Pranburi – Thailand’s Best Kept Secret! | Cool Places In Pranburi
Pranburi, the hidden jewel of Thailand just south of Hua Hin, is officially part of the Thai government’s initiative to brand and develop the central coastal provinces–Petchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chumphon & Ranong–as “The Riviera of Thailand“.
Hua Hin has long been a desirable destination for both Thais and foreigners seeking a relaxing, quiet beach town within relative proximity to Bangkok. Most people are familiar with Hua Hin as the official residence of the late King Rama 9 or as a retirement community for northern Europeans looking to escape cold winters and high taxes.
Today, Hua Hin is a family-friendly beach alternative to Phuket or Pattaya. And because of its relative proximity to Bangkok, Hua Hin is a weekend hotspot for Bangkokians to escape the traffic, enjoy the beautiful nature and relax in the unpretentious atmosphere. Hua Hin and the surrounding areas appeal to a wide range of tourists of all ages, nationalities and economic backgrounds. The sheer number of young families moving here attests to the wholesome nature of the town.
PRANBURI, BOHEMIAN BEACH LIFE WITH HIGH-END LUXURIES
When we tell people where we live we always say Hua Hin, since most people, especially those familiar with Thailand, know of Hua Hin. But this is technically not quite true. One of our favorite areas–where we settled down and built our dream home, is a hip, bohemian town about 20 km south of Hua Hin called Pranburi. Pranburi is comprised of several neighborhoods: Pak Nam Pran and Kao Kalok, both located along the beach; Pranburi town center, located inland along the highway; and old town Pranburi, located along the Pran River.
Pranburi, especially Pak Nam Pran and Kao Kalok, cater to a different market than Hua Hin: to those seeking a quieter, less touristy area than Hua Hin. Many boutique resorts are located in Pak Nam Pran, and the style is dominated by artistic, chic, quirky and modern businesses: hotels, cafes, kite shops, restaurants, and housing projects.
Eco-friendly Pranburi And The Town’s Unique Vibe
Pranburi–Pak Nam Pran specifically–is focusing heavily on the eco-conscious and green-thinking consumers. This is something Thailand is slowly picking up on, though there’s still a long way until the country can boast its earth-friendly policies (just take a look at the thousands of plastic bags and garbage lining the roads and beaches). Many resorts and restaurants along the Pak Nam Pran strip now advertise organic produce, communal gardens, locally sourced products, re-usable straws, and hand made art. These trends generally appeal to a younger generation and a more educated, affluent crowd, and this can easily be witnessed by the growing number of tourists along the beaches, both Thai and Western.
With abundant outdoor activities and the national park nearby, the area attracts people who enjoy the outdoors. Large cycling groups and tours favor Pak Nam Pran, Kao Kalok, Dolphin Bay and Sam Roi Yod thanks to the natural beauty and safer cycling conditions in the area (i.e. a lot less traffic to contend with).
Kite surfing is another hugely popular sport along the coastline from Hua Hin, all the way down to Dolphin Bay (just a few kilometers south of Pranburi). Pak Nam Pran has a few charming spots that cater specifically to the kite surfing crowd, offering services like assembling and disassembling equipment, lessons for all levels, and serving alcohol, which is rumored to improve kite surfing skills.
If you like more low-key activities, then we recommend renting a table & chairs at the Kao Kalok beach mountain and relaxing on the golden, sandy beach. Once you’re settled into the soft sand, the friendly Gai Yang purveyors (grilled BBQ chicken with sticky rice) will offer to bring you all your food & drink needs. Enjoy some fresh coconut water while chatting up the locals, but be careful…..if you’re too friendly, you may find yourself drinking some Mekong or Sangsom whiskey and eating something a little more spicy than you had anticipated.
Cool Places In Pranburi & Recommended Restaurants & Bars
These are some of our favorite places in the Pak Nam Pran and Kao Kalok areas–all places are kid-friendly, so feel free to bring your little ones:
- Boutique Farmer’s Restaurant (Farm To Table Restaurant Concept) – some of the freshest and the best food around. This restaurant requires reservations. Make visiting this place a top priority. You can also purchase fresh farm produce directly from James at the restaurant. His eggs (when available) are best I’ve ever eaten – and cheaper than you can buy in the large grocery stores. *Michelin Mentioned Restaurant. Contact them directly at 081 266 7800. Open only on the weekends (Friday, Saturday and the highly recommend Sunday Brunch!)
- Pranburi Walking Street | 200 Year Old Market – If you’re in historic Pranburi during the weekend, then you’ll not want to miss out on this Saturday market. It’s more of an artistic flea market with local musicians, some antiques, different handmade offerings, and lots of authentic Thai street food. There’s also a cool hidden beer garden that you’ll have to discover with some tree forts in the back garden where you can enjoy a cold drink with friends.
- Brown Brew & Bistro – Best artisan coffee in Prachuap Khiri Khan – good Thai & western food as well! The staff is excellently trained and some delicious pastries pair well with a great latté! (Good WiFI if you need to work online).
- Payu (translation: Storm) Thai Restaurant – located in historic Pranburi. Probably the best Thai food restaurant I’ve found in Central Thailand. Unfortunately, the hours are a bit erratic. Call before you go. You can also make reservations, but they’re not necessary.
- Baan Pal Coffee & Thai Restaurant – Another great coffee shop directly on the beach, offering good coffee (free WiFi), with great views and a constant sea breeze. Tired of staring at your laptop. Take a break and walk along the beach before coming back to your table and ordering some tasty Thai food. They also have cheap bungalows for rent along the beach. Everything you need, all in one place. Highly recommended!
- Sea Bar So Good – Good drinks & snacks on the beach. Live music on the weekends.
- La A Natu – Good quality Thai food on the beach in a nice resort setting.
- Airstream Campsite Pranburi – Good coffee and food.
- The Evason – Many food options to choose from: The Coast Italian restaurant (raw food vegan & vegetarian options), Happy Hour Bar with live music and food, a large breakfast buffet, & Thai food options.
- Villa Maroc – Moroccan Hotel directly on the beach with Moroccan-style restaurant & weekend seafood buffet.
- Villa Gris Vietnamese Restaurant (This is a boutique hotel with a cute Vietnamese restaurant).
- Pran’s Corner – Bar with food & live music on the weekends directly on the beach.
- Mojitos – Fun bar atmosphere for drinks & food.
- Sa-Pan-Dum Cafe – Charming cafe and coffee shop located in historic Pranburi overlooking the Pran River and the bridge (hence the cafe’s name, which means “black bridge” in Thai). A chic, industrial design with lush ferns hanging from the ceilings, this is not only a super stylistic spot but also a Mecca for serious coffee lovers.
- Green Hills Coffee – Cute coffee shop & restaurant with beautiful views. Thai food is I’ve tried is delicious (western food options – ehhh, I wouldn’t recommend). Staff is very shy of anyone who doesn’t speak Thai, but you can just point at items on the menu. A good place to work if you’re a digital nomad (Good WiFI if you need to work online). Some parrots roam the cafe and are more friendly than the staff. The views are excellent. The coffee is adequate but doesn’t compare to Brown Brew & Bistro
There is also a myriad of tiny shacks and hole-in-the-walls with no web presence whatsoever, and we love these places, too. Since we can’t advertise for them, we’ll just promise to take our friends and family there when they come to visit.
What Does Pranburi’s Future Hold?
Large government infrastructure projects have been in progress all around the Pranburi area since 2015. Some of these projects include reinforcing the beach for erosion prevention, and a lovely 4+ km boardwalk with bike & jogging paths from Pak Naam Pran to just north of Khao Kalok, and then again from the south side of Khao Kalok all the way south to the new Pranburi Grand Marina (another 4.5 km boardwalk along the beach).
Many of the roads throughout Pranburi along the beach and further inland are continually being upgraded and resurfaced. Just south of Pranburi, Dolphin Bay is being revitalized with new infrastructure projects along the beach and further inland (a new boardwalk and bike path). There are also several large overpasses underway that will go over the new double-track train line that is also currently under construction.
Furthermore, to protect the beaches from over-commercialization and overdevelopment, there are heavy building restrictions on direct beachfront land in Pak Nam Pran and Khao Kalok, something that Hua Hin’s officials never monitored closely in the early days of development. Hua Hin’s beach is now practically invisible from the road, like condominiums and large resorts dominate the coastline from north of Hua Hin all the way south of Khao Takieb.
There are some high-end, luxury residential developments located in Kao Kalok that focus on custom-designed luxury villas and cater mainly to ex-pats from France, Belgium, USA, UK and other western countries that are looking for something a little more special than the cookie-cutter options found throughout Hua Hin. Hana Village is one such development with beautiful custom-built homes. A little closer to the Kao Kalok beach & Pranburi Grand Marina is Golden Sands Luxury Beachside Villas.
Places To Stay In Pranburi | Cool Places In Pranburi
Airbnb is always a good place to start your search for a rental property, whether you’re looking for a short-term or long-term rental property. Here is a lovely four-bedroom private pool villa you can rent via Airbnb for as little as $103 per night. Sometimes you can find better deals outside of Airbnb with local rental agents, like this luxury 4 bedroom villa. Many hotel options in Pranburi will cater to every budget. Check out Villa Gris mentioned above or if you’re looking for something a little more high-end then check out the Evason or Villa Maroc (also mentioned above). If you’re on a fixed budget, check out Baan Pal Beach Bungalows.