If you’re spending four days in Hua Hin and looking for places to visit, Phraya Nakhon Cave should be on your itinerary. It’s lush, serene and mystical – a spot for contemplation, a spot to explore in, a spot to be in awe of. After an initial hike, a stroll along a secluded beach and one final hike, you’ll arrive at a cave, most people say, looks straight out of an Indiana Jones film.
Everything you need to know before you go
Be prepared to sweat. It gets really hot. Bring bug spray. Wear long pants if you can. Wear good hiking shoes. Bring a spare pair in case yours get wet. Bring your swimmers to cool off at the beach. Buy extra water at the beach restaurant. You can walk from the gate. If you walk from the gate, the hike is divided into two parts. Part one is before the beach and part two is after the beach. If you take the boat, you’ll skip part one of the hike. For some people the boat is not worth it. If you are older or have little kids, taking the boat will break up the hike. Go early to avoid the crowds. The sun hits the cave around 10:00 – 10:30 depending on the season.
The location and cost
It’s located in Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, about an hour from Hua Hin, and is the main attraction.
It costs 200 baht to enter the park. This includes the access to the entire park, the cave and the beach.
There’s a boat that will cut 20 minutes off your hiking time and costs 400 baht, but the hardest part of the hike is after you have been dropped off. If you take the long-tail boat, you’ll have to take off your shoes and wade in the water to get on. There’s no wharf. When it’s too choppy, the boat service will stop.
If you want to save money, you can skip the boat ride and take a break at the beach between the two parts of the hike to the cave.
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The secret beach
Before you arrive at the cave you’ll see the beach. There’s a restaurant there. You can hire a lounge chair and get some sun, have a swim and a bite to eat before you continue your climb to the cave. This is the last stop for water, snacks and toilet before the cave.
Laem Sala Beach is secret and secluded. It’s great for kids to paddle. It has small waves and shallow water with the headland hooking around the beach in the distance. The water is clear. It’s not accessible by car, which make it feel remote. Grass, palm trees and pine trees are the only “structures” you’ll find lining this beach. If you’re just going to the beach you’ll still have to pay the entry fee, but to maximise value most people will hike to the cave.
The beach is a place to catch your breath before the next hike to the cave. Grab a coffee or coke at the restaurant; buy some bottles of water for the road and keep climbing. Stop there again for lunch on your way back.
At the Thai restaurant you can order fried rice and shrimp, green papaya salad that’s not too spicy, bbq meatballs for kids, smoothies, and tea and coffee. You can see the ocean through the trees at this open-air casual restaurant with communal tables. Share a few curries, and stirred dishes with rice and soup. French fries even make an appearance on the menu.
Pick up some extra water and snacks as this is the last pitstop on the way to the cave.
From the beach the path to the cave is about 430m . First you’ll climb about 300 meters of stone steps, which is shaded most of the way, then you descend about 130 meters to enter the cave.
When to go
The busiest times are between 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Arrive at around 10:30 a.m. to see the sun hit the right spot for that perfect Instagram pic. If you get there around 8:30 a.m. you’ll be the first in the cave. You can grab breakfast at the restaurant on the beach.
You can get a guide at the front gate for about 400 baht, or you can walk yourself. There’s lots of signs along the way directing you to the beach and then the cave.
If you go on foot for both hikes, you’ll have great views of the sea and headland along the way, there are also rest stops along the way, with panoramic views.
The path is mainly stones, arranged in a haphazard way that looks natural. After the rain, it gets really slippery, so it’s best to postpone your visit till it gets drier. It’s also not recommend that you go on a rainy day.
Going with kids
If you have little ones, it might be best to carry then on your back in a carrier. It’s a tough hike for kids younger than five. You could take the boat to make the trip easier and then stop at the beach for a snack and drink before doing the final leg of the hike. On the way back, you could take a dip in the ocean to cool off and make a day of it.
It’s your reward at the end of the long hike. In this limestone cave dripping with stalactites and unique rock formations there’s a sunroof where light pours in giving the cave its otherworldly atmosphere. Lush green trees lean towards the light. When the light hits the pavilion, at just the right angle, a detailed shadow is cast with all the upward twists and hooks of the Thai-style roof. Flex your photography muscle looking for that unique perspective. Be a National Geographic photographer for the day. It seems like the kind of place that’s difficult to take a bad photo in.
This place is not only stunning and surreal to experience, it’s also rich in Thai history. The story begins with one of Thailand’s most beloved monarchs visiting the cave in 1890. The pavilion was constructed to commemorate the king’s visit. It was constructed in Bangkok by artisans and then assembled inside the cave. Subsequent kings have visited the pavilion and you can see the signatures of King Chulalongkorn and his son are visible on the cave wall next to the pavilion.
Phraya Nakhon Cave will not disappoint. Add it on your list of things to see and do in Hua Hin. Explore a unique natural phenomena that’s uniquely Thai wrapped in royal history.