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Bangkok to Chumphon:
From Phetchaburi to Prachuap Khiri Khan


I had to do it once, but it turned out twice : cycling out of Bangkok to Chumphon (2006 and 2012 plus once with backpack in 1991, I don't count the times I was on the train to and from Malaysia).

The beach at Cha-am

Cha-am beach

The question for me was: is it worth to cycle into south Thailand?

Cha-am

After spending a night in Phetchaburi, I continued my bicycle journey to Cha-am. You can cycle Bangkok - Cha-am in a day but it's a very long day (170 km). During my first journey from Bangkok to Chumphon I skipped Phetchaburi and went straight on to Cha'am which turned out to be a mistake as Phetchaburi has quite a bit to offer too (which I found out in 2012).

When you come out of the season, Cha'am is not too bad and not to expensive.

The beach of which Cha-am is famous for is not particularly fantastic. At low water there's quite a lot of muddy areas, and the water of the Gulf of Thailand can be pretty rough. But outside the high season it's not a bad place to spend a night.

And talk about staying in Cha-am, there's plenty of accommodation available including some good cheap hotels:

Cha-am Boulevard on a quiet day
Cha-am Boulevard on a quiet day

Hua Hin

In 2012 I had stayed in Phetchaburi and decided not to stay in Cha'am but to continue in Hua Hin, the even more popular beach resort area another 30km further south. At least I could stay away from Highway 4.

Night market in Hua Hin
From Bangkok to Chumphon you will find many night market
with fresh seafood like here in Hua Hin

True, I was away from Highway 4 but this road was a 6 lanes highway too although it was not very busy. However, don't come during the weekends and school holidays.

What to say about Hua Hin? There's not a lot of beach you can use. Most of the beach in town is either full of restaurants or it's private beach of hotels. And Hua Hin has plenty of them. The beach suffers the same problem as in Cha-am... with low water it's muddy and (partly) full with fishing boats.

Railway station in Hua Hin
Railway station in Hua Hin

The city however was pleasant enough, despite being spoiled by tourism. One must see in Hua Hin is the beautiful Hua Hin Railway Station not far from the busy night market.

Accommodation in Hua Hin is plentiful in all price ranges. Check out what the options in town but I wouldn't make a booking unless you're there in the high season.

During my last visit (2012) to Hua Hin I broke the pin under my saddle. Fortunately there is a proper bicycle shop on Petchakasem Road (road #4 that crosses the city). The shop is located a few hundred meters north from the junction to the railway station .

The better part of the Hua Hin beach
The better part of the Hua Hin beach

As all I needed was a screw and the bicycle shop had not opened that morning, I went to one of the many motorbike shops where I was able to get a new screw. Lucky me, there was nothing else broken.

Hua Hin's beach... you have to get a bit further north to get a nicer beach
Hua Hin's beach... you have to get a bit further north to get a nicer beach

Prachuap Khiri Khan

Prachuap Khiri Khan is located right in the middle of the road from Bangkok to Chumphon. It is a much slower city compared to Cha-am and Hua Hin. The first time I was in town was in 1991 and since those days nothing much seem to have changed except a little increase in hotels in town. I stayed in the very same hotel as I did during my previous visits (1991, 2002 and 2006) with a nice view on the Gulf of Thailand (B 500 with sea view, no complains about that).

The beach in front of town is a bit muddy with low water but walk a little to the north and you find some fine sandy beaches and good water for swimming.

Bad luck in Hua Hin
The screw under my saddle broke off in Hua Hin ...
on the road from Bangkok to Chumphon in 2012

The town has little to offer. There are some temples but it is the night market that offers some excellent food. It is a very busy place though and finding a seat to eat might be difficult. But Prachuap Khiri Khan is (if you ask me) a great place to have a day or 2 rest. With little to do, all you have to do is stroll along the boulevard and enjoy the cool wind from the sea.

At the beach of Prachuap Khiri Khan
At the beach of Prachuap Khiri Khan

Accommodation in Prachuap Khiri Khan

The city is a logic stopover on the way from Bangkok to Chumphon. There's not a lot of hotels in town but there are a few good and cheap ones. The one I used in my visits was the Prachuap Beach Hotel, spacious clean rooms and decent priced.

At the boulevard of Prachuap Khiri Khan>
At the boulevard of Prachuap Khiri Khan

On the way from Bangkok to Chumphon by bus or train

It's understandable that some cyclists decide to skip cycling Bangkok to Prachuap Khiri Khan (or the other way around). After all, the road from Bangkok to Chumphon starts getting more interesting after Prachuap Khiri Khan.

Fortunately there are daily trains visiting the city. The express train (43) from Bangkok leaving at 7.45AM to Surat Thani arrives at 12.02 PM and is a good choice (also because it has a good carrier wagon.

Alternatively you can take the Rapid train to Sungai Kolok (171) leaving Bangkok at 1PM and arrives at Prachuap Khiri Khan at 6.15PM. The express train to Sungai Kolok leave at 3.15PM and arrives in town at 8.30PM. These trains also stop in Hua Hin.

Night market of Prachuap Khiri Khan
Night market of Prachuap Khiri Khan

I would not recommend taking the bus from either Hua Hin or Prachuap Khiri Khan with your bicycle. The train is safer for your bicycle, though maybe it takes a little longer. Buses might also drop you around the Bangkok bus station, which will require you some cycling in Bangkok. The railway station is the better option.

Should you be in Cha-am and want to continue north, I would recommend to continue cycling to Phetchaburi and take a train there.

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