Phetchaburi- Prachuap Khiri Khan Thailand from a different perspective!
Even though Bangkok has its own uniqueness in its food, shopping, architecture, customs and much more, far away there is rain fed network of rivers, vast field, nature parks, day and night markets from traditional lifestyles to modern city. Her Majesty Queen Sirikit’s initiatives on reviving heritage handicraft and handloom, creating awareness to protect environment, Eco system learning centres, Hua Hin Artist village, Phetchaburi – Pran Buri has it all. So why should boys have all the fun!!!
Phetchaburi, a province in central Thailand is located 123 kms; about 2 hours drive from Bangkok. Predominantly an agricultural province, the city is one of the oldest dating to 8th century in Thailand. In addition to various beaches, parks, caves and palaces, the city has its unique cultural and learning centres.
THAI SONG DAM CULTURAL CENTER
A group of minority people settled in for more than 200 hundred years having their own culture and traditions. They usually wear black clothes with intricate hand embroidery for special occasion’s clothes. They have their own language and script. The cultural center showcases their culture, food, handicraft they make for their living, etc. the visitors are welcomed by their traditional dance, offered homemade spirits fermented from rice, their unique style of weaving and basket making, local delicacies both vegetarian and non vegetarian. These dishes are freshly made of rice flour, jaggery and coconut without preservatives and are must try. The savouries are blend of local grown spices made into a real spicy paste to be eaten with sticky rice. The center also has age old very skilled traditional handloom units weaving fine cotton and silk.
SIRINART RAJINI ECOSYSTEM LEARNING CENTRE
With 314.4 acres of area, this is the biggest man-made mangrove forest in Thailand. The land followed by Royal initiative was integrated in the reforestation Program in the honour of the 50th Anniversary of the Accession in 1996.The rejuvenation stage of this learning center has 6 stages from land survey to collecting water in pond, digging ranch,, saplings the mangrove plant and plantation. The community as whole from government to school, to private stakeholders participates in the reforestation project. The forest has about 98 types of species and about 850 meters of natural trail with Chakram Tower to have a 360 degrees view of the forest with dancing trees.
BAN KHAO TAO PROFESSIONAL HANDICRAFT CENTRE
Another project initiated by Their Majesties the King and Queen way back in 1964 when they visited Ban Khao Tao and learned that the villagers who were mostly then fishermen stayed away from shores during monsoon and had could barely earn for their living. This project of cotton handloom weaving with a special training to these villagers including women was given so that they earn extra income especially during monsoon. The silk-like durable texture fabric is made of 100% cotton thread and the technique is by using traditional looms. A woman of age as old as 80 years is still active in handloom weaving which is worth experiencing.
HUA HIN BAN SILLAPIN
Stimulate an artist in you! As they say “VISIT THE VILLAGE! PHILOSOPHERS TRAVEL AND LEARN THE THAI WAY OF LIFE”. Also known as Artist Village, located just short drive from Hua Hin is spread over 4 acres was founded in 1998 by Tavee Kesa-ngam a renowned painter and Chumpon Donsakul, an art collector. A quaint place with large galleries of arts and antiques, art studio, house of sculptures and a coffee shop where one can test their own skills in drawing and painting or learn while doing under their guidance. Several pieces of art sculptures are displayed at the entrance and spread over the entire village. There is a separate section for water colour paintings. For art lovers this cultural tourist attraction cum learning centre is worth a visit.
SOMDET PHRA SRINAGARINDRA PARK
Spread across 142 acres, this land was once degraded when His Majesty the King took over and made into an agro-tourism site based on integrated farming system, for environmental conservation and forest rehabilitation. Located at Mu 8, the park is approximately 65 kms from Chumphon town. You will learn about sustainable agriculture that protects the environment, public health, human communities and animal welfare. The lunch at this park is served in a wrapped water lily leaf. The vegetarians can enjoy the delicacies of fresh flowers from the park mixed with natural herbs deep fried and served with warmth and love. A special drink in different flavours is also prepared from the extracts of fresh flowers from the farm. Away from hustle bustle of city life visitors get to learn rice planting, seeding through slingshot, making pain relieving herbal compress ball and herbal balm for aches and cold. You can also enjoy and learn how the rice is separated manually.
KANGHUNTONG SEA SALT SPA
Try a body massage, facial massage or a foot massage or make your own aroma salt. Pamper your senses at this sea salt spa from the salt fields in Phetchaburi, mixed with local herbs making into many superb quality skincare products to smoothen the skin while giving a magnificent glow and complexion. Sea salt is widely used as one of the cooking ingredients, for its qualities rich in iodine, calcium, magnesium, fluoride and iron is a good source for skin cosmetics to help to clean dead skin cells. You can also buy these products after experiencing quality. All the treatments right from soaking your feet in salt water to give you clean soft feet while relieving all tiredness. The special turmeric based facial herbal pack leave your skin soft and supple and has a lasting effect. Other products include moisturisers, face packs, body lotions, scrubs etc.
Other places of interest in Phetchaburi includes Laem Phak Bia environmental Research and Development Project, one of the most important projects of His Majesty the King aimed at improving methods of water conservation and mangrove restoration. Royal Sea Farming project developed by Her Majesty the Queen to solve the problem of dwindling marine resources and have a sustainable marine farming. Another attraction in Hua Hin is its night market where you get variety of souvenirs, clothes and knick-knacks. Treat your eyes and tastes buds with delicious freshly made sea food. It is believed in Thailand that you are lucky if you get a chance to offer alms to Buddhist monks and seek their blessings. It is called as Merit-making whereby one offers daily essentials to monks and get blessed not only yourself but also your ancestors. The divine feeling of being blessed by monks is something one must experience.
Where to stay and eat!
Though Phetchaburi – Pranburi- Hua Hin has various hotels and resorts to suits all budgets, here are few which must be experienced while you are there.
Black Mountain Golf Club
Nestled in the backdrop of mountains, this Golf Course resort is winner of Thailand’s best Golf Course for years together in a row. As the name says the course is surrounded by black granite covered mountains and is located at 25 minutes drive from Hua Hin. Even if you are not staying there, you must try their array of western and Thai dishes over looking Golf Course and mountains.
Dine at Udom Pochana
The most authentic sea food restaurant by the sea side in Pranburi is Udom Pochana. This spacious eating joint is one of the oldest local joint for squids, crabs and other fishes. Do not to forget to order beer or fresh coconut water to quench your thirst.
Aleenta Hua Hin Pranburi Resort and Spa
An award winning boutique Luxury Sea facing resort with each residence having a private pool is highly recommended. A resort which is based on the concept of sustainable development that is everything in this resort is home grown. Right from bakery to condiments to groceries to spirits from natural resources to the world class toiletries is made at the resort. Approximately two and a half hour drive from Bangkok this resort should be experienced to be believed.
Another restaurant located by the sea side in Hua Hin offers great sea food at great prices. One must reach there just before the sunset to enjoy the ambience with live acoustic music in the background with cold breeze. A perfect evening is guaranteed with your romantic partner or even with your family
Devasom Hua Hin Resort
Situated at just 3 hours drive from Bangkok in Hua Hin this beach resort with 24 delightful rooms and villas is perfect for weekend getaway. Vintage yet classy ambience, infinity pool, serene beach and unmatched food with personalised service to die for, makes this resort a must visit.
Hua Hin Marriott Resort and Spa
Gorgeously designed self contained posh rooms facing pool and beach is an ideal place to stay in Hua Hin whether you are there to explore Hua Hin’s rich cultural heritage or for golf or just to relax at the immaculate beach. With 310 spacious rooms and 12 suites the hotel has all the elements of a class property like fine dining, spa, fitness center, never ending swimming pool and empathetic service all but with a difference. The hotel is well equipped with 8 meeting rooms and 9343 sq ft of total meeting space ideal for MICE.
Distance- Phetchaburi- Hua Hin is about 130 kms from Bangkok and is best travelled by road. There are number of buses and taxies available. The city can be travelled by tuktuk a regional mode of transport. Hua Hin is linked by highway to Petchburi and the rest of Prachuap Khiri Khan Province.
Currency- 1 Thai Baht (THB) = 1.92 INR
Visa- Tourist Visa for Thailand is on arrival for Indians for 30 days with a valid return ticket. The visa cost is 1000 Baht and is subject to change.
Food- Street sea is a must try while you stay in Thailand.
Connectivity- It is always advisable to stay connected when you are travelling. Dtac offers Thailand’s best selling SIM card for travellers @199 B for validity of 7 days with free data usage and 15B call credit.