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Ao Manao is one of the most beautiful bays in Thailand. Ao means bay and manao means lime. Both ends of the bay has a hill, Lom Muak hill to the north and Klongwahn hill to the south, so the bay is well protected from storms.

In addition, there are a few islands off the shore where you can see rich marine life and swallow caves.

The unique shape of Lom Muak hill and the semi-circular shape of the bay, makes Ao Manao exceptionally scenic. It features fine white sand, shallow water and gentle currents - making it the perfect get away for the whole family.

Location And How To Get There

Lom Muak hill in Ao Manao, Thailand
Ao Manao is housed within Wing 5, a Royal Thai Air Force base that also offers beach recreation to both air force families and visitors. It's located 5 km South of central Prachuap.

From Prachuap train or bus station, head for Sala Cheep Road. Follow the road to its Southern end, which is the entrance to the air force base. Continue for another 3 km and you will see the bay.

The area features many big shade trees which makes it an excellent place for bicycle riding. Rentals are available both at Ao Manao and from a shop near the Prachuap entrance.

Accommodation In Ao Manao

Wing 5 offers a few types of comfortable accommodation to the public. However, since they give priority to air force officers, rooms are often sold out during public holidays and long weekends. If that's the case, you still have many choices of rooms in Prachuap and Klongwahn village, which is 4 km away.

Food And Souvenirs

Food and souvenirs are readily available in Ao Manao. The stores are run by families living at the base and the air force controls the prices. As a result, food and souvenirs are inexpensive compared to what you normally pay at beach resorts.

Food and drinks are served right on the beach. If you prefer, you can go across the road to eat at the food court or the restaurant.

A food court in Ao Manao, Thailand
The fun part about going to the food court is the large variety of foods; such as Thai deep-fried donuts with freshly brewed coffee in the morning, grilled fresh seafood and tom yum koong (spicy shrimp soup with lemon grass).

Refreshing fruit shakes are also available if you would like a thirst quencher while you're on the beach.

Beautiful Ao Manao

When I was young, long stretch of Ao Manao's white sandy beach was carpeted with tiny pink shells called hoy tubtim. Hoy means shells. Tubtim means ruby or pomegranate. These shells has different shades of pink, that's similar to the colors of both items.

Today you still can see plenty of these lovely shells if you walk towards the southern end of the bay.

The sunrise over Ao Manao is a spectacular sight. Similarly, a moonlit night is just as beautiful.

One unique character of this bay is the really fine white sand and calm currents. The water is really shallow so Thai families like to bring their young children to swim and play on the beach.

Today, many visitors head for Ao Manao for its charm and pleasant atmosphere. Luckily, it's in the air force base so the beach is still kept clean. Thanks to the cadets who do a great job collecting the trash on the beach, every morning at dawn.

Hanging Out On The Beach

Ao Manao offers you privacy from souvenir vendors who often work on popular beaches. Vendors from outside are not allowed to operate within the air force base. All the shops are run by families who live at the base, in a separate section away from the beach.

You can have a beach chair all day long for less than half a dollar.

Ao Manao- Historical Importance

Ao Manao is not only known for its natural beauty, it's also a historical site from WWII.

It's one of the locations along the Thai Gulf the Japanese invaded. They planned to use Thailand as a base when attacking the British in Burma and Malaysia.

The invasion took place in the early morning of December 8th, 1941. The fight only lasted for a bit over a day and ended soon after Wing 5 commander, M. L. Pravasd Chumsai, received a direct order from the prime minister, Field Marshal Phibunsongkhram, to stop resisting.

Second World War monument in Ao Manao, Thailand
The scene of the fight was engraved on a gigantic green granite rock near the World War II museum, which is located near Lom Muak hill. It's open every weekend and public holidays.

The road inside the air force base was named Chumsai in honor of the commander.

Every year on December 8th, there is a memorial service for those who lost their lives in the battle. To commemorate the event, Wing 5 also arranges a big fair called Weerakham fair that runs for several days.

There are a lot of activities throughout that period: Thai outdoor sports competitions (including Takraw, cock fighting, climbing Lom Muak hill, petanque and children's football), open-air movies, live music, exhibitions from various government offices as well as inexpensive goods and OTOP local products sale.

If your legs get tired from all the walking at the fair, take a rest and order some delicious Thai food at the beer garden, where you can watch live entertainment.

Other Activities At Wing 5

Touring the bay on a speed boat

Riding a banana boat


Playing golf at Wing 5's 9-hole golf course by the sea

Strolling along the beach walk

Trekking Lom Muak hill

Feeding monkeys (spectacled langurs) in their natural habitat at the base of Lom Muak hill
Monkeys in Ao Manao, Thailand

For Your Information

When going to Ao Manao, you actually cross the runway, which is considered an area of operations at Wing 5.

While crossing, drive straight over the metal grid. This keeps gravel and dirt off the runway. Continue to the other side of the runway without stopping.

It's prohibited to enter other parts of the runway or to take photos round the runway.

The guards at the gate may check your passport upon entering the base.

It's not allowed to hang out on the beach after dark.

Most Thais swim in shorts and t-shirt. Be aware that wearing skimpy swim wear can draw negative attention.

If you want a quiet break, avoid visiting Ao Manao during long weekends and public holidays.

Events In Ao Manao

January: Children's Day (on the second Saturday of January)

April: Thai traditional New Year or Songkran Festival

November: Loy Kratong Festival

December: (starting on 7th) Weerakham Fair in memory of the veterans from the WWII.

Suggested Reading:    Popular Sights In Prachuap   Beaches In Prachuap

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