HUA HIN

In 1834, before the name Hua Hin was coined, some agricultural areas of Phetchaburi Province were hit by severe drought. A group of farmers moved south until they found a small village that had bright white sand and a row of rocks along the beach. They settled there and gave it the name Samore Riang (Samo Riang), which means “rows of rocks”.

In 1921 the director of the state railway, Prince Purachatra, built the Railway Hotel close to the beach. Prince Krom Phra Naresworarit was the first member of the royal family to build a group of palaces at Ban Laem Hin, called Sukaves, and gave the beach next to his palace the name “Hua Hin”. King Prajadhipok (Rama VII) liked the place so much that he built a summer palace there which was later named Klai Kang Won (“far from worries”). From 2004 until 2006 it was the full-time residence of King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX), until health issues forced him to return to Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok, where medical facilities and physicians were closer at hand.

In 1932 Hua Hin was part of Pran Buri District as a minor district (king amphoe). In 1949 Hua Hin became a separate district of Prachuap Khiri Khan.[1] After the building of Thailand’s southern railway connected the district with Bangkok along with various destinations en route, Hua Hin became the first and most popular beach resort in the country.

As a result of the bombings that occurred in the past year, the tourist numbers, both Westerner and Thais has dropped dramatically as of Nov 2016! There are Farangs (Westerners) here, but not too many, and as a result the hotels and night markets do not have the custom they are used to. This may mean that you can get a better hotel price.

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 16:00-19:00 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.

The best things to do in Hua Hin are tailor made for family fun by the seaside. It is true that most Thais envisage Hua Hin as a romantic and elegant gateway holiday destination, a notion started off about 100 years ago when the Royal Family members and the well-to-do would spend their summers here. As a result, Hua Hin now has countless lovely seaside houses, villas and a few attractive vintage summer palaces. These are all popular Hua Hin attractions, but the newer, purpose-built shopping and sightseeing villages mean there is something for all generations.  Hua Hin is usually full of people taking a break from Bangkok at weekends and as it’s just a short drive away its popularity has remained. Much of Hua Hin’s attraction lies in the town’s charming old-world feel, best illustrated in Hua Hin Railway Station and the Maruekhathaiyawan Palace.

Like so much in Hua Hin, Maruekhathaiyawan Palace summer seaside palace was built in the early 1920s during the reign of King Rama VI. It was designed by an Italian architect and features lots of verandas, latticework and covered boardwalks using golden teak from the demolished Hat Chao Samran Palace.

Opening Hours: 08:00-16:00 Location: 9km south of Cha-Am at the Camp Rama VI military compound Tel: +66 (0) 32 508 039

The Railway Station was built during the reign of King Rama VI, and only a short distance from the centre of town, Hua Hin’s railway station and adjacent royal waiting room are undeniably attractive. The brightly painted wooden buildings that are Thai in concept and design somehow manage to have a ‘Victorian’ feel to them. Even if you don’t arrive at the resort by train, go and have a look. It’s charming, quirky and photogenic.

Opening Hours: 07:00-23:00 Location: Western end of Damnernkasem Road Tel: +66 (0)32 511 073

Hua Hin Night Market. Situated in the centre of town between Petchkasem Road and the railway line, the market encompasses one street and comes to life from 18:30 onwards, when traders line the street with their stalls selling various merchandise – generally what you might expect from a Thai market. A superb selection of seafood restaurants that line the road that hosts the Night Market draws a lot of attention from visitors.

Opening Hours: Best time to go after 19:00

Vana Nava is Thailand’s best water park, offering thrilling rides and world-class facilities just a short ride south of Hua Hin town.

There are 19 rides in total, each of which is very professionally assembled, with plenty of fast food restaurants and shopping options to make this a great day out for the whole family. In fact, Vana Nava draws in plenty of people from Bangkok and even further afield as the rides here are on a different level to anything else currently offered. Safety is also taken very seriously here, with marshals supervising each ride to make sure everyone is having fun and using the rides correctly. Be aware that children under 90 cm tall won’t be able to ride some slides.

Thailand’s largest water slide called ‘The Abyss’ is the biggest draw for adrenaline junkies, where six people surf on a circular inflatable up and down a huge vert reaching speeds of up to 45 km per hour, while the ‘Aqua Loop’ is a fun, multi-levelled water rapids ride that is accessible for everyone. A 31-metre, man-made waterfall is a stunning centrepiece to the park. The AquaLoop is a thrilling ride that shoots riders along at 60 km per hour into a loop-the-loop and out the other end – once is rarely enough!

While people who have experienced the world’s finest water park in the US might find the park a little small in comparison, folks in Thailand are thrilled at having these white-knuckle rides to enjoy in the balmy heat of Hua Hin. You can come for half a day and enjoy each of the rides, or take the full day and perhaps repeat a few of your favourites.