Pranburi, about thirty minutes south of Hua Hin, is an up and coming beach area on the Gulf of Siam. Though it's not as popular as Hua Hin, or as easy to get to as Pattaya, it offers reasonable resorts, beautiful beaches, nice views and a very relaxed environment.
Pranburi is a beach town on the west side of the Gulf of Thailand about 20 miles south of popular resort town Hua Hin, has become more and more popular with local tourists and international visitors over the past decade. Like Cha-am to the north, it's much less developed than Hua Hin, so while there aren't as many conveniences, there also aren't as many crowds.
Pranburi's beaches are far nicer than those in Hua Hin and Cha-am, in terms of cleanliness, development, and view, and might even be a contender for one of Thailand's top beaches. If the beach is important to you and you want to go somewhere relaxing, pick Pranburi over Cha-am. It's worth the extra drive from Bangkok.
Getting Around Pranburi
Central, urban Pranburi is a little inland from the beach and that's really the only area you'll be able to find any public transportation. On the coast itself, resorts and bungalows are spread out so you'll need to arrange a car or motorbike if you want to explore the greater area. It's also possible to bicycle around Pranburi if you're just visiting the beaches along the coast.
Getting to Pranburi
Pranburi is about 20 miles south of Hua Hin and is about 3 1/2 hours by car from the capital, depending on traffic. To get there, you can take one of the daily trains from Bangkok's Hua Lumpong Station then get a taxi or car to Pranburi, drive directly from Bangkok or take one of the many government and private buses that go from Bangkok to Pranburi from Bangkok's Southern Bus Terminal. There are also private minibuses that make the trip from Bangkok to Pranburi on a daily basis. These are run by various companies, much like airport shuttles, and can be arranged with your hotel or resort.
Where to Stay
Pranburi has an interesting mix of very high-end, chic resorts on the beach, with more and more opening every day, and some more middle-of-the-road, family oriented hotels and resorts slightly further south along the coast. Pranburi's higher-end resorts in the northern part of Pranburi tend to cater to a jet-set crowd (or at least a wannabe jet-set crowd), though they are more intimate and much less expensive than similar properties in Phuket or Samui. The mid-priced accommodations, closer to the national park, tend to cater to local and foreign families and retirees from northern Europe.
For those who want to rough it a bit, it's also possible to stay in the national park and either rent a tent to camp on the beach or stay in one of the park bungalows. If you're interested in staying in Khao Sam Roi Yot, check out this guide to staying in Thailand's national parks.
What to Expect
The beach at Pranburi is one of the prettiest in the area. Thanks to a scattering of small islands and rock formations right off the coast, the view from the beach is very beautiful. The sand is dark and a bit coarse but there are plenty of palm trees.
Pranburi doesn't have a big, bustling central beach area like you'd find in Hua Hin or any of the other very popular beaches and islands in Thailand. In fact, much of what goes on in Pranburi involves hanging out at the beaches or swimming in your resort pool. There are scattered local restaurants and bars attached to resorts, but aside from that, it's a pretty mellow and quiet area. It's a great place to go with kids or if you don't want to do more than read a book and swim in the ocean. If you're looking for a party, Pranburi probably isn't the right beach for you
What to Do
Aside from walking on the beach or swimming in your resort's pool, which could easily take up all your time when you're in Pranburi, there isn't much else to do. Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, just adjacent to Pranburi, is one of Thailand's beautiful beach national parks. The name means "three hundred peaks" thanks to the numerous small limestone mountains in the park. There are also beautiful, protected beaches, marshes, caves and trails and areas for bird watching, too. Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park is a very easy drive from Pranburi and although it's not a huge park, is an easy place to spend a full day.