Home to a rich cultural heritage and Thailand’s largest national park, this region remains remarkably untouched by tourism despite its many charms.
Phetchaburi is one of Thailand’s oldest towns with a historic riverside area dotted with old temples and traditional shop houses. Venture into rolling, green forests towards the west, near its border with Myanmar or explore the beaches on the east coast.
Several major Southeast Asian kingdoms have ruled Phetchaburi throughout its long history. Notice how these various cultures have left their mark on Phetchaburi’s architecture. Distinguished by its 138-foot (42-meter) white shrine, the temple of Wat Mahathat shows noticeable Khmer influences. Visit Wat Yai Suwannaram temple, which is known for its beautiful Ayutthaya-period murals.
Spend some time exploring the 19th-century Phra Nakhon Khiri Historical Park, a palace that is still occasionally used by the Thai royal family. Spread across several hilltops, the former Royal Residence has been converted into an interesting museum. Watch out for the intrusive wild monkeys that also call these hills home.
See the reclining Buddha statues in the Tham Khao Luang caves and visit the region’s beaches, including Haad Puk Tian . While these beaches don’t compare to the jaw-dropping beauty of those found further south, they’re still pleasant places for strolling along the water or enjoying some fresh seafood.
Explore Kaeng Krachan National Park, an almost endless stretch of caves, waterfalls and craggy slopes. An unusual mix of tropical evergreen and deciduous forests, this park is able to support an incredibly diverse array of wildlife. Look for Asian blac k bears, elephants, tigers and some of the more than 400 bird species . Phetchaburi is generally overlooked by Western tourists, which means that this stunning park remains pristine and undisturbed.
Located on the main route for trains heading south from Bangkok, Phetchaburi is an easy stopover on the way to the Thai islands. It’s best to avoid visiting during the rainy season from August to November, when the wet conditions can prevent exploration of Kaeng Krachan National Park. Don’t forget to try khanom mo kaeng, the town’s famous dessert, a sweet egg custard.