My Travel Guide: HUA HIN, THAILANDApril 22, 2015
If you've read my previous travel posts, you will realise that most of my travelogues are posted according to places. It is my preferred writing style as I am able to share more pictures and go in detail about my various experiences at that particular place. However, such postings are too time-consuming! Judging from my current schedule, I'd probably need a few years to complete all the cities and attractions that are on queue.
Many have been "complaining" to me that they've been collecting dust while waiting for the travel posts I never had time to complete. Therefore, I will kick off such Travel Guides to provide you guys with snippets of what I did and what you can expect. I will return to my usual magnified post style when I find the time to!
So anyway, my Birthday Trip in September last year was to Hua Hin, a seaside resort city in Thailand little Singaporeans have heard about. A friend recommended this place to me previously, but I always lucked out on the chance to go for a holiday in the Land of Smiles.
Thankfully, I held on to that small hope of visiting and got lucky by winning free hotel accommodation from participating in one of Expedia's Twitter contests! Of course, I booked my flight to Bangkok through Expedia. It's my preferred way of booking hotel + accommodation with no problems. Not sponsored to say this, but I better not gush further about their greatness for fear that my good experience goes downhill. :P
I paid almost SGD$400 per person for round tickets on AirAsia + additional 2 nights stay at W Hotel Bangkok. What I love about Hua Hin - it's not as crowded as Bangkok! Now you know why the Thai locals flock here for a breather during weekend getaways.
Bangkok to Hua Hin
I wrote about how I travelled from Bangkok to Hua Hin in a separate blog post. You can read it here: Getting To Hua Hin, Thailand's Royal Beach Resort, From Bangkok
As mentioned in that post, I randomly picked a taxi driver from a line of them and hopped into the cab. My driver, Mr Nu, offered his driving services for my trip, and that was how he became my personal driver for the 2 days I was in Hua Hin.
Amari Hua Hin
This is the hotel I won 2 days stay at! IT WAS WAY BETTER THAN EXPECTED!? Taxi fare from the drop off location to Amari costed ฿120? The ride took about 5~10 minutes.
Everything about the hotel was too beautiful! Didn't expect it to be huge. Furthermore, I scored the pool view room with a balcony overlooking the resort! The place was clean, spacious, well equipped and modern. My room number was 2506. I managed to catch a glimpse of the sea from my room!
First impressions indeed count; I LOVED the luxurious look of the lobby that welcomed me! The pool was awesome - not deep at all, perfect for someone who cannot swim (me). The design was made to look like you're on a beach. However, I did get quite disturbed by an overly PDA couple...
And omg, don't get me started with the vast buffet selection for breakfast! The staff were nothing but warm, helpful and friendly. I bugged them with quite a bit of requests, and they were professional about it.
The only downside to this place is that it's not exactly centrally located? You'll definitely need some sort of transport to shuttle you around.
1) Mrigadayavan Palace
Also know as the Palace of Hope and Love, this was my first stop in Hua Hin. The palace is right next to a beach! I was told that it used to be the summer seaside palace built by their King Rama VI as a getaway location.
Entrance fees are as follows: ฿30 for park, another ฿30 for palace. There was quite a distance from the entrance to the palace, therefore you might want to consider renting a bicycle.
A tip before you visit: there are strict dress restrictions, remember to dress appropriately. Since I went in a sleeveless shirt and shorts, I had to pay additional ฿80 (?) to rent a blouse and sarong.
Inside, I enjoyed the tranquil of the place. The main "palace" was actually standing on large, wooden pavilions. You'll be required to be barefooted to enter. The passageways were open-air concept, therefore it was windy all thanks to the sea breeze. Perfect to take a stroll!
Downside to the "palace" - photography was not allowed! I tried to ninja my way with my mobile camera, but got caught. Sorry FBI, looks like I won't be able to work for y'all. :( Also, most of the descriptions were in Thai, thus I barely understood anything.
Furthermore, there were ongoing constructions during my time of visit and many places were off limits. I got to say though - for a palace completed in 1924, it was pretty well-preserved!
2) Khao Hin Lek Fai View Point
This attraction is definitely worth a visit if you want an AMAZING panoramic view of Hua Hin city. If I remember correctly, I think entrance is free!? There were different viewing points scattered throughout the enormous park, but I only went to 2. Be careful as there are sightings of monkeys here and there.
Risking my life for a photo - I sat at the edge of the rock to capture the photo below! OMG I FROZE IN THE SAME POSITION FOR THE ENTIRE TIME, SO AFRAID THAT I WOULD FALL OFF THE CLIFF!? But dang, did the photos turn out good. Thank you all the Gods there are in the world for blessing my safety!
3) Khao Takiab Temple
My driver had to drop me somewhere further off from the entrance as the road was blocked. Had to walk through a restaurant heading towards the beach before I saw the banner and heaved a sigh of relief - I was at the right place.
I learnt that Khao Takiab means Chopstick Hill. You will see this standing Buddha, said to ward off evil spirits from the sea. Climbed up what seemed like endlessssssssss stairs, but was greeted with a scenic sea view! I assume I was only halfway to the temple though, as I spotted another long flight of stairs far away, which I refused to take a step on due to lack of stamina and time.
4) Hua Hin Beach
Just like any other beach, but they offered pony rides! Initially, I didn't want to ride on the pony and rejected every offer coming my way. However, the people taking care of the ponies were rather pushy! Since there was nothing much to do except to lay around, I went for it. They charge according to time, and I paid ฿350 for a 30 minutes ride. Well, it's not every day I get to do this, so.
There're a couple of bars and restaurants by the beach as well. They also have beach chairs and umbrellas for rent if you need. I wouldn't recommend actually going to the sea for water activities though... The water wasn't as clear as expected.
5) Hua Hin Railway Station
One way to reach Hua Hin is by train. I had plans of taking train rides, either to or from Bangkok! Unfortunately, the train schedule did not match mine and the duration was a tad too long. Nonetheless, I had a mini "photoshoot" by the rail tracks before the train arrived as the backdrop was too pretty!
6) Sam Phan Nam Floating Market
This place wasn't planned in the itinerary, but my day ended earlier than expected so the driver drove me over shortly before they closed for the day. This is the biggest floating market in Hua Hin!
I have no idea why they call it a floating market though... The shops surround a pond and there're no floating market vendors like what you see in Bangkok. I think tourists have to pay entrance fees, but somehow I managed to escape that.
Probably the only reason to visit is for the food. They served this shaved ice dessert drizzled in Thai sweetened syrup and bread with milo toppings! Not bad, not bad at all. I also bought cupcakes from another store.
1) Hua Hin Night Market
A must-visit in Hua Hin, the open air bazaar was lively and bustling. Fantastic place to buy gifts with the variety of products available, and to give local food a try. Do yourself a favour and try the round coconut dessert!
Do have your dinner here if you can! You cannot leave Thailand without trying their seafood. Portions are bigger and cheaper compared to Singapore. Costed ฿1270 for a 700g lobster + fried rice with crab meat + coconut juice! There were a few similar stores selling seafood, but I settled for the yellow one somewhere in the middle.
2) Chatsila Market
Adjoined to the Hua Hin Market, the atmosphere was a complete opposite. I preferred shopping here actually, as the items offered were more unique in comparison.
I wonder how many times of XL that shirt size is.
While not the most hygienic, give Hua Hin's street food a try if you have a strong stomach. I wandered around my hotel area looking for restaurants, but they did not appeal much. Was excited when I spotted food vendors by the streets as I have yet to try any at that point during my trip yet! The food was yummy, but I woke up with a horrible stomach ache, sigh.
Unfortunately, I did not get the names of the dishes I'd tried. And how can we forget - when in Thailand, drink their beer! Bought mine at the convenience store nearby as I had no confidence in drinking water offered by the roadside stalls.
After spending 2.5 days here, I headed back to Bangkok the same way I came. Despite being a relatively small resort destination, there was so much more left to see! Are you visiting Bangkok soon? Why not en route to Hua Hin to relax for a couple of days. Same country, but they offer different experiences. :)
If you've visited the places I'd missed out on this trip, let me know! I would love to hear you share your stories.