Located approximately a 3-4 hour's drive south of Bangkok (200 km), Hua Hin is a pretty seaside town on the Gulf of Thailand.
It boasts a five-mile long beach, and the highest density of world class golf courses in Thailand.
A historic fishing town that neighbors the also popular Cha-am, Hua Hin long been a favorite getaway place for Thai high-society, with businessmen and movie stars escaping the intensity of the city for a weekend of fresh air and relaxation.
Hua Hin is perhaps most famous for Klai Kangwon Palace (meaning Far From Worries), which was built in 1928 by King Rama VII . The Palace remains an official royal residence. Notably, King Rama 9 stayed there from 2002-2006.
Hua Hin has a reputation for being sleepy, largely because there isn't much to the center of town, and there really isn't much going on after 9pm.
But it's that place you can book last minute, that getaway you can plan on a Friday night and leave Saturday morning, and that trip that forces you to relax. Don't expect amazing beaches, but pick the right hotel and you'll have a lovely stay.
What's the Weather Like?
The weather in Hua Hin remains warm to hot throughout the year, with only small variations in temperature.
There is a much greater variation in the amount of rain. The average is 4.1mm in January and slightly over 200mm in October and November.
For me , the best time to visit is in December through February. At this time temperatures are warm and the chance of rain is low.
The hottest time to visit is between April and May, with temperatures around 34° Celsius
The monsoon season arrives in May. Rains then ease from June to August. The heaviest rains begin in September and continue through November.
What's the Beach Like in Hua Hin?
If you’re looking for an out of town beach getaway for a couple of days then หัวหิน (the Thai spelling) is perfect.
It's not the best beach in Thailand, I must admit, but it's a decent option for a Bangkok getaway.
Parts of the beach are really long and wide, making it perfect for long walks and kids to play.
If you hire a car, Cha-Am is only 20 km down the road, which has a worthwhile beach offering various water sports and delicious Thai street food.
Cha'am beach is popular with locals and Thai tourists, but if you want the authentic Thai beach experience, this is it: chilling, eating, talking, playing games and NOT going in the sun until after 4pm!
Hua Hin beach isn’t a tropical looking beach as such – it lacks the coconut trees and marine blue water – but it's openness and decent views across the bay make it worth the visit.
The main appeal of the beach is that it tends to be much quieter than the popular beaches down south.
One thing that does annoy me about the main beach is the donkey/horse riding in high season. This is generally confined to one area of the beach, though.
There are jellyfish in the sea all year round but they tend not to come too close to shore until the rainy season, probably due to the direction of the sea currents and tides.
Occasionally the water here suffers from an influx of jellyfish, but this is generally not a problem until rainy season when the current and tides are affected by the weather. Paddling here is fine outside of the rainy season, and your hotel / signs will warn you if there's a jellyfish problem.
5 Things to Do in Hua Hin
Other than strolling along the beach and visiting the popular night market, there are a number of activities you can consider for the family.
1. Sea Cruise to Khao Sam Roi Yot
Like all tourist destinations in Thailand, Hua Hin offers the usual Thai massage and spa places, cooking courses, trekking, cycling, diving, snorkeling, and water sports. But for something a little different, check out the sea cruises to Sam Roi Yod National Park.
Khao Sam Roi Yot is a marine national park that covers 98 km, of which 20 km are marine areas. The park was established in 1966 and was the first coastal national park of Thailand.
Also the year England won the world cup! (Sorry, I had to get that in).
In recent years, Hua Hin has become a popular destination for kite-boarders. People flock from far and wide to catch the coastal winds, which on some days are quite strong given how open the area is.
Of course, this is largely a seasonal activity in the windier months, but if you like a thrill, you might want to check out this wind map.
There's lessons available for tourists, with all the kit provided.
3. Hua Hin Railway Station
Hua Hin boasts Thailand's most famous railway station, which dates back to the 1920s. It's a lovely site to visit and well worth the photo opportunity. It's easily walkable from anywhere in town.
I wouldn’t recommend catching a train though, as the schedule seems somewhat relaxed (Thai style) – it was four hours behind when I enquired about the next train!
4. Kaeng Krachan
I recommend a visit to Kaeng Krachan National Park and climb the waterfalls. The layers seem to go on indefinitely but I believe there are 16.
Make sure you take a big bottle of water though, or you might struggle on the way down without a drink, as I did in the soaring heat.
You can also bathe in the pools and just hang out there.
It's a fair drive from Hua Hin, so get a taxi if you haven't got a car. You could do the journey on a moped but it would be a fair old trip.
5. Wat Huay Mongkol
You really shouldn't leave without visiting this temple either. It was home to the immensely popular monk Luang Pu Thuat, who was famous for performing miracles.
The beautiful Wat Huay Mongkol houses the largest statue of Luang Phor Thuat in Thailand, situated in a park-like setting. Seriously, you won't believe how big this is!
6. Cicada Market
Lastly, for more shopping check out the charming Cicada Market.
This is a delightful weekend market is nestled under huge, old trees and offers contemporary art, handicrafts and general cool stuff. Besides the crafts market, you’ll also find an art gallery, beer garden and live music.
- Opening Hours: 16:00-23:00 (Friday, Saturday), 16:00-22:00 (Sunday)
Nightlife in Hua Hin
Hua Hin is pretty quiet after dark, which suits the type of holiday you'll have here.
Don't get me wrong, there are bars and clubs to be found, and even karaokes and naughty massage spots. But the vibe isn't anywhere near as energetic as Bangkok, Pattaya, Patong or Chaweng.
The majority of visitors spend their evenings down at the Hua Hin Night Market, which, even though it says shuts at 1AM, is, in my experience, dying down by 9pm.
The market is a lot smaller than the night markets you'll find in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, but it's got the traditional vibe and has everything you'd expect, including restaurants, clothing stalls, handicrafts and souvenirs.
Even if you aren't up for filling your suitcase full of stuff you don't need, it's cool to just have a stroll, try some Thai treats and soak up the atmosphere.
If you want a night cap once you've had a meal and bought a Hua Hin t-shirt, you'll need to head over to the “Farang area” behind the Hilton Hotel.
Or, if you want the Walking Street Bars (girly), head over to Soi Bintabaht, which isn't far. In fact, pretty much all the nightlife is walkable from the Hilton Hotel.
If you want something a little classier than the “lady bars” I suggest heading for a drink at the Lotus Sky Bar, housed at the top of the Hua Hin Hilton Hotel – the view is incredible!
Hua Hin isn't really for the party animal and the pace is pretty slow, but its beauty is that it's “different”. And that's one thing I've come to love about Thailand: every corner of the Kingdom has something unique to offer, be it tradition, food or architecture.
How to Get to Hua Hin
Hua Hin railway station is part of the southern rail route that starts in Bangkok.
Trains run all day and night between the cities. Don't expect to arrive or leave on time.
There are buses direct from Bangkok to Hua Hin, and those that make numerous stops on the way. Pay extra and go direct. This will take about 7 hours.
Catch a minivan for approximately 200 Baht from Bangkok. The journey takes about 4 hours.
If you can afford it, I advise a private minivan, which will cost around 3,000 Baht each way.
The shared minivan may be a bit squashed and may do some drop-offs along the way that delay you.
Flights to Hua Hin from Bangkok still haven't resumed and it doesn't look like they will any time soon.
3 Superb Hotel Recommendations for Hua Hin
Each time I've been to Hua Hin I've stayed in different hotels. Below are three of my top picks:
1. Chalelarn Hotel
This small hotel is close to the city centre.
It's a good choice for one or two people but I wouldn't recommend it if you have kids.
The rooms are average in size but wonderfully decorated in authentic Thai style. There are rooftop views of the coast and city and a small pool on top of the hotel.
The breakfast is average and the dining room small, but it's central, very clean and 5-minutes walk from the beach. It's pleasant and means you don't need transport into town.
2. Sheraton Resort & Spa
This hotel is simply amazing.
If you want a real family treat that the kids will love, this is worth every penny.
You can lie on a lounger and stare out to sea, as the hotel backs onto a stretch of beach.
The pool is huge and the grounds are lovely.
The swimming pool flows around the hotel and is accessible from all pool-facing rooms.
The breakfast spread is to die for, and you can stuff some bits in your bag to cover lunch too.
Spa treatments are available on site, and they have a great gym and a kids clubs too – which my daughter loved.
3. Asara Villa & Suite
The Asara rivals the Sheraton. Like the Sheraton, it's on the outskirts of town, though a little closer in than the Sheraton.
It too is situated on the beach, and also has a massive pool.
There are three restaurants to choose from on-site, and a bunch of workshops you can do like yoga and cooking.
Massage treatments and spa are also available.
The rooms are bigger at the Asara, but the pool and the breakfast at the Sheraton are epic.
Both hotels offer a mini-van into town and back in the evening. And you can book the minivan for the daytime too.
Hua Hin, in Summary
If you fancy getting out of the bustle of Bangkok for a few days, or want a long weekend doing nothing in a nice hotel with your partner, Hua Hin is a lovely seaside escape.
The beach gets better and wider towards the town, but don't expect it to be tropical island-like.
The sea is good for water-sports and paddling, but for swimming you might be better to go up to Cha-am. My advice is pick a hotel like the Sheraton or Asara and swim there, and when you fancy a walk on the beach just step out the back of the hotel.
The Hilton Hotel is also worth looking at, but it's usually very busy.
Hua Hin is perfect for a relaxing short break. Chilling, walking, shopping in the markets, eating, and dipping in the pool should be your main plans. Three or four days is perfect.
The town closes early, except the bars down near the Hilton, so don't centre your holiday around nightlife.
My advice: Treat yourself to a top hotel with great facilities, chill all day and take the free shuttle into town and back in the evening.