Cheeky monkeys, stunning views
Published/Last edited or updated: 1st June, 2018
The 270-metre-high Khao Takiab, or “Chopsticks Hill”, marks the southern end of Hua Hin beach in dramatic fashion. Visitors who approach from the sand are greeted by a massive standing Buddha that looks out over the sea from a sheer rock cliff. A winding stairway continues up the hill to unveil striking views and a breezy temple named after the hill itself. Just watch out for the macaques!
Those entering the complex from the beach will first need to huff it up a flight of steep concrete stairs, passing a couple of restaurants and quirky religious statues en route to an initial lookout. Here you’ll find a neglected Buddhist shrine along with a parking area for old military vehicles. It might not sound like much, but a first glimpse of the sea framed by red-flowering trees is a breathtaking hint of what’s to come.
A dirt road connects this initial viewpoint to the main temple area, which is more often reached by a sealed road that winds up the hill from the end of the main Khao Takiab Road down below. Look for a side path on the right about halfway down the dirt road (if heading south) and you’ll be treated to a little-known stone perch with views of a fishing village and coastline. Just beyond that is the actual temple, beginning with the usual souvenir and drink stalls.
Flanked by colourful naga serpant guardians, another steep stairway takes you up to a chedi-topped shrine room where a monk is usually waiting to splash holy water on visitors. Most Thais bring along incense, candles and flowers (available down below for a donation) and offer them to the resident Buddha image. Prayer bells can be rung for good luck on the outer platform, though most are distracted by the view.
After descending the stairs, wander to the back section of the temple where hordes of macaques await their next meal of bananas sold by on-site vendors. Dozens if not hundreds of the not-so-shy monkeys hang around a Chinese shrine and statues of dinosaurs and Hindu gods. Expect to be at the centre of a frenzy if you opt to buy the bananas, and hang on to your valuables as digital cameras and handbags are sometimes snatched by the scavenging primates.
Stroll down the sealed road and you’ll end up at the fishing village that you might have already seen from above if you came from the beach. Bright blue-and-red wooden boats bob in a tangle of nets, ropes and buoys along the canal, and a cluster of restaurants grill up some of the freshest seafood in Hua Hin. Heading back to the main road, a 10-minute stroll back north will take you past the gates to Wat Khao Krai Lad, another hilltop temple with an old ordination hall at its peak.
The end of the line for most of Hua Hin’s songthaews is a parking area at the foot of Khao Takiab; the ride from central Hua Hin (seven kilometres to the north) costs no more than 20 baht, and the trucks can be flagged down anywhere along Phetkasem and Khao Takiab roads. From the parking area, we’d walk a short way back north and find the beach via one of the side lanes or resorts, then start the climb at the standing Buddha. Alternately, you can walk a short way south from the parking area and enter the complex via the sealed road. Either way, expect a tiring walk up -- avoiding the midday heat is recommended. Those coming by tuk tuk should expect to pay around 500 baht for a round trip from central Hua Hin. If you have your own wheels, simply follow Phetkasem Road south from downtown, keep straight on to Khao Takiab Road and the access road to Wat Khao Takiab is easy to find a few km further on.
David Luekens first came to Thailand in 2005 when Thai friends from his former home of Burlington, Vermont led him on a life-changing trip. Based in Thailand since 2011, he spends much of his time eating in Bangkok street markets and island hopping the Andaman Sea.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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