My favorite Thai beach resort destination by far. There is an authenticity to this place which I think is largely missing from Phuket or Pattaya which have been largely shaped by international tourism. Hua Hin “Stone Head” remains an extremely popular destination for locals and thus retains local Thai flavour and atmosphere.
In 1921 the director of the State Railway built the Railway Hotel close to the beach. When I first visited Hua Hin in 1981 the hotel was still run by the state railway and had a certain dilapidated charm. It has since been run by the Sofitel Group who, it has to be said, have restored the hotel to it’s former magnificence though the corollary being that I can no longer affordably stay there.By the way if you do stay there my tip is to sidestep the hotel breakfast (if it is not included) and mosey on down to the beach where you will find a hawker stall – many of which will do a very passable bacon and eggs.
The nearby railway station itself must be on anyone’s list of the world’s most charming stations.
The Thais have real style when they put their minds to it.
Rama VII liked Hua Hin so much that he built a summer palace there. The palace was named Wang Klai Kang Won “Far from Worries” and had for a long time and until relatively recently, when illness has confined his majesty to the Sriraj Hospital, been the full-time residence of King Bhumipol.
Anyone visiting Hua Hin in expectation of a quiet “beach paradise” might be a little disappointed. It is a living working town situated on the main road and rail route to the South and Malaysia. The road is busy with buses and lorries plying south and north. There is an extremely busy and bustling market area which is excellent for nighttime food
More food – my favorite restaurant in Hua Hin- gearing up for the night rush – after dark it is always packed and a queue waiting to get a seat.
I played my first 18 holes of golf on the Royal Hua Hin Golf Course which I’m proud to say was designed by a Scottish rail maintenance engineer, A O Robins, after being so commissioned in 1921 by King Rama VI. Lucky fellow was probably fulfilling two passions. The golf course lies on land immediately adjacent to the railway station.
It is a wonderful course and populated with many species of mature trees including the magnificent Rain tree. Such is my golf I do tend to spend a lot of time in them. It was furthermore Thailand’s first and, for many years, only golf course. There are a few about nowadays.
Of course there are some disappointments over the 30 or so years I have been coming to Hua Hin. There are now high rise condominiums when before there were none, the night market has become more expensive, it is harder to find a good “joke shop” (think Thai congee) and the developers have found Khao Tao several miles to the south – previously a quiet great expanse of beach with the most perfect outdoor sea food restaurant at the southern end. Actually it’s still there but getting more run down as the years go by. The old bungalow on the Hua Hin beachfront where I stayed the week before I was married is now in a truly dilapidated state with the land slated for development.
Oh well that’s progress I suppose – things are never as they were.
Just occasionally, just occasionally on one of those all too rare serendipitous moments I will find myself sitting on Hua Hin beach in the cool evening breeze, munching my dried squid washed down with ice cold beer, and I will think the world is really not such a bad place after all.