Travel Guide: Hua Hin, Thailand

Travel Guide: Hua Hin, Thailand

What can a seaside town, a three hours drive away from Bangkok, offer to family travelers?

As far as Hua Hin goes – quite a lot.

Hua Hin is diametrically opposed to another resort town, Pattaya both geographically and in style. While the latter is known for its never-ending night life and casinos, Hua Hin revels in its theme parks and chic markets. We spent four days in Hua Hin which we felt was good enough with our slower pace of travel these days. All the places of interest are mainly along Thailand’s Route 4 and I have divided them based on location – north, centre and south so you can plan your logistics better.

Weather and Climate

As with all other destinations in Thailand, the weather in Hua Hin alternates between intense heat and a smattering of rain. The cool season is between November to February before it gradually gets hotter until May. The rainy season then begins in June until October but when I say “rainy” its not incessant downpours but scattered showers. We we there in July but it is generally hot and humid with rain occurring at night.

Getting There From Malaysia

We flew from Kuala Lumpur to Hua Hin Airport via AirAsia. The non-stop flight took about two hours and apparently it is the only international flight that comes in and out of Hua Hin four times weekly. If you prefer to take it slow, then an overnight train is the best bet. My friends at Kaki Jalans can take you through a step-by-step guide on how to cross the Malaysia-Thai border and their own experience riding a first class train coach to Hua Hin.

Getting Around

We were in a group of four adults and two children so we mainly moved around by booking a car or van via Grab app. On our day trips north and south of Hua Hin we hired a private car charter on Klook. We got a comfy Toyota Commuter and the English-speaking driver was easy to communicate with in terms of planning out the day’s itinerary.

What To Do In Hua Hin

Santorini Park

If you have a burning desire of going to Santorini but neither have the budget nor the time, Santorini Park can cure your longing!

Part of a trio of theme parks in Hua Hin (there’s Venezia and Camel Republic), Santorini Park replicates the Greek island’s famous blue and white buildings. The whole park is one big photo-op with pastel-colored doors, windows and balconies set up for that perfect Insta-shot. There’s plenty of boutiques and cafes to splash the cash but they were nothing to shout about. All we ended up with are a bunch of Superman t-shirts for the little one.

The maze of stores led us to the “town square” with a prominent ferris wheel at the background. We hopped on to a colorful gondola to see the whole park from above, the freeway leading to Bangkok and some nice-looking limestone hills. There’s nothing much to shout about at Santorini Park other than being a rather good copy of the real village but if you really love the place, you can book a night or two at their hotel.

Santorini Park Cha-Am
Google Maps

Entrance fee: THB 150
9:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. (Monday – Friday); 9:00 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. (Saturday – Sunday)

Swiss Sheep Farm

Across the highway from Santorini Park is Swiss Sheep Farm, a mini petting zoo with kitschy props from all around Europe.

While us adults were groaning at the odd combo of jack-o-lanterns and British telephone box, the kids rushed to feed the furry ruminants. We bought some Napier to feed the famished sheep because as soon as we walked towards the feeding area, half of them rushed towards us, all ready to have a nibble. The sheep were clambering each other as the kids were half-giggling and half-scared while they fought for every piece of grass.

Swiss Sheep Farm is not only about the sheep.

The farm has a mini-pond full of fishes and an overly colorful Dutch windmill as the centerpiece. There were also other animals like a pair of donkeys and pen full of alpacas. If things could not get any weirder, there were also sculptures of Optimus Prime and Bumblebee and a room containing a hanging Spiderman. Don’t let that deter you from visiting Swiss Sheep Farm – at the end of the day, the kids really had a blast!

Swiss Sheep Farm
Google Maps

Entrance fee: THB 150 (Adults), THB 80 (Children below 120 cm)
9:00 a.m. – 6:30 p.m., Daily

Hua Hin Train Station

As far as small town train station goes, Hua Hin is in a class of its own. The red-and-white Victorian timber building is so iconic the station has become an attraction by itself. We dropped by Hua Hin Train Station before lunch and it was packed with a stream of tourists snapping photos while locals patiently wait for their afternoon train to arrive.

Built in 1926, the station still retains its rustic charm where the red frames and columns make the white panels pop out. A similar signage written in Thai and English is also a hit with visitors constantly taking photos with it and that persuaded me to buy a mini replica of it at the now defunct Plearn Wan. You can also take a peek at the Phra Mongkut Klao Pavilion, a waiting room for royalty who used to often visit Hua Hin.

Hua Hin Train Station
Google Maps

Read Also: Travel Guide: Koh Lipe, Thailand

Hin Lek Fai Hill

It’s time to see Hua Hin from above!

A 15-minute drive up a windy road from the train station brings us to Hin Lek Fai, a hillside park with multiple view points of Hua Hin. The park was well kept with its landscaped gardens, stone paths and a statue of King Prajaphipok, the monarch who popularized Hua Hin into a seaside retreat, looking all prim and proper. Hin Lek Fai Hill has six look-out points but having kids in tow, we only went to two.

We navigated a dirt trail off the stone path to get to the first view point. It only took around 10 minutes and we could see the northern end of Hua Hin sandwiched between the sea and the hills. We backtracked to the observation deck for a bird’s eye view of the town center easily figured out by the clock tower. The best time to visit Hin Lek Fai Hill is during the evening where the sun provides good back light for your photo shoots!

Hua Hin View Point
Google Maps

Hua Hin Night Market

We went back down Hua Hin’s town center around 5:00 p.m. just in time for the daily night market. Our driver dropped us off at the clock tower and we crossed the road to the street already closed off to motorists. Hua Hin Night Market is a colorful bazaar with an assortment of stalls. Stalls are arranged randomly but it makes a good viewing – you can see one shop selling trinkets before looking at another one with a vast display of tropical fruits.

We did not shop much since most of the stuff sold here is found at any other night markets across Thailand. Since everyone are foodies, we hopped from one food stall to another and sat down at the open-air food court to share our spoils. The food court is connected to the “hidden” Chatsila Night Market where stalls are set up around a bunch of classic two-storey wooden houses. We only window-shopped but the stalls here have a more eclectic collection of clothes and crafts.

Hua Hin Night Market
Google Maps
5:00 p.m. – 1:00 a.m., Daily

Read Also: Chatuchak Weekend Market, Bangkok – A Penchant For Originality

Pran Buri Forest Park

Pran Buri Forest Park is made up of different ecological terrains with a huge swathe of land consisting of mangrove forests. The park has a kilometer-long wooden walkway that takes visitors around the forest in a loop. We arrived at the park entrance at 9 in the morning to the sight of no one. A giant replica of a black mud crab greeted us and thus begin our trek around the mangrove.

The wooden walkway was in good shape as our strollers had no problem moving around. Everyone was enchanted by the “tentacles” – the prop roots of the mangrove tree and the many crabs and mudskippers the scurry around the forest floor. The landscape suddenly opened up halfway through the trail where we could see forested hills at the edge of the mangrove.

There is also an observation tower where I climbed to take sweeping views of the parks. We then went back on the walkway and encountered a jetty where visitors could hire a boat and go on a mangrove cruise. However, it was low tide in the morning so we finished our trek on foot back to the park entrance.

Pranburi Forest Park
Google Maps
Entrance fee: Free
8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Daily

Rajabhakti Park

The newest addition to Hua Hin, Rajabhakti Park is a vast theme park that honors the past kings of Thailand.

Seven bronze statue of the kings can be seen from afar, starting with King Ram Khamhaeng of the Sukkothai period to King Chulalangkorn of the Rattanakosin era. Visitors would have to take a shuttle from the waiting area to a mini museum showcasing the history of Thailand’s kingdoms and in-depth profile of each of the feted king. There is also a dedicated section on current King Vajiralongkorn and his late father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

The morning was really hot that day with no clouds to cover so we briefly went to the square for a closer look of the statues. Every king was placed on a giant pedestal and sculpted to their best pose, looking fierce yet stately. I have to give credit to the artisans for capturing all the fine details even down to each king’s facial expressions.

Rajabhakti Park
Google Maps
Entrance fee: Free
8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m, Daily

Cicada Market

Cicada Market is a weekend hipster bazaar full of artisanal goods, food and live performances. Cicada Market is in sharp contrast to Hua Hin Night Market in that it is more modern, relaxed and upmarket. Booths are laid out in an organized manner with certain sections of the market carved out for paintings and photographs. There’s also a dedicated food and beer garden for visitors to snack and guzzle without mixing it up with shoppers.

We had tons of fun shopping here as every stall sells something cool, quirky and unique which reminded me of Chion-ji Temple Handicraft Market in Kyoto. Boring old me bought a t-shirt with the word “Hua Hin” in Roman and Thai letters emblazoned in gold while the missus got herself a bag full of flowy dresses. By the time we left, a band was already performing at the amphitheater – if not for the kids we would hang out at Cicada Market till midnight!

Cicada Market
Google Maps
4:00 p.m. – 1:00 a.m., Friday – Sunday

Where To Eat In Hua Hin

The great bit about Thailand is its exceptional food, from family-run restaurants to street-side stalls. Here’s a round-up of the places we ate in Hua Hin, including a number of halal eateries.

Tamarind Night Market

Adjacent to Cicada Market is Tamarind Night Market, an open-air square serving all kinds of street food at reasonable prices. Within 10 minutes, everyone gathered a plate of Phad Thai, savory omelette, Khanom Buang and succulent grilled shrimp and squid. A good place to fill up before going shopping!

Ameena Restaurant

Located on the road heading towards Cha-am Beach, Ameena is a simple wood-and-zinc restaurant that serves Southern Thai dishes like a pot of fiery Tom Yum Goong and a succulent sweet and sour garoupa. Make sure you order their “Crying Tiger” – a plate of sliced grilled beef with a barbeque sauce dip!

Muslim Food At Train Station

Across the roundabout from Hua Hin Train Station are a bunch of shops selling halal food. We had lunch at one of the warung where the simple menu consists of fried rice, white rice with chicken or beef, and rice with soup. All the dishes are below THB 100 which are suitable for budget travelers or someone looking for a quick meal.

Mooz Halal Food

Part of the Muslim-friendly Hotel Mooz, Mooz Halal Food is a casual air-conditioned restaurant with a wide variety of Thai food. Go for the fried seabass with garlic and fish sauce as the main accompanied by stir-fried kangkung, clear tofu and veggie soup and grilled squid. If you want to order Tom Yum, make sure you have a glass of Thai iced tea in hand!

Durian Sundae at Swensens

Once we passed by the Swensens near the clock tower, we knew we needed to have it. At THB 159, the Durian Monthong Boat has two scoops of ice-cream made from the popular Monthong variety served on a bed blue sticky rice with thickened coconut milk, whipped cream and crushed cone. Seasonal but do a must try when it is available.

Where To Stay – Ayrest Hotel

We stayed for three restful nights at Ayrest Hotel, situated on the main road in between the airport and Hua Hin town. The hotel has a nice shaded U-shaped pool and kid’s wading pool which we utilized daily while our rooms were spacious for the price that we were paying. One plus point for Ayrest Hotel is they provide free hourly shuttle – send and pick-up – to the night market and nearby beach.

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2 thoughts on “Travel Guide: Hua Hin, Thailand”

  • Hey Dan thanks for the mention! Hua Hin is nice, we loved it so much. Swiss Sheep Farm seems nice. It was in our itinerary but we did not check the operating hours beforehand. We came when it was closed. So, we ended up visiting 1000 Sook instead. Still a great family outing despite its smaller size.

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