A Day-Trip Guide to Phetchaburi
The Pulling Crab Festival is the perfect excuse to take a drive south, where fresh seafood and Sukhothai period architecture await.
People mostly think of Phetchaburi as a brief stop-off to buy snacks like khanom moh gang (coconut pudding), visit Pranakorn Khiri Historical Park (Khao Wang) and strolll down the famous Cha-Am beach, but there’s actually much, much more to explorefrom royal architecture to riverside markets.
Begin your day at Cha-Am beach by visiting the Saphanhin community at Poo Chak Bridge (Pulling Crab Bridge) for a glimpse of the traditional fisherman’s lifestyle. As the name suggests, the highlight here is the blue crabs kept in nets hanging from the bridge, which the fishermen retrieve when they are ready to be sold. Get a taste of the crabs, or other seafood like squid or scallops, by asking the fishermen to cook it for you on the spot. The price of a blue crab depends on the size: B200-250 per kilogram for small and medium, and over B300 for bigger ones. Now is the right time to visit, with the Pulling Crab Festival, featuring a seafood fair and crab catching competition, running until Feb 17. More information at TAT Petchaburi, 032-471005/6.
As an old royal city, Phetchaburi has a long and interesting history. One must-visit attraction is Phra Nakhon Khiri (Petchakasem Rd., 032-401-006, 032-425-600), otherwise known as Khao Wang, an ancient palace built by King Rama IV, sat on the top of a mountain. There are two options to visit the palace: use the cable car service or just take a walk (about 1km). Just beware the resident monkeys and avoid carrying any food that might take their fancy. If Khao Wang’s a little too commonplace, why not visit Wat Mahathat Worawihan (Damnoenkasem Rd., Muang, Petchaburi). Built in the Sukhothai period, the royal temple bears a new coat of history in the form of political murals painted by local artists. To learn more about the area’s history, contact Ajarn Kittipong ‘Jiab’ Puengtang (083-277-6107), who can also show you Phetchaburi’s ancient craft collection, which features items that date back a thousand years. After all the sightseeing, enjoy lunch at Guay Tiew Jay Lang (Damnoernkasem Rd., open daily 8am-8pm, 081-527-5323). Order the delicious beef noodles and have it with chili sauce, as one does in Petchaburi.
The river plays a significant role in the lives of locals who have deep-rooted beliefs about it since King Rama V used water from the Phetchaburi River for his royal rituals. Organize a boat trip to get a closer insight into the ways of life here and a better view of the wonderful scenery. The trip sets off for Wat Bandaitong, whose beauty was much-admired by the famous Thai poet Sunthorn Phu from the early Rattanakosin era. Before heading back to shore, ask to drop by Suan Chompoo Paitoon (Paitoon Rose Apple Farm, 081-995-1823) on the other side of the river. Here you can buy rose apples for half the price compared to the market in town (about B200/kg). End your boat trip in romantic fashion by taking in the sunset or extending your trip into the night to watch the fireflies. (Contact Khun Larn at 089-126-0247 to arrange a boat tour.) Afterwards, indulge yourself with dinner at Srisawat Restaurant (Phetkasem Rd., opposite Phetchaburi bus station, open daily 9am-8pm, 032-425-908). Don’t miss their signature dishes: the mhee grob (crispy fried noodle, B80) and phad phed pla grob (crispy fish with chili paste, B120).
Driving is the easiest and most convenient way to reach Phetchaburi, since it’s only 2 hours from Bangkok. Drive along Rama 2 Road until you reach Petchkasem Road then continue for another 30 kilometers. Other options are to catch the train from Hua Lamphong to Phetchaburi or Cha-Am stations or to take the bus from the Southern Bus Terminal on Boromrachachonnanee Road. Tickets are approximately B120.
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