If you want to see one of the region’s most spectacular natural sights, you need to head to Sam Roi Yot National Park.
The park is home to the Phraya Nakhon Cave, inside which is Kukha Karuhas pavilion, the smallest temple in Thailand.
What is one of the province’s most popular tourist attractions, the limestone cave is lined with trees that grow up to the opening in the rooftop.
The cave consists of two main chambers, each with an opening in the rooftop which allows sunlight to shine down and into the cave.
Park officials recently announced that between November and January, from the hours of 10.30 – 11.30 am sunlight will shine through the top of the cave and down onto the pavilion, helping to create a spectacular view.
How to get to the Phraya Nakhon Cave
The Phraya Nakhon Cave is located within the Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park.
To get there you will need to travel by car from Hua Hin to the village of the Bang Pu, which is located by Laem Sala Beach.
The journey from central Hua Hin, which is very scenic, takes approximately one hour by car.
The cave, which is open daily from 8am to 3pm, can be a little challenging to get to but is well worth the effort.
Access to the cave is possible either by boat from Laem Sala Beach or by hiking for about 30 minutes over the hilltop.
The hike consists of part track and part stairs and there are a couple of viewing platforms along the way.
It’s not for everyone though and you will be climbing approximately 450 metres through uneven terrain and forest. During parts of the route, you will need to grab onto hand ropes to support you along the way.
The hike takes approximately 30 minutes and you will need to make sure you are wearing suitable footwear. Trainers or sneakers will be fine but leave your flip flops and sandals at home.
For those who decide to take the boat, the trip can cost from 400 baht, with boats accommodating up to six people.
Boats typically don’t make the trip during high tide or during heavy weather so keep that in mind but you make your trip.
Once you arrive at the Phraya Nakhon Cave an information board displays a map which shows you the layout of the chambers inside the cave.
The first chamber features a series of stalactites and stalagmites which have been formed over hundreds of years.
A wooden walkway then leads through into the second chamber which is where the Kukha Karuhas pavilion is located.
It is here where the light shines down from the roof of the cave onto the pavilion. It’s a spectacular sight and makes for a stunning photograph.
The history of Phraya Nakhon Cave
The cave got its name from an ancient local ruler Nakhon Srithammaraja who is said to have been the first person to discover it over two hundred years ago.
It is thought that Nakhon found the cave after being forced to abandon his ship during a storm. It was when he sought refuge on land that he discovered the cave.
In 1890, ahead of a visit by then King Chulalongkorn (Rama V), a mound was built inside the second chamber of the cave and upon it placed a small pavilion which had been made in Bangkok and assembled inside the cave.
The pavilion was positioned perfectly so that it captures the morning sunlight as it floods into the cave from above.
The cave was later visited by King Prajadhipok (Rama VII), who, like King Chulalongkorn, inscribed his name on the wall inside the cave’s main chamber.
His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Great (Rama IX) is also thought to have visited the cave but unlike his predecessors did not inscribe his name on the wall.
Today, the Phraya Nakhon Cave and the Kukha Karuhas pavilion are iconic symbols of Prachuap Khiri Khan and are a must see for both tourists and locals alike.
Other useful information
Like all national parks in Thailand, people are charged a fee to enter the Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park.
Entrance fees to the park are:
200 baht for foreign adults, 100 baht for foreign children
40 baht for Thai adults, 20 baht for Thai children.
More information is available by calling 032-821568
Or via facebook.com/KhaosamroiyotNationalPark