Home to summer palaces and even a mini Santorini, Hua Hin unveils more of Thailand’s pristine beaches and stunning locations that will complete your travel goals.
Photography: Alex Chia Kam Tim
The coastal city of Hua Hin, a three-hour drive from Bangkok, lets you indulge in a relaxing downtime by the beach, easy hikes that treat you with breathtaking sights, and the marvelous Thai cuisine — all with little to no (rowdy) crowds.
Follow this itinerary and you’ll find happiness in the Land of Smiles. Before we begin, be advised that tuk-tuk availability is not as wide as Bangkok. So, you can either get around by taxi or hire a tour guide.
Start your day with a journey back in time at Hua Hin Railway Station. Built in 1921 to provide access from Bangkok, the station boosted the city’s economy as locals and expatriates would travel from Singapore and Penang for a vacation.
As King Rama VI, who helmed the railway project, turned Hua Hin into a his family seaside getaway with the construction of Klai Kangwon Palace, it’s only natural to build a royal waiting room at the station — one of the city’s best attractions.
Opening Hours: 7am – 11pm, Daily
Next stop is 3km away from the station, a market that sells all sorts of trinkets and old treasures, Plearnwan Vintage Village.
True to its name, Plearnwan, translated as “play and learn yesterday”, gives you a glimpse of Hua Hin’s glory years as it serves as a living museum with architecture and decoration based on villages back in the day.
Offerings include fashion, toys, homemade food and LP records. There’s even a pharmacy selling herbs and roots still being used by baby boomers to treat illnesses. In other words, the perfect place to cross off your souvenir list.
Opening hours: 10am – 10pm, Daily
As the sun sets, make your way to Tamarind Market for a relaxing evening filled with mouth-watering traditional fare. For added fun, sing along to familiar numbers belted out by buskers on stage!
The operators also serve international favourites like pizza, honey BBQ ribs, pasta and sushi. Seats are aplenty and the prices won’t break your bank.
Opening hours: 5pm – 11pm, Thursday till Sunday
Energy restored, enjoy a stroll at Cicada Market, which is conveniently located next to Tamarind. Other than the similar glorious food and drink selection, the market hosts art exhibitions featuring work by local artists from various disciplines including illustrations, portraits, paintings, photos and sculptures.
If you’re still hungry, just get your food coupons and order away!
Opening Hours: 4pm – 11pm, Friday & Saturday;
4pm – 10pm, Sunday
For nature lovers, this is your day. Make full use of the hotel breakfast buffet and chomp down as much carbs as you can before hiking Khao Dang Viewpoint in search of the iconic golden pavilion nestled inside Phraya Nakhon Cave — all within the Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park about 60km from the city.
The 20-minute hike to Khao Dang Viewpoint is recommended to anyone in decent shape as it takes you through lush greenery teeming with wildlife. The viewpoint treats hikers with astonishing views of the Gulf of Thailand.
After a quick snack, continue the hike to Phraya Nakhon Cave. For those who want to skip the longer trek, just hop on a boat (400 THB per boat) that takes you straight to the starting point to climb up to the cave.
It takes two hours for a regular person to reach the golden pavilion, but it is truly a sight to behold. Park entrance is priced at 200 THB.
What better way to sum up your trip at the great outdoors than to catch the sunset from a gazebo floating on a vast lotus pond at Bueng Bua Nature Education Centre. Rest assured, it is one of the most beautiful sceneries you’ll ever experience.
Top tip: Visit when the pink flowers bloom from December until March. The centre closes at 5pm, but the pond is located in front of it and is accessible at all times.
Opening hours: 8am – 3.30pm, Daily
After a well-deserved Thai massage and good night’s sleep, celebration beckons. Set your watch to wine o’clock at Monsoon Valley Vineyard 40km away from the seaside city.
Since its first grape seed was planted, the vineyard has produced a number of award-winning wines, served at leading restaurants and hotels in Thailand.
Enjoy a breath of fresh air in the countryside filled with endless flow of tasty wines and great company, the best pairing of them all.
Opening hours: 9am – 8pm, Daily
Extend the holiday cheer with a trip to Greece … in Hua Hin! Santorini Park Cha-Am captured the picture-perfect Greek island’s essence down to the last detail.
Classic whitewashed walls and the blue domes will definitely fool your social media circle. Ultimately, it’s an amusement park complete with amazing games for the entire family. Entrance fee is 150 THB.
Opening hours: 10am – 7pm, Monday till Friday;
9am – 7pm, Saturday & Sunday
A three-minute drive from Santorini Park takes you to Camel Republic, another mini amusement park that includes a zoo that houses, you guessed it, camels as well as giraffes, alpacas, bunnies and birds like flamingos.
You may feed ALL the residents for that extra mile on your photos. Entrance fee is priced at 150 THB.
Opening hours: 10am – 6pm, Monday till Friday;
9am – 6.30pm, Saturday, Sunday & Public Holiday
Closed every Wednesday
Last-minute souvenir shopping happens to everyone. In Hua Hin, the best places to be are Chatsila & Chatchai Night Markets. From handmade clothes to home decor items, you will be spoilt for choice. If you find yourself in Chatsila Night Market, be sure to visit a 100-year-old wooden bungalow that has been transformed into a gallery showcasing rare photos and items from Hua Hin’s past.
Opening hours: 6pm – 11pm, Daily
Nestled on the West of the Gulf of Thailand, the city has been blessed with an endless stretch of beautiful beaches. What better way to sum up your trip than to simply catch the sunrise in the Land of Smiles before your flight home.
GETTING THERE: AirAsia flies direct to Hua Hin from Kuala Lumpur from 18 May 2018 onwards. For low fares and flight info, visit airasia.com.