Hua Hin is roughly 200km South-west of Bangkok on the Gulf of Thailand. A traditional fishing village and one of the country’s oldest seaside towns. Wharf eateries, Soi bars and markets exist comfortably beside 5-star resorts, international retail chains and newly developed golf estates.
A simple beach with a few rocks attracted farmers from Phetchaburi, the neighbouring province, during a drought in the 1800s. They enjoyed the area unaccompanied until the 1920’s when the Bangkok Railway was completed and the wealthy descended for their summer escape. Over the years, Hua Hin has extended along the beach and now has no choice but to develop inland to the mountain range with golf resorts and gated communities.The royal family have been attracted to Hua Hin since the early 1900s with the grandson of King Rama V building the first beach villa. King Rama VI executed his vision for the first summer palace then King Rama VII commissioned the work for Klaikangwon (“far from worries”), the summer palace where current King Rama IX and his family spend the majority of their time.Taking our cue from the Royal family, we decided on Hau Hin for some R&R. In keeping with Thai hospitality, we chose the 5 star Dusit Thani Hotel. With 2 stunning pools, a beach location, hypnotic gulf views, an excellent gym, oh and champagne breakfasts, what’s not to love? Another thing we love is leaving 5 stars and, within minutes, eating fresh inexpensive street food. Hua Hin Night Market is the most well known of the markets located in the centre of town. You’ll find something cooking in the area through the day but opening time for the market is 6 pm. Arrive as the sun is setting and the market will be in full swing. As with any fishing village, there is plenty of seafood; scallops, lobster, crabs, prawns and all manner of fish to be char-grilled, steamed or prepared in Thai curry sauces.Pork makes a statement, from whole rotisserie pigs to marinated and cured meat and of course, pork belly. Leaving the ordering to our experienced Hua Hin night market friends, we indulged in a spread of dishes that were not only delicious but fitted perfectly into my low carb lifestyle. Flash fried sea bass in a sweet and spicy sauce served with a side of papaya salad. Scallops in the half shell cooked over the grill in yellow curry. The pork could not be ignored so we tried the crispy rotisserie pig and the cured strips. All served with good company and ice cold Leo Beer (not so low carb!).Soi Selakam is a nearby bar street for post-market drinks. This is not the only bar street in the area so wander around and see what fits your mood. Many are sports themed, plenty have attentive hostesses and if it’s conversations with colourful expats you’re after, you’ll find that too. Along the sea front, open air venues on stilts are great places to enjoy a few drinks with the welcome breeze off the gulf.Spend the daylight hours relaxing by the pool or on Hua Hin beach. Kite surfing, parasailing and kayaking are available for the energetic, but if it’s Thai culture you’re after then try a cooking class. Cooking schools and Hotel Chefs begin with a trip to the wet market for fresh ingredients. A hands-on class teaching the correct techniques for traditional utensils (mortar and pestle and coconut grinder) follows, and on completion, you eat what you’ve made. Yum!
For local history and to be up close and personal with beautiful animals, the Elephant Village is worth a visit. Only 3km out of town, you can watch elephants bathe, feed them and learn about the relationship between elephant and mahout (trainer). An hour ride through the jungle to a nearby village on an elephant’s back may not be for everyone but it is available for those curious to see the strength and balance of these delightful creatures.Expanding our Thai experiences: it’s a thing we love….