Hua Hin is located bang opposite the famous Pattaya beach, that is, if you could swim across the Gulf of Thailand in a straight line. In character too, the two towns stand on the opposite ends – while Pattaya is a hub for mass tourism, Hua Hin is where the nobility of Thailand lived in earlier times and today it’s being promoted by as a premium wedding and honeymoon destination. We were told that the King and Queen of Thailand also live in Hua Hin and not in Bangkok making it a living royal city.
The biggest attraction in Hua Hin besides its beaches is its small but beautiful railway station. In Pale Yellow and red this Railway station gives the feeling of being an ethnic building rather than a mechanical rail-halting place. The most photographed part of this railway station is the Royal Pavilion that is used only by the King and his family that otherwise remains closed. You can see the ubiquitous elephant heads carved in the panels of this pavilion and that too in Yellow – the color of the present King.
Due to the king’s residence Thai Navy secures a large part of the Hua Hin shore and you can see their royal ships guarding the beach around the palace. You can of course stay at beach side resorts that dot the shore or stop by small restaurants for a meal. It is a long beach so you see the vast horizon that is only interrupted by an occasional ship or boat. This sculpture of a mermaid stood by the beach near a restaurant where we had lunch and all the photographers in the group went berserk clicking pictures of it. We stayed at the luxurious Dusit Thani Resort with a small but private beach and an Olympic sized swimming pool that never gets out of the view while you are in the property.
Night Markets are quite common in this part of the world and I strolled through Hua Hin’s night market that happens in one long street of the main market. For those who enjoy seafood, it looked liked a go to place with food on carts, in small shops and in medium sized open restaurants. There were colorful shops that sold souvenirs, garments, footwear and lots of them carried Hua Hin’s stamp on them. It is a pleasure to walk in this market as you see the tourists and shopkeepers interact and yes most of the people hovering in the market did seem to be tourists. I did not see many locals shopping here.
On the other end of shopping is Venezia – a theme-shopping complex with many attractions within the complex including a mini zoo and a 3D museum. An attempt to re-create Venice, it even lets you take Gondola ride in the artificially creates canals. The complex has an entry fees and locals feel that it should be free entry, after all who wants to pay for shopping. Attractions can have the fee for use.
I tried traditional Thai massage at Nicha Health Spa and it was quite an experience. It was a dry massage where the masseur literally stands on top of you and twists and turns around your body. At times I was scared and felt I would not get up from that bed with all my bones intact and had to tell my masseur to stop. Overall after the massage it did feel good as if all the tiredness has been squeezed out of the body. Massage room had a series of beds all around that can be separated by movable curtains and about 20 odd people can take the massage simultaneously.
Go to Hua Hin when you want to have a quite holiday by the beach, away from too many tourists.