Where to eat and drink: Prachuap Khiri Khan

Prachuap Khiri Khan: Where to eat and drink

What Prachuap Kiri Khan lacks in restaurants specifically geared towards tourists it more than makes up for with a wide choice of spots to tuck into well-cooked local staples. A number of markets provide bustling spots to enjoy a meal, and the excellent seafood both lives up to the coastal location and is keenly priced.

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The smaller, food-only night market that takes place nightly diagonally opposite the Yuttichai Hotel on Kong Kiat Road serves up a range of staple dishes that keep the locals fuelled. Among the standout options are a particularly good pad thai stall, an enormous cart of Thai-style desserts including kluay cheuam, stewed bananas in coconut milk. Of the two fruit shake stalls, the smaller is eclipsed by the larger and more impressive one, staffed by a gregarious lady dripping in rather expensive looking gold jewellery. Her stall front is bursting with fresh fruit, even though she takes out the fruit actually used in her shakes from the freezer. Even so, the shakes taste good and at around 20 baht a glass are a bargain.

A larger market runs every Friday and Saturday on the beachfront at Ao Prachuap -- which can be reached by following the same road down further from the Yuttichai Hotel and the train station. Officially it’s open from mid-afternoon until around 22:00, but it’s worth getting here early as in reality it’s all but closed up by 20:30. It offers a wider selection of street food than the smaller night market -- including a seeming abundance of moo ping marinated and grilled pork skewers. It also showcases a wide choice of typical Thai desserts plus a couple of open-air restaurants serving up a range of Thai specialities and fresh local seafood. Food aside, stalls sell loads of stuff, such as secondhand shoes, T-shirts, watches and postcards. Although it is over quickly each evening, the market has a real buzz to it while it lasts -- teenagers and adults alike congregate on the beach promenade over beer and fruit juices and there’s a sense that this is a real focal point of what is still largely a small, traditional community.

A daytime market also takes place along Maitri Ngam Road, with many food carts interspersed among the greengrocers and sundries shops.

In addition to the markets, a number of seafood restaurants -- both along Chaitalay Road opposite Ao Prachuap, and along the road that heads towards Ao Noi -- offer great quality, locally caught seafood at far less than you will pay elsewhere around the country. Aside from the proper restaurants, two large places set up on the pavement for lunch and dinner -- prices are rock bottom and there is a comprehensive range of excellent seafood to sample.

Also on the beach road, heading towards the southern end, you’ll see a place called "Pizza", which does, you guessed it, pizza. Open only in the evening (17:00 onwards), this is a comfortable spot for a pizza or just a cold drink and Bong, the Chonburi native Rasta who runs it, is a very friendly guy.

If you’re after a steak, go and visit Cameron at Sunset Bar (about a five-minute walk to the north of the train station) where you can get an excellent steak. The owner has lived in Prachuap Khiri Khan for a while and is a good source of information of things to do outside the city.

A little out of town, at the northern end of the bay, follow the road all the way as close as you can get to the headland and, just before the road turns into a dirt track and comes to a complete end (if you reach the small bridge you’ve gone too far), you will find an equally nondescript spot with just a few bamboo-thatch covered tables out the front of the kitchen. The focus here is entirely on seafood and they serve up a wide selection, but especially impressive are their enormous kung pao, whole grilled prawns, and pla meuk yaang, grilled squid.

Visitors to Ao Manao are well catered for by informal restaurants set up on the beach which can keep you fed and watered (the papaya salad is excellent). The beach here also makes the perfect place to kick back with a cold beer, which these spots are equally happy to provide. A deckchair will cost you 10 baht.

For an evening drink, aside from the restaurants, there are two places, the already-mentioned Sunset Bar (near the train station), and Jim’s Bar down on the water. Jim’s has an eclectic scene, but the music is good and the views excellent.

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