Phetchaburi is a province capital at the northern border of the Malay Peninsula. In the past it was a port city at the shores of the Gulf of Thailand, but silt sedimentation of the Phetchaburi River led the land expanding into the sea for some ten kilometers over the last two centuries. Officially are around 30,000 people living in the place. The name of the town is translatable to 'diamond city'.
The inner town of Phetchaburi is dominated by ancient temples and some of the old, traditional teakhouses. Image by Asienreisender, 2006
In former centuries Phetchaburi was on the travel route for merchands between China and India who cut the long seaway around the whole Malay Peninsula by crossing the Tenasserim Mountains between here and the Burmese coast at the Andaman Sea. Due to the permanent flow of travellers, Phetchaburi became a wealthy trade post in past times.
The town's area is mostly flat plain. The Phetchaburi River is flowing through it towards the Gulf of Thailand. The river is too flat for larger vessels. Only small boats can drive on it.
One of the old, traditional Thai buildings of former times. It's on a temple ground and there is now a school inside. Image by Asienreisender, 2006
Phetchaburi's history is long and dates back to the time when the country was inhabited by the Indian Mon People in the 8th century. The Mon were followed by the Khmer. There are ruins of Phetchaburi's Angkorean past inmiddle of the town. The place was a religious center in that time.
In the 13th century, the time of the struggle of the early Thai kingdoms against the empire of Angkor, Phetchaburi was conquered by the kingdom of Sukothai under king Ramkhamhaeng. It got vassal status under the Thais. After Sukothai's decline it became part of the emerging Siamese kingdom of Ayutthaya (1350 CE).
An unusual section of Phetchaburi's history was the conquest of the place by Japanese pirates in 1610 CE. The pirates declared the place as independent.
The town is bordering the Tenasserim Mountain Chain in the west of it. One of the mountains very close by is Khao Wang (mountain). The mountain is now a historical park. 19th century Thai king Mongkut let built a royal palace (Phra Nakhon Khiri) on the top of Khao Wang (95m) in the years from 1853 - 1860. The king used the palace for the reception of foreign guests. The French explorer Henri Mouhot was here as one of the king's guests for a time, as he described it in his 'Travels in the Central Parts of Indochina'. Besides, the king, who was scientifically interested, did some astronomical researches here. Mongkut became kind of famous (at least in Thailand) for predicting an eclipse and invited international guests to observe the event from here in 1868. However, the king himself caught malaria and died a few weeks later. Mouhot also described how he himself suffered under the mosquito plague in Phetchaburi.
Khao Wang has three peaks. On the western one lies the palace, a temple and an observatory. On the middle peak is a white chedi and on the northeastern one another temple, Wat Phra Kaeo Noi with a remarkable dark-red prasat. The mountain is forested and there lives a large population of macaques, overfed by visiting tourists.
Phra Nakhon Khiri, the royal palace, is displayed on the province's seal, together with some rice fields and coconut palms.
Wat Khamphaeng Laeng is the above mentioned Angkorean temple, a laterite building of the 12th century (falling in the reign of Khmer king Jayavarman VII).
The temple of Phra Nakhon Khiri is a phantastic mixture of different building styles. Reminiscences of classical Angkorean architecture appear together with Thai buddhist temple style and European influences as to find in mediterranean countries. The observatory is well to see.
The forested mountain is home for many macaques who live a relatively rich life here. The last image was originally shot on film, nowadays a rarity. Images and photocomposition by Asienreisender, 1996, 2006, 2015
This is, of course, by far not as impressive as many other Angkorean remains, but still a landmark in the town and a reminder that Phetchaburi was an outpost of the mighty Khmer empire. Images and photocomposition by Asienreisender, 2006
Phetchaburi's night market is, as usually in Thailand, a great place for food. Additionally, one get's here some kinds of sweets not available elsewhere. Image by Asienreisender, 2006
The town's center has several big and historical Thai temples with large stupas who coin the inner city.
The agricultural sector of the province is dominated by sugar cane. Sugar is the traditional product of Phetchaburi; nowadays the resource is alse (ab-)used for the production of so called 'eco-fuel' (actually: eco-fraud).
However, the region is traditionally known for producing a variety of sweets. Much of it is based on the use of palm sugar.
Phetchaburi is not a tourist place; the contribution of tourism to the local economy is therefore small.