Its beautiful beaches and old-world charm make Hua Hin in Thailand an ideal family holiday destination
Unlike other locations in Thailand, Hua Hin makes no pretense about being a nightly hotspot. Its beaches, temples and other attractions make it the ideal family holiday destination. It was actually the first place to come up as a beach resort in Thailand and has been since a favorite of the royal family.
It still retains its pristine charm, best exemplified by its quaint 104-year-old railway station. The architecture is typically Thai, including that of the royal waiting room. Trains still run on metre-gauge and are very slow. It is the cleanliness and the landscaping that bowls a visitor over.
The best transport for going around Hua Hin is the tuk-tuk. These are large autos that can accommodate up to eight adults at a time. If the weather is good, driving around in these airy vehicles is a breeze. From the rail station, the next halt on this round trip is Baan Sillapin, the artists’ village. Set in idyllic surroundings, one can see and buy some good art pieces, both paintings and sculptures, here.
Forty km from Hua Hin lies the Monsoon Valley vineyard. Thailand is, like India, a late entrant in wine making, but their wines have earned acclaim. The vineyard is located in what was an elephant corral and the view of the rows of grape vines from its excellent restaurant overlooking the valley is something to be stored for memory.
On return, one can swing by Chopsticks Hill on which, at the end of a long flight of steps, lies its temple. A large statue of the Buddha is embedded in the hill side on the north face of the mountain. Bare limbs are verboten in its precincts, so wraps have to be used while doing a round of this shrine. From the top, one gets a panoramic view of the Hua Hin bay. The hill is also known for its grey monkeys. Though these swarm all over, these are quite docile and, in fact, don’t look as healthy as their red-bottomed cousins in India.
Another popular shrine is the temple of Phor Taud, an ancient monk who is known to grant favours. A large statue of the revered cleric sits on top of a pedestal and at its base, devotees paste bits of foil on his smaller figures, much like threads are tied for mannats in India.
Of course, the principle attraction of Hua Hin are its beaches and also the Vana Nava water park where a host of water slides, a wave pool, waterfalls, freefalls, surf simulators, giant bucket showers and looping water tubes guarantee a splashing good time, even if the thrills may scare the hell out of you at times. The entire family can spend the full day here.
Thai courtesy and hospitality have earned a good name for the country. One day at the Intercontinental Resort the loud fire alarm in one of the rooms rang for a few minutes for no apparent reason. That afternoon the guests received a platter of fruit from Bella, the Butler Supervisor with a note: “I do really apologise the inconvenient occur (sic) of fire alarm. Please accept our plate of cut fruit as token of our apology.”
Another day the pool area had to be closed for maintenance work. Concerned that the guests will experience some disturbance, the management gave everyone the option of either spending the day at the water park or playing golf, or having lunch at another resort, all on the house, including transportation and some out-of-pocket expenses. Sometimes small gestures make a big difference.
- How to get there: Thailand gives visas on arrival as well. SUV taxis from Bangkok airport to Hua Hin charge Bhats 2500 (Rs 5000) for the three-hour trip. Sedans and buses will go for less.
- What else to see: Apart from what is described above, the Cicada Night Market, the Khomapastr fabric centre and Pala-U waterfalls are among Hua Hin’s other attractions.
- What to eat: Thai cuisine, particularly sea food, should be the first choice, but in places like the Market Village Mall, a large variety is available. Generally, Thailand is easy on the budget. But check restaurant bills. They can be in Thai language and ‘errors’ could creep in!