular 77 Seafood Restaurant really is.
Now although we stayed in the Prachuap Beach Hotel, there are two other large hotels available in the Prachuap Beach area.
There were many signs on the streets indicating rooms for rent, from about 350 baht, so there are certainly some good deals on places to stay in this town if you are on a budget.
Accomodation is certainly on the cheaper end and the lady from the hotel told us that many foreigners come here and book a room for 6-months and just do local shopping and can live very cheaply.
I can well believe it as Prachuap Beach is not expensive at all.
If this sounds like the place for you then check the price and availability of the Prachuap Beach Hotel at this Agoda link.
My general take out for this area, is that it is pretty much geared to Thais and the pricing is on that basis.
The Prachuap Beach Hotel was certainly good value and I would certainly stay there again.
The hotel was clean, comfortable and located close to the seafront in Prachuap.
In fairness the town of Prachuap was nothing special, but there were a lot of night markets and activities going on and the traffic on the roads could best be described as very light.
The best beach at Ao Manao is certainly a draw card if you like beaches and there are nearby attractions to keep you occupied.
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