The dream of visiting Thailand had been a persistent thought in our minds for an extended period. In 2021, we had already purchased tickets, full of excitement for exploring a country rich in culture, history, and natural beauty. However, the pandemic threw a twist into our plans, forcing multiple flight postponements until eventually, our journey was cancelled. Despite these setbacks, we continued with our lives, focusing on work and daily routines. Yet, the dream of Thailand persisted, as per the timeless wisdom of “The Alchemist”: “Whoever you are, or whatever it is that you do, when you really want something, it’s because that desire originated in the soul of the universe.” And true to these words, dreams do manifest.
Our dream came true towards the end of this year, as we resolved not to wait any longer and began organizing our much-anticipated trip. After careful contemplation, we set our sights on Hua Hin, a charming beach resort town located in the northern part of the Malay Peninsula in Thailand. The decision was influenced by my partner’s discovery of a Muay Thai gym where he was eager to train. Conveniently, a former colleague of mine from the U.K., who comes from Hua Hin, and his girlfriend, a real estate agent in the area, provided additional reasons for choosing this destination.
With plans to stay in Hua Hin for a few months, we aim to explore as much of the region as possible during our stay. In our most recent weekend adventure, we maximized our day in Hua Hin, hitting two birds with one stone by exploring both Phraya Nakhon Cave and Khao Daeng Viewpoint
Choose sensible footwear, as we witnessed some daring souls attempting the descent in platform sandals, an attempt that looked far from graceful:) The sun-exposed areas called for protective clothing or sunscreen.
Also, : signs along the way reminded visitors to wear polite clothing, emphasizing covered sleeves and trousers with below-the-knee length. Respecting tradition and culture should be a priority to avoid inadvertently acting as an ignorant tourist.
Situated in Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, Hua Hin, Thailand, the cave is a hidden gem covering an expansive 98-square-kilometer area. Established in 1966, this marine national park stands as Thailand’s first coastal national park, located approximately an hour’s drive from Hua Hin. To access the Phraya Nakhon Cave from the small seaside town of Bang Pu, visitors have the option to either rent a boat or embark on a scenic walk across Tian Mountain. Opting for the latter, we discovered that boat trips were unavailable during our visit due to high waves. For those considering a boat ride, it’s advisable to check the conditions beforehand.
The initial leg of the walk involved a 30-minute trek, navigating up and down hills to reach the pristine Laem Sala Beach. Though the path had a few rocky sections demanding careful attention, it remained stable overall.
After reaching Laem Sala Beach, a haven of tranquility, we took a moment to rest in the middle of the shades of towering palm trees. The turquoise waters and gentle waves created a serene atmosphere, untouched by crowds or vendors. The beach area also has a smaller visitor center, a restaurant, accommodations, a camping ground, and shower/toilet facilities.
Continuing our journey, a subsequent 30-minute walk took us to the Phraya Nakhon Cave. This part of the hike primarily involved ascending a hill to an elevation of 430 meters, followed by a steady descent to the first cave chamber. Inside, we were amazed by stalactites and stalagmites, mineral formations that hung from the ceiling and rose from the floor, creating a visual spectacle that looked like a dry waterfall. The descent led us to the second sinkhole, connected by a famous walkway. As we approached, sunlight streamed at a specific angle, illuminating a majestic beam and creating a spectacular and photogenic view.
At the top of the hole stood the “death bridge,” named for the unfortunate fate of many wild animals that had fallen from it. The penetrating sunlight illuminated the Khuha Kharuehat Pavilion, a temple-like construction built in 1890 for the visit of King Rama V. Subsequent kings, including Rama VII, had left their signatures on the chamber walls during their visits. The entire atmosphere inside the caves exuded peace and spirituality, accentuated by the natural sunlight nourishing the trees within, creating a magical setting. Numerous rocks provided perfect spots for contemplation, prayer, or simply enjoying the surroundings. On the return journey, a stop at the Laem Sala Beach restaurant allowed for refreshments and the use of facilities. Once back in Bang Pu, our driver awaited us, ready to transport us to the next leg of our adventure—the Khao Daeng viewpoint. Tickets for both locations (cave and viewpoint) were conveniently purchased at Bang Pu for 200 Thai baht per person.
Approximately 10-15 minutes by car from Phraya Nakhon Cave, the Khao Daeng Viewpoint beckoned with its promise of a 360-degree panorama of villages, sea, and mountains. The starting point offered the opportunity to purchase essentials such as water and mosquito repellent, preparing visitors for the ascent up Khao Daeng Mountain.
The climb, spanning about 400 meters through bushes, necessitated using the tickets purchased at Phraya Nakhon Cave for entry. Though we embarked on our journey during lunchtime hours, we were informed that the optimal time for enjoying the view was at sunrise, early in the morning.
The ascent, marked by yellow arrows painted on rocks, presented a challenge, especially as the path lacked a clear footpath. The initial part was relatively easier, but as we ascended, it gradually became more demanding. The rocky path required some climbing, and with no handrails available, holding onto trees or rocks was essential. Sensible footwear became a necessity, with flip flops or sandals strongly discouraged. Our ascent, taking approximately 20 minutes, was influenced by the intense midday heat and the uncertainty of what lay ahead. Overcoming my fear of heights became part of the challenge, but the breathtaking view from the summit made the effort worthwhile.
The summit itself, a combination of rocks, offered limited flat surfaces, but there were areas conducive to comfortable seating for observation. The panoramic view encompassed shrimp farms, villages, sea and beaches, temples, and mountains. Turning around revealed a different scene in each direction, and with a lack of wind, we were able to capture stunning photographs.
Descending posed its own challenges, as the steep terrain featured sharp rocks. However, with attention, non-slippery shoes, and a touch of common sense—grabbing onto rocks or trees for support—the descent proved manageable.
In conclusion, both the Phraya Nakhon Cave and Khao Daeng Viewpoint offered an enriching experience despite the challenging conditions. If you find yourself in Hua Hin, I wholeheartedly recommend exploring both locations, as it’s entirely feasible to enjoy both attractions in a single day. 😊