While sorting out my photo archives recently, I realised that I’ve been to Bangkok at least 6 times – it ties with Bali as my most visited city ever. And for good reason too – Bangkok is always great for good food, shopping and even some cool street art if you know where to look. But I was definitely keen to see a different side of Thailand – and I’ve been discovering some of the less visited spots close to Bangkok that offer quite a different flavour of Thailand – Ayutthaya was one of those places, and Amphawa last year was eye-opening as well (I need to write about that I know).
I only spent a short 2 nights there so this is far from a comprehensive list of things to do in Hua Hin – there are some pretty cool suggestions on this TripCanvas post that make me want to go back and explore Hua Hin properly, but here are some things that I did in Hua Hin that you can check out if you only have a short time there:
A LITTLE ABOUT HUA HIN
Hua Hin is famous partly because it’s been a favoured destination by Thai royalty in the last couple hundred of years. The late Thai King Rama 9 lived here for a few years before moving back to Bangkok, and other Thai Kings before him had their summer palaces built here. According to some of the Thai people I spoke to, the late King loved two things a lot – stray dogs and jazz music. You’ll notice that there are very few stray dogs or animals especially in Hua Hin, and there is an annual jazz festival held in Hua Hin as well. Hua Hin is popular among Thai people for its beaches and being a good seaside resort town to just kick back in.
THINGS TO DO IN HUA HIN
- Go to the beach
- Ride the historic railway
- Drink locally produced wine
- See some alpacacs
- Visit the night market
GO TO HUA HIN’S BEACHES
Located on the Gulf of Thailand, Hua Hin is a seaside resort that thankfully doesn’t seem to be as overrun with tourists as other more popular spots like Phuket. The Radisson Blu Resort Hua Hin has a lovely shared beach front location, as do many of the other hotels along the coast. Kite surfing is apparently quite popular in these parts, though I didn’t see any water sports happening in the time I was there – it’s dependent on the winds and water conditions.
RIDE HUA HIN’S HISTORIC RAILWAY
The traditional way of getting to Hua Hin from Bangkok is to take the train, and it remains the cheapest way to do so. This little railway station is reputed to be one of the most beautiful and oldest in Thailand. Take the train only if you have time to spare though – it takes anywhere from 4-6 hours from average based on various online accounts, as compared to road which can be as quick as 2.5-3 hours if you don’t run into any crazy traffic jams.
DRINK THAI PRODUCED WINE
You wouldn’t think of Thailand as a typical wine-producing country, but you can actually visit a vineyard right here in Hua Hin and drink some locally produced wines. Previously known as Hua Hin Hills, Monsoon Valley Vineyard produced what is known as new latitude wines, often found in non-traditional wine producing countries like Colombia, India and Algeria just to name a few.
The funny thing is that while you can visit the vineyard in Hua Hin, the wine is actually produced in a factory about 2 hours away right outside Bangkok – everyday the grapes are transported via refrigerated truck, though there are plans to eventually do the production on site in the future. Do some wine tasting here, and have a scenic lunch overlooking one of the few wineries that actually has elephants in it.
Our guide told us that this area in Hua Hin is known for traditionally working with elephants, and this is probably the only vineyard in the world I know that you can find elephants in. I’m not a fan of elephant rides, but from what I could see these elephants (30-40 years old) were quite well treated and had space to wander around, so while I would not recommend riding them as a matter of principle against animal cruelty, at least they were well cared for.
SEE SOME ALPACAS
I spent 4 months in South America, and the last place I expected to see this ubiquitous South American creature is anywhere in Asia. We had lunch at the Alpaca Restaurant in Cha Am, and while Alpaca wasn’t on the menu (it tastes like gamey beef, yes I ate alpaca in Peru), there was a little room, air-conditioned and amazingly smelly, that housed several alpacas on site. The restaurant’s food was decent, and the restaurant has a nice open feeling so quite family friendly and a good place to stretch your legs.
VISIT HUA HIN NIGHT MARKET
Thailand is always good for street markets, and Hua Hin is no exception. We checked out the night market which is near the train station, and it’s good for a post-dinner stroll, filled with your typical tourist souvenirs and street food. You could get dinner here too – I spotted a bunch of seafood restaurants in the vicinity.
Unfortunately we weren’t there on a weekend so we couldn’t check out the Cicada Market, which is a craft market that some people say has a better selection of items for sale than the Hua Hin Night Market.
WHERE TO STAY IN HUA HIN
I stayed at the beach front Radisson Blu Resort Hua Hin (see my review) which was a lovely quiet and beautiful hotel and located in Cha Am, a short distance from downtown Hua Hin, but there are plenty of other options depending on your individual budget. I usually check out options on booking.com myself – here’s the link to the Radisson Blu Resort Hua Hin, and other hotels in the Cha Am area.
Some of these links are affiliate links which may give me a small % in earnings but at absolutely no extra cost to you. Think of it as helping me to keep this site running.
This trip to Hua Hin + accommodation was sponsored by Radisson Blu, with flights sponsored by Thai Airways. All opinions in this article are my own