Prachuap Khiri Khan is a fishing town by the sea about 240 kilometres south of Bangkok. It is not the sea that has lured us here, but a small colony of Dusky Monkeys. We have always wanted to see these monkeys with the orange babies.
We stay on the beachfront at Sun Beach Guesthouse. Our room on the top floor has ocean views. We wake up to gorgeous sunrises fringed by limestone cliffs and colourful fishing boats bobbing in the sea.
The sea isn’t azure with white, sandy beaches lined with palm trees, but it is laid back and a nice place to relax. On the esplanade, a few local restaurants look over the ocean. If you love seafood, you will be in paradise. We eat at a few local restaurants including a cosy pizza place that makes the best and freshest pizzas, including vegetarian. There isn’t a lot of vegetarian options on the menus but most restaurants will happily create something special for vegetarians.
The Dusky Monkeys inhabit Ao Manao Beach, which is situated inside the Air Force Base about five kilometres away. The entrance is via the base, and you register when you enter and depart. The first morning we walk from Sun Beach Guesthouse and it takes about one hour. The next day we hire a motorbike from the guesthouse for 200 Baht a day. Bicycles are available for 50 Baht a day.
Ao Manao Beach is a lot nicer than the beach in town. The sheltered water is clear and remains shallow for a long distance out, which makes it great for families. On the beach, there are cool shady trees, food stalls and umbrellas. Further south, there is white sandy deserted beaches.
The monkeys are wild but habituated. When they come down from the sacred mountain, they hang out on a rocky outcrop on the northern end of the beach.
The Duskys love human company. They approach closely and like to touch, but they are very gentle. Black arms of the older monkeys encircle fluffy orange babies tight to their chests until the older ones trust us. Black or grey, a long tail, black human-like hands and feet, this is one adorable monkey!
Also known as the Spectacled Langur, they have vivid white circles around dark eyes that gaze serenely. Very affectionate with each other, they hold hands and hug. When one is told off, it is with a point of a furry black finger rather than aggression.
Babies are born bright yellow or orange, and between six and ten months of age, they will start to darken. It is not known why they are born so bright; one theory is they play, wander away, and get lost, and being so bright they are found easily by the adults.
The babies are popular among the troop and get passed around and fought over like little rag dolls. Even the males want their turn with these cute orange babies. Smothered with affection, the babies end up looking a little battered and bruised after the rough and tumble.
We spend a couple of days watching these endangered primates. Their behaviour is endearing, and we have them and this little part of paradise mostly to ourselves.
As cute and gentle as they are, they are not beyond thieving. So keep an eye on your belongings.
Ao Manao is one of the best places to see a Dusky Monkey in the wild. A world away from the more popular beaches, Prachuap Khiri Khan is a nice escape from the touristy crowds and makes a nice stopover while travelling south.
How to get to the Dusky Monkeys
Taxi 3000 Baht.
Bus or minibus 500 Baht. Mini buses leave every couple of hours from the Victory Monument.
Trains depart twice a day from Bangkok 200-400 Baht.
We stay at Sunbeach Guesthouse. It is pretty and sparkly clean with gorgeous views. It’s also in a great location. The restaurants are within a few hundred metres along the esplanade. An Ocean view room is 1100 Baht for a night.
More of our Thailand Travel Stories
- Khmer Ruins in Thailand
- Wild Elephants in Thailand
- Three Adorable Babies at and Elephant Sanctuary in Chiang Mai
- Our Thailand Travel Photography
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