It’s no secret how we feel about Hua Hin. In a short period of time we quickly settled in like this was a second home and we never had a problem integrating into life here. It’s funny, when we retired we chose Hua Hin having never been here before but we were both ready to experience a different culture and try living somewhere new. I vividly recall arriving by train, the anticipation and excitement of experiencing a new place.
In Thai, Hua Hin means Stone Head. It was once a sleepy fishing village and it’s the oldest resort community in Thailand. In addition, the King of Thailand has a residence here – Klai Kangwon which translates to ‘Far from Worries Palace’. Things are changing quickly in Hua Hin though, new high rise condos are being built at an alarming rate and this can only mean that things are going to get super busy.
During our first winter here, our friend kindly showed us the ins and outs of the old traditional Chat Chai fresh market. We buy all of our fruit and vegetables here. The market also has seafood, meats, and dried goods such as our newly discovered favourite snack ‘squid jerky’. Since we have been shopping here for the past three winters, we have our regular stalls; one for mango, one for dragon fruit, and so on. The sellers know us now and they know exactly what we are going to buy from them before we even say anything. Prices can vary here especially for a farang (farang is what the locals call a foreigner), but once you are a repeat customer then the prices get better and you can receive what I like to call ‘Thai Pricing’
Hua Hin beach has a long stretch of white sand, it goes on for 5 kilometers or more and it’s perfect for walking or jogging during low tide. It’s also a very popular kite surfing beach. It’s certainly not the ‘most beautiful’ beach we’ve seen in Thailand but it’s pretty nice for a city beach. One thing I don’t like is all the jelly fish that are around, there are a LOT of them and some of them are huge. We have been told that they are not dangerous but I don’t really want to test that theory. One thing not to be missed are the fireworks on New Years Eve – the Thai military anchor a ship offshore and launch an amazing display of fireworks.
At the southern end of Hua Hin beach is the village of Kao Takiab and it’s still a functioning traditional fishing village. All the fishing boats come in from the sea here, and little stalls and restaurants sell fresh seafood. I have to say that the seafood in Hua Hin is amazing – we love the huge tiger prawns! Whatever you fancy for seafood, you can find it here.
Going further south past Kao Takiab is another nice beach called Suan Son (Pine Tree beach). It’s on a military base but the public is allowed to use the beach. It’s much quieter then Hua Hin and Takiab beaches and it’s definitely a nice place to spend the day. To get there we take a local bus (orange bus), we just flag it down anywhere along the main road and ask to get off at Suan Son (they know where to let you out), then it’s about a 10 minute walk to the beach.
Even further south from Suan Son beach is the town of Kao Tao and the nearby beach Sai Noi. It is one of the nicer beaches in the area and there isn’t a lot of development so it’s a peaceful place to chill out.
A really nice but longer day trip from Hua Hin (100 kilometers) is to the province’s capital Prachuap Khiri Khan. Located on the Royal Thai Air Force base is the beautiful beach of Ao Manao, a great place to spend the day. It’s easy to take a minivan from Hua Hin to get to Prachuap Khiri Khan and then hop on a tuk tuk to the beach.
Aside from the beaches there are a number of sights to visit around Hua Hin and we have done day trips to explore these places:
Pala U Waterfall in Kaeng Krachan National Park is around 60 kilometers from Hua Hin and it’s easy to hire a taxi for the day to visit the park. The waterfall has 15 levels and there’s a trail that takes you to each level – the trail gets rougher the farther you go and I had a little slip and fall, luckily my camera strap got hooked on a tree root otherwise I would have slid over a large smooth rock face into the water. We had a fun day hiking and feeding the fish!
Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park (the mountain with three hundred peaks) 60 kilometers south of Hua Hin offers some really beautiful scenery and it’s the first marine national park in Thailand. We came for one of the main attractions which is Phraya Nakhon Cave, it has a royal pavillion inside and some huge chambers to explore. The hike up to the cave is steep, rocky, and uneven, so a person has to be very careful. Unfortunately when we visited, my Mom had a fall and fractured her tailbone. She is a tough lady though, after my Aunt and I patched her up she kept on climbing and made it to see the cave, then climbed all the way back down!
Huay Mongkol Temple is not too far out of town and it’s a good temple to visit for a couple of hours. It has a very large statue of one of Thailand’s most famous monks – Luang Phor Thuad. We love the wooden elephants that are on each side of the statue, the carving on them is incredible. There is also a Buddhist Temple and a statue of King Taksin the Great with a lot of roosters placed around him. It’s easy to get to the temple on a songthaew that leaves from the train station.
Wat Kao Kralais is directly across the main road from the end of the songthaew route in the village of Kao Takiab. The temple is on a hilltop and there’s a long stairwell to the top, the views of the city and beach are beautiful. For me personally this is one of the most peaceful temples to visit in the area, it’s very zen.
Monkey Mountain or Chopstick Hill at the southern end of Hua Hin beach in the village of Kao Takiab has nice views looking over Hua Hin beach. There are a LOT of monkeys here and sometimes they can be mean, there was one point where I couldn’t even go up the stairs because there were so many monkeys and a few of them were growling….it kind of freaked me out a little.
Rajabhakti Park is around 5 kilometers south of Hua Hin. There are 7 giant bronze statues of the great Kings of Thailand and it’s managed by the Royal Thai Army. The park is right across the main road from where you would get off the bus to go to Suan Son beach making it easy to combine a visit to the park with a little beach time.
Baan Sillapin Artists Village is around 4 kilometers from the center of Hua Hin. it’s nice to see what the local artists are up to and all pieces of art are for sale – there are many beautiful paintings here. It’s set up like a little village and you can watch the artists paint and sculpt. There’s also a studio where you can join in and do a little art on your own if you so desire. I just recently purchased a painting here from a very nice artist – I love that the prayer on the Buddha is written in Thai.
Around 30 kilometers north of Hua Hin towards Bangkok is the resort town of Cha Am. It’s also a popular place for Thais from Bangkok to spend the weekend. We enjoyed a day here taking in the International Kite Festival and transport from Hua Hin is easy via minivan.
Even farther north of Cha Am is the city of Phetchaburi and we spent the day mainly visiting Khao Wang (Palace Hill) and Tham Khao Luang (one of Thailand’s most impressive cave shrines). Khao Wang was beautiful and the palace and buildings on top of the mountain are in a park like setting. King Rama IV built this Summer Palace in 1858 and it’s an impressive site to visit. Beware there are quite a few monkeys here! Tham Khao Luang is around 4 kilometers from the center of Phetchaburi and it’s easy to take a tuk tuk there. The cave is full of Buddha statues and it’s incredible to see.
There’s always events and things happening in Hua Hin but it’s hard to find out what’s going on because all the posters are in Thai. We usually take a photo of the poster and ask our Thai friend to translate it for us. Recently we attended a fantastic evening of music and food at the Hin Lek Fai viewpoint to help save the last mangrove in Hua Hin. Not only was this a great fundraising event, the music was absolutely fantastic and there are great views over looking the city. Hin Lek Fai is also one of our favourite walks (we go most days very early in the morning), it’s about 10 kilometers from our condo to the top and back. The hill going up is very steep and we find it to be a great workout!
We enjoyed so many sunsets from our balcony – on this evening it looked like the sky was on fire.
Hua Hin has been a great base for us in Thailand and we have seen so much. The locals are super friendly and we’ve met wonderful people during our time here!
Written by: Tammy Hermann…Live~Love~Travel