The Phraya Nakhon Caves were an unexpected find on this trip. We had initially planned to do absolutely nothing in Hua Hin; just rest and sleep. I was just surfing on the national park nearby and came across a very familiar picture of a temple glowing in a cave, then I remember seeing this picture in “Places to See before You Die” (on Facebook) before. It turned out where we were at Aleenta Resort and Spa is only 40 minutes drive to Laem Sala Beach, which is how to get to see this unique Kuha Karuhas Pavillon built in 1890 for the King in the Phraya Nakhon Caves. The National Park website said it was a 30 minutes walk so we decided to check it out after breakfast.
Firstly, DO NOT be fooled. The entire journey back and forth took 3 hours in the end! We are not the fittest people but I am pretty sure no one can reach the caves and back in 30 minutes because it would be dangerous to be running on the slippery steep tracks. Secondly, I wouldn’t exactly call it a walk in the park. After paying 200baht/pax for entrance fee, the lady told us the caves are 1km away, we began an ascent on jagged rocks (Tip: Wear proper shoes to climb this for more comfort). Then when we thought we have reached the peak of your ascent and perhaps reached the cave, we began the descent.
By now, I was wondering if we somehow missed the cave, but then we see quite a lot of people returning and realized we need to completely descent to ground level. After climbing up and down for around 1km, we were back at ground zero on the beach. (Tip: If you are stopped by a lady who pretends to tear your ticket and offer you a guide at 200baht/pax on the beach, don’t bother. We didn’t take it up and we are glad we didn’t, because no guide can help you for the climb ahead).
After 5 minute walk along the flat beach, then we see a sign that says 430m climb to Phraya Nakhon caves. In my head, I was like “WHAT? At least the lady who collected the entrance fee could have told us it is ONE KM to start the NEXT ascent. NOT ONE KM to the caves”. This climb looked even more rugged, but we were already all the way on the beach, so we started the climb. (Tip: This is a slippery trek so be careful. It is much harder to head down – I saw many fit guys waddling on down steps – so bring trekking sticks if you need to!) There was one lookout along the way so we took a breather. (Oh, and another tip: USE mosquito repellant. I paid the price by itching for few days without preparing repellant).
After around 20 minutes, we finally saw some semblance of a cave and the most difficult steep descent to the base of the cave. We first saw the “Dead Bridge” which is the remaining overarching rocks. After some of the rocks collapsed previously, the caves started to grow some greenery on top of the rubble, giving the cave a very mystical Indiana Jones feeling.
A further walk in to the left deeper into the caves will lead to the historical temple sitting atop a small hill, and beautiful shafts of light penetrating the caves, shining on the historic relic – Kuha Karuhas Pavillon, built for the visit of King Chulalongkorn in 1890. Even though I have seen quite a lot of older historic sites, this location was very special because of its deep setting in the caves and how it was so naturally beautifully illuminated by the sunrays. I felt like I was in one of those RPG games treasure hunting in the cave. Worth every minute of the tough climb and descents into the cave!
The caves were amazing, and the journey back to the car was pretty exhausting, but every step of the 3 hours was worth it!
If there was only 1 place you could visit in the National Park, I highly suggest Phraya Nakhon Caves @ Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park. 2 shots from my phone:
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