Phraya Nakhon Cave, in Prachuap Khiri Khan province of Thailand, is by far one of the most serene and magical places I have visited. It is about a 45-minute drive south of Hua Hin inside the Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park. We were dropped off at the parking lot of Ban Pu fishing village where we paid our 200 baht entrance fee and began the first part of the hike which takes about 20 minutes or so up and down a hill to reach Laem Sala Beach. The stairs of the path slowly became a rocky path and there are beautiful views of the coastline along the way. From Laem Sala Beach, there is a trail leading up to the cave which is another 20-30 minutes or so hike. It is steep at places and there are many slippery rocks so flip flops are not recommended. The seas were very rough the day we visited, otherwise there is the option of taking a long tail boat from Ban Pu to Laem Sala Beach hence skipping the first part of the hike. It will take a bit of legwork and you will work up a sweat getting to the cave but it is worth the hike and much more.
This sign at Ban Pu village is a bit misleading since the cave is not right here, but over a hill, cross a beach, and up another hill!
The beginning of the first part of the hike
Views of Ban Pu Village
Up and up we go….
Views of the Gulf of Thailand along the way
Laem Sala Beach where you can rest and take a swim or carry on with the hike.
According to folklore, the cave was named after a local ruler named Nakho Srithammaraja who was forced ashore by an oncoming storm and discovered this cave around 200 years ago. Phraya Nakhon Cave is made of two chambers, both have open ceilings allowing light to shine inside. These large limestone caverns have trees reaching the rooftop sinkholes. Every morning at around 10:30am, sunlight comes into the cave and the rays hit the famous Kuha Karuhas pavilion standing on a small mound inside the main chamber. This royal pavilion was built to commemorate King Rama V’s visit to the cave in 1890. Since then King Rama VII and the recently deceased King Rama IX were also frequent visitors.
The 430 meter ascent to reach the cave
Descending into the cave
Forest within the cave
We arrived the cave a little before 10am and you can see how the sunlight has not yet reached the pavilion.
Kuha Karuhas or Royal Pavilion
King Rama V and King Rama VII’s signatures on the walls of the cave
At around 10:30am the sunlight shines on the pavilion
This is by far my favorite shot, taken from the top of the rocks near the entrance to the cave.
We were fortunate to arrive before the crowds and the atmosphere in the cave was tranquil and mystical. You can’t help but feel that at a certain hour, the rays of sunlight might reveal a secret door leading to another hidden cavern :) The power and beauty of nature never cease to amaze and we sometimes need to be reminded how something so simple can be so breathtaking and beautiful. Don’t miss this if you are in the area!
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