Hua Hin Travel Guide
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Welcome to Thailand Travel Hub’s complete guide to Hua Hin. Here you can find everything you need to know about this wonderful seaside resort only two hours drive from Bangkok, which is a popular getaway destination for locals, tourists and ex-pats alike. Less touristy than the likes of Phuket or Pattaya, Hua Hin offers a more authentic experience of Thailand, with the added bonus of not having to negotiate the throngs of tourists that you would find in Patong, Chaweng or Walking Street.
Hua Hin was popularised around a century ago when it became known as a retreat for the Thai royal family, and since then it has developed into a thriving, but more laid-back destination which everyone can enjoy. Visitors can see spectacular caves, temples, national parks, waterfalls, world-class golf courses, restaurants, nightlife and of course, the beautiful 3km white sand beach which is noticeably cleaner than that of Pattaya across the Gulf of Thailand.
All in all, Hua Hin is developed enough to offer something for everyone, and whilst it is certainly no longer the sleepy fishing village that it started off as, it’s still noticeably more charming and relaxing than Thailand’s more popular tourist destinations.
Weather & When to Go to Hua Hin
Hua Hin is relatively hot and humid all year round with temperatures in the range of 28-35°C, which can take some getting used to for many visitors. However, in general the daily temperature is actually fairly consistent throughout the year, with the amount of rainfall varying greatly between the seasons. The monsoon season tends to hit around October/November and during this time the downpours can be absolutely torrential, which means you will probably be stuck inside. The best time to visit is after the monsoon has ended so that temperatures are cooler, and this period falls between December and February.
Despite this, you can visit Hua Hin at any time of the year and enjoy yourself, in fact if you aren’t bothered by the rain, you will find that during monsoon season the town is less crowded and you will be able to get a better deal on your hotel rate, it’s really up to you. The hottest time of the year for Hua Hin will be around April and May, when you can expect average highs around the 33-35°C mark which is great for some, but sticky and uncomfortable for others.
In any case, April is still an amazing time to visit Thailand as this is when the Songkran festival takes place, which is one of the best festivals anywhere on the planet and has to be experienced by everyone at least once. So realistically, any time of year will be a good time to come, but just make sure your schedule is flexible if you come during the rainy season.
Getting to Hua Hin & How to Get Around
Taxi - There is no airport in Hua Hin so to get there you will need to fly to Bangkok and travel from there. There are many different ways to get from Bangkok to Hua Hin, but from one of the Bangkok airports the easiest would be to take a private taxi all the way. At Suvarnabhumi airport, you will need to go down to the bottom floor and speak to the people at the desk outside about going to Hua Hin, the fee should be around 2200 baht ($72), and this should be fixed no matter how many passengers are going. The journey should take between two and two and a half hours depending on traffic and how fast your taxi driver likes to drive.
Train - Alternatively, if you are already in Bangkok you may find it easier to just head to Hua Lampong train station and go from there. You’re looking at around 300 baht ($10) per person, just ensure you buy your ticket at the ticket counter and ignore any touts at the station. Thai trains are old and rickety, and are much slower than traveling by car meaning the journey takes around five hours. Just bear in mind that if you go third-class, you will probably be sat on a hard wooden bench for five hours.
Buses - There are also buses from Bangkok to Hua Hin, you can catch the bus either at the Sai Tai Mai bus terminal (at Taling Chan) or at the airport, they take around 3.5 hours and cost 150-300 baht depending on which bus you get and where you embark. Buses are a good compromise and information about departure times and bus numbers can be found both at the airport and the bus terminal.
Minibus - Alternatively, the many travel agents in Bangkok operate hundreds of minibus services, if you inquire at one near your hotel you should be able to buy a one way ticket to Hua Hin for around 400 baht ($13) which will usually involve a hotel pick up, which can be a great idea if you have heavy luggage.
Getting around Hua Hin - Once you arrive in Hua Hin, you have several options for getting around the city, consider hiring a motorbike if you are able to, at under 300 baht ($10) per day, they can be very convenient and cost effective. However, Hua Hin has plenty of transportation options, including several songthaew routes, tuk tuks, taxis and motorcycle taxis, all of which are relatively cheap and reliable. Tuk tuks are the most expensive as they are popular with tourists, with short trips costing upwards of 100 baht ($3.30).
Best things To See & Do In Hua Hin
Visit The Spectacular Temples & Caves
Hua Hin is home to some truly spectacular Thai temples and incredible caves which should not be missed. In fact, Hua Hin arguably has the best selection of temples outside of the capital, with many intricate and ornate temples within a few kilometres of the city centre, and the beautiful Wat Hua Hin in the city centre. Also, there are hilltop temples, temples with giant buddhas and the amazing Phraya Nakhon temple which is located inside an open-top cave complex, which should undoubtedly be at the top of your list as it is simply stunning, and a fantastic opportunity for budding photographers.
There are many other caves in the vicinity, including the Lub Lae, Kailon and Dao caves which are all located west of the city and the Kaeo and Sai caves located south. Many of the cave formations are extraordinary and contain buddhas and trinkets left behind by Thai visitors for good luck, they are a fascinating way to spend a few hours.
Explore Night Markets & Shopping Malls
For shoppers, Hua Hin has a number of interesting and inexpensive night markets, where you can buy anything from Thai fruits and vegetables to designer clothes, Thai handicrafts and souvenirs to take back home. There are no less than 4 night markets in the city, plus the Hua Hin Bazaar, with most of them open every night. The night markets also have many great value restaurants where you will see the locals eating, which is always an indicator of good quality food in Thailand. Night markets are a really great place to get an authentic taste of Thailand and see people going about their daily lives, not to mention somewhere to grab yourself a bargain.
If you prefer to shop in air-conditioned comfort, then you’re in luck as Hua Hin has two large shopping malls which are open until at least 9pm daily. The newer Bluport Hua Hin was only opened in 2016 and has lots of modern designer brands, whilst the older Market Village Mall is more of a standard Thai-style shopping mall.
Explore The Beaches & Water Sports
Hua Hin beach stretches for almost 4km and is clean and beautiful, offering powdery white sand and in most places the water is crystal clear and inviting. Compared to other Thai beaches you may have been to, it is noticeably quieter and more relaxing with fewer visitors and without the hawkers trying to coax you into buying something. There are a few restaurants along the beach, but mostly it is lined with hotels and resorts, you can easily while away an afternoon on the beach with a book without being hassled.
Alternatively, for those looking for a bit more excitement, there are numerous water sports offered along the beach. These include kite-boarding which is very popular with lessons available, or there is jet-skiing, banana boat rides, parasailing, scuba diving and snorkeling. It is also possible to hire a boat to go out for sea fishing or snorkeling trips, which can usually be arranged at your hotel or guesthouse.
Indulge In Fantastic Food & Restaurants
You probably won’t be surprised to hear that Hua Hin has a huge range of restaurants serving all kinds of different cuisine from around the globe. There are Indian restaurants, Chinese, steakhouses, pizza joints, Mexican, fish and chips, seafood restaurants, bakeries, vegan cafes, literally anything you could possibly want. Of course, there are the ubiquitous fast food joints such as KFC, Burger King and McDonalds, but you didn’t come to Hua Hin for those, did you? And it goes without saying that there are street food vendors dotted around all over the city selling steaming bowls of noodles, grilled fish, pad Thai, and much, much more besides.
Bangkok is a food mecca and Hua Hin is not much different, all tastes and budgets are catered for here. The availability of good quality food is not something you need to be concerned about when visiting Hua Hin, just use the usual trick of avoiding places which have no or few customers.
Experience The Hua Hin Nightlife
Hua Hin’s nightlife is definitely a step down from places such as Pattaya or Patong, but there are still plenty of places to enjoy yourself after the sun goes down. There are several sports bars, some bars with live music (usually local bands covering Western songs to a varying standard) and a couple of Thai discos. The official closing time for these venues is 2:00am but many ignore this, depending on how many customers are still there enjoying themselves. Also worth mentioning is that generally these venues will be good value if you are used to partying in Bangkok or Phuket, and with a friendly atmosphere you may end up staying later than you intended.
Although the nightlife may be a bit tamer than other Thai destinations, there are still a few clusters of beer bars which play loud Thai music, and they have plenty of staff who will sit and play Connect-4 or pool with you – just be prepared to cough up for a drink if you lose!
Where To Stay In Hua Hin
Visitors coming to Hua Hin will either stay in the city centre itself, or in Cha-Am, Khao Takiab or Pranburi.
City Centre - If you want to be close to Hua Hin beach and all the restaurants and nightlife, then you should definitely stay in Hua Hin city centre, just note that you will probably spend a little more for the convenience (although costs will be much lower than in, say, Phuket). For the majority of visitors, the city centre will be the best option, as it generally has all the amenities that travelers could possibly need within a relatively small area, and other attraction and destinations can be reached fairly easily either on motorcycle or public transport.
Cha-Am - If you’re not interested in nightlife, and are only interested in chilling on the beach, Cha-Am might possibly be a better option for you. It’s north of Hua Hin, so closer to Bangkok and more convenient for many travelers, plus it’s cheaper than Hua Hin too. There are a handful of restaurants and bars but it’s generally much quieter than Hua Hin, and the beach is arguably cleaner and nicer and has noticeably fewer tourists.
Khao Takiab - Khao Takiab is 10km south of Hua Hin and mostly consists of luxury resorts aimed at people who want a quiet and relaxing getaway. There are very few dining and nightlife options, those are mostly taken care of in your resort, but there is a pristine and tranquil white sand beach which doesn’t attract too many tourists. Aimed at visitors wanting to truly get away from it all, there are some great resorts at varying price points.
Pranburi - Pranburi is noticeably further – around 30km south of Hua Hin city centre, but is very close to the Khao Sam Roi Yot national park. More suited to those looking for a bit of nature, Pranburi has some beautiful scenery, a great coastline with deserted beaches, and is ideally suited to couples looking for a romantic getaway or adventure seekers looking to explore the park. There are no real dining, shopping or nightlife options in Pranburi, but then that’s what makes it so relaxing.
Prices, Expenses & Typical Costs
Accommodation - Accommodation costs in Hua Hin are very reasonable indeed. A double room in a guesthouse generally starts at around 300 baht ($10) a night for the most basic places which may have a shared bathroom and a fan instead of air conditioning. Up your budget to 600 baht ($20) per night and you can find somewhere a bit more comfortable and in a better location, or at this price point you can find serviced apartments. At 1000 baht ($33) per night, you can find very nice boutique-style hotels and apartments offering every kind of amenity you can think of. Five star accommodation starts at around 3000 baht ($100) per night and can go as high as 23,000 baht ($755).
Transportation - Transportation costs will vary wildly from person to person, if you are brave enough to use the Thai public transport, your costs will be markedly lower than if you rely on taxis and tuk-tuks. The public transport in Hua Hin consists of songthaews, which you may or may not already be familiar with. The way they work is that they drive set routes in a circle, and to get on board you must flag one down – there are no official stops. The drivers don’t speak English but if you say the name of where you want to go they will nod if they can get you there. When you arrive at your destination, press the bell on the ceiling and he will stop, rides are 10 baht ($0.33) during the day and 15 baht ($0.50) at night.
Taxis are much more expensive and drivers may often try to inflate the price by not using their meter. The meter starts at 35 baht ($1.15), and short trips should cost 50-80 baht ($1.65-$2.62). Tuk-tuks will usually want to start at 100 baht ($3.30) and cost more per km (the whole sum will be agreed on in advance).
Food & Drink - With such a wide choice of food and drink in Hua Hin, what you spend is up to you. At the very minimum, a street side bowl of noodle soup and a bottle of soda will set you back 50 baht ($1.64), or a meal of steak and lobster by the sea with a bottle of French wine could cost you 7000 baht ($230). Western food will cost a little more than local food, but generally most meals at a restaurant will fall in the 150-400 baht ($5-$13) range.
A large bottle of beer will around 70-100 baht ($2.30-$3.28), cocktails go for around 150-300 baht ($4.92-$10), and wine can easily be 1000 baht ($33) and upwards per bottle. Prices for alcoholic beverages vary quite a lot depending on the establishment, with many offering happy hours or two for one deals.
Recommended Budget - Assuming you want to stay in a boutique style guesthouse, eat at a restaurant twice a day, see a few sights by taxi during the daytime and then have a few beers in the evening, a good budget for Hua Hin would be 3000-3500 baht ($98-$115) per day for everything. Budget travelers could survive on 1000 baht ($33) a day.
Money Saving Tips
Avoid expensive taxis - Avoid expensive taxis and tuk-tuks and use songtaews where possible, you’ll get the hang of how they work very quickly and they are fun! Alternatively, you can rent a motorcycle for around the cost of one tuk-tuk trip, but only do so if you are a confident rider and always wear a helmet.
Eat street food - Eat street food for your lunch every day, at 40-80 baht per meal these dishes offer fantastic value and can be just as good, if not better than what you get in the restaurants. Look for where the locals are eating as this is a sure sign of quality food. They usually give you free drinking water too.
Exchange money in Thailand - Don’t buy your currency in your home country. You will get 10-15% more by changing it once inside Thailand. Even at the airport in Bangkok you will get a much better rate than back home, but they are very picky about torn or defaced bills.
Don't forget to haggle - Don’t be scared to offer less – Thais respect a decent haggler! You can definitely haggle with tuk-tuk drivers and at markets, but not in shops or restaurants. Don’t come in so low that you insult the vendor, about 50% or a little more is a good place to start proceedings.
Don't ring the bell - If you go out drinking in the evening, do not ring the bell which you will see in the bar. This means that you are buying a drink for every customer and depending on how many people are there, this could very easily cost you 1500 baht ($50) per time. Best to sit far away from it!
Get clued up at the ATM - The cost of using a foreign bank card in a Thai ATM is scandalous. There is an unavoidable charge of 220 baht ($7.25) per transaction, plus your bank bank home will slap on a fee and possibly give you a sub-par exchange rate. This can mean you lose $25-$30 every time you visit an ATM. There are ways to avoid this, so do some research beforehand about what is available in your country (accounts with no charges, prepaid cards, travelers cheques, or just bring enough cash with you and keep it in the hotel safe).
Is it Safe To Travel Around Hua Hin
Absolutely. Hua Hin is a very safe place to visit and you are very unlikely to be the victim of crime, in fact you will probably find that Hua Hin is safer than your home town. Single female travelers should have no problems walking home in the evening, although the usual precautions should be taken. As in almost every part of the world, flashing wads of cash or wearing lots of expensive jewelry is unwise and will only attract the attention of unsavory characters.
Be extra careful on the roads - The biggest source of danger in Hua Hin will be the roads, most tourists who get hurt do so in motorcycle accidents. Only rent a motorcycle if you hold a motorcycle license in your own country and have experience of riding one, and always wear a motorcycle helmet. If the rental place will not provide a helmet or provides a poor quality one, you can buy one very cheaply in Big C or Tesco and give it to the shop when you go home.
Be mindful of natures creepy crawlies - Hua Hin is also home to spiders, venomous snakes, scorpions and centipedes. Although you are incredibly unlikely to even see one of these, and even less likely to end up getting bitten, if it does happen try to get a good look at the culprit and head to the hospital. In most cases you’ll end up with something akin to a bad wasp sting, but the centipede bites can be very painful indeed.
Keep your wits about you - Although Thai people are very kind and welcoming, amongst the types who hang around in bars and strike up conversation with tourists you will get the occasional bad egg. Be careful of the company you keep, decline invitations to go somewhere you aren’t sure of, and keep an eye on your drink as drink spikings, although rare, still happen. Don’t be afraid to take your drink into the bathroom with you.
Make use of the hotel safe - When venturing out, make sure that you put any valuables in the hotel safe, security at some guest houses can be very lax, and ask yourself if you really need to bring that brand new MacBook Pro with you – in many cases you won’t need it anyway. Just be sensible and don’t leave valuables in plain sight and remember that many Thai people in the service industry earn under $10 per day.