Phetchaburi, a captivating province in Thailand, offers a plethora of hidden gems for intrepid travellers seeking an authentic and immersive experience mostly found in Cha-Am. A stone’s throw from Phetchaburi, Hua Hin is a coastal paradise nestled along the Gulf of Thailand and should also be on your travel bookmark if you’re visiting the neighbouring province.
From historical landmarks to culinary delights, this lesser-known destination promises a unique adventure for those who want to venture off beyond Bangkok. In this article, we will delve into 10 hidden reasons to visit Phetchaburi and Hua Hin.
1. Rai Krang Community
Discover Rai Krang Community in Phetchaburi, a hidden gem steeped in culture and heritage. Immerse yourself in the tranquil ambiance and gain insights into the rural way of life in Thailand.
Explore the Toddy palm tree plantations, witnessing the skilled climbers extracting sap from the tall trees, providing a glimpse into their farming traditions and the production of palm sugar.
There are just a handful of these rare tree climbers left!
In addition to its agricultural charm, Rai Krang Community offers engaging cultural activities and workshops, including the opportunity to learn and cook classic Phetchaburian dishes.
Whether you’re seeking an intimate visit or organising a corporate team event, these workshops provide a unique and immersive experience in this culturally rich village.
2. Gaeng Hua Nhod Curry
Sick of Tom yum? A trip to Phetchaburi would be incomplete without indulging in Gaeng Hua Nhod Curry. This hidden Thai dish is a local specialty, consisting of either fish or meat cooked in a flavourful curry paste made from Toddy palm fruit, local herbs and spices along with coconut milk. Savouring this authentic sweet, spicy, and slightly bitter curry is a must for food enthusiasts visiting Phetchaburi.
The final touch to this delicious Gaeng Hua Nhod curry is the addition of either fish or meat, which are typically lightly fried or grilled before being added to the simmering curry. The fish absorb the flavours of the curry, and their tender meat blends perfectly with the creamy and aromatic sauce.
When visiting Phetchaburi, trying Gaeng Hua Nhod with jasmine rice is a must-do for food enthusiasts. It is a dish that reflects the region’s culinary heritage and showcases the unique flavours of the province.
3. Toddy Palm Desserts
Palm trees require a tropical climate and thrive in the fertile soil of Phetchaburi. Strangely, the Toddy palm fruit is known as ‘Sea Coconut’ in Singapore and Malaysia, but that’s strictly speaking more of a nickname.
One of the primary products derived from Toddy Palms is the sweet sap, also known as “Toddy juice,” which is collected by skilled climbers known as Taan Yao Taap mentioned previously.
The Toddy Palm industry in Phetchaburi extends beyond the sap. The Toddy Palm fruit, known as Taan Kae is used to make a variety of traditional desserts and snacks.
The ripe fruit is sweet and jelly-like, making it a popular ingredient in Thai desserts such as Luk Tan Loi Keaw (Toddy Palm fruit in syrup/coconut mulk) and Khanom Tan (Toddy palm cake)
Exploring Toddy palm desserts is a delightful way to immerse yourself in the culinary delights of Phetchaburi.
4. Petchuburi Old Town
The Old Town of Phetchaburi is a charming neighbourhood steeped in history and architectural wonders. Stroll through its narrow streets and marvel at the well-preserved wooden houses, vibrant markets, and ornate temples.
Uncover hidden treasures, such as quaint cafes, local eateries, and even a private tribute to the late Thai movie action star Mitr Chaibancha.
One of the famous dishes to try in the old town is the Khao Chae (rice in water). As an Asian myself, it seems quite odd to see rice in ice water. However, this traditional Thai delicacy is a culinary curiosity, combining fragrant jasmine rice, with light and flavourful iced jasmine-scented water along with side accompaniments like radish and stingray.
The dish is traditionally enjoyed during the hot summer months and offers a refreshing balance of textures and flavours.
5. Phra Nakhon Kiri Historial Park
Phra Nakhon Khiri Historical Park, also known as Khao Wang is a captivating landmark in Phetchaburi, Thailand, and features a majestic royal palace built in the 19th century with a blend of Thai, Chinese, and European architectural styles.
Visitors can enjoy exploring the ornate palace buildings, visit revered religious sites like Phra That Chom Phet and Phra That Mongkhon Khiri as well as take in breathtaking panoramic views of the countryside and the Gulf of Thailand and
Whether hiking or taking a tram, the journey to the hilltop is part of the experience, surrounded by lush forests and wildlife.
A little note to be careful not to feed the temple monkeys roaming around! They are known to steal visitors’ bags and food if tempted. Phra Nakhon Kiri Historical Park is a must-visit destination for Thai history buffs and nature lovers alike.
6. Wat Huay Mongkol
Located in the scenic town of Hua Hin, Wat Huay Mongkol is a revered Buddhist temple famous for its towering statue of the revered ancient Buddhist monk Luang Phor Thuad. Standing at 12 meters tall and 10 meters wide, the statue radiates serenity and draws visitors seeking blessings and protection.
Devotees and visitors can explore smaller statues and shrines dedicated to revered monks and deities, engaging in prayer and incense offerings.
A visit to Wat Huay Mongkol offers a profound spiritual experience, providing insight into Thai culture and leaving a lasting impression of devotion and tranquility.
If you would like to seek a blessing, obtain some incense and small gold paper to stick on the various statues around – it is believed that the body part you stick your gold paper on is where you will receive your blessing.
7. Exquisite beach resorts
Cha-am and Hua Hin are home to a plethora of resorts that offer diverse experiences, from luxurious beachfront retreats to trendy and contemporary properties. Here are a couple of resorts that I can personally attest to:
Sofitel SO Hua Hin is a luxurious beachfront resort located specfically in Cha Am instead of Hua Hin despite the name – but it’s close enough I reckon.
This exquisite property offers guests a sophisticated and elegant retreat with its impeccable design, world-class amenities, and stunning views of the Gulf of Thailand. The resort boasts spacious and beautifully appointed rooms and suites, each thoughtfully designed to provide comfort and relaxation.
Whether lounging by the pool, strolling along the private beach, or simply enjoying the huge resort’s luxurious rooms, guests are sure to create lasting memories during their stay.
On the other hand, The Standard Hua Hin is a relatively new and contemporary resort situated in a stunning beachfront location. And yes, it is indeed in Hua Hin.
This vibrant property embraces a modern and eclectic style, appealing to discerning travelers seeking a unique American beachfront experience.
The Standard offers a variety of accommodations, from stylish rooms to spacious suites, each exuding a bright and cheery ambiance.
Additionally, The Standard prides itself on creating a lively and social atmosphere, with its chic design, lively ambiance, and emphasis on communal experiences.
Phetchaburi has no lack of great beach resorts!
8. Monsoon Valley Vineyard
Visitors to Monsoon Valley Vineyard can embark on guided tours, immersing themselves in the art of winemaking and the vineyard’s rich history. This expansive vineyard spans over 1,000 acres and boasts lush vineyards, rolling hills, and breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside.
Guests can explore the sprawling vineyards, learn about the many different grape varieties grown on-site, and witness firsthand the meticulous care and attention given to every step of the winemaking process.
One of the highlights of a visit to Monsoon Valley Vineyard is the opportunity to indulge in wine tastings. The vineyard’s tasting rooms offer a serene and elegant setting where visitors can savour a selection of Monsoon Valley’s award-winning wines.
The onsite restaurant serves delectable Thai and international cuisine, perfectly paired with the vineyard’s wines. If you’ve never experienced Thai wines, this is a classy spot for you.
9. Secret Chef Tables
Phetchaburi offers a unique dining experience with its extremely small and private chef tables. These exclusive culinary encounters provide an opportunity to savour exceptional Thai cuisine prepared by talented local chefs. Engage in conversations with the chefs, learn about the ingredients, and witness the artistry behind each dish as it is prepared and presented.
Raan Ball in Cha Am is one such example where a small front area has been carved out for its open kitchen and dining, while the rest of the unit remains as a house and store. Chef Ball offers a unique and personalized dining experience, combining the comforts of personal Western-style dining with the sophistication of fine dining.
This intimate setting creates a personalized and attentive atmosphere, accommodating a maximum of just eight people.
The presence of a professional restaurant chef further enhances the allure of Raan Ball, ensuring that guests are treated to a culinary journey that surpasses expectations.
If you prefer more localised options, there are other hidden chef tables as well such as Ranjuanjai where you can get a more rustic experience.
Private dining chef tables are a great way to add to the eclectic mood of dining.
10. Hua Hin Night Market
The Hua Hin Night Market is a vibrant and bustling market located in the heart of Hua Hin City. Situated along Dechanuchit road, this lively market comes to life as the sun sets, offering visitors a delightful blend of shopping and food.
It serves as a hub of activity, where vendors set up their stalls and display an impressive array of goods, ranging from clothing and accessories to handicrafts and souvenirs. Bargaining is a common practice here, so be ready for that.
One of the highlights of the Hua Hin Night Market is the tantalising street food scene, especially the block with multiple seafood restaurants. From freshly grilled seafood and flavourful Thai curries (you can find Gaeng Hua Nhod Curry here) to mouthwatering desserts and refreshing fruit shakes, the market is a haven for street food.
Sampling different dishes from the various food stalls is a must-do experience for visitors looking to immerse themselves in the vibrant culinary culture of Thailand.
How to get to Phetchaburi and Hua Hin
Travelling to Phetchaburi or Hua Hin is relatively near to Bangkok and easy to get to:
- By Train: Cha-am and Hua Hin both have a railway station that is serviced by regular trains from Bangkok and other major cities in Thailand. The train takes around 2 hours 40 minutes.
- By Bus or Taxi: If you’re in a group, there are affordable bus or minivan services available from Bangkok. Taxis are also available for around 1200 – 2000 THB. By the road, it would take around 2-3 hours depending on traffic.