Hua Hin (which means rock head due to its rocky coastline) is situated on the western coast of the Gulf of Thailand . It is just about 200 kms from Bangkok and can be easily accessed by road or rail. The journey from Bangkok to Hua Hin by road takes about three hours, whereas the train will take four. Hua Hin celebrates being the oldest seaside resort in Thailand with its popularity stretching back to the 1920's. In fact much earlier than this, in 1868 King Mongkut (Rama IV) travelled to a place called Khao Sam Roi Yot just south of Hua Hin (which in those days was called Baan Samaw Riang – Stony Point village) to view a solar eclipse. Several European guests accompanied him and were suitably impressed with the local scenery. American Missionaries based in Pechaburi an important provincial town some 60 kms north of Hua Hin towards Bangkok were similarly impressed with the coastline and scenery and made it a popular retreat building the first bungalows on the beach.
In the early 20 th century rail planners constructed the great railroad south and on 25 th November 1911 the now infamous Hua Hin station was opened. This immediately made the place more accessible and shortly afterwards the son of Rama V (Prince Nares) built a holiday palace at the beach and named it Hua Hin, from where the name of the resort was born.
Overview of Hua Hin from Hin Lek Fai (viewpoint)
The railway had made Hua Hin readily accessible and other members of the Royal family joined Prince Nares in favouring the resort as a great place to get away to. In 1921 King Vajiravudh (RamaVI) built a beachside Palace and his successor Rama VII followed in this tradition and his own palace was completed in 1929. He named it Klai Kangwon (Far from worries). The present King Rama IX uses the palace to this day as a summer retreat.
The railway brought with it an influx of weekenders who were looking for somewhere to stay that was maybe a little better than the usual simple rest houses found at railway halts along the line. In 1923 the Railway Hotel was opened designed in Edwardian Colonial style with huge rooms and the lavish use of teakwood. High standards were maintained from the very first day and when the nearby 18 hole Royal Hua Hin golf course opened in1924 it set the style, atmosphere and character of Hua Hin for years to come.
Klai Kangwon palace Hua Hin
The resort declined during the second World war period but it was in the 1970's when the resort of Pattaya boomed at the other side of the Gulf of Thailand that Hua Hin lost its standing as Thailand's premier beach resort. In the 1980's a new generation rediscovered Hua Hin and several new holiday homes were built to join the old sedate beachside bungalows. A leading Bangkok architect designed and built Hua Hins first condominiums, the old Railway Hotel was given a new lease of life when it was chosen as the setting for the film The Killing Fields, and Hua Hin was reborn!
Sofitel Central Hua Hin
Unlike Pattaya on the eastern coast of the Gulf or Phuket further south neither Hua Hin or Cha Am (its neighbouring resort 25kms north of Hua Hin) have ever attempted to be modern or international. Geographically Hua Hin is in the centre of Thailands rapid growth and development and its greatest achievement must doubtless be its appeal firstly to the aristocracy and more recently to tourism. Hua Hin has old fashioned charm and elegance but combines it effortlessly with modern comforts. Its situation in relation to Bangkok ensures Hua Hin offers itself as the clear and obvious choice for a great holiday escape from the capital. This is evidenced by the droves of capital dwellers who flock to its charms with regularity.
Staying in Hua Hin
Hua Hin offers visitors all the comforts one would expect from the luxurious Sofitel Hotel right in the town centre (formerly the “Railway Hotel” mentioned above) to simple Guest Houses dotted around the town thereby suiting all pockets and tastes. We have excellent resources for finding suitable accommodation in and around Hua Hin. For those who come here to play Golf all your needs can be taken care of by contacting us as we have contacts who can arrange Golfing holidays all over Thailand (and beyond) along with Executive Airport transfers and accommodation. Last but by no means least, if you require an excellent travel and tour operator, contact us as we can offer these services to you.
Places to go see
Travelling south from Bangkok towards Hua Hin you will enter the Province of Phetchaburi and sweep past its town. Sadly its one of the most neglected destinations in the entire Country probably because travellers do not wish to be sidetracked on their way to the beach. Phetchaburi is rich in history and the ruins of Wat Kamphaeng Laeng an ancient Khmer temple prove that this provincial town was on the map as long ago as the 13 th century. It is also the site of the magnificent King Mongkuts hilltop palace which can reached by tramway. Adjacent to this is the temple building offering spectacular views of the area and the town cut through by the Phet Buri river. In the distance are the mountains dividing Thailand and Burma ( Myanmar ). Nearby visitors can visit Khao Luang Cave with spectacular views of Buddhas situated in a central chamber area. Moving into the town centre visitors should not miss the Wat Yai Suwannaram, a temple dating from the 17 th century with remarkable wall murals. A similar experience can be had at the nearby Wat Kaeo Sutharam a temple also dating back to the 17 th century. In contrast a third temple Wat Mahathat was built much later and has fabulous wall murals inside the main chamber along with a presiding 3 Buddha statue and Chinese altar. Along the banks of the river visitors can witness lazy scenes of barges and ramshackle houses bordering the banks. The town got its name from the river which means Diamond City . At one time diamonds were frequently found in the riverbed !
Khao Wang Palace Petchburi
Moving south west from Phetchaburi visitors will encounter the Kaeng Krachan National Park . This is Thailands largest national park covering 3000 sq kilometres, a very popular destination for naturalists and hikers. Its scenery is awesome with vast expanses of rainforest bordering and clothing rugged mountains and the huge lake formed by the Kaeng Krachan Dam on the Phet Buri River . The park is home to a wealth of flora and also 40 species of mammal incluiding elephants, leopards, tigers and bears. Its also popular with birdwatchers with over 250 confirmed species present. Well organized full day trecks are organised the trails dotted with caves, waterfalls and hot springs . An unmissable feature is Pala U waterfalls set in a wild jungle setting (bring mosquito repellant). Its possible to treck to the top of these waterfalls but much energy is needed to do so. For those with less energy the reservoir behind Kaeng Kracham Dam offers 45 sq kilometeres of scenic waterscapes. Its possible here to hire a boat to explore the lake or take a raft ride along the Phet Buri river.
Kaeng Krachan National Park
Continuing south from Phetburi visitors will come upon Cha Am, Hua Hin's nearest neighbour at 25 kilometres from Hua Hin and about 40 kilometres south of the town of Phetburi . The town is relatively quiet and peaceful and boasts a few bars and many restaurants. Cha Am has a smattering of large hotels notably the Dusit Resort and regent Cha Am. Visitors will also find a number of smaller hotels and guest houses in and around the town. The most spectacular aspect of Cha Am is its beach. Stretching the entire length of the town it is possible to spend a whole morning leisurely strolling its entire length. Its never crowded, the sand is white and the Cassara trees offer much needed shade from the tropical sun. Various watersports are available on the beach. The coastline from Cha Am and all the way to Prachuabkirikhan (the provicial town of the province sharing the same name some 110 kms south of Hua Hin) is dotted with numerous quiet coves and tiny fishing villages. Its offers visitors glimpses of traditional lifestyles with spectacular scenery. Cha Am also offers visitors a crocodile and snake farm together with the government owned Cha Am Forest park, an unspoilt public open space with decent views of the surrounding mountains and coastline.
From Cha Am it's a short 25 kilometre hop to Hua Hin itself.In so doing we leave the province of Phetchaburi and enter the province of Prachuabkirikhan . The main town beach in Hua Hin is studded with rocks jutting into the ocean.
Hua Hin actually means Rock head from where the town derives its name. The sand is white and the atmosphere calm. Pony rides are available on the beach. A visit to the Klai Kangwon Palace (“Far from worries”) is well worth it. This is the official summer residence of the present monarch and is situated just south of the town centre close to the beach. The railway station in Hua Hin dates back to 1911 and is one of the most spectacular in Thailand . It plays host to the Orient Express which stops there once every fortnight on a Sunday evening on its way south from Bangkok . There are several viewpoints in and around Hua Hin from where it is possible to look out over the town and ocean, giving visitors a perspective of the area not seen from street level. The best of these is Khao Hin Lek Fai which has five separate viewing points and also boasts a bird and butterfly sanctuary. At the southern end of the town visit Khao Takiab (Monkey Montain) with its scattering of Buddhist shrines and boasts spectacular views of the whole bay. Monkeys roam free here and can be fed if your brave but hang onto your belongings as these monkeys steal!
Of course a top attraction in Hua Hin is golf. There are now half a dozen or so championship courses notably Springfield Royal Country Club (where the course was designed by Jack Nicklaus), the Royal Hua Hin Golf course (dating from 1926 and the oldest in Thailand ) and Palm Hills Golf Resort and Country Club. The new Black Mountain golf course has also just opened.
Black Mountain golf course
Seafood is top of the agenda in both Cha Am and Hua Hin and the days catch is served up to mouthwatering recipes in many of the two towns restaurants. Its also possible to see the days catch being landed by visiting Hua Hins small but lively fishing port centrally located.
One of the dishes awaiting you at the many seafood restaurants
South of Hua Hin the scenery shifts to a coastal environment and some 25 kilometres south of Hua Hin is the Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park (this means Mountain of 300 peaks). It covers 100 sq kilometres and its mixtrure of coves, caves, marshes, cliffs and mangroves is home to a variety of wildlife. Near to the park office is a steep path to a viewpoint (30 minute walk) but the reward is breathtaking. Within the park be sure to visit Sai, Kaeo and Phraya Nakhon caves, which offer fabulous underground formations.
Between Hua Hin and Pranburi its nearest neighbouring town south are two places well worth a visit. The first is Suan Son beach. This is a small beach maintained by the thai military. The exit from the highway is easy to miss. The beach is clean, quiet and peaceful. The military operate a hotel close to the beach where visitors can stay at attractive room rates. The hotel provides decent accommodation and a large swimming pool overlooking the beach. Suan Son is popular with thai visitors and can be quite busy at the weekends.
Towards Suan Son beach
The second is a small beach a little further south along the main highway from Hua Hin. This is called Hat Sai Noi and boasts a small beach bordered by rocky headlands. The beach is in a small bay and this is very secluded and often deserted. Just inland from the beach are two large lakes where it is possible to go freshwater fishing. The nearby rocky headland is called Turtle Mountain. It is said that from the ocean the rock closely resembles the shape of a turtle.
Had sai noi beach
Continuing south and at approx 110 kilometres from Hua Hin is the town of Prachuabkirikhan . This is the provincial capital of the province and is smaller than Hua Hin. It looks out onto a picturesque 8 kilometre bay.. At the northern end of the bay is Khao Chong Krajok ( Mirror Mountain ) with a natural hole in its side which reflects the sky so as to appear like a mirror. A 395 step climb up the hill will reveal Wat Thamikaran giving forth stunning views of the coastline and seascape. The town itself is a fishing port and has been largely unchanged by the passage of time, and sea fishing remains the mainstay of the local economy.
This is not Pattaya, Bangkok or Phuket and visitors should not expect to see similar here. Hua Hins appeal is in its refined peacefulness. The town has many many restaurants which appeal to all tastes and cultures, from the cheapest to the fabulous. There are hundreds we could mention here but we decided to name but a handful. A popular farang restaurant offering great food at very cheap prices is on offer from “The Boat”, situated between the bus station and the night market. Another popular restaurant is Lek Lek behind San Paolo hospital near the railway line. This one is very popular with local people and can often be full. Moving up the scale try Itsara restaurant on the Naebkehars Rd for great sea views and mouthwatering seafood dishes. Another popular seafood restaurant is Fishermans wharf near the fishing pier, a British run restaurant with an impressive menu. Near the Hilton you'll find Sawasdee a thai/European restaurant with possibly the largest menu in hua Hin ! Others that we'd suggest include Brasserie de Paris – French cuisine on the Naresdamri Rd, Sasi restaurant near the Hyatt. This restaurant has a traditional thai show on three evenings every week, dine while you watch. For pasta lovers try Pasta Factory on the Patchakasem Rd near soi 73. Hot Pot is also a firm favourite with visitors, near the Grand Hotel. Lastly again near the Hilton you'll find Jasmines doing great seafood, good steaks and a range of Italian dishes.
Hua Hin has one or two soi's dedicated to Bars. Go to the Hilton and walk away from sea. Again there are too many to mention but one or two worth a visit are Jungle Juice (Selakam Rd), Bernys Inn (near the Hilton) a popular Golfers bar, Adrenaline Bar in the Pavillion village Hua Hin offers, beers, wines and cocktails and a happy hour every day from 5pm to 7pm. Lastly a popular favourite with expats and Golfers is the Roadhole on Poolsuk Rd.
There are two night markets in Hua Hin. The main night market is on soi 72 and is open nightly. The second is close to the Grang hotel just south of Hua Hin and is open every evening except Mondays and Tuesdays. The latter has a more local feel.
Discotheques are situated in the main hotels and there is also one adjoining the Grand Hotel.
There is a Go Kart track out of town near the airport.
Many visitors to Thailand have clothing made. Hua Hin has a few tailoring shops the most popular being the Thiparai Hotel shop (just past the Hilton towards the fishing pier), Saga near the main night market and Mike and Co on the Naebkhehars Rd. Gift shopping is made easy by visiting the Mall between soi 74 and soi 76, and silkware can be found by visiting the Rashnee Thai silk village on the Naebkhehars Rd. For silverware and pearls visit Friend on the ground floor of the shopping Mall. For bronze, art and antiques see the showroom at pap John restaurant opposite the sofitel Hotel.
The new Hua Hin Market Village shopping and leisure complex
For spa lovers try Smor Spa village on Takiab Rd, the Devarana at the Dusit Resort (south out of town towards Cha Am) or the Centara at the Sofitel Hotel. The best traditional thai massage in town is at the Thai Orchid massage on the Naresdami Rd not far from the Sofitel hotel.
Motorbike taxis are the cheapest form of transport, typically 20 baht a trip. Rickshaws also exist if your not in a hurry and can barter well. Hua Hin also has its share of Tuk Tuks, again you will need to agree the price before you board making sure whether the price is per person or for the whole party travelling. There are an abundance of taxis available parked conveniently close to the night market and on the beach road near Burger King. Again with taxis its good to agree the price before you board clearing up whether its for all or per person. Taxis in Hua Hin are not metered. The red buses go all over the place and are cheap and regular. Boarding from various points around town including near the night market and outside Tesco Lotus (in the Esso garage on Petchkasem Rd). Long distance air conditioned buses travel both north and south from Hua Hin and depart from the central bus station on Sra Song Rd.
Tuk tuks for hire by the beach
HuaHin-Property.com have teamed up with a local car hire operator to offer you good quality, reliable and fully insured vehicles at attractive rates. These rates start from as little as 1300 baht per day for a good vehicle and the rates reduce for longer term hire periods. If you coming and wish to hire a car do use the contact us facility and enter car hire in the subject line. We can then quote for your hire period and arrange the booking. The hire company requires a cash deposit when they car is taken of between 5000 and 10000 baht (depending on vehicle hired and duration). They will also need to take a copy of the drivers passport. You can use your own driving licence here for the period of your stay providing your on holiday but any fines are payable by the hirer and not the hire company. There is a full out of hours back up for breakdown or accident.
Car rental choices
There are many outlets dotted around town where it is possible to rent motorcycles. Its necessary to check when renting any motorised vehicle whether its insured and if so the extent of the cover. Many motorcycles are rented out without any insurance whatsoever and should you have an accident then its likely you will have to pay for all the damage and possibly also the damge done to any other vehicle involved. The wearing of crash helmets is compulaory in Thailand for the driver of a motorcycle and on the spot fines are handed out for offenders especially in the town centre where the Police wait every day for riders without helmets. You have been warned!!