Phraya Nakhon Cave in Sam Roi Yot National Park at Prachuap Khiri Khan province in Thailand.

©goodze/Getty Images

Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park

Hua Hin & the Upper Gulf

Towering limestone outcrops form a rocky, jigsaw-puzzle landscape at Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park (Three Hundred Mountain Peaks), located about 30km from Pranburi. Most visitors are here to see Tham Phraya Nakhon, one of the most spectacular and, for Thais, famous caves in Thailand. This revered cave shelters the Khuha Kharuehat Pavilion, a royal săh·lah built for Rama V in 1890, which is usually bathed in streams of morning light from around 10.30am.

While you're in the park, you can hire a covered boat at Wat Khao Daeng for a one-hour scenic cruise along Khlong Khao Daeng. There are great mountain views and you’ll also see birds, macaques, water monitors and mudskippers.

Birders descend on the park during the cool season from November to March to see some of the park's 300 migratory and resident species. At the intersection of the East Asian and Australian migration routes, Khao Sam Roi Yot is home to yellow bitterns, purple swamphens, ruddy-breasted crakes, bronze-winged jacanas, black-headed ibises, great spotted eagles and oriental reed warblers.

Most travellers visit on a day trip from Hua Hin or Prachuap Khiri Khan, both around 50km from the park. There's no public transport, so you'll need to come with your own wheels: hiring a car and driver from either town will cost about 1800B to 2000B including petrol. If you choose to stay overnight, there are bungalows at Khao Daeng, but most people prefer accommodation just outside the park at Hat Sam Roi Yot beach. A taxi from the train station or bus stop in Pranburi to Hat Sam Roi Yot is a fixed 400B.

The fishing village of Bang Pu is the main departure point for visiting Tham Phraya Nakhon. There's no road access to the cave, but you can ride in a boat (200B one way) to Laem Sala Beach (note: it's a shallow, but wet landing), then follow the steep 430m trail and stairway up to the hill. Restaurants at Bang Pu are open from 6am to 6pm.

There's no park gate. Admission tickets are sold and checked at each of the park's attractions.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Hua Hin & the Upper Gulf attractions

2. Pranburi Forest Park

14.37 MILES

Just north of the Pranburi River is an extensive natural mangrove forest. A 1km-long boardwalk with interpretive signs, some in English, lets you explore…

3. Hat Sai Noi

17.15 MILES

A small resort and a couple of restaurants operate here. Weekends bring the expected crowds, but it's fairly quiet on weekdays.

4. Khao Tao

17.32 MILES

The next headland after Khao Takiab is Khao Tao (Turtle Mountain). It protects an idyllic little cove where Hat Sai Noi beach drops off quickly into the…

5. Ratchaphakdi Park

20.44 MILES

Standing 14m high and weighing in at 30 tonnes each, the beautiful bronze statues of Thailand's most revered kings tower over this park with an impressive…

6. Khao Takiab

21.44 MILES

About 7km south of Hua Hin, monumental Chopstick Mountain guards the southern end of Hua Hin beach. A steep road curves to the top of the 77m-tall…

7. Cicada Market

22.77 MILES

Vastly better than the city-centre Hua Hin Night Market, this popular place 3.5km to the south is a fun mix of food, shopping and performing arts. It's…

8. Kuiburi National Park

24.98 MILES

Who doesn't want to see herds of wild elephants roaming through the forest or enjoying an evening bath? At Kuiburi National Park's hôoay léuk unit, up…