Pranburi Forest Park and Nature Reserve
Founded in 1982 under the majesty of Queen Sirikit, Pranburi Forest Park is located 25 km. south of Hua Hin and encompasses over 3.17 sq. km. of protected land. The park is known for its vast and dense forests of mangroves and twisty trails that lead visitors to all corners of the park. With its pristine views and natural beauty, Pranburi Park is the perfect escape from some of the urban centres in southern Thailand.
The nature reserve is an excellent day excursion from the Hua Hin area (and best of all, it’s practically free). Not only will you be surrounded by the tranquil and majestic scenery, but you’ll also get to see an abundant array of flora and wildlife, many of which are exclusive to Thailand.
Explore Pranburi Forest Park
Many tourists flock to Pranburi Park because it’s very accessible from both Hua Hin and Bangkok. If you’re starting your journey from Bangkok, you can take an air-conditioned bus from the Sai Tai Mai bus terminal on Borommaratchachonnani road (buses leave daily). There’s also a train, the Southern Line, that departs from the Hua Lamphong Railway Station and goes to Hua Hin, Pranburi, and Prachuap Khiri Khan every day. For those already in the Hua Hin area, traveling to Pranburi Park is much easier because it lies only 25 km. to the south. The best way to travel from the Hua Hin District is to take a car, motorcycle, or bus from Market Village and head south down Petchkasem Route 4. You will eventually need to cross a bridge and will see a hotel called Lawana. Right before the exit for the hotel there’s a dirt road you need to drive down to reach the Mangrove Forest Trail. Once you arrive at the park you’ll find free parking and restrooms outside the entrance.
Make sure to bring your best pair of walking shoes or else you’ll miss out on some of the incredible sights that can only be seen alongside the Mangrove Nature Trail. The Mangrove Nature Trail is a raised wooden trail that allows visitors to trek above and round the salt water pools of Pranburi Park, all while staying cool under the shady mangrove trees. The journey along the trail lasts about one hour and takes you into the heart of the forest where a variety of exotic animals and plants prosper. Don’t forget to bring your camera because there are elevated lookouts along the trail that you can climb up and take in breath-taking panoramic views of the forest.
A perfect way to end a day walking on Pranburi’s trails is to jump on a long-tail boat and enjoy a tour of the Pranburi River that winds through the park. You won’t reach the boat tours until you walk halfway down the trail, so unfortunately you can’t avoid walking completely. Local guides usually charge between 400 and 500 baht to row you through mangroves on boats that can accommodate up to eight people. Some of the boat tours will take you all the way up to the harbour where you can see a huge fisherman’s port that is full of large Thai fishing boats. Make sure you keep your eyes wide open while you venture down the Pranburi river because some of the best wildlife sightings happen aboard the boats. Some of the notable wildlife you’ll see include mud skippers, macaque monkeys, lizards, and various exotic birds.
Another great reason to visit Pranburi park is that the trail leads to a quiet beach, perfect for a romantic getaway or just to spend a few hours with the family. The beach is well-maintained and boasts campsites, public restrooms, and even local food vendors if you need a bite to eat after a day of walking the trails. Since Pranburi Beach is not as well-known among tourists, the 7 km. beach offers a much more private atmosphere as compared to areas like Cha-am or Hua Hin. With several small islands and rock formations off the coast, along with its dark sand and numerous palm trees, Pranburi Beach is surely one of the most picturesque in the area.
Dining: Thai Style
Fortunately for the Thai food fanatics, there’s no shortage of exquisite restaurants near Pranburi Forest Park. The Pranburi area is home to beach bars, pizzerias, and seafood restaurants. A handful of these restaurants are located right on the beach, so you’ll be able to dine and enjoy a million-dollar view at the same time. Whether you just want a cosy family restaurant or a fine dining experience, the Pranburi area has something for you.
An Unforgettable Experience
Natural reserves as pristine as the Pranburi Forest Park are hard to come across, so if you’re in region, it’s definitely worth a day visit. The deep mangrove forests and exotic flora of Pranburi Park are not to miss. Pranburi Forest Park is truly a piece of the puzzle that makes Thailand so beautiful.