In many ways, Hua Hin is a just hop, skip and jump away from Bangkok. A quiet little beach resort town, it is just 2.5 to 3 hours away from Bangkok by auto. Hua Hin has long been favored by the royal family since Prince Chakrabhongse first visited on a hunting trip. King Rama VII built a summer palace and named it Klaikangwon,“far from worries”. As Thailand’s first seaside holiday destination, wealthy Bangkok residents built their holiday homes there and Hua Hin flourished. Now, Hua Hin is a great destination for a getaway, with long white sandy beaches, safe swimming and plenty of fun activities.
Tranquil yet vibrant, Hua Hin offers breathtaking events and activites, lively night markets and a dreamy vineyard that proves relaxing doesn’t have to be boring! Even going to the local malls is a treat.
Opened in 2006, Market Village Hua Hin was the first major shopping complex in the city. Other than Tesco Lotus, Home Pro and Major Cineplex, Market Village also has a food court, restaurants and plenty of shops with popular clothing brands. Your little ones can amuse themselves in the play area upstairs or even learn karate or dance at the local classes held there every afternoon. Several themed events take place every week or so, from animal farms to Chinese New Year and even beauty pageants and fashion shows.
Or a few minutes away is the BluPort Hua Hin Resort Mall. The largest and most impressive shopping mall in Hua Hin, the 5 Billion Baht Mall is a partnership between Proud Real Estate, (InterContinental, Holiday Inn, Vana Nava Water Jungle, True Arena, Le Colonial Beach Club) & The Mall Group, Thailand’s most impressive luxury shopping mall developer. BluPort boasts a line-up of over 1000 names in fashion, beauty, lifestyle, IT as well as entertainment for both family, friends and children. With outlets like H&M, UNIQLO, Coffee Club and the infamous Whaley Port for kids, the mall is the new iconic anchor of Hua Hin offering not only shopping but dozens of restaurants to choose from as well as great theaters. It is open every day from 10 am to 10 pm.
For those who don’t want to be inside, wander over to Cicada Market near Khao Takiab beach. This upmarket night market comes alive to celebrate the arts—it is a forum for local artists to exhibit and sell their work, with a weekend schedule of live entertainment. Visitors can pick up handicrafts, paintings, drawings, vintage bric-a-brac and specialty artisan items and accessories by local designers. At Cicada you’ll find items for sale that aren’t available at typical Thailand Night Markets. Set in tropical gardens, the ambiance is relaxed, stylish and bohemian, with paths illuminated by lanterns and fairy lights and art installations throughout. Two indoor galleries – The Art Factory – display the works of local artists and university students, plus a rotation of touring national and international exhibitions. Food vendors offer the full range of Thai street foods, from the local specialty of khao khluk kapi – fried rice with shrimp paste – to Pad Thai to Isaan (North Eastern) dishes. There’s also a selection of international foods, including Italian, Japanese, Korean barbecue and Chinese. Grilled fresh seafood here is also a specialty. Cicada Market is open Friday to Sunday evenings.
Right next to Cicada is the Tamarind night market, a treasure trove of eateries for those with hungry stomachs. Tamarind has become extremely popular for tourists and locals alike and is open Thursday thru Sunday evenings.
Just a few minutes further from Cicada and Tamarind is the village of Khao Takiab which has become a desirable destination in its own right. This quiet village, about 7 km away from Hua Hin, has a great beach with plenty of beach restaurants and beach bars. You’ll also find lots of shops and interesting places to visit along with high end hotels and condominium developments.. Also, in Khao Takiab is Wat Khao Lad which sits on top of a hill / mountain. Because of all the monkeys that reside in or near the temple the Wat has picked up the nickname monkey temple and the mountain monkey mountain. A 20 meters statue of Buddha stands at the base of the hill. There are several ways to reach the temple. One way is to simply climb the stairs. Visitors may pause during their climb and enjoy the view, on a very clear day, you can see as a far as Cha-Am , the next city to the north.
If you are a golfer, well then you have found Nirvana. Hua Hin boasts 10 great golf courses with some of the best being Black Mountain and Banyan. In 2012 and each year since Black Mountain has been selected as one of the 100 best golf courses outside the USA by Golf Digest magazine. Since 2009 the Banyan Golf Club has consistently claimed ‘Top 3 in Asia’ awards and has been featured in the ‘Rolex Top 1000’ in the World.
Other things to see and do in Hua Hin include a visit to the Hua Hin Railway Station near the city center. The historic station opened in 1911 and still retains its colonial charm. It is considered the most picturesque railway station in the country. When trains are not roaring through, you’ll find many tourists taking selfies on the tracks and outside the old Royal Waiting Room, a grand looking building that was used to welcome the King and his court when they visited.
While in Hua Hin don’t miss out on the Vana Nava Water Jungle—one of the largest water parks in Thailand; it also boasts some of the country’s largest and longest water slides. As well as the thrills, there are water play areas for little ones and a unique ‘Aquacourse’, a course of ropes and challenging obstacles, combined with water guns. Together with other interactive facilities the Vana Nava Water Jungle promises to deliver a splashtastic fun to thrill and chill seekers of all ages.
Next door to the Vana Nava Water Jungle you’ll find the Holiday Inn Resort Vana Nava Hua Hin. The highest building in Hua Hin, their sky bar, called Vana Nava Sky, is the best place in Hua Hin to view a sunset while enjoying custom cocktails created specifically for Vana Nava Sky by the famous mixologist J. Borosky. For those not shy of heights, wander out onto Vana Nava Sky’s see thru deck for a view of the hotel and water park below.
With other attractions including Black Mountain’s water park, Santorini Water Park, Swiss Sheep Farm, Pala U Waterfall, the Maruekhathaiyawan Palace (the King’s Summer Palace), Art Village, Plearnwan, Rajabhakti Park and the aforementioned Monsoon Valley Vineyard, there is honestly no shortage of activities to do in Hua Hin even if it is just strolling through the streets. The locals are friendly, the food is superb, and the sights are worth seeing.
Hua Hin offers plenty of transportation options including Grab, but if you would like to sightsee further afield it’s a good idea to rent your own vehicle or better yet, rent a vehicle with driver. The area of Khao Tao offers a small cove about 20 kilometers South of Hua Hin. Named for the hill that overlooks the beach, the beach is outlined with rocks on either side. The beach is uniquely secluded and tranquil and one of the best beaches for swimming. Here you will find an excellent beach club called Sanae Beach Club. At the top of the hill, in the dense forest, visitors will find an impressive Buddha statue. Additionally, there is a small hut that offers massages. Or, go further to Sam Roi Yot National Park, about a further forty minutes, and hike up to the Phraya Nakhon Cave. This magical attraction is an incredible sight to behold. Inside an elusive cave you will find an intricately designed gold and green pavilion. When the conditions are just right, you’re able to witness streams of light shining down on the pavilion through the open ceiling. The royal pavilion is truly a hidden treasure and the tough hike to get there is well worth it for the view alone. The National Park is 98-square kilometers with many other attractions as well, thanks to its limestone cliffs, mangrove forest, pristine beaches, dark caves, and abundant wildlife. There is also a 1-km wooden boardwalk over the marsh area that offers an amazing view.
Hua Hin is a relaxing place to be, far from its counterparts in the south, like Ko Samui or Ko Phangan or Pattaya across the gulf. You can get there by bus, train, taxi or private jet via Jaras Aviation or MJETS. From Suvarnabhumi airport, a private bus or shuttle bus can be arranged although you can go to the bus stations around the city as well—there’s one leaving every hour from 7 am till 6 pm. You can also take the train from Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong although that might take more time, 5-6 hours in comparison to the bus’s 3 hour journey. Generally, November to February is the best months to visit due to the cooler temperature. However, the cool sea breeze offers a pleasant atmosphere on even the hottest of days. It is to be noted that March to May is extremely hot while the rainy season stretches between June and October.
The locals take immense pride in their heritage and the town can offer the discerning visitor a real glimpse back into Thailland’s history with its old colonial buildings, fishing heritage and quaint timeless streets. In spite of its popularity as a thriving resort town, Hua Hin has not lost its charm as a fishing village and it is reflected in the simple and tasteful atmosphere found there.