I feel like I am giving away a secret that I will come to regret. A place of beauty off the tourist trail, which once named may not remain that way for long. I guess that is the irony of travel writing!
So, here's the big secret.....
In our trip south from Bangkok we decided to visit a number of small towns that were not frequented by tourists. We were hoping to experience the real Thailand, outside of tourist hot spots like Phuket and Bangkok. Which is exactly what we found in Prachuap Kiri Khan.
The town is roughly 280 kms from Bangkok, which equates to about 5.5 hours by train (although most information states between 3 and 4).
A number of chain hotels (think Hilton, Sheraton, Sofitel etc etc) attract tourists in droves to the beach resort of Hua Hin, 100kms north. If fancy pools, western toilets and comforts are your thing than look no further.
Those willing to sacrifice the creature comforts to meet local people and feast on the most amazing Thai food will be rewarded in Prachuap, although it does lack a decent swimming beach.
Prachuap Kiri Khan is a fishing town and it's worth visiting just to taste the cheap and abundant local seafood. A great place to try this is at the north end of town, where there is an amazing nightly food market.
I can recommend the seafood omellette, the mango salad featuring calamari, prawns and mussels and if that's not enough the seafood noodle soup. YUM!
Also at this end of town is Wat Thammikaram, which can be reached by climing a steep mountain to the top. I was keen to make the climb (and it is meant to be quite rewarding) but I was scared away by the monkeys at the bottom! (I'm not very brave!).
I strongly recommend a night or two in this town if you are taking the train south to Phuket. It break up the long and uncomfortable train journey, and you will be rewarded with the most amazing food (the best Thai food I've eaten) and an experience of the real Thailand out of the tourist resorts.