The beauty of Hua Hin is that once you arrive in Bangkok, a secondary flight is not required to get to your destination.
Located around 200km south of Bangkok, Hua Hin is most easily reached by private car (approx. $80 AUD one way), but is also serviced by rail. A much loved holiday destination of the royals, it lacks that touristy hustle and bustle that is present in much of Thailand's beachside resorts, yet offers the comforts, food and activities that people travel to Thailand for.
Hua Hin is situated on the Gulf of Thailand, which means that it enjoys warm seas throughout the year. The water is shallow for quite a distance out and generally the water is calm, which makes it an attractive destination for families and those looking for splash or calm swim.
Long expanses of white sand are perfect to relax on and there is plenty of space to set up your sun shade or umbrella without being disturbed by others. The sand and the water quality is very good, with some scattered rocks at the shoreline the main thing to negotiate.
As the beaches in Hua Hin are popular with both tourists and Thai's themselves, you will find only the odd merchant selling his wares. Horse mounted 'pony patrols' make their way up and down the beach to ensure that beach goers are safe and that order is maintained. You can even hire out the ponies for a ride should you wish!
Kiteboarding and tubing are popular activities on the beach and are most easily undertaken on the weekends. In addition to Hua Hin's main beach, there are many other beaches within driving distance of the area to explore should you wish a change of scenery.
Where to stay
Hua Hin is the playground for well to do Thais as well as foreigners and as such you can expect to find all of the major hotels in the area. There is a large range of accommodation, from backpacker style dorms above restaurants, all the way up to 5 star beach front resorts.
Like always, the closer to the beach you stay, the more you can expect to pay. We found a better option was to stay around 15 minutes out of town. For around 1/4 of the price of a beach front resort, we got our own village, with a large courtyard and our own pool. The resort offered us a free shuttle into town 4 times a day and we could have easily returned to the hotel between shuttle times by taxi if we had wished.
We loved the seclusion of having our own pool and space as well as a deluxe bungalow styled room that offered us plenty of space, as well as a huge canopied bed for our week long stay. We utilised the free shuttle to head into town to stock up on some essentials, but with breakfast included in our room rate and room service priced very reasonably, we only really needed to buy some extra water, alcohol and some snacks.
What to do
Whilst we chose to keep it simple and head out only only 2 of our 7 days, there is a trip available for every day of the week. With a focus on national parks, waterfalls and beautiful beaches, Hua Hin is very much for the nature lover. Unlike the west coast of the Peninsula, which is home to islands such as Phuket, Hua Hin is on the eastern coast, and features only a few small islands, so most of your activities will be on the mainland.
Our favourites were the Sam Roi Yod National Park and the Hua Hin Hills Vineyard. The Sam Roi Yod National Park is one of Thailand's most beautiful national parks. Featuring soaring mountain peaks, tropical forests, large expanses of white sandy beach, as well as the very popular Phraya Nakhon Cave. This beautiful hidden cave has a partially exposed roof, which allows the most stunning beams of light to filter down through the canopy, illuminating a glistening golden buddhist temple. It is certainly a sight to behold and one of the most photographed shots of the region.
Whilst you may not think of wine when you think of Thailand, the Thais would like you to think differently. Located in the hills, around 20 minutes from the township, lies the Hua Hin Hils Vineyard. Featuring a large selection of wines that are grown on site and processed within Thailand, there is something for every taste. Our favourite thing was sitting on the balcony over looking the vineyard, whilst enjoying a 6 course tapas pairing menu. Heavenly.
Closer to the township, a night market and floating market run each evening, selling much of the wares you would expect and allowing you to have a go at price haggling. Good luck, they're experts!
The round up
For years Thailand has been known as a destination filled with culture, great food and of course great value. Like many of us, who flock to Thailand for a bit of winter sun, or for a sunny escape, I also enjoy a little of the touristy side. The beauty of Hua Hin is that you can go off and get your Thai massage, or fish pedicure without being overwhelmed or swamped by it.
You can walk around the streets without being hustled by people, but conversely shops the markets, including a night and floating market are there for you to visit. You can enjoy a western shopping mall or Mc Donalds if you please, or stick to the traditional and feast on delicious fresh Thai food.
I'd previously been extremely ill when visiting Thailand, so I did travel back with some reservations about catching a tummy bug again. In this case, I was impressed and surprised at the cleanliness and care taken both at the hotel and in restaurants and could order food without having to worry.
We loved Hua Hin and we think you will too!
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