Hua Hin is within easy reach of Bangkok and is a nice little seaside town that attracts families and package tourists. Being close to the Thai capital, it also receives a lot of local tourists which helps give it a more authentic feel to compliment the Westernised elements of mainstream tourism.
Hua Hin is a quaint, friendly place; there are narrow lanes lined with cafés and souvenir shops, donkey rides, deck chairs and ice cream vans on the beach.
The beach is the main attraction here and, at five kilometres long, it is an impressive sight. Boulders are strewn throughout and this adds to its aesthetic appeal while creating a few small rock pools. In fact, ‘Hua Hin’ means ‘head rock’ in Thai and refers to a particular rocky headland that separates the two main beach areas of the resort.
These rocks don’t hinder swimming, though – in fact, the sea here is great for all manner of watersports. The only drawback being the appearance of quite a few jellyfish during wet season.
At one end of the beach is Khao Takiab, aka ‘chopstick hill’. There are a few modest temples on the way up this smallish mound and it makes for quite a pleasant walk. The hill and its temples are home to scores of monkeys, which will jump and swing around as you ascend. From the top of here, you’ll get a great view of the beach and the huge high-rise hotels dotted below.
A visit to Hua Hin’s Chatchai Market is also highly recommended, especially if you want to sample some of the locally caught seafood. But there is a whole host of other culinary options available in Hua Hin, and a meal can be had easily by grazing a few small portions from the many tempting food items on offer rather than a big sit down meal.
Hua Hin activities
If you’re keen on golfing, then you’ll be able to get your fix in Hua Hin as there are many golf equipment shops in town where golfing tours can be easily arranged. Some recommended golf courses include the Imperial Lake View Hotel & Golf Club, just out of town in Cha Am, which is ideal for average level players. For a championship-level course, try the Springfield Royal Country Club, or The Majestic Creek Country Club directly inland from Hua Hin at Moo 4, Tambol Tabtai.
Hua Hin restaurants
As the sun sets and you’re looking for somewhere to eat, seafood seems the obvious choice. Chatchai Market is probably the best place to sample some and you’ll be eating in a lively and fun atmosphere.
If you’ve had enough of local dishes and you’re hankering for something Western, head to Phunsuk Road and Naretdamri Road where there is a huge collection of international eateries and steakhouses. Italian food is of prominence, with Luciano Pizza House and Lo Stivale two highly recommended places. Buffalo Bill’s Steak and Grill, near the post office, does good ribs and steak.
Hua Hin nightlife
For nighttime entertainment in Hua Hin the options are fairly limited due to the emphasis on family holidays here. There is a collection of bars, which are mainly of the ‘friendly hostesses’ variety along the roads leading from the market to the beach (off Naretdamri Road and Damnoen Kasem Road). These are among the tamest in Thailand, though, and you can easily avoid the attentions of the girls who work there if it’s not your thing.
This area is the liveliest in Hua Hin after dark and many of the bars show sports on big screens and have pool tables. Families take their children into these bars from time to time, too, making them altogether a far cry from the much more sleazy hostess bars to be found in Bangkok or Pattaya.
The only sizeable disco in Hua Hin is in the Hilton Hotel, where drinks prices aren’t quite as astronomical as the rooms. This disco features a live band on most nights and closes at 01:00 sharp.
Recommended guesthouses in Hua Hin
Despite the obvious luxury high-rise hotels springing up all over the Hua Hin skyline, there are also a number of more affordable guesthouses and budget hotels. Below are a few recommendations to cover a range of budgets:
Bird Guest House: cheap, but pleasant, guesthouse right by the sea. 31/2 Naretdamri Road, Tel: (032) 511 630.
K Place: located about a five-minute walk from the beach, this bright, friendly guesthouse has air-con rooms. 116 Naretdamri Road, Tel: (032) 511 396.
Puangpen Villa Hotel: spacious rooms with cable TV, air-con and a fridge with minibar plus there is a large pool. 11 Damnoen Kasem Road, Tel: (032) 533 785.
Getting to Hua Hin
Probably the most comfortable and best way to get to Hua Hin is by train. This will also give you a chance to see the town’s cute and colourful train station. The journey takes about four hours and trains leave Bangkok’s Hualamphong Train station.
Buses are slightly more expensive than the train and depart Bangkok’s Southern Bus Terminal (Sai Tai Mai) numerous times a day between 04:00 and 22:20. Minibuses run from Victory Monument.
To get to Hua Hin by road, take the southern Thonburi-Paktho Road, pass Samut Songkhram, turn left onto Petchkasem Highway and go in the direction of Prachuab Khirikhan. Eventually you will pick up signs to Hua Hin – the journey takes about three hours.