Just south of Bangkok, the coastline curves around the gulf of Siam and heads southward, all the way to Singapore. Two provinces stretch along the upper portion the central coast: Petchburi and Pracuab Khiri Khan.
Petchburi's capital city has been an important stop on north-south trade routes since at least the fifth century. The city was obviously large and important during the time of the Khmer empire, as evidenced by the remains of a large Khmer Hindu temple at Wat Kamphaeng Laeng.
In the middle of the nineteenth century, Bangkok's royalty 'discovered' the delights of fresh sea air and began establishing summer palaces along the central coast. King Mongkut (Rama IV) started it in 1859 when he built Phra Nakhon Khiri on a hill just outside Petchburi town. Later kings built more palaces, each time a little bit further south that the last.
The string of palaces ends in Hua Hin, just inside of Petchburi's neighboring province, Prachuab Khiri Khan. 'Prachuab' is a long narrow province, sometimes only a few kilometers wide, with the sea on one side and Myanmar (Burma) on the other.
South of Hua Hin, the town of Pranburi is becoming popular among those looking to truly escape the crowds - small as they are - that now come to Cha Am and Hua Hin. From Pranburi, it's just a few more kilometers to get to Khao Sam Roy Yod ("300 Peaks Mountain") national park.