- Cityscape Royal Riviera
- City life Sassy society sunspot
A couple of hours south of bustling Bangkok, the laid-back resort town of Hua Hin has been a Thai weekender’s favourite ever since the royal family started heading here back in the 1920s.
Of course, the rest of society followed suit. Enchanted by the feather-soft, white-powder beach, successive monarchs built summer palaces in and around what was once a small village on the Gulf of Thailand’s north-west coast. Since then, Hua Hin has grown into a peaceful paradise of seaside chic, with manicured golf courses, world-class spas, sleek hotels and a smattering of appetising seafood restaurants both here and in smaller neighbour Cha-Am. After enduring the frenetic urban hum of Bangkok, it’s the perfect escape for some lazy beach-based bliss.
Do go/Don’t go
Although it’s drier than much of the country during monsoon season (June–October), this region is best visited from November to March, when it’s sunny by day and often cool at night. Hua Hin, like Bangkok, gets horribly hot between April and May. Even worse than the heat, though, are the traffic jams on Fridays and Saturdays; head to Hua Hin on a weekday and you’ll have the whole place to yourself.
- Planes Fly into Bangkok’s International Suvarnabhumi Airport (www.bangkokairportonline.com), 25km east of the capital. Domestic flights to Hua Hin are currently suspended, so Bangkok’s is effectively the closest airport to town, and you’ll have to complete the rest of the journey overland.
- Trains Rail travel is one of the easiest, albeit slowest, ways to get to Hua Hin. Trains leave from Bangkok’s Hualamphong station several times a day, and express trains can cut the journey time to three-and-a-quarter hours (www.railway.co.th).
- Automobiles Hua Hin Limousine Services (www.huahin-limousine.com) ferry folk from Bangkok airport or the city centre to Hua Hin and back, and can also arrange day trips around the region. The drive takes two to three hours, but be warned: at times the traffic between Bangkok and Hua Hin gets thundercloud-thick.
- Taxis There are usually plenty of taxis and songtaews (small pick-up trucks) parked in the centre of town, but you’ll need to negotiate a flat rate with the drivers first. If you have the nerve, rattling motorbike taxis are a racier option. However, unless you want to wander further afield, you can easily navigate this small town on foot.