While the weather is still comparably cool and dry, head 120 km southwest to explore Petchburi, an ancient city with a rich cultural heritage. Whether the family is interested in old palaces, temples or even caves, this city offers it all. Let’s get started…
Phra Ram Ratchaniwet Palace
This European style palace was commissioned by King Rama V in 1910 and was finished in 1916. It was meant to serve as a Royal Residence during the rainy season, but unfortunately, the King passed away before its completion. His successor used the beautiful building to host foreign guests and hold special events for them. Visitors today can get a glimpse of what royal life was like by wandering through the finely designed rooms and admiring the great craftsmanship.
Phra Nakhon Khiri Palace
A few steps away from Ram Ratchaniwet Palace, you will find Phra Nakhon Khiri Historical Park. It’s located on a hill with three peaks, each worth a visit. To get to the top you can take the cable car. A round trip is only THB 40 and offers the possibility for young guests to rest their feet while enjoying the ride. Alternatively, you can walk up and down, which is quite fun as there are many monkeys that like meeting the visitors. But be careful, they will expect you to share your food with them… so it’s best to hide any goodies.
Start with the western peak which is home to another former Royal Residence, Phra Nakhon Khiri Palace. It was built by King Rama IV in 1860 and has a beautiful view of the city and surrounding countryside. Especially for young historians, this is a wonderful place to visit, as many of the King’s personal items are on display and the rooms are still equipped with original furniture.
Then walk along the paved, shady paths (careful, they can be slippery!) to the central peak to visit the Phra That Chom Phet Chedi. It is around 40 meters high and is said to contain relics of the Buddha. From there you can also get a great view of the city and the two other hills a well.
Before heading back down the hill, make sure to stop at the eastern peak to see Chedi Deang, a large red pagoda, and Wat Phra Kaew. It’s built in the same way as Wat Phra Kaew in Bangkok, just a bit smaller, and overlooks the city and the surrounding countryside. With its leafy old trees, it’s a great place for young visitors to have a rest in the shade after so much walking.
The Old City and Wat Mahathat Worawihan
After discovering the palaces, you can head to the city’s old town where narrow streets are lined with wooden shop buildings and market stands. Petchburi is known for delicious Thai sweets flavored with pandan and banana, a great snack to make sure everybody has enough energy to continue exploring.
Feeling refreshed after yummy Thai desserts, you’ll be able to enjoy a visit to Wat Mahathat Worawihan, a large temple complex that is known for its Buddha relics and the five impressive prangs that are up to 40 meters high.
Khao Luang Cave (Natural cave with a large number of Buddha images)
Another great stop is the Khao Luang Cave. It’s located a little bit outside the city but can be quickly reached by private taxi. When you walk down the steps into the cave, be careful as they are usually wet and can be quite slippery. Once inside, you will see a beautiful sleeping Buddha and several rows of Buddha statues lining the walls. Make sure you walk all the way to the back where a part of the ceiling has collapsed and the sunlight creates dramatic effects. Enjoy this cool, peaceful place and rest for a few moments before you get back on your way.
How to get there
You can get there by minivan or train from Bangkok for rates starting at around THB 60 and the trip takes around 2-2,5 hours, depending on traffic. Alternatively, you can go by car and first take Highway 35 then Highway 4 when coming from Bangkok.
To get around the city you can easily get private taxis or catch songthaews.
A quick note: When you visit the palaces and temples, be sure to dress respectfully. Guests wearing shorts above the knee or tank tops might be asked to buy a shawl or sarong to cover up.