March 3, 2024

History and Culture of Prachuap Khiri Khan Province, Thailand

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History Overview

Archeological discoveries indicate that the geographical area of present-day Muang Prachuap Khiri Khan has been inhabited since the middle stone age, and has attracted international travel and trade since at least two millennia ago; it was part of one of the main routes traversed on the ancient maritime silk road that facilitated trade between ancient India and China, through the Tenasserim hills connecting posts at present day Prachuap Khiri Khan with Mergui (Myeik) via the Dan Singkhon pass.

During the Ayutthaya historical period (circa 14th to the 18th centuries A.D.), a town known as Muang Na Rang เมืองนารัง located around the areas of present-day Klong Wan and Koh Lak bays, was inhabited by Siamese subjects. By 1767 the area was deserted, coinciding with the sacking of the Siamese capital of Ayutthaya by invading Burmese forces.

By the start of the Rattanakosin period (early Chakri Dynasty) new towns were (re)built around Muang Klong Wan / Koh Lak (Prachuap Bay), Muang Kui (at present day Ban Wang Yao village in Kuiburi District) and Muang Pran (near present Pak Nam Pran, Pranburi district) as well as at Kamnoet Nopphakhun (in present Bang Saphan district). Initially, Muang Kui served as the area’s main administrative center. By the reign of King Rama IV, the towns of Bang Nang Rom (Na Rang or Koh Lak), Klong Wan and Muang Kui were declared to all be part of “Muang Prachuap Khiri Khan”, which roughly translates as “the town where the mountains come together”. See here for full explanation in Thai.

Initially centered at Muang Kui, though called Muang Bang Nang Rom at one stage, Prachuap Khiri Khan’s administrative center would ultimately be moved back to Koh Lak (Prachuap) Bay, where it is remains to this day.

FUN FACT: During Rama V reign Prachuap Khiri Khan was made to be part of Muang Pran, which was part of Phetchaburi Province, but later became its own province by the reign of Rama VI.

Cultural Heritage

Thai Buddhism represents the dominant religious and thus cultural influence of Prachuap Khiri Khan, which is home to some 200 Thai Buddhist temples.

Further to this, there are at least 13 Muslim Mosques in Prachuap Khiri Khan province.

Like most urban economic centers in Thailand today, Prachuap Khiri Khan’s population centers are dominated by ethnic Thai-Chinese, many of whom can trace their mainland Chinese roots back three to five generations to the last great wave of migration of the Chinese diaspora.

These Prachuap residents’ Chinese grandparents and great grandparents migrated to Siam-Thailand with little to nothing, adopted Thai surnames, and built their new lives and affluence around agriculture (farming and fishing) and fresh market commerce. Though Chinese is not spoken regularly amongst the current generation, Chinese traditions and cultural influences remain strong.

Other ethno-cultural influences thPrachuap gene pool include Burmese, Indian and Nepalese, stemming from human and resource flows over the decades and centuries to/from from what is now Southern Myanmar. And it goes without saying, there is an increasing addition of genetic diversity contributed from other regions of the world as an increasing number of expats make Prachuap Khiri Khan a home base for their families.  Indeed, western influences in food, lifestyle, people are strong 

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