Thailand’s oldest beach resort town, Hua Hin and its twin Chaam have endeavoured to preserve their old world charm and casual elegance. Favoured by Thai Royalty, the town owes its existence to King Prajadhipok’s (Rama VII) decision to build a summer palace here.
What set Hua Hin on the road to prosperity was first the construction of the railway line during the reign of King Rama VI (1910-1925), which was soon followed by the establishment of the Railway Hotel and the Royal Hua Hin Golf Course. But even more important was the construction of the summer palace, the Klai Kangwon Palace, meaning ‘far from worries’, by King Rama VII in 1926 (The palace is today the permanent residence of Thailand’s ruling monarch His Majesty King Bhumibol). Once Hua Hin became the official Royal Retreat, Thai aristocracy flocked to the newly discovered seaside resort, building summer homes in its bucolic surroundings. For long a cherished secret of Bangkokians who retreated to it on the weekends, Hua Hin today increasingly finds itself on the international tourist map thanks to the western tourists who stumbled on Hua Hin. Ever since it has been on the tourist trail. Yet it must be said, despite its growing popularity Hua Hin has retained its provincial charm.
Its greatest selling point is that the coastal town has retained an old world charm and has an air of timeless romance. This is where you go for long walks through the quiet winding streets, enjoy delicious seafood, play a round of golf on one of the several international standard courses or enjoy a sundowner at your beachfront hotel. Gorgeous beaches and distinctive resorts offering the ultimate in Thai-style service make this resort town a charming getaway and perfect for a romantic wedding. Hua Hin is also blessed with a variety of satellite attractions ranging from national parks and temples to water parks and vineyards. Being a Royal beach resort, cabarets, discos, and other nightspots are more regulated than normal and somewhat limited, which many will find refreshing, especially those with families and couples hoping for some restful quality time surrounded by sand, sun, sea, and abundant fresh seafood. Hua Hin has a famous, stunning five-km beach, lovely waterfalls, lush limestone mountains and plenty of leisure activities. It has become world renowned as a superb place to rejuvenate at one of several internationally renowned spas in a great location.
Hua Hin is certainly one of Thailand’s premier golfing destinations, with eight world-class courses and several driving ranges in the nearby area. Additionally, fishing, hiking, cooking classes, horseback riding, diving and snorkelling are only a few of the other options for those with a more active disposition. World-class shoppers need not worry either: With two night-markets, a local market, and numerous boutique stores. Hua Hin is an excellent place to shop for locally produced handicrafts, fabrics, souvenirs, and food products. Coastal cruises, day trips around Monkey Island and Dolphin Bay, local fishing excursions and night time deep-sea trips are all available from Hua Hin, while freshwater fishing, river cruises and eco-tours run along the waterways inland. Half-day and full-day trips are available.
Popular destinations include: Pa-La-U Waterfall, a 15-tier feature in the jungle 60 kms from town; Kaeng Krachan National Park, Thailand’s largest reserve, stretching to the Burmese border; Sam Roi Yot National Park, a landscape of limestone peaks; and Khao Takiab, a hill at the end of Hua Hin beach sprinkled with Buddhist shrines and well worth climbing for the panoramic view; and Hua Hin Hills Vineyard home of Monsoon Valley wines, a superb restaurant, with stunning views of the wine lands and elephant rides among the vines.
Whether undergoing spa treatment, holistic therapy, learning Thai massage, taking advantage of the excellent medical services, horseback riding, or just relaxing and reading a good book, Hua Hin is the perfect place for those who love a more sedate holiday style in a gorgeous seaside resort. And who doesn’t?
The central market sells fresh fruit and fish to locals as it’s been done for ages. The night market is the ideal place to sample street food cooked fast and fresh. International travellers visit Hua Hin for the coastline and wonderfully natural hotels, but the locals arrive for the food, with the town’s fishing fleet delivering baskets of prawns and fish every day, helping the town maintain its reputation as one of Thailand’s top seafood spots.
Most restaurants and eateries especially those in the five- star resorts are geared toward high-end gourmet level, but there are all kinds of cuisine available for all kinds of food lover – although we can’t mention them all in all fairness. By the way, if you’re curious about where the Thais are going for great daytime street food, try going to Hua Hin 51, just a few steps from the beach.
Services are available on an hourly basis from Southern Bus Terminal (Sai Tai Mai Bus Terminal, Pinklao) from 4 am-10:20 pm. Prior reservations are required to secure seats, and tickets have to be booked at the bus station in
person. Ticket costs about Bt160.
Minibuses, which ply the route every 15 minutes from 6 am-7 pm, are much faster than buses but have a limited seating capacity (11-12seats). Minibuses start from Ratchawitee Hospital near the Victory Monument in Bangkok. Ticket costs approximately Bt200.
You can either flag down a cab or approach a travel agency either directly or through your hotel, to hire a cab. However, decide on the fare before the trip, as it can vary accordingly and is usually between Bt1,000 and Bt3,000. You can also rent a car and drive all the way to Hua Hin.
A safer and comfortable way to reach Hua Hin is from Bangkok’s Hua Lum Pong Railway Station. Train tickets can be reserved either in person or online.