If you are in Bangkok, the City of Angels, and need a break from the hustle of the big city, you have a few choices. Hua Hin is the historic beach resort of the Thai Royal family and a popular family destination for a weekend away or some time on the beach without having to fly! It’s easy to get to and inexpensive, making for a great getaway if your idea of a weekend on the beach involves a nice resort, beach time and a book!
I’ve previously reviewed Pattaya as a beach getaway from Bangkok – it’s the closest beach to the capital and very inexpensive, but it has a raunchy past and the beaches are not the tropical paradise you might hope for.
Hua Hin is in many way the opposite of Pattaya: Where Pattaya has all the drinking and naughty nightlife you can imagine (and some you just can’t imagine!), Hua Hin is a family destination that’s very quiet and peaceful, with countless resorts stretching along the beach for miles to the South and North of the small town that is Hua Hin. While there are some bars in the center of the small town, it’s a pretty quaint affair, so you can leave your club outfits at home!
Many of the resorts marketed as Hua Hin are somewhere along the coast from Cha-am in the North to Takiap in the South. They offer a classic resort vacation where you spend most of your time at the hotel and enjoy their beach, pool and restaurants without really ever having to leave. I love long walks along the beach and you can walk in Hua Hin for hours up and down the coast! The water is warm and clear and with the exception of downtown Hua Hin, there are few vendors and concessionaires disturbing your peace and quiet.
The resorts do provide a degree of isolation, both in a good and bad way. If you just want to get away from the city and relax, I’d consider it a good thing. If this is your annual vacation and maybe the first trip to Thailand, I wouldn’t recommend it, because you are missing out on some of the beach paradise the more remote Thai islands can offer and the uniquely Thai spirit you find there!
How to get there? Similar to Pattaya, you can easily get to Hua Hin by minivan, bus, train or private taxi. At approximately 3 hours the drive is a little longer than to Pattaya. Minivans leave from Victory Monument in Bangkok and cost THB180 ($6). Minivans leave when they are full, so you’ll have to add some waiting time to your journey – it took about 1 hour for the van to fill up on a weekday morning! Similar to Pattaya, the van works best if you travel light – you might have put it at your feet or have to pay extra for large luggage! Take the BTS train to Victory Monument, head towards the big traffic circle and exit to the left. At road level, there are a number of little stalls selling van tickets. Just ask for Hua Hin and you’ll be guided to the right booth and van! In Hua Hin, the mini vans will drop you off in the town center.
There is also scheduled bus service to Hua Hin from Bangkok’s Southern bus terminal. It’s not easy to reach by public transport, making it less convenient than the van. You other public transport option is the train, from Bangkok’s Hualamphong station to the center of Hua Hin. The trains are rather quaint taking 3-4 hours plus the inevitable delays – they leave whenever they are good and ready, so be patient. You can get more information at Tourism Hua Hin.
If you have luggage and are not traveling solo, a taxi is your best bet. They cost THB2,200-2,500 ($60-70) and you can take them door-to-door, making it the easiest and most comfortable ride by far!
How to get around? If you arrive by public transport or just want to get around Hua Hin, the public share taxis or Song Taew (literally two rows) are pickup trucks with a roof and two benches in the back. You pay 10THB for short rides around town, THB15 during evening rush hour and a little more for longer rides. The main route is from Khao Takiab in the South through town to the airport in the North. There is a longer stop in the town center near the Chatchai Market at Sa Song Road and Hua Hin 72! You can flag the bright green pick ups down anywhere along the road and pay as you get off.
You can also hire a taxi, tuk tuk or pick up truck and negotiate the price. It’ll be between THB250-500 for destinations around town, but be careful some drivers might ask for a lot more in hopes of finding a tourist who doesn’t care. As in Phuket, none of the drivers will use their meter and its overpriced compared to Bangkok, but there is not much you can do about!
Where to stay? If you take a taxi or have a car, you can stay anywhere you like and pick whatever resort looks best to you. If you plan to take public transportation, you are best off to stay between the town and Khao Takiab – the beaches South of town are nicer than in town itself, transport is easy and you can still go into town to see the market or restaurants. Similar to Ko Samui, the hotels on the beach charge a significant premium over the hotels a short walk back along the main road. Because the beach is public, you can save a lot of money with a five minute walk and rent a lounger on the beach or bring your towel and stretch out on the sand!
Similar to Pattaya, hotels in Hua Hin are great value – you can stay at a very nice upscale hotel for $60-80 – something that would easily cost $300 in California or Hawaii! Check out my reviews of the Amari Hua Hin and the ibis Hua Hin in the South – enjoyed both of them!