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Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrHua Hin is a relatively large resort town found along the sandy fringes of the Gulf of Thailand about a two and half hours' drive from Bangkok. It could easily be considered the sister hub of Pattaya (thanks to its popularity and proximity to the capital) yet it’s not nearly as overcrowded nor is it as sleazy. If single, middle-aged Western men head to Pattaya on party vacations, then their married counterpart will head to Hua Hin with their family for a quieter break instead.
The town boasts a 5 km long stretch of beach which may not be on par with those found on islands like Koh Samui or Koh Lanta yet it’s still infinitely nicer than that of the eastern shores of the Gulf. This may not be the absolute idyllic beach destination if you’re heading to Thailand with only beach-bumming in mind, but if you have just a few days free in Bangkok, and wish to indulge in a swim, then this may well be the ideal place for you.
Brief HistoryHua Hin is often considered Thailand’s first ever resort town. For the last century, it has been a popular destination for holidaying members of the Royal Family and the Thai elite. Thailand’s last two kings both built mansions here and the current king still takes advantage of his humble abode during the hottest months of the year. It was this Royal popularity which literally catapulted Hua Hin into tourism superstardom. What was once a lazy fishing village has mutated into a hip and happening resort town, with plenty of food, accommodation, and shopping options.
Best AttractionsHua Hin’s streets may not be palm fringed and its beaches much more Miami-like than Castaway-like, but if you want to do more during the day than soak up the sun’s rays, then at least you’ll have the option here. Hua Hin has much to offer in terms of activities and attractions.
Here’s our top pick.
Hua Hin BeachThe town’s main beach stretches for a few kilometers from one rocky outcrop to another and is filled with resort set-ups complete with sun-loungers and umbrellas which you can rent for just $ 3.00 USD a day. Here you’ll find agents offering all sorts of water-based activities such as kayaking, snorkelling, banana boat riding, jet skiing, and more.
Night MarketNowadays Hua Hin is as much revered for its night market as it is for its beach. The night bazaar is a bustling hive of shopping, eating and drinking and could easily be considered the best spot in town for indulging in all three. There’s fantastic variety on all counts and the markets are extensive enough that you can head here every night for a week and still find plenty of new ways to spend (very little) money.
Huai Mongkol TempleGrab some fellow tourists and share a ฿800 ($25) tuk-tuk ride to this striking temple, found about a half-hour drive inland from the beach. This is a much revered site for locals and a temple dedicated to a monk (Luang Pu Thuat ) who lived four centuries ago and was most famous for the numerous miracles he performed. The oversized bronze statue is as impressive as the site is relaxing. There are ponds, gorgeous gardens, and souvenir stalls.
Klai Kang Won PalaceThis century old palace was built by Rama VII and is still very much in use by the Royal Family for much of the year. Although the palace is not accessible to the public when the family is visiting, the gardens are still very much worth a look. Entrance fee is ฿20 ($0.62) and do note that conservative attire is a must.
Khao TakiabIf it wasn’t for this tree-filled, rocky hill, Hua Hin’s beach would stretch much further than it currently does. Luckily, this obstacle does have a few perks. Hike up Chopsticks Hill to the top and enjoy fantastic coastal views out to Hua Hin Bay. On your way up, you’ll walk past a lovely temple (which you can visit), several friendly monks, and some at-time rather annoying monkeys. You’ll see locals selling buckets of corn (for the monkeys not the monks) yet if you choose to buy one be prepared for the onslaught. These monkeys have absolutely no concept of personal space and will climb all over you in order to get the very last kernel. Fab if you like monkeys, traumatizing if you don’t.
Sam Roy Yot National ParksA very beautiful nature reserve about an hour’s drive out of Hua Hin, here you’ll discover trekking paths, caves, waterfalls, gorgeous scenery, and some amazing remote stretches of beach.
Food & ShoppingAt any given time, there are about half a dozen markets open for business in Hua Hin, all offering plenty of eating and shopping choices, including many hand-made arty souvenirs at the Cicada Market. Hua Hin is renowned for offering delectable seafood and fab dishes can be found at beachside eateries, bazaars, and upmarket hotels. For cheap drinks and live music, head to the block directly behind the Hilton Hua Hin Resort where you’ll find a great selection of local bars and clubs.
The go-to mall is Market Village.
NightlifeThough definitely more classy than its neighbor opposite the Gulf, Hua Hin also has a small selection of go-go and beer bars offering some adult entertainment.
AccommodationThe more expensive digs in Hua Hin boasts stretches of private beaches, however, considering the fact that most will also rent out chairs to outsiders it really doesn’t matter all that much. Hua Hin does boast a quite amazing sunrise, so do splurge on sea-side rooms if you want to enjoy the spectacle. For cheaper rooms, simply head back a block or two from the beach, where you’ll be able to find budget guesthouses offering beds for about $ 15 USD .
Hua Hin also has many short-term and long-term (vacation) villas available.
How to Get HereConveniently, Hua Hin can be reached by train from Bangkok, on a trip which costs ฿250 ($7.75) and takes about four hours. Express buses leave from Suvarnabhumi Airport every two hours starting from 7.30 a.m. and rides cost ฿300 ($9.30) per person.
If you feel confident enough to drive in Thailand. Then renting a car from Bangkok may be worth your while, so as to have independence to take on some of the furthest attractions.
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Author: Laura Pattara. Last updated: Mar 23, 2016