Pavilion Built for a King Sits Within Golden Cave in Thailand

Phraya Nakhon Cave in Thailand

Photo: Stock Photos from Southtownboy Studio/Shutterstock
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Thailand is filled with spectacular scenery, but nothing is perhaps as magical as what's hidden within the Phraya Nakhon Cave. With a location that's not simple to access, it takes adventurous travelers to make their way to the cave. But, if the visit is timed just right, those who make it will be rewarded with a spectacular vision. As the sun's rays stream into the cave's ceiling opening, a stunning pavilion is illuminated with a golden glow.

The Khuha Kharuehat Pavilion was built for King Chulalongkorn's visit in 1890. Also known as Rama V, he is credited with saving Siam from colonization. As he's often referred to as “the Great Beloved King,” it's no wonder that such effort went into making his visit to the cave special. The warm golden rays of sunshine that bathe the pavilion in light are certainly fit for a king, so much so that several other Thai kings later visited Phraya Nakhon.

Located within the Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, which is situated in the northern part of the Malay peninsula, it does take some effort to get to it. Curious travelers will want to make their way to the Bang Pu village. From there, it's possible to either walk 30 minutes up a hill or to take a boat to the Laem Sala beach, which is recommended to conserve energy. Once there, visitors pay an entrance fee to the National Park and have the option of bringing a guide—often a child—with them. It's here where things get tricky. It'll take a 1,410-foot climb through the forest to get to the open ceiling of the cave. While it might not seem like much, the steep and uneven climb can be difficult for those not in great shape.

As strenuous as the climb can be, the payoff is worth it. Though the exact time varies from season to season, typically around 10 am or 10:30 am is when the sun's rays can be expected to pour into the cave. Not only is the red and gold pavilion illuminated, but so is the lush vegetation that grows in the cave. This makes for an incredibly meditative experience that combines the wonders of the natural and man-made world.

Curious to visit this unique site yourself? Many people book half-day tours to Phraya Nakhon from Hua Hin, a beach resort town about 45 minutes away.

Phraya Nakhon Cave is a magical site located on Thailand's Malay peninsula.

Phraya Nakhon Cave in Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park

Photo: Stock Photos from Mikhail Gnatkovskiy/Shutterstock

Pavilion Sitting in a Cave in Thailand

Photo: Stock Photos from Andrey Golinkevich/Shutterstock

During the morning hours, sunshine pours through the cave's opening, illuminating a golden pavilion.

Where is the Phraya Nakhon Cave

Photo: Stock Photos from S-F/Shutterstock

How to Visit Phraya Nakhon Cave

Photo: Stock Photos from mistaht/Shutterstock

h/t: [Atlas Obscura]

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Staff Editor and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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