Hua Hin is a popular resort town for Thais and foreigners alike. In addition, many foreigners have settled as expats in Hua Hin in order to enjoy their retirement in a more comfortable temperature than in their home countries.
The southern train line to Hua Hin opened in November 1911, making it easy for the residents of the capital to get to Hua Hin. In 1921 Prince Purachatra, built the Railway Hotel (now known as Centara Grand Beach Resort) close to the beach. And in 1926, King Prajadhipok (Rama VII) built a summer palace in Hua Hin, which made Hua Hin even more popular. Thus the first resort in Thailand was born.
The train station building in Hua Hin is one of the oldest in Thailand, and, arguably, the most beautiful.
At the train station, you will find a royal pavilion. The pavilion was originally a part of the Sanamchan Palace in the province of Nakorn Pathom, however, it was moved to Hua Hin in 1968 to be used as a royal waiting room at the Hua Hin train station.
GPS to the Hua Hin train station: 12.567500, 99.954722.
Thailand's former king, Bhumibol Adulyadej, were using the Rama VII summer palace in Hua Hin as a full-time residence.
A Popular Tourist Town
Hua Hin is located in the province of Prachuap Khiri Khan, some 200 km (125 miles) south of Bangkok and about 25 km (16 miles) south of Cha-am, which is a popular resort town for Thais. While you do not see many Westerners in Cha-am, you will not walk many metres without seeing a white face in Hua Hin.
The tourists make all the difference between the two cities. Cha-am is a little, sleepy town, seen through a tourist's eyes, while Hua Hin is teeming with offers for tourists, for instance in the form of numerous tailors and a large area with bars, targeting male tourists. However, the bars are not full of scantily clad dancing girls as in Pattaya and Patong.
GPS to the Hua Hin bar area: 12.571968, 99.957794.
The bar area extends over an entire neighbourhood. If you go from the GPS point and away from the night market down towards the seashore, you will find many bars in the small streets on your right-hand side.
Even if you do not care for the bars, you should definitely take a walk down to the seashore. Here you will find a number of seafood restaurants located at long piers where you can enjoy your dinner with an elevated sea view.
Another attraction of Hua Hin is the Night Market, a 5-10 minutes walk from the seafood restaurants.
At the night market, you will find souvenirs galore. You will also find handmade souvenirs, and you may even get to see souvenirs made on site, such as by the coconut carver at this picture:
You will find clothes at the night marked too, although, the selection is somewhat limited. If you want to add to your wardrobe, you are probably better off visiting the Tuesday market, Pae Market, which is located adjacent to the railway station. The Pae Market is a more traditional Thai market.
Food and Horses at the Beach
The five-kilometre long beach does not have a beach promenade with small stalls and restaurants. Instead, the restaurants are located on the very beach below parasols, which are forming a roof in order to provide shadow.
At high tide, the parasol roof is almost covering the entire beach at the section of the beach where you find the restaurants. As you can see in the picture below, the front row is probably not the best choice.
Fortunately, the restaurants only take up a small section of the beach, so you also get a chance to see the beach itself. However, the beach is not among the best beaches in Thailand, and you can run the risk that there are many jellyfish.
It is possible to get a ride on the beach on a horse or a pony. You will find the lessors at the entrance to the beach, which in my eyes makes the beach a little less inviting. The smell of horses is perhaps not exactly what you expect and desire when you arrive at a beach. Fortunately, it is only at the entrance to the beach, that you will notice the reek.
Aside from the main entrance, you will have entry to the beach from the many hotels and bungalows along the beach. Thus, if you are staying at one of the hotels along the beach, you can avoid the horses at the main entrance.
GPS to Hua Hin Beach: 12.569292, 99.961750.
You will find a slightly better beach 8 kilometres (5 miles) south of Hua Hin, the Suan Son Pradiphat Beach.
Behind the section of the Suan Son Pradiphat Beach shown in the photo above, you will find a number of bungalows owned by the Thai army - I am not sure if tourists can rent them or if they are for military personnel only. Your best bet for a hotel or a bungalow near Suan Son Pradiphat Beach is probably at the northern end of the beach.
GPS to Suan Son Pradiphat Beach: 12.498347, 99.974045.
Golf and Water Park
Some of the best golf courses in Thailand are located in and around Hua Hin, such as Black Mountain Golf Club's award-winning track. Hua Hin also boasts Thailand's oldest golf course, the Royal Hua Hin Golf Course, adjacent to the train station.
If you bring children on your holiday, you may want to visit the local water park, Black Mountain Water Park where they can enjoy themselves until they look all wrinkly like small raisins. Access to the water park costs 600 baht for adults and 300 baht for children. Children less than 110 cm tall (3 feet 7 5⁄16 inches) has free admission. The water park is open daily from 10 to 18 and is close to Black Mountain Golf Club. The proximity is not a coincidence; the same company owns both the water park and the golf club.
Transportation to Hua Hin
The train is not exactly the fastest means of transport to Hua Hin. It takes about five hours from Bangkok to Hua Hin. However, it can be quite an experience, which you can read more about in the article Travel by Train in Thailand.
It is somewhat faster, but also more boring, to take a bus. All southbound buses from Bangkok stop in Hua Hin, and here you should expect about 3½ hours of transport. Hua Hin does not have a dedicated bus terminal; instead, the buses stop at the clock tower, where you will find a few rows of chairs and some shade for those waiting to leave Hua Hin.
GPS to the bus stop at the clock tower: 12.570669, 99.957152.
Alternatively, you can take a taxi. Although the trip from Bangkok to Hua Hin is about 200 km (125 miles), it is affordable, and it is by far the fastest way to get to Hua Hin. The trip will take about 2½ hours in a car. If you take a taxi, be sure to negotiate the price in advance. You should not pay more than 2,000-2,500 baht for the trip, depending on where in Bangkok you start. When you negotiate the price, be sure to include all charges for toll roads in the price.
Hua Hin does have an airport, but none of the airlines has routes there.
Hotels in Hua Hin
Hua Hin is spread over a relatively large area, so be aware of where in the city your hotel is located. If you want to stay close to the beach at a five-star hotel, the Centara Grand Beach Resort or the Hilton Hua Hin Resort and Spa may be the place for you. Otherwise, there are many small guesthouses in the area of the night market, which offers you accommodation for a much more affordable price.
If you go to Hua Hin for a golf holiday, then it is probably more appropriate to choose a hotel near the desired golf course, such as Black Mountain Golf Condominium.
Climate and Weather
Hua Hin is located on the west side of the Gulf of Thailand, and thus it is sheltered from the monsoon by the Thai-Myanmar peninsula. The high season is from December to February; however, the weather in Hua Hin is pleasant all year, even during the rainy season.
The average day temperature is between 29 and 33 degrees Celsius (85-93° F) all year with the lowest temperatures from November to January. The average night temperature is between 21 and 25 degrees Celsius (70-77° F) all year; it rarely gets below 20 degrees Celsius (68° F).
The rainy season is not that rainy. While some of the popular holiday destinations further south may get more than 800 mm (32 inches) of rain in the worst months during the rainy season, Hua Hin gets below 100 mm (4 inches) per month during most of the rainy season. The exceptions are October and November where Hua Hin gets about 200 mm (8 inches) rain.
Even though 200 mm (8 inches) may sound like a lot of rain, you may never see a single drop of rain. Most of the rain will fall at night and even if it does rain in the daytime, it will mostly be in the form of showers lasting only 15-20 minutes each.
In the high season from December to February Hua Hin get less than 20 mm (0.8 inches) of rain, and the temperature is pleasant with low humidity compared to the rest of the year.
Read more about the weather in Hua Hin at the Thai Meteorological Department website.