A Quick Getaway to Hua Hin
by Lauren Anderson.
Hua Hin was not really on my top 5 lists of destinations to travel to while being in Asia, but when faced with a 4 day break over Chinese New Year and not booking far enough in advance for some of my other top destinations, I thought I would give it a shot and see what it was all about.
Hua Hin is approximately a 3 hour car journey from Bangkok. My friend and I set out early in the morning (7am flight from Hong Kong), which even though was a struggle in the wee hours of a crisp HK morning, was well worth it when we were checked into our plush room at the Marrakesh Resort & Spa Hua Hin, by mid afternoon. After a slight hiccup with a lost bag in Bangkok Airport and then our transfer then leaving us stranded as we couldn't find each other, once we got in the car and started the journey down to Hua Hin we started to relax.
Hua Hin is a beach resort town approx 200km south of Bangkok, and bears no resemblance to the flash and trash associated with other beach destinations in Thailand. It is a delightful mix of city and beach with a metropolitan feel, lively street markets with amazing street eats and long wide beaches. Hua Hin is famous for having aristocratic roots - two Thai Kings have built summer residences here and the royal family continues to visit to this day.
WHERE TO STAY
We chose to stay at the Marrakesh Resort & Spa as it looked quite different in design to most of the traditional Thai style properties that the area is famous for. Also in our list of musts was a decent gym, a nice pool and of course somewhere in the evening to go for drinks and relaxing without necessarily having to leave the resort. The Marrakesh definitely gave us all of this and more. The design concept of the hotel is a combination of modern characteristics with unique Moroccan charms. Think rich colours, lines of arches, sultry colours and an air of luxury. A highlight for us was the Jacuzzi on our balcony and the 'grotto' style shower which was massive in comparison to our tiny showers in our HK apartments!
WHAT TO DO
We spent the days chilling by the pool or walking along the beach finding little local places to eat and people watch. The beach was mixed with lots of different ages and nationalities, and was generally quiet as compared to other beach destinations in Thailand. Definitely a nice option if you are happy to lie on a sunbed and catch up on a good book. There are also a wide variety of beach activities that are easily accessible in Hua Hin, and quite cheap. Banana boating, jetskiing, kitesurfing, waterskiing, parasailing, kayaking and the list goes on. Hua Hin is also one of the only locations in Thailand where you can still go horse riding on the beach!
Another highlight was visiting the night markets in Hua Hin town, approximately 10 minutes by shuttle bus from our resort. We sat on the street with the locals and had a massive seafood feast, which was both cheap and delicious, and finished off the evening people watching in a local bar (again, which was cheap and drinks went down well!). There was definitely a fun and lively vibe, but definitely not a party destination for those who are seeking this type of holiday.
Hua Hin is also famous for being located near to some world class golf resorts, the most noted being designed by gold legend Jack Nicklaus. Although this was not on our agenda, we did meet fellow travelers who were visiting for the sole purpose of golfing and relaxing and they were very happy with their choice.
Overall, Hua Hin is a quaint and relaxing beach destination alternative where perhaps other more direct beach destinations are unavailable or for travelers that have already been elsewhere in Thailand. My recommendation would be to stay for at least 3 - 4 nights so you have time to unwind after a long car journey in each direction.