Hideaway ‘far from worries
by Percy Roxas
Hua Hin, located a short three-hour drive from Bangkok, has long been the weekend getaway of choice for Thais with a bit of disposable leisure income and savvy expats looking for some down time after a hectic week in the capital. Thai King Rama VII discovered Hua Hin’s charms in the 1920’s and subsequently built a palace here so he could enjoy the area during his longer stays. In many ways, the palace established the old world charm of the place, and was appropriately named Klai Kangwon Palace, meaning “far from worries.” In a phrase, this sums up the Hua Hin area to a tee.
The town offers a laidback and friendly seaside atmosphere with good infrastructure, excellent facilities, beautiful resorts, amazing golf courses, and a constantly growing list of fascinating attractions, such as floating markets and themed shopping parks. Being a royal beach resort, nightspots are more regulated than normal and somewhat limited, which many will find refreshing, especially families and couples hoping for some restful quality time surrounded by sand, sun, sea, and abundant fresh seafood.
WHAT TO DO
Hua Hin has a famous, stunning 5km beach, lovely waterfalls, lush limestone mountains and plenty of leisure activities. It has become world renowned as a superb place to rejuvenate at one of several internationally renowned spas in a great location. Whether for spa treatment and holistic therapy, learning Thai massage, taking advantage of the excellent medical services, or just relaxing and reading a good book, Hua Hin is the perfect place for those who love a more sedate holiday style in a gorgeous seaside resort. And who doesn’t?
Hua Hin is also one of Thailand’s premier golfing destinations, with eight world-class courses and several driving ranges in the nearby area. Additionally, fishing, hiking, cooking classes, horseback riding, diving and snorkeling are only a few of the other options for those with a more active disposition. Of course, these days, many young people now go to Bangkok for kite-boarding.
World-class shoppers need not worry either: With two night-markets, a local market, and numerous boutique stores, Hua Hin is an excellent place to shop for locally produced handicrafts, fabrics, souvenirs, and food products. You might want to visit the Premier Outlet Mall for some brand name apparel available at factory priced discounts.
Coastal cruises, day trips around Monkey Island and Dolphin Bay, local fishing excursions and night time deep-sea trips are all available from Hua Hin, while freshwater fishing, river cruises and eco-tours run along the waterways inland. Half-day and full-day trips are available.
EAT & DRINK
The central market sells fresh fruit and fish to locals as it’s been done for ages. The night market is the ideal place to sample Thai streetfood cooked fast and fresh. International travelers visit Hua Hin for the coastline and wonderful hotels, but the locals arrive for the food, with the town’s fishing fleet delivering baskets of prawns and fish everyday. Most restaurants and eateries especially those in the 5-star resorts are geared toward high-end gourmet level, but there are all kinds of cuisine available– although we can’t mention them all here. By the way, if you’re curious about where the Thais are going for great daytime streetfood, try going to Hua Hin 51, just a few walks toward the beach.
By the way, on the way to or going back to Bangkok from Hua Hin, you might want to stop by a seafood place called Daeng in Samut Songkhram for a feast of the freshest catch of the day from the Gulf of Thailand. You might also want to drop by asita eco-resort, a deligthtful environmental friendly resort with a five-star touch also in Samut Songkhram – for a coffee or even an overnight stay!
There’s so much to choose by way of accommodation to fit a traveler’s requirement for a perfect stay. The town is home to Chiva-Som, one of the world’s leading health resorts, although it is by no means the only place to visit for a fabulous spa indulgence. Check out our Editor’s Picks on page 36 for some of the best places to stay!
HOW TO GET THERE
By Bus Services are available every hour from Southern Bus Terminal (Sai Tai Mai Bus Terminal, Pinklao), 4 a.m.-10:20 p.m. Prior reservations are required and tickets have to be booked at the bus station in person. Ticket costs about Bt160.
By Minibus Minibuses ply the route every 15 minutes from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., and are much faster than buses; limited seating capacity (11-12 seats) though. You can find these minibuses near Victory Monument in Bangkok. Ticket costs Bt200.
By Car You can flag down a cab, or approach a travel agency to hire a cab. However, decide on the fare before the trip, as it can vary accordingly — usually between Bt1000 and Bt3000. You can also rent a car and drive all the way to Hua Hin.
By Train Bangkok’s Hua Lum Pong Railway Station operate train services daily. Train tickets can be reserved either in person or online.