HUA HIN IN BRIEF
WHY GO: Hua Hin is a stylish beach resort close to Bangkok. Hua Hin has historical sights, attractive hotels and atmospheric restaurants. And it’s Thailand’s best golf destination.
WHY NOT: You can find much more beautiful and secluded beaches, if you travel further south.
FAMILIES: Hua Hin has great hotels with superb swimming pools and good shopping malls – a sure bet for a family holiday.
60+: Mature travelers tend to love Hua Hin for its elegant atmosphere and great golf courses. The resorts closeness to Bangkok makes traveling to Hua Hin hassle-free.
GOLF: Hua Hin is Thailand’s best golf destination. The seaside town has numerous wonderful golf courses just a short drive away.
FOOD: Hua Hin’s seafood restaurants are famous all over Thailand, thanks to the loyal customers who come from Bangkok in the weekends.
SHOPPING: Hua Hin has several interesting shopping centers and themed malls to keep the shopaholics happy.
Hua Hin is the grand old dame of Thailand’s beach resorts. King of Thailand Rama VI built his summer palace here in 1923, and the nobles followed suit, building their own teakwood mansions to a formerly indistinct fishing village called Hua Hin, Stone’s Head.
Thai royal family still stays frequently in their new summer palace, which is located on the beach right next to the center of Hua Hin. An older royal palace works as a museum.
There are a lot of historical remainders left in Hua Hin, even though at the first glance the city center might look like any ordinary Thai town made of concrete.
Hua Hin’s elegant and easy-going atmosphere attracts particularly families and retirees. The largest group of visitors is, however, the weekenders from Bangkok, who guarantee a local Thai atmosphere in Hua Hin.
Hua Hin’s main street is Damnoen Kasem (Hua Hin Soi 61). Damnoen Kasem and its side streets are full of restaurants, shops and other services.
Cozy restaurant street Petchkasem Road crosses Damnoen Kasem close to the beach. Petchkasem Road leads to a long pier bursting with colorful fishing boats. Next to the pier starts the fascinating fishermen’s quarter, where old men repair nets and peel giant crabs in front of their wooden houses.
Hua Hin’s main beach begins right in front of Damnoen Kasem Road and continues five kilometers to the south. The beach close to the city center is busy and covered with parasols, but further away you go from the center, the calmer the beach gets.
At the end of the beach is Khao Takiab Hill, also known as Chopsticks Hill, where stands a giant Buddha statue. Beautiful views open up from the statue. There is a small Chinese style temple and plenty of monkeys on top of the hill.
Another long beach starts beyond Khao Takiab. There are a few hotels at the beginning of the beach, but mostly the beach has been spared from development. The beach belongs to Thai army, but anyone if free to enjoy it.
There is also a long but narrow beach on the northern side of Hua Hin’s center. This beach almost disappears under the waves during the high tide. The beach might not the best for swimming, but it has a number of cozy restaurants in old wooden villas by the sea.
Top Things to Do in Hua Hin
Hua Hin has some great remainders of its historical past as Thailand’s first beach side resort. One can visit Thailand’s most historical beach hotel, beautiful old train station and a former royal palace.
Hua Hin is Thailand’s top golf destination. Hua Hin has more than ten wonderful golf courses just a short drive from the hotels.
Hua Hin has also developed into Thailand’s leading spa town. Weekend customers from Bangkok keep the quality high in Hua Hin’s top spas such as the mind-bogglingly designed The Barai Spa, an architectural masterpiece combining elements from Angkor temples and Moroccan villas.
Hua Hin is also one of Thailand’s best kite-surfing destinations, and kids will love the thrilling water slides of Black Mountain Waterpark.
Divers and snorkelers should give Hua Hin a miss, though. The closest coral reefs to Hua Hin are 250 kilometers away in Ko Talu Island.
There are some excellent day-trip destinations close to Hua Hin. A memorable trip will take to Pala-U waterfall. One is almost certain to see wild elephants crazing next to the jungle road leading to the waterfall. On the way one can also visit the Hua Hin Hills Vineyard.
Sam Roi Yot National Park is another great nature destination, where one can enjoy deserted beaches, majestic limestone mountains vistas, and visit an atmospheric cave, where lies a beautiful royal Thai pavilion.
Hotels in Hua Hin
Hua Hin’s hotels are some of the best in Thailand. Hotels in Hua Hin excel particularly in spacious swimming pools. Especially wonderful is Hyatt Regency’s pool, which winds its way like a river in the middle of a tropical garden. Anantara Hua Hin is another hotel with a wonderful, lush pool area.
Hua Hin’s most memorable hotel is, however, the historical Centara Grand Beach Resort, which has wonderfully preserved its old-world ambience as Thailand’s first ever beach hotel.
In addition to larger resorts Hua Hin has some very inviting small and cozy boutique hotels, such as the ultra stylish Let’s Sea Hua Hin.
Hua Hins’s title for the most romantic hotel goes to Baan Talay Chine, which has been inspired by old Chinese shop houses. It has only six rooms, all individually designed, and some of them have their own small pools.
One can also find a handful of inexpensive guesthouses in Hua Hin, our favorite being the long standing and atmospheric Pattana Guesthouse, but we would still highly recommend to book a hotel with a good swimming pool as the sea in Hua Hin is not the most attractive for swimming.
Check out discounts for Hotels in Hua Hin.
Restaurants in Hua Hin
When it comes to food, Hua Hin is a truly delicious beach destination. Hua Hin’s seafood restaurants, such as the down to earth Madame Green, are especially famous, and the international cuisine is well represented too.
Hua Hin has a lot of good Italian restaurants, and there are also some excellent French restaurants like Brasserie de Paris in an atmospheric wooden house. Sakura is a small but famed Japanese restaurant.
Our favorite restaurants in Hua Hin include also De Olde Buffalo Tavern serving great burgers, pork ribs and excellent lamp chops, and The Admiral, which does authentic Danish style sandwiches.
Nightlife in Hua Hin
In the terms of nightlife Hua Hin is a rather peaceful place, if compared to Pattaya or Bangkok for example. You will find some lively bars in Hua Hin but big dance clubs are pretty non-existent.
The only nightclub worth to mention is Hotel Hilton’s Brewing Company, which has a live band and a cheerful party atmosphere most nights.
Hua Hin’s bars are concentrated on the rather seedy Soi Bintapaht, which starts right in front of Hotel Hilton, one of Hua Hin’s most visible landmarks. Blue Angel Cabaret has a small but fun nightly ladyboy show in Soi Bintapaht.
Shopping in Hua Hin
Hua Hin is probably Thailand’s best destination for those who want to combine a beach holiday to serious shopping. In addition to the famous Night Bazaar Hua Hin has several shopping malls, the best for overall shopping being Hua Hin Market Village in the city center.
Seenspace Hua Hin is a trendy new boutique mall on the seaside, and Plearn Wan is a fun little outdoor lifestyle mall designed to look like a Thai town of yesteryears.
Cicada Night Market close to Khao Takiab Hill is an artsy weekend market, a good alternative to the more commercialized Hua Hin’s gargantuan Night Bazaar.
Travel to Hua Hin
Hua Hin is located on the Gulf of Thailand 200 kilometers southwest of Bangkok. Driving time is little less than three hours.
Taxis from Bangkok Airport to Hua Hin
A popular way to get to Hua Hin is to take a taxi from Bangkok’s international airport directly to Hua Hin (1500–2000 bahts).
Direct Bus from Bangkok Airport to Hua Hin
There is also a direct bus service from the airport to Hua Hin (350 baht). The bus runs five times a day, leaving from the first floor in front of the gate number 8. Departure times from airport are: 7:30 am, 9:30 am, 1:30 pm, 4:30 pm and 6:30 pm. You can also catch a bus from Hua Hin back to the airport.
Buses and Minibuses from Bangkok to Hua Hin
If those schedules don’t match with your flights, the second most convenient bus service to Hua Hin are the minibuses (less than 200 bahts), which leave from Bangkok’s Victory Monument BTS station. Take the airport train to its last stop Phayathai, and change to BTS skytrain, which will take you to the Victory Monument. Minibuses leave below the BTS station.
The actual long-distance buses to Hua Hin depart from Bangkok’s southern bus station, which is located too far away from the airport and the city center to be practical.
Hua Hin’s bus station is about four kilometers outside the city center, although some buses drive all the way up to the bell tower in the city.
Train to Hua Hin
Train is the most atmospheric – and slowest – way to travel to Hua Hin from Bangkok. You can enjoy stunning scenery on the way, what is not the case if traveling by car or a bus along the boring highway. The train ride takes up to five hours. Hua Hin’s beautiful old train station is right in the city center.
Flights from Bangkok to Hua Hin
In November 2013 Nok Air started operating flights from Bangkok’s Don Muang airport to Hua Hin. Considering that you have to be in the airport one hour prior to the departure and that it takes an hour to get to Don Muang from the city center or from the Suvarnabhumi airport, you are better off taking a taxi instead to Hua Hin.
Transportation in Hua Hin
One can move around in Hua Hin by shared songthaew taxis, tuktuks, and motorbike taxis. Songthaew rides start from 10 bahts up, tuktuks and motorcycle taxis from 40 bahts upwards. Negotiate the price in advance.
Moving on from Hua Hin
Just south of Hua Hin begins an overlooked coastal area, which has several beautiful and secluded beach destinations. Take a train from Hua Hin to Prachuap Khiri Khan or Ban Krut or rent a car and go for a few days road trip South of Hua Hin. You will certainly not regret it!