In Thailand’s seaside town of Hua Hin, there are several great places to visit if you don’t want to sit on the beach all day. Greg Lowe gives a tour of Hua Hin’s other attractions.
With a legacy dating back to the reign of King Rama III, Hua Hin started off as a seaside village inn the 1830s. In 1911, its name was changed to Hua Hin, and the resort fast gained popularity with the building of the train station in the 1920s. Now it’s a popular beach escape from Bangkok, only two hours drive along the coast, which is developing fast but retains much of its charm.
Fisherman Boat on Hua Hin Beach
Had Hua Hin to Wat Takiab
Head out on to the beach from the end of Naresdamri road, or cheat a little by getting dropped of at the end of Hua Hin Soi 75. The morning is great, the beach is pretty quiet save for the fishermen readying their boats to head out in search of the day’s catch. Either pull up a space on the sand or take a leisurely southerly stroll down the beach in the direction of Wat Takiab (Chopstick Mount). About half to two-thirds of the way down the sand turns from Had Hua Hin’s distinctive white to the more typical yellow.
While maybe not the best place to read, the walk to the Wat along the beach is deceptively long. The temple is home to a statue of the female Buddha Jao Mae Kuan Im and affords great views of both Had Hua Hin and Suan Son. The place is also crowded with monkeys so any ideas of reading go out of the window as the pesky primate are deft at relieving visitors of their possessions — books, cameras, handbags — only likely to give them back in a swap for food. Nuns are on hand to help out, also feed on sale to make merit or simply enjoy watching the riotous clamber for food.
Take a left on the way out of Wat Takiab and head in the direction of the Military Hotel, look for the sign for Suan Son. this yellow-sand beach is often much quieter and favoured by Thais. The beach overlooks Koh Mak and Koh Tao (not the famous dive resort) which can be reached by boat. The smell of the sea mingles with the scent of the pine trees and has the wonderful stress relieving quality. You can pick up food and drinks down the road at the hotel, which is worth a look if not only for its garishness.
This stunning golden teak palace, painted in mild yellows, pastel blues with varnished teak floors, was the King Rama IV’s Summer Palace. It’s name means Palace of Love and Hope, and despite being designed by an Italian architect it retains a distinctly Thai flavour. Apparently the whole place only took 16 days to construct, but its intelligent design creates a sort of structural air conditioning/airflows which keeps the place cool and airy. Shoes are not allowed in the building which results in a primal pleasure of walking around on wood. Elevated covered walkways connect the buildings, including a view over the beach, making it a great place to spend the hottest part of the day. Outside massive shade trees provide cover form the sun’s rays. As there’s plenty of space on the grounds, and outside tables and chairs plus a couple of coffee and drinks shops makes this an ideal place to chill out and relax with a book.
Reconstructed as part of the renovation of the Railway Hotel (built in 1922), the Museum Coffee & Tea Corner at the Centara Hua Hin Grand Resort is a window into the past. There can be few places with such history in Thailand. One can also indulge in the High Tea buffet. nothing like scones and tea, then settle into some Somerset Maugham’s Mrs Craddock or George Orwell’s Burmese Days to go immerse yourself in the colonial feel. The hotel was also used as the French Embassy in the film The Killing Fields.