Phetchaburi

Phetchaburi (เพชรบุรี) - pronounced and sometimes spelled Phetburi - is the provincial capital of Phetchaburi Province.

Understand

Phetchaburi is the capital city of Phetchaburi Province, about 120 km southwest of Bangkok. The city is one of the oldest settlements in Thailand, mentioned in historical records dating to the 8th century, and having significant standing artifacts dating to the 12th century. There are numerous temples in and around the city centre and market area, in addition to the Royal Palace, known informally as Khao Wang, that dominates the skyline. The city is on the River Phet ("diamond" in Thai), which originates in Kaeng Krachan National Park and flows into the Gulf of Siam at Baan Laem.

Phetchaburi is a predominantly agricultural province, and the city reflects this with a large and thriving traditional market, buzzing with activity from pre-dawn until mid-day, and replete with the aromas of everything. It is very much a working city, with few tourists or the infrastructure to support them.

Get in

From Bangkok, the blue-white express buses (Bus 977, Bus 72) from Bangkok's Southern Bus Terminal (Sai Tai Mai) (dark blue ticket booth 89, departure Platform 6) will take you directly to Phetchaburi's bus terminal, which is adjacent to a night market. Express buses leave Bangkok every two hours between 11:00 and 17:00, and you should allow two hours for the journey, which will cost 112 baht. There are also minibuses, same ticket booth and departure platform, but they do not provide extra space for bigger pieces of luggage. Take care to avoid the blue, white and orange buses as they will stop many times and will take much longer to reach Phetchaburi.

You can also reach Phetchaburi by train from Hualamphong Station. The journey normally takes around four hours, but can occasionally take longer. This will cost 100-250 baht, depending on the type of train.

A taxi from Bangkok should cost no more than 2,000 baht and should take around two hours.

Get around

Phetchaburi itself is blissfully free of traffic snarls, except on the main north-south highway that bisects the province, but by-passes the town.

There are no meter taxis. There are tuk-tuks, motorcycle taxis, and for a slow cruise around the market area, plenty of traditional two-seat pedal-power tricycle taxis. Whatever your means of transportation, it would be a good idea to have your destination written down in Thai for the driver.

For longer journeys around the province there are local buses (trucks with benches) available from the market area, but you need to ask the drivers for their destinations (you will quickly be directed to the correct bus).

Most of the important temples, except Khao Wang, are within walking distance of the market area.

See

Phra Thinang Wechayan Wichien Prasat, Phra Nakhon Khiri historical park

Buy

In Phetchaburi you can buy all of the staples of daily life, but as regards souvenirs, there are just a few small but adequate shops around the base of the cable car that serves the Khao Wang Palace. For Thai silk and clothing, the Big C hypermarket on the main highway carries a modest selection, as do a handful of shops in the market area.

Serious souvenir-hunters might wish to head south about 65 km to Hua Hin, where there are plenty of high-class souvenir shops.

Phetchaburi Province is famous throughout Thailand for its Thai dessert, khanom Thai, delicious candy-like finger food made from egg, palm sugar, coconut and a binding agent, usually crushed beans or flour. The main north-south highway is dotted with large stores offering a bewildering variety of such sweetmeats, if your waistline can cope.

Eat

Like all Thai cities, Phetchaburi has hundreds of restaurants and cafes serving almost every variety of Thai food. Many of them specialise in just a few menu items, so the trick is to decide what you want to eat before you decide on where to eat. There are almost no English language signs or menus, so specific recommendations are not especially helpful. On the other hand, whichever of these cafes or restaurants you choose to frequent, your chances of not being served a wholesome Thai dish are very low.

If you wish to be "safe," the two hotels mentioned below have restaurants that will likely not disappoint you. In addition, the Big C has several Western-style franchises under its roof (e.g., Chester's Grill, KFC), with air conditioning and English language menus. But be advised this establishment suffers from severe noise pollution.

Apart from a few Chinese restaurants, the Big C franchises and two pizza parlours in peripheral locations, anything other than Thai food is almost impossible to find in Phetchaburi city.

Drink

Sleep

The hotels in the market area are a better option, as they are mostly old converted shop-houses, aimed at both tourists and commercial travellers.

Go next

Phetchaburi is 16km from the coast. The nearest easily accessible seaside village is Chao Samran, which has a few small hotels and guesthouses, and one luxury resort. It is a tranquil spot, ideal for seekers of peace and solitude (except on long weekends). Legend has it that this beach was a favourite place of relaxation for Thai royalty during the 17th and 18th centuries when Ayutthaya was the capital of Thailand.

Puek Tian is a few kilometres to the south of Chao Samran, and is somewhat larger and more popular, although dilapidated. It is distinguished by the very large statues of imaginary figures from Thai literature dotting the beach area.

About 40 km south of Phetchaburi lies Cha-am, a rapidly developing resort with a fine long beach that is immensely popular with Thai families. There are also many good hotels and guest houses aimed at visitors from overseas, especially from Northern Europe. The ordinary fan buses take about 90 min and cost 40 baht.

The whole of the western half of the province is given over to the Kaeng Krachan National Park, the largest such park in Thailand, and an evergreen jungle that remains mostly unexplored to this day. The park headquarters can provide details of hiking, rafting and camping opportunities (Tel: +66 32 459291).

Routes through Phetchaburi

Bangkok Ratchaburi  N  S  Hua Hin Butterworth
Bangkok Ratchaburi  N  S  Cha-am Sadao



This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, September 05, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.