Difference between revisions of "Hua Hin"
Revision as of 04:33, 4 October 2012
Hua Hin (หัวหิน) is a seaside resort city in Thailand. It is popular with Thais, having become quite fashionable as a weekend getaway spot for Bangkok residents, as well with foreigners and as an ex-pat retirement or holiday home location.
Although developing rapidly, there is a commitment by the local and provincial authorities to avoid the kind of overheated blight that has affected other beach resorts in Thailand.
Popularised as a resort in the early-1920s by King Prajadhipok, Hua Hin is closely associated with the Thai royal family and is a quiet and relaxing seaside resort ideal for family vacations, a reasonable 2.5 hours drive down from Bangkok. Until 1934, it was known as Samore Riang (สมอเรียง), or "rows of rocks".
The tranquil fishing village was turned into a royal resort and consequently became popular among Siam's nobility and upper classes. In 1928, Prajadhipok built his Klai Kangwon (Far From Worries) Palace. As of 2007, Klai Kangwon is a full-time residence of the current king and is not open for visitors, although the outer palace grounds are open for walkers and joggers from 16:00 to 19:00 daily (wear shoes, have sleeved shirts that cover at least your upper arms and bring your passport).
The 5 km long beach itself is pretty, more so than Pattaya's, and the sea is relatively clean. However, most of the beach can completely disappear along certain parts of the coast during high tide. Besides just sunbathing, snorkelling and swimming, visitors can also enjoy golf, spas, caves, peaks, waterfalls, shops, seafood and nearby national parks. The town is clean, warm and laid-back, making it ideal for families and couples.
Hua Hin has a tropical climate with high humidity and occasional rain. It is typically pleasant however, and can be enjoyed all year round. Generally, the best time of the year to visit Hua Hin is in the cool season from November to February, but for those who like it hot, then the hot season is from March to May (temperature gets up into the higher 30s). The rainy season (although it doesn't rain every day) is from June to October with September being the rainiest of all. For those who don't appreciate rain, be advised that the rain in Thailand usually comes in short sharp bursts. It doesn't usually drizzle for long periods of time.
Solar Air flies to Hua Hin from Bangkok 4 days weekly on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Passengers leave Bangkok’s Don Muang Airport at 16:00 and reach Hua Hin at 16:30. Return flight to Bangkok is at 17:00.
Trains are an easy way to get to Hua Hin, as the train station is right in the centre of Hua Hin. However, the trains go very slowly getting away from Bangkok, so the 2 1/2 hour road time to Hua Hin stretches to 5 or 6 on the train. The price of the train is around 100 baht(and only 44 baht for ordinary trains). Most trains on the southern route stop at Hua Hin. They leave Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong and Bang Sue railway stations 10 times daily between 08:05 and 22:50. It takes 4 hours for the journey. See the State Railway of Thailand  for more information on time tables and fares.
From Bangkok, buses to Hua Hin leave from the Sai Tai Mai terminal about every 20 minutes and take around 3.5 hours. The price (1st class) is under 200 baht. Buses run from 04:00 – 22:20. For more information, contact Hua Hin-Pran Buri Tour, Tel: 0 2884 6191-2; Bang Saphan Tour, Tel: 0 2435 5105, 0 2884 8895; Bus Southern Terminal, Tel: 0 2435 1199, 0 2435 5605, 0 2434 7192 . More convenient to downtown Bangkok, you can also take a minibus from near the Victory Monument (Anusawari Chai), near the BTS skytrain. Cost is 180 baht, limited baggage. The Hua Hin vans board in the alleyway next to Century Movie Plaza close to the stairs at the southern end of Victory Monument BTS station. From the Skytrain station, take the walkway south, descend the staircase on the east side to street level. The minibus area is next to the stairs. Look for a small table with "Cha Am, Hua Hin" written in English to buy your ticket. T-Tour, Tel. 080-090-6540
Minibuses from Hua Hin back to BKK (180 baht) leave opposite the Pananchai Hotel in Naebkehas Rd, some 200 m along a side road from the clock tower. Service to Pattaya as well.
A 1st class bus service will eventually connect Hua Hin directly with Suvarnabhumi Airport (the new BKK).
The main bus station is well outside the centre of town on Petkasem Rd beyond Soi 94. This is some 3 km south of town centre. A tuk tuk there costs ~180 baht. This bus station is for buses which are going to or from Bangkok and points south.
The "bus station" noted on maps of the area is actually a local one in the centre of town from where all the non-air-con local buses and songteows depart, but blue buses from Bangkok terminate here, and probably leave from here also. The orange bus from Bangkok Southern Terminal (150 baht) which takes about 3.5 hours, meanders along the main road and you specify where you want to get off. The other first class buses go to the station beyond Soi 94 on Petkasem. Stop the bus at any point prior to this if you want to get off. The clock tower on the left (coming from Bangkok) is the effective town "centre" (keep your eyes open as it is easy to miss).
There used to be a ferry between Pattaya and Hua Hin, but it stopped running in Dec., 2011.
Taking a taxi from Bangkok to Hua Hin (distance about 200 km) is possible. Price after negotiation should cost around 2,000 baht: the price for a taxi from Suwarnabhumi (Bangkok) airport was 2,600 baht in November 2009. The limousine services available at Bangkok Airport are more expensive than an ordinary taxi.
Private taxi from Hua Hin to BKK Airport should be in 1,600-2,000 baht, and is bookable via agents around town. A few are located outside the post office, and others are along Naresdamri Rd.
Taxi to or from Pattaya around 3,000 baht.
There are many ways to get around in Hua Hin, Sawngthaews run the same routes all day and cost only 10 baht. There are numerous motorcycle taxis and tuk-tuks, fewer car taxis. Negotiate price beforehand, but you will not get a tuk tuk for less than B100 over any distance (unless you are lucky) if you are a Western tourist. You will also be able to find samlors (rickshaws). There are quite a lot of upscale tourists in Hua Hin and prices are sometimes adjusted upwards. Better to clarify the matter ahead of time. Motorcycle rentals are readily available. Hua Hin is very flat, and bicycle is a good way to get around locally. Rentals available, but not so prevalent as motos.
There is only one beach, Hua Hin Beach (ชายหาดหัวหิน Hat Hua Hin) which runs from one side of Hua Hin to the other. Hua Hin Beach extends three kilometres southwards from a rocky headland until a southern headland where a Buddhist temple cling to the cliffs. Fine white sand, resort hotels and many water sports opportunities lend the resort its distinctive ambiance. At the south end of town, the hill of Khao Takiab interrupts the beach. On the other side (technically not Hua Hin anymore) is a lovely swimming beach with a view of Khao Takiab's South face. Just a little further on, Suan Son beach is owned by the Thai army, but open to the public. Notable for the tropical sea pines lining the shore. A little south of the Marriott, watch for tiny sand crabs digging industriously leaving odd patterns of tiny sand clods around their beachfront property.
Parts of the beach closer to the town may have greenish water, in this case continue walking down the beach where the water appears cleaner. There is ample supply of deck chairs along the beach, however many places will charge for their hire (100 baht is common). Deck chairs that are part of a beachside cafe may be free (in the assumption you will buy food or drink).
The hill of Khao Takiab, 14 kilometres from Hua Hin town, supports Buddhist temples and offers a commanding view of the resort, particularly early in the morning. A local bus service from Hua Hin to Khao Takiap is on the seashore. Khao Takiab is one of the highest area in Hua Hin, by going up this mountain by driving you will see the whole Hua Hin and also nice beaches. This is another good place to wait for the sunset as well. Also the food on Khao Takiab is very delicious too.
Sam Roi Yot National Park
Located about 60km from Hua Hin Town, with an area of 98 square kilometres, is renowned for its limestone mountains, mangrove swamps, beaches and several species of local and migrating birds during the cool season. There are many ridges with the most popular being Khao Sam Roi Yot with 300 peaks. The park can be reached by following the direction signs marking the remaining distances of 38 and 15 km. at Km. 256 and Km.286.5, respectively.
Some attractions within t he park:
Further away from Hua Hin
Golf is extremely popular in Hua Hin and the place has several high quality courses up to international standards.
Hua Hin and its surroundings are a golfer's paradise with at least 7 quality courses within a 30 minute drive. There are also two brand new golf courses under construction and a preview of the latest images can be made from the fairways. Most courses offer transportation to and from the course.
Spas in Hua Hin offer luxurious treatment which suits every budget. The treatment includes both traditional remedies and modern techniques. Facilities at spas in Hua Hin may also include a Jacuzzi and steam bath.
Many Spas in Hua Hin also offer traditional Thai healing treatments. There is also alternative treatment such as Rieki. Resorts offer many detox programs. The most popular treatments are chi organ massage, karsai genital detox massage, deeper skin detox and herbal skin detox.
Hua Hin has a world class Chiva-Som International Health Resort. Focusing on greater well-being and vitality, Chiva-Som offers extensive fitness, spa, spa cuisine and holistic health facilities to help you relax, restore and rejuvenate.
Traditional Thai massage, characterized by its holistic approach to health is aimed at enhancing not only one’s physical and emotional state but also to allow one to grow spiritually.
There are over 50 massage shops in Hua Hin. All good hotels in Hua Hin offer traditional Thai massage service. In Hua Hin, at Petchkasem Road next to the Golden Palace and the Royal Palace one can be massaged by very good professional blind masseuses. This is a royal project. Very little English is spoken but don't worry as you will be in professional hands.
Hua Hin Cooking courses are on offer to those tourists who would like to learn about cooking Thai dishes.
A few Thai Cooking schools have sprung up in Hua Hin where foreign tourists can learn the art of serving up their favourite Thai dishes such as: Phat Thai (Thai-style fried noodles), Tom Yum Kung, Panaeng with Beef and Chicken and Cashew Nuts. Courses vary in length from just the single day to a few. Courses are also available at most of the large hotels but you will have to ask around.
Sukkasart Institute (The Institute of Healing Arts), 20/48 Petchkasem Rd. (Hua Hin 106), ☎ 66(0)32 515725, . Provide various training of healing Arts from Tradition Thai Massage, Meditation, Reiki and Energy Healing. edit
Shop at the night markets. Things that you can buy range from t-shirts to antiques. shirt will cost you around 300 baht (£5) . It is also a great place for shopping including contemporary art handicrafts, hand-woven printed cotton, silk fabric, silk weaving, embroidery, basket making, pottery, wood carving, gemstones and jewellery (including sapphires and rubies). Haggling is advisable to get the best prices possible.
Note that there are two night markets. The better known is in the middle of Hua Hin, and is rather tourist oriented. The one the Thais favour is known as the Grand Market because its in the parking lot between Grand Hotel and Sao Paulo Hospital. More diverse and interesting, but does not operate Mondays and Tuesdays. For local handicrafts, the Hua Hin Bazaar, about 100 meters west of the beach, should be your first stop.
On Tuesdays is Pae Market near the Royal Hua Hin Golf Club. Here is a good place to get the feel for a traditional Thai market.
One of Hua Hin's most renowned local product is pha phim khommaphat or printed cotton, a typical product of Hua Hin which is to be sold by the yard. The finished product of the Khommaphat print is colourful and can be turned into shirts, handkerchiefs, wraps, even toy elephants or fish, as well as decorative pieces such as pillows, bags, fans, etc. Contact: 0-3251-1250, 0-3251-3506.
A large variety of other cotton products are available, such as placemats, table clothes and pillowcases. Most of the products, fresh and dried seafood, souvenirs, dishes made of seafood are available at Hua Hin Market.
For hand-woven cotton go to Baan Khao Tao, there is the Baan Khao Tao Handicraft Centre which was founded in 1964. In 2003, the centre's works were registered as the province's four-star OTOP product. Hand-woven cotton is offered for purchase in different forms, such as in the Yok Dok print, bathing cloths, sarongs, even large pieces of fabric like bed sheets.
Souvenirs from Hua Hin District include accessories from coconut shells, Khommaphat printed fabric, the printed fabric in traditional Thai patterns, brooms, utensils made of sisal fibre, bamboo woven products, as well as fresh and preserved food.
There are plenty of eating options around Hua Hin. Those close to the beach and atop Khao Takiap are touristy, while some good local options can be found on Phetkasem Rd along the way to Khao Takiap. Hua Hin is famed for its delightful fresh seafood which can be found in abundance at the night market, restaurants and hotel restaurants. Naresdamri Road is a fine place for great inexpensive restaurants while serving up romantic sea views. Some hotels offer buffets consisting of open cooking stations, including seafood BBQ, and also offer live entertainment like traditional Thai music and dancing.
This area is the site of the Hua Hin Fishing Harbour and in the early morning, fresh-out-of-the-water seafood can be snapped up.
Moreover, there are numerous dining spots serving Western, Indian and Japanese food.
For cheap eats, check out the night market. Budget tourists having problems with the local fare will be happy to know that at the Tesco in the posh Market Village mall, there's street-style Thai food with modern fast food hygeine: 25-45 baht, and good coffee for 10 baht.
Raucous nightlife can be found in the little quarter just inland from the Hilton Hotel. The warren of small streets around Dechanuchit Rd and Soi Bintabaht teems with bars, restaurants and massage parlours.
Hua Hin is quite tourist oriented at least in the central parts and thus there is mostly hotels there, but also some guest houses and motels are available.
True budget beds are less common than they might have been a few years ago, at least during high season.
Is some 200 metres back from the clock tower in the centre of town along a road that slopes away from the road back to Bangkok. Is B650 per night, aircon,TV and hot water in the shower. Breakfast is a very spartan Continental one, of two pieces of small toast and tea/coffee. Worth the stay at the price.
Renting a house for a long stay
If you staying for month and more, than Hua Hin has great options. Price for renting a nice villa with private pool can be as low as 20,000 baht. Houses have modern furniture and are ready to move into. Best way to find a house is to go to realty agencies around the Hilton Hotel. Good ones are Hua Hin Property, Star Property and Century 21, but you can find 10+ more easily. They pick you up from your hotel and show options for your budget & taste. Best strategy is to contact by them email a week before, so they will make a selection beforehand.
There are a number of English-language publications, offering a variety of styles, as well as information and entertainment. Long time visitors to the town will have been familiar with the free monthly Hua Hin Observer magazine found around the town, but as of January 2010 this has become an online only publication (). Another monthly publication (which you have to pay for) is the Hua Hin Today newspaper which can be a little 'dry' for tourists, as it contains plenty of local government and local dignitaries news along with details of the latest infrastructure projects and housing developments. It also has an online presence  but this is more of a portal for international news and selling property than a local site. More of interest to tourists is the widely available free weekly AWOL newspaper, which is a mixture of entertaining true and not so true stories, typical tabloid content such as a page 3 girl, sport coverage and major local news stories. AWOL also has a website  which includes a discussion forum, free classifieds and all their back issues to download. The longest established local internet forum is Hua Hin After Dark  which is a valuable source of information for both tourists and expats alike, although its slightly cliquey attitude can be off putting and discussions can often turn into playground squabbles. There are a number of other printed publications and internet sites connected to Hua Hin, but they are mostly concerned with selling or renting property, or promoting another local business. There are also a couple of non-English language publications with a small distribution.
Landline telephone, all mobile phone systems, high-speed internet (ADSL), post offices and parcel services are available in Hua Hin. There is a city wide free wifi service as well, although speeds tend to be slow and a signal difficult to obtain outside the central area. Tourist information can be found from the corner of Petchkasem Road and Damnerkasem Road (Soi 76), quite close to the railway station. There is also a tourist information centre near the clock tower in the centre of town, which is right next to a Starbucks for those of you requiring a caffeine fix. This is also where many of the big buses will stop to offload and pick up passengers, even though it is not the official bus station, and consequently is an easy place to find a motorcycle taxi or tuk tuk.