If you’re planning a trip to Thailand, chances are you’re already aware of the famous beaches on the islands of Phuket, Krabi, and Koh Samui. But have you ever heard of Ao Manao Beach? This hidden gem, located in the southern province of Prachuap Khiri Khan, is one of Thailand’s best-kept secrets. In this article, we will take you on a journey to explore the beauty of Ao Manao Beach, from its history to its breathtaking scenery, and provide you with all the essential information you need for a perfect visit.
Ao Manao Beach, which means “Lemon Bay” in Thai, is a secluded beach situated within the Royal Thai Air Force Wing 5 base. This pristine beach is known for its crystal-clear waters, white sandy beaches, and dramatic limestone cliffs. It’s a perfect destination for those who want to escape the crowds and enjoy some peace and quiet.
2. The History of Ao Manao Beach
Ao Manao Beach has a fascinating history dating back to World War II. During the war, the Japanese army occupied Thailand and built an airfield in the area where Wing 5 is now located. The beach was used as a landing strip, and many Japanese soldiers lost their lives during the American bombing raids.
After the war, the Royal Thai Air Force took over the area and built Wing 5, which is still in operation today. In 1971, the air force opened the beach to the public, and it has been a popular tourist destination ever since.
3. Getting to Ao Manao Beach
Ao Manao Beach is located about 300 km south of Bangkok, near the town of Prachuap Khiri Khan. The easiest way to get there is by car or taxi, which takes around 3-4 hours from Bangkok. Alternatively, you can take a train from Bangkok to Prachuap Khiri Khan and then take a taxi or tuk-tuk to the beach.
4. Accommodation Options
If you’re looking for accommodation near Ao Manao Beach, you’ll find a variety of options to suit every budget. The beach has several bungalows and guesthouses within walking distance, as well as a camping site for those who prefer to sleep under the stars. For more upscale accommodation, there are several resorts and hotels in the nearby town of Prachuap Khiri Khan.
5. Things to Do and See
There are plenty of things to see and do at Ao Manao Beach, from relaxing on the beach to exploring the nearby attractions. Here are some of the top activities to consider:
5.1. Swimming and Sunbathing
The clear blue waters and soft white sand make Ao Manao Beach a perfect spot for swimming and sunbathing. You can rent beach chairs and umbrellas or bring your own and spend the day soaking up the sun.
5.2. Snorkeling and Scuba Diving
Ao Manao Beach is home to some of the most beautiful marine life in Thailand, making it an ideal location for snorkeling and scuba diving. You can rent snorkeling gear or join a scuba diving tour to explore the coral reefs and underwater world of the beach. If you’re lucky, you might even spot some rare sea creatures such as whale sharks or sea turtles.
5.3. Rock Climbing and Hiking
The limestone cliffs surrounding Ao Manao Beach provide the perfect terrain for rock climbing enthusiasts. There are several routes for climbers of different skill levels, and the stunning views of the beach from the top make it all worthwhile. If you prefer to keep your feet on the ground, you can hike up to the viewpoint and enjoy the panoramic scenery.
5.4. Cycling and Kayaking
If you want to explore the area around Ao Manao Beach, cycling and kayaking are great options. You can rent a bike or a kayak and venture out to discover the nearby mangrove forests, caves, and waterfalls. It’s a fun and adventurous way to experience the natural beauty of the region.
5.5. Exploring the Nearby Attractions
In addition to the beach itself, there are several other attractions near Ao Manao Beach that are worth exploring. One of the most popular is the Khao Chong Krachok Temple, which is located on a hill overlooking the beach and offers stunning views of the area. Another highlight is the Wing 5 Museum, which showcases the history of the Royal Thai Air Force and its involvement in the Vietnam War.
6. Where to Eat and Drink
There are several restaurants and bars near Ao Manao Beach where you can enjoy some delicious Thai cuisine and refreshing drinks. Many of the restaurants specialize in seafood, so be sure to try some of the fresh catches of the day. If you’re in the mood for a cold beer or a cocktail, there are several bars with outdoor seating where you can relax and enjoy the ocean breeze.
7. Best Time to Visit Ao Manao Beach
The best time to visit Ao Manao Beach is from November to February when the weather is dry and mild. The water is also calm during this time, making it ideal for swimming and water activities. Avoid visiting during the monsoon season from May to October, as the beach can be prone to strong winds and rough seas.
8. Tips for Visiting Ao Manao Beach
- Bring sunscreen and a hat to protect yourself from the sun.
- Wear appropriate footwear if you plan to go hiking or rock climbing.
- Respect the local culture and dress modestly when visiting temples.
- Keep the beach clean and dispose of your trash properly.
- Be mindful of the military base rules and regulations when visiting.
Ao Manao Beach may not be as well-known as some of Thailand’s other beaches, but it’s a hidden gem that’s worth exploring. From its fascinating history to its stunning scenery and outdoor activities, there’s something for everyone at this secluded paradise. So, if you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path destination for your next trip to Thailand, be sure to add Ao Manao Beach to your itinerary.
Book your Thailand transport Online
- Is Ao Manao Beach suitable for families with young children? Yes, the beach is safe for swimming, and there are several family-friendly activities available.
- Can I access the beach if I’m not staying at the military base? Yes, the beach is open to the public, and there is a small entrance fee.
- Is it possible to go camping at Ao Manao Beach? Yes, there is a camping area near the beach where you can pitch your tent.
- Are there any restaurants and bars near the beach? Yes, there are several restaurants and bars within walking distance of the beach.
- Can I rent equipment for water activities at Ao Manao Beach? Yes, you can rent equipment such as kayaks, snorkeling gear, and scuba diving equipment near the beach.