Hua Hin

by Catherine Bodry  

The royal second-hometown, Hua Hin is a resort destination popular with traveling families, expats, and Thais — and, of course, the royal family. Once a small fishing village, Hua Hin burst onto the scene in 1922, when King Rama VII had a holiday home constructed there. It’s a nice mix of nightlife, resorts, golfing, and family-friendly activities. The seaside town is only about a three-hour bus ride from Bangkok on Thailand’s Gulf Coast (quite a bit north of Ko Samui), which means that it is easily-accessed: you can even take a limousine there straight from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport.

Hua Hin manages to (mostly) avoid the seediness of other resort towns such as Pattaya and puts out a fun, recreational vibe. It’s filled with hotels, resorts and condos (great for vacation rentals) all targeted to vacationers who are there to relax. A golf course, pier restaurants and guesthouses, nearby national parks, and a long strip of sand mean that there’s plenty to keep you occupied.

Things to see and do in Hua Hin

Hua Hin is somewhat off the backpacker circuit, and it’s a great place to mingle with Thais who are also on holiday.

  • Golf: The Royal Hua Hin Golf Course has been drawing international golfers the past few years. It’s the best out of several in the vicinity, and has views of temples and the ocean.
  • Ride horses: Horseback rides and lessons are offered on the beach. the horses appear to be well-treated, and the experience is a safe one.
  • See the Sofitel: What used to be the Railway Hotel is now owned by the Sofitel chain. The luxurious colonial-style building was part of the set of the movie The Killing Fields, and is a great place to have some tea and dessert and reminisce about times gone past.
  • Eat seafood: With an awesome night market and a handful of pier restaurants, Hua Hin is a great place to eat some fresh seafood. Even better if you get it barbecued….
  • Go hiking: Nearby Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park is packed with limestone cliffs and caves and makes a great day trip from Hua Hin. The name means “three hundred mountain peaks” and has some great trails that lead to sun-dappled Buddhas.

Getting there and away

Hua Hin’s small airport has suspended service of its daily shuttle to Bangkok; check their website for updated information.

Buses leave from Bangkok’s southern bus station every hour, and minivans depart from Bangkok’s Victory Monument with similar frequency. It’s about a three-hour ride. Limousines ad private cars are also available for hire; you can book these at Bangkok’s airport or through a travel agent in Bangkok.

You can also catch one of the frequent trains from Bangkok’s Hualamphong train station.

[Photo credit: Pix of Stuff, Flickr]

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