Hua Hin is one of the nearest beach resort towns to Bangkok and is around 200 km south of the capital. You can get there easily by taxi, public bus or at a more leisurely pace by train. Hua Hin is ideal for those staying in Bangkok who are seeking a weekend escape, as well as being perfect for those who fancy a longer visit.
The many foreign visitors to Hua Hin range from those here on a two week holiday, to those staying for a few months in order to avoid the winter months back home. Recently the town is becoming increasingly popular with the new breed of traveller known as a digital nomad: someone who works online from anywhere in the world with an internet connection and a laptop and who often sets up base in a new town, city or country every few months to fully experience the local customs, culture and attractions before deciding to move on to pastures new.
This guide to setting up a base in Hua Hin should help you decide if this popular Thai coastal town is a good match for you as well as highlighting some of the best attractions and sharing insider knowledge of the town to help you get up and running as soon as you arrive.
Long Term Rental Options
As with most Thai towns and even cities, the best way to find longer term rental opportunities is to pound the pavements, or in the case of Thailand, hire a motor scooter and drive around in search of posters and advertisement hoardings. While there are online listings and estate agents in the town, most of the properties for rent are likely to be privately advertised. Higher rental prices will often be charged for short term rentals of less than 12 months but it shouldn’t be too much of a problem to find people willing to let their properties for a month or two.
While prices range considerably, in Hua Hin, like most of Thailand, there are lots of modest options that are available for a low monthly rent. If you don’t mind forgoing certain ‘luxuries’ then you should be able to find places available starting from around 5,000 baht a month (£110 / $170) a month, up to twice that for a more comfortable place complete with shared swimming pool and cable TV. Houses tend to be cheaper than condos so bare that in mind when conducting your property search.
The Top Attractions of Hua Hin
While Hua Hin certainly isn’t the sleepy coastal town it might have been a few decades ago, it hasn’t been as rampantly developed as some of the other seaside resorts of Thailand such as Pattaya and Patong to name but a few. The fact that you will find Starbucks, McDonalds and Burger King here might mean that it isn’t suitable for those looking to get away from it all; but for those who are looking to take advantage of the low cost of living in Thailand and enjoy the laidback lifestyle of a Thai town, coupled with all the amenities needed for a comfortable life, Hua Hin could be just the ticket.
The close proximity to the international airports of Bangkok also make the town an excellent base for those who plan to regularly visit other countries in the region and want to avoid too much internal travelling. Some of the popular attractions of Hua Hin that should help convince you to give the town a closer look include:
While the 5km of sandy beach of Hua Hin isn’t the most spectacular Thai beach out there, the waters are clear and clean and there are plenty of things to do along this stretch of coast. Kids will enjoy donkey rides on the sand, although whether the donkeys themselves enjoy spending all day out in the tropical sun is another matter.
Due to the ideal wind conditions along the coast, kiteboarding is very popular and if you have the ability, time and the patience, you could be up and boarding in no time at all. The beach is also well served by numerous restaurants that will let you use their sun loungers and seats if you buy a drink so no matter where you stop, there should be comfortable seating and refreshments on hand.
Hua Hin Hills Vineyard
While Thailand isn’t exactly renowned for its wine culture and its wine output is little known outside of the country, the vineyards of Hua Hin make for an excellent day trip. Where else can you take a tour of fertile wine groves on the back of an elephant? The excellent restaurant here set in the hills offers up tasty food in beautifully scenic surroundings and is a great way to find refuge from the heat and humidity down at ground level.
Learn to Cook Thai Food in Hua Hin
One of the main attractions of Thailand is the excellent food that is served here and what better way to immerse yourself in the culture than learning to cook Thai-style. The Thai Cooking Course Hua Hin service has many five star reviews on Tripadvisor and looks like the best of the bunch.
Hua Hin Night Market
This night market in the centre of town isn’t a patch on some of the others in Thailand, such as the one in Chiang Mai, but it is nevertheless a great place to get a spot of dinner and watch the world go by without having to journey too far. It runs every night from 6pm to about 11pm although some of the restaurants and bars that line the stalls stay open outside of these hours. For a more impressive market, we recommend you check out the Cicada Market.
This night market passed us by on our first few visits to Hua Hin but we were very glad when we finally did learn of it. The Cicada Market is more arts and craftsy than the other night market in Hua Hin, making it perfect for those who have had their fill of fake t-shirts and sunglasses. The Cicada Market is a great place to come and see some of the attractions that are popular with Thais rather than being squarely aimed at the foreign tourist market and the food court alone is worth making the trip for. The market is open from Friday to Sunday from 4pm. For more information visit the website at http://www.cicadamarket.com/en
Floating markets are very popular tourist attractions in Thailand, so much so that the two offerings in Hua Hin have been especially built to take advantage of their ability to draw in Thai and foreign tourists alike. There is nothing authentic about these floating markets but they do offer an opportunity to view how this traditional form of trading might have looked in the past. The two markets are quite close to each other but visiting them both in one day is probably only recommended for diehard shoppers! For the rest of us, just pick one as you approach the sites and spend an hour or so exploring the small shops and floating market stalls.
Things to Do with Kids in Hua Hin
If you are travelling with kids in tow then Hua Hin is a great place to stop off for a while or spend a holiday. There are lots of attractions in and around the town to keep kids happy and the well-stocked shops should have everything you might need for your stay from nappies and formula to kids clothes and toys. Here is our pick of the best things to do with your little ones in Hua Hin:
- Black Mountain Water Park: adults and kids alike will love this crazy waterpark! Patrolled by lifeguards, something of a rarity in Thailand, this out of town waterpark has nine slides, a wave pool and a lazy river to keep families entertained all day. There is also a kid’s pool for the very little ones and the newly added shaded areas are a welcome addition.
- Black Sheep Farm: this cute little farm a short drive from the centre of town gives kids a chance to pet and feed sheep and goats, as well as have a run around and play on the swings and trampoline. There is a little café onsite which serves up delicious lamb sandwiches and the owners of this petting farm are very friendly and welcoming.
- Market Village Indoor Kids Area: this indoor kid’s soft play area is nothing to write home about but parents visiting Hua Hin will appreciate having somewhere low cost and central where their little ones can run off some steam. While the kids are wearing themselves out, one parent can do a bit of shopping in the Market Village mall. There is also a cinema and bowling alley at Market Village.
- Go Kart Hua Hin: adults and kids are welcome at the Hua Hin Go Kart track which is open day and night. There are junior carts for small adults and teenagers and twin seat carts for smaller children who can ride with their parents, not to mention the full speed senior karts with 13 HP engines.
- Hua Hin Safari & Adventure Park: Thailand is known for its humane treatment of animals so proceed to this attraction with caution. There is also a paintball venue here which might be a more civilised way to spend a day.
Getting Online in Hua Hin
For those of you who are living the digital nomad lifestyle, working your way around the globe from the comfort of your laptop and local internet connection, you will be pleased to know Hua Hin is relatively well connected in terms of getting online. However, it’s best not to expect the blistering speeds you might be used to at home, or even the more modest connections available in Bangkok.
While the usual means of getting online in Thailand apply in Hua Hin (fixed line broadband, air card, and mobile data packages) there is also a Wi-Fi network that covers the town called Hua Hin Citywide and another one called Sunshine Internet. While these services probably shouldn’t be relied on as the sole internet connection for those working online, it can suffice for those who are new in town and are finding their bearings before being able to sign up for their own internet connection. As well as these services, the town is also home to many internet shops where you can get online for a few baht a minute.
Is Hua Hin for You?
Life in Hua Hin is certainly more laid back than some of the other parts of Thailand that also attract a fairly large number of foreign visitors and residents. If you are looking for somewhere that is relaxed but still has everything you need for comfortable life then it could be just the place for you. The main beach and smaller neighbouring stretches of sand help Hua Hin compete with more popular towns such as Chiang Mai and for those who a sea breeze is important, Hua Hin just edges past its inland rivals.