Extreme Nomads’ Sports and Outdoors Guide to Pak Nam Pran

 

Just 3 hours south of Bangkok, this little village, nestled between the Pranburi river estuary and a protected mangrove forest, is becoming a destination of choice for a rising number of nomads looking for a mix of peace, wind, and outdoor sports.

Pak Nam Pran’s best season is from November to April when the latitude’s heat gets cooled down by monsoon and thermal winds. It’s a much more laid-back alternative to the bigger and busier resort city of Hua Hin, 30 km north.

The town is also a gateway into the imperial Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, which translates to “The 300 peaks mountains”, and is home to the popular Phraya Nakhon Cave.

Pak Nam Pran offers amazing conditions for kitesurfing, paragliding and stand-up paddling, and should also satisfy wakeboarders, cyclists and hikers. The vibe among the local adventurers and digital nomads is very friendly and the locals are a true joy to be around.

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boat trip to Sam Roi Yot national park

Boat trip to Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park

Best Extreme Sports & Outdoor Adventures in Pak Nam Pran

Kitesurfing in Pak Nam Pran

 

For the last 10 years, Pak Nam Pran has grown as a top spot in the Asian kitesurfing scene, thanks to a 7 months long wind season as well as the fact that it is a yearly returning tour stop for the Kiteboard Tour Asia, the official kitesurfing championship for the Asia Pacific region.

It is, in fact, the home spot of 6 times Asian champion “Yo” Narapichit Pudla, who now teaches the next generation of local kitesurf kids with Olympic dreams in mind.

 

Best season for kitesurfing in Pak Nam Pran

There are 2 distinct wind seasons for kiteboarding in Pak Nam Pran:

  • October-January: Northeast monsoon
  • February-June: Thermal

 

Conditions for kitesurfing in Pak Nam Pran

Wind & water conditions

From Nov-Jan, the monsoon wind comes from the northeast, resulting in 15-28 knots side-on orientation, and choppy waters. The tide is typically high throughout the season due to wind strength and orientation. At this time of year, kitesurfing in Pak Nam Pran is ideal for old-school and surfboard kiters.

From Feb-June, the thermal afternoon wind blows from the south, resulting in 10-20 knots of perfect side shore orientation that will progressively shape flat water lagoons all along the beach, thanks to 2 high and low tides a day.

The rest of the year sees random conditions due to the Asian rainy season, but by virtue of its coastal position far from the mountains, rain is not as prevalent here as it is in the rest of the country. It’s even sometimes possible to kite off-season at the Pranburi freshwater dam, a 40 minute drive into the backcountry.

Depending on the direction of the wind, you can enjoy easy downwinders along the coast towards Hua Hin (north) or Sam Roi Yot (south).

Although wind in Thailand is not as omnipresent as it is in Sri Lanka or Brazil, in season you can still expect about 60% of days with more than 12 knots, which is usually enough if you stay longer than a month.

 

Beach

The beach is 7 km long, sandy, and free from hazards.

 

Temperature

Thailand’s tropical climate means that the water temperature sticks close to 28 degrees Celsius throughout the whole year. During the ‘winter’ season, temperatures almost never drop below 20 degrees and typically stay nearer to 25 on average.

During the hot, humid summer, you can expect highs of 30-34 degrees. You won’t need a wetsuit when kitesurfing in Pak Nam Pran

 

Clubs and schools for kitesurfing in Pak Nam Pran

For more info, lessons, gear rental and advice on kiteboarding in Pak Nam Pran, we recommend:

Yoda Kiteschool – Asian champion “Yo” Narapichit Pudla’s own kite school. Yo is part of the Ozone kites international team and also rides for Quicksilver Thailand. He still participates in many world-class kite competitions all over the world, but also focuses on training the next generation of Thai kitesurfers. The school is family run, with the help of his lovely Russian wife Agatha and their daughter Mia.

Airstylers Kiteschool – Colin from Airstylers was the first to set up shop in Pak Nam Pran back around 2005, and is respected by all in the local community.

The kite community in Pak Nam Pran is small and healthy, everybody knows each other, so whoever you choose to go with, you will very soon get to know the whole family!

Wakeboarding in Pak Nam Pran

 

In the last 10 years, Thailand has seen a steady flow of new parks popping up everywhere from Bangkok to Koh Phangan. And Pak Nam Pran, as little as it is, is proudly home to its own 2.0 right in town.

Meanwhile, if you drive 45 minutes along the coast you’ll reach Hua Hin, where there’s a full sized Rixen cable at Black Mountain wake park.

For experts craving pro-level obstacles, the world famous Thai Wake Park is only 3 to 4 hours away up in Bangkok, perfect for week-end trips.

 

Where to go wakeboarding in Pak Nam Pran

Kite Cable Thailand

Set up in 2013, this park features two different 2.0 systems on a artificial lake and is connected to the Pranburi river for level adjustment. The 70 meter long cable is obstacle-free and ideal for beginners or kitesurfing aspirants, while the longer cable features both a small sized simple kicker and a medium sized spine kicker that you can hit in both directions.

Both cables have their starting docks on a single island, complete with a cool bar and a terrace hovering over the water. As this cable was designed with kitesurfers in mind, it comes with a customizable rope length, to allow for the perfect tweaks tailored to your preferences.

 

Tips for beginners wakeboarding in Pak Nam Pran

Wakeboarding in Pak Nam Pran is about as good as it gets for beginners.

The small, obstacle-free 2.0 at Kite Cable Thailand is the ideal place for beginners to learn how to wakeboard.

On top of that, the cable park in Pak Nam Pran rarely gets too busy, meaning you’re likely to have plenty of time and space to crash around while you find your footing. You’ll also have the full attention of the staff, who are always ready and willing to help give pointers (and make sure you’re kitted out with the right safety equipment).

SUPing in Pak Nam Pran

 

Between the sinuous Pranburi river passing through lush mangroves full of wildlife (think monitor lizards and wild peacocks) and a beautiful- though underrated- coastline dotted with deserted islands, creeks, and caves, SUPing in Pak Nam Pran is sure to blow your mind.

But as awesome as SUPing is, transporting these massive boards and paddles around isn’t the easiest. The best solution is probably to rent a saleng (motorbike with custom side-car), which should be able to carry at least 2 boards; maybe more if you get creative.

 

Best places for SUPing in Pak Nam Pran

River SUPing in Pak Nam Pran

The Pranburi River, which runs right through the town, is by far and above one of the best places to go SUPing in Pak Nam Pran.

The river can be accessed through many different points, one of them being Kite Cable Thailand’s lake- which is quite high upstream. The estuary is also easily reached and gives direct access to either the river or sea.

 

Coastal SUPing in Pak Nam Pran

The best spots around for coastal SUP trips in Pak Nam Pran are Khao Kalok, the shoe-shaped mountain between land and sea that closes Pak Nam Pran’s southern beach, and the breathtaking Sam Roi Yot National Park.

With its giant peaks overlooking the Gulf of Thailand and its deserted beaches only accessible by sea, there’s more than enough for months of exploration.

You can also try Sai Noi Beach, 10 minutes north of Pak Nam Pran- a small and charming little creek, home to just one resort and a few Thai restaurants.

 

Where to rent SUP boards in Pak Nam Pran

For SUP rentals in Pak Nam Pran, we recommend:

Bikepoint Pak Nam Pran: Located at the Palm Beach resort which sits along the beach close to town, Bikepoint has 2 decent cruising boards for rent.

Prices are:

  • 300 baht / hour or 1000 baht / day for 1 board
  • 500 baht / hour or 1800 baht / day for 2 boards.

They also have a side-car for rent if you need transport.

Hiking in Pak Nam Pran

 

Pak Nam Pran is a great center point for hikers and nature lovers. The wildlife around here is exceptionally rich and diverse, especially in the national parks, with colorful kingfisher birds, dusky leaf monkeys, Asian elephants and gaurs (wild bulls) all common sights.

 

Best places for hiking near Pak Nam Pran

Hiking in Sirinart Rajini Ecosystem Learning Center

On the southern side of the Pranburi river and just 2 minutes from Pak Nam Pran’s center, is quite a special kind of mangrove forest.

It was resurrected about 20 years ago when late King Rama IX visited the Pranburi area and felt worried when he saw the destruction that intense shrimp farming had brought right on the doorstep of this beautiful estuary town.

It’s now an educational center with ecology in mind and proposes an easy 1-hour hike in the breeze and shade below the mangrove canopy. If you’re lucky, you might even see a big monitor lizard camouflaged in the mangrove tree roots.

 

Hiking in Khao Sam Roi Yot:

Translating as the “300 peaks mountain range”, Sam Roi Yot was declared the first coastal marine park of Thailand in 1966. It also includes Thailand’s largest freshwater marsh.

The best hike in Sam Roi Yot will bring you to the amazing Phraya Nakhon site, a giant cave in the mountain where the Khuha Kharuehat Pavilion was built for King Rama V’s visit in 1890.

Get there before 10 am to enjoy the sunlight shining right onto the pavilion.

There are plenty of other hikes throughout the park between sea, mountains, and marshes. At the southern end of the park lies another favourite: the hike to Khao Deng viewpoint.

 

Hiking Kaeng Krachang

About 1.5 hours to the northwest from Pak Nam Pran, you’ll find the southern tip of the largest national park in Thailand, Khaeng Krachan, with a total area of 2914 km2.

This park is famous for its dense mist covering the rainforest in early mornings, and hilltops sticking out of the sea of clouds.

It’s host to 400+ species of birds, 300+ species of butterflies, 57 known species of mammals, and proposes a few great hiking options going into the pristine jungle forest.

Pala U waterfall is the main attraction in this southern part of the park and access is open all year round, while a few campsites are also available around the area but may be closed depending on the time of the year.

The best campsite in the park is probably Ban Krang, which is close to where the Pranburi river originates from.

 

Best time of year for hiking in Pak Nam Pran

You can hike in Pak nam Pran virtually all year round, though if you’re making a trip to the area specifically to get your hike on, it’s better to avoid rainy season (June-September).

Cycling in Pak Nam Pran

 

Thai people have been increasingly into cycling in recent years, and you will often see groups riding together in the early morning or late afternoon when the heat gets more manageable and the light is lovely.

 

Conditions for cycling in Pak Nam Pran

The beach roads are without end, mostly flat and offer great scenery, but If you’re more into mountain biking or even downhill MTB, there are also a few trails in the relief around town that are still being built by Loose Riders nomads when they come for a few months per year.

 

Resources and clubs for cycling in Pak Nam Pran

Here are a few useful links for cycling and mountain biking in Pak Nam Pran:

Bicyclethailand

Huahinbiketours

Bikepoint

Bikemap

Paragliding in Pak Nam Pran

 

The Prachuap Khiri Khan region is already spectacular by land, but flying over it is just mesmerizing.

 

Best season for paragliding in Pak Nam Pran

Although it is possible to fly here all year, you will find the best weather conditions for paragliding in Pak Nam Pran from January-April, which is the window the local paragliding school has chosen to operate.

 

Clubs for paragliding in Pak Nam Pran

300 Peaks Paragliding

Since 2013, every year from January to March, 300 Peaks proposes flying tours, tow and SIV courses for all level around different spots in the region (like the mountainous national park Sam Roi Yot- which gave its name to the school, 300 Peaks).

Englishman Graham is the school director and an experienced paraglider/kitesurfer who fell in love with the area a few years back and decided to keep it in his destinations quiver, together with Nepal, the Alps and the US.

Where to stay in Pak Nam Pran

 

Finding cool accommodation in Pak Nam Pran can actually be quite a lovely experience. Of course the local family-owned guest houses are plentiful and usually offer very good value and flexibility for short/medium term stays (between $100 to $200 / month), but if you’re looking for a real house for anywhere longer than a month, you’re probably going to have to do a bit of old-school exploration to find the best deals.

Even though there are always a few houses listed online on sites such as bahtsold or ddproperty, the choice is often limited and so we strongly recommend grabbing a bike and hunting around for the perfect home.

The thing is, most Thai owners will just put up a sign in front of the house that says “for rent/sale” with a phone number.

Some won’t even bother with a sign at all; so if you see a empty house that you really have a crush on, just look around for a neighbour that speaks a bit of English (otherwise the word for “house” in Thai is “baan”) and usually they will know the owner and hook you up after a few hand moves and laughs.

Locals here are usually very accommodating and not that fond of paperwork, so if you’re ready to pay upfront for the number of months you’d wish to stay, you could easily strike a deal without a year contract.

Prices for a furnished 1 bedroom house vary from $150 up to $300, while bigger beachfront villas usually start at around $600.

Just always make sure to check the wifi and its quality before shaking hands, in addition to the usual things like: does it have hot water? Aircon? Does it comes furnished? Is there a farm right next to your door that will wake you up every morning at dawn?

Airbnb can also be a way of finding the right place. Even though it is more targeted towards short-term stays, there are always some hosts who will be happy to negotiate for the longer term.

 


Working & Coworking Spaces in Pak Nam Pran

 

Although there’s no real coworking space in Pak Nam Pran yet, there are still a few cafes and restaurants that have decided to propose a dedicated space for digital nomads. It usually isn’t much more than fast and free wifi as well as well-placed plugs, but it is definitely encouraging as it shows digital nomads are- in a way- being considered by some forward-thinking business owners.

As these are not real coworking spaces, it works the good old way; as long as you buy something here and there, you will be welcomed to stay as long as you want. Sometimes the wifi goes off or IP adresses get filled up, but don’t hesitate to ask for a reboot of the router and you’ll be good to go. Here are our favourite places to work remotely in Pak Nam Pran:

 

Brown Brew and Bistro

Setup very recently by a talented Thai photographer, this bright and well-decorated cafe has decent wifi, AC and a really cool counter made especially for laptop and mobile warriors, it looks out massive windows onto the main town’s street and got 6 bar level seats, each equipped with a plug).

It’s usually quiet on most days, but the best time to work here is definitely the morning. The place opens from 8 am until 8 pm.

 

Grandmother’s House

On the road to Squid Beach (the kite spot in the monsoon season), you’ll find one of the only organic coffee in town. A favourite among the local expats, kiters, and nomads, it’s run by 3 generations of women: from the iconic grandma to the hard working granddaughter.

This open air and retro cafe doesn’t have a special space for laptop warriors, but a few strategic tables will get you a plug and a fan in addition to free wifi.

The best thing about this place (apart from the great food and lovely staff) is that it opens at 6 am- perfect for early risers.

 

Racer Marina

Pak Nam Pran’s brand new marina, home to a few small yachts and marine workshops, is actually a great place to work.

Located on the shores of the Pranburi river about 2 km upstream of the estuary, it’s got fast wifi, big outdoor tables and a banging coffee machine that gives you a true Italian espresso for $1.50. They even serve vegetarian paninis!

If you like working by the water, and the idea of boats slowly coming and going as the breeze of the ocean flows in sounds attractive, you should give it a go.

It’s also the only place in town that has a massive office/meeting room for rent, complete with aircon, a giant round desk for up to 10 people, and a professional printer.

 


Where to shop and eat in Pak Nam Pran

 

Markets in Pak Nam Pran are everywhere and everyday; it’s a paradise for lovers of fresh veggies, fruits and seafood. There are a few different markets in town that usually open on different days.

The main one at the entrance of town opens up every second day, while smaller markets in different corners of town happening in between. They usually open around mid-day and close a bit after dark- around 7 pm.

Even though street food in Thailand is world famous and you could simply just eat out forever, learning how to cook with local ingredients is quite rewarding, and the local market is where it all comes from.

You’ll also find a Tesco Lotus supermarket with more western products in Pranburi town, just a 10 minute drive away.

The local specialities in Pak Nam Pran are pineapple, octopus, and farmed shrimp (the one that goes into the strong and spicy tom yam soup). Great local herbs to cook with are lemongrass, parsley, basil and mint.

We think the best restaurants in Pak Nam Pran are:

 

Beach House Bistro

With consistently delicious and generous food, this little bar serving European, Thai, Indian and Mexican food, is ran by Karl, an English kitesurfer who settled in town more than 10 years ago with his wife Michelle. They are both super friendly people who also run a cool guest house always full of kiters from all over the world.

 

Chicken & Bee

Recently just opened on the way south to Sam Roi Yot, this organic farm and restaurant is hotspot among local vegetarians and lovers of home grown food. In an wooden, green and airy setup, you will find your dose of healthy smoothies, salads, pasta but also Thai traditional food cooked to absolute perfection. And the best part: you can buy organic veggies straight from their garden, depending on the season and availability.

Watersports Sunglasses kitesurfing sailing polarized sunglasses

LiP Urban Collection

Internet in Pak Nam Pran

 

Internet in Pak Nam Pran is fast and stable in and around town as most businesses and modern homes are equipped with ADSL or fiber optic setups. Wifi speeds range from 10 to 35 Mb/s. Power cuts here are non-existent.

4G in Thailand averages 9 Mb/s as measured by a recent (November 2017) state of mobile networks in Thailand (see report). It is in line with the Asia-Pacific region average of 9.69 Mb/s. The top 3 mobile providers in Thailand are Truemove, AIS and Dtac. See a full guide on Thailand’s sim card options here.

extreme sports & outdoor adventures in Pak Nam Pran

How to get to Pak Nam Pran

 

To get to Pak Nam Pran from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport, the best option is to take a bus straight from the ground floor to Hua Hin and then do the last 30 km drive to Pak Nam Pran by taxi.

If you already are in the capital’s streets, you also have the train option, with several departures going south daily from Hua Lamphong station. That will bring you slightly closer to your destination, Pranburi’s old town, 10 km west of Pak Nam. Once at the train station you should be able to find a taxi easily to reach your final destination.

 

Getting to Pak Nam Pran by bus

One company has its terminal at the Suvarnabhumi airport’s ground floor, Roong Reuang Coach. It will take you to Hua Hin city in about 3 to 4 hours, and charges 269 baht ($8.50) a seat.

Even though there is an additional fee (50 baht) for online booking, we recommend booking that way in advance as most of the time spots get full very quickly.

Big board bag owners beware: they also charge for extra luggage, you can check that and book on their website.

Once in Hua Hin, you can pick up a taxi ride to Pak Nam Pran for about 400 baht.

 

Getting to Pak Nam Pran by train

There are daily trains from Bangkok to Pranburi, leaving from Bangkok’s main train station, Hua Lamphong.

3 Classes are available, and even though the first class is comfy, quiet and (freezing) cold, if you want to make it an experience, we can only recommend going for the cheap as chips 3rd class.

Once in Pranburi station, you should easily find a taxi or motorbike taxi to get you to Pak Nam town.

 

Getting to Pak Nam Pran with a private van

A van with chauffeur will cost you around 2500 baht ($80) for an easy transfer from the airport of your choice straight to your door in Pak Nam Pran. Perfect for worry-free traveling or travelers with loads of luggage.

 

How to get around Pak Nam Pran

 

Once in Pak Nam Pran, you’ll notice that every man, woman and child can ride a motorbike; it’s simply the most convenient mode of transportation.

You can rent a 50cc scooter for $10 a day, or  $90 a month.

To buy a motorbike in Pak Nam Pran, you can expect prices to start at around $350.

You may also find pick-up trucks to rent for a day at about $30. A good rental business here is Mr. Moo, who has everything you need- from bicycles to scooters to quads, with payment plans ranging from daily to monthly.

To find the best public transport to or from Pak Nam Pran (Pranburi), use this search form from 12go.asia – the most efficient and user-friendly public transportation booking platform for Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore,  India, Philippines, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar.

 

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Cover Picture: Jim Thirion

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