If it’s your first time in Prachuap Khiri Khan, you might be surprised to find a big concrete arch guarded by soldiers at the south end of Salacheep Road. Actually, you’re just about to enter Wing 5 (กองบิน 5), the Prachuap Royal Air Force base. If you stay a bit in Prachuap you’ll soon be very familiar with Wing 5, since you’ll find out quickly that the famous Ao Manao beach is actually inside the base. Note that we won’t talk about Ao Manao beach in this article since you can find more complete informations here.
Wing 5 might be the most welcoming Air force base in the world, but it’s still a military base, and as a reminder, foreigners have to notify their presence by signing a book and give their passport number just after they went through the entrance.
Whereas Ao Manao beach is undoutbly the main attraction in Wing 5 there are many other things to see around. One of them is the Historical Park where you can visit a museum that retraces the history of the Royal Thai Air Force and especially the battle that took place on the 8th december 1941 in Prachuap Khiri Khan. So, it’s time for a bit of history:
Around 3am, on the 8th december 1941, the 2nd Battalion, 143rd Infantry Regiment of the Japanese army invaded the town of Prachuap Khiri Khan and then besieged the Air Force Base. The battle that followed caused 38 dead and 27 wounded on the Thai side, while Japanese losses are estimated at at 217 dead and more than 300 wounded. The battle is commemorated every year in Wing 5 on the 8th december.
Within the Historical Park you’ll see different monuments dedicated to this tragic episode of Prachuap Khiri Khan history:
If you’re interested in planes, then you can’t miss the ones which are exhibited in the Historical Park area.
Once you visited the Historical Park, you can head directly to Ao Manao beach or go to Khao Lom Muak Hill where is the the langur preservation area. If you’re brave enough you can also climb the hill to enjoy a stunning view on the bays.
On your way to Ao Manao beach, you’ll probably notice that there’s a golf course inside Wing 5. It’s a 9 hole course and it also includes a driving range where you can practice your skills for a small fee.
Just at the beginning of Ao Manao beach stands a big hotel which includes a beautiful swimming pool. Note that for a fee of 50฿ you can use the swimming pool without being a customer of the hotel.
Once passed Ao Mano beach, just before the exit of the base (wich is the way to the fishing village of Khlong Wan) you’ll see a big building on your left side: this is the recently built Wing 5 hospital. It’s a day hospital, open to anyone and it can be very convenient for any health problem happening during your stay in Wing 5 area.
To conclude this short visit, i would say that though Wing 5 may sometimes look like an amusement park, you should not forget that’s it’s really an operationnal Air Force base as evidenced by the spectacular Fairchild AU-23A Peacemaker which you can sometimes see flying in Prachuap sky.