Photogenic and quirky, it was built during the reign of Oxford-educated King Rama VI and features a royal waiting room. Worth seeing irrespective of whether you have a train to catch. You can see why it made number eight in Newsweek’s 2009 Best Stations list.
Thailand: Hua Hin Royal Resort Top Five
Islands are one thing, but for a quick jaunt to the seaside, there’s one Thai beach destination that stands out – Hua Hin. Unlike some popular seaside resorts, which can be raucous and tacky, this one is closely linked with the Thai royal family and has bags of class and charm.
Set only 200 km south of Bangkok, Hua Hin boasts wide white beaches, a balmy climate and a range of great low-cost food: French as well as Thai. What’s more, pretty much the whole town looks impeccably tasteful. Flower beds abound. Buildings are old and pretty.
Discover what there is to do and see at the picture-perfect royal resort aside from playing golf. (Hua Hin has more courses than you could shake a five-iron at: eight, all within a 30-minute drive of the centre.)
Hua Hin top attractions
1. The beach
Hua Hin’s sweeping powder beach is as attractive as any you will find in Thailand. The ponies strutting around near the main “entrance” add a note of old-world charm. If you fancy a canter, it will cost you about 600 baht per hour. If you go swimming, mind how you tread on the jagged rocks hidden at high tide. Do as the Thais do and wait until dusk to launch yourself into the water fully clothed (photos essential).
2. Hua Hin railway station
A railway station might seem like a lame top-five choice. But Hua Hin’s differs from the average grimy throughput point. Photogenic and quirky, it was built during the reign of Oxford-educated King Rama VI and features a royal waiting room. Worth seeing irrespective of whether you have a train to catch. You can see why it made number eight in Newsweek’s 2009 Best Stations list.
3. Klai Kang Won Palace
This low-key but picturesque Spanish-style palace stands on the beach just north of the town centre. The army-trained, romantically minded monarch King Rama VII built the palace in 1929 as a summer home for his queen. Klai Kang Won was later expanded by the current king, His Majesty King Bhumibol (Rama IX), who spent his honeymoon there in 1950. Klai Kang Won highlights include the enchanting gardens and shell museum. When unoccupied, the palace is open to the public. Its name means “far from worries” or – if you prefer an Aussie take – “no worries”.
Admission: 20 Baht. Phone: +66 32 511155.
4. Hua Hin night market
Situated in the heart of town, the night market engulfs the whole street. Open for business from 6.30pm, the market is big on cheeky, whimsical t-shirts. But it also sells great food ranging from stir-fried noodles and fresh seafood to coconut ice cream. Plus, it brims with the friendly charm that defines Hua Hin. There are a number of night markets in Hua Hin, so shopaholics will find ample distraction every night.
5. Maruekatayawan Palace
A mouthful to say, Maruekatayawan Palace is one of Thailand’s most beguiling palaces. It is also one of the country’s oldest. King Rama VI built the casuarina tree-shaded des-res in 1923. The King envisaged the palace, which he drafted, as a retreat where he could unwind in total comfort. The palace, which he poetically described as “a place of love and hope”, consists of three golden teak pavilions facing the Gulf of Thailand.
The palace is open to the public daily from 8am to 4pm. Entrance fee: adults 30 baht, children 15 baht.
Reaching Hua Hin from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport is easy. Taxis, limousines and vans are available, with prices starting at about 2,000 baht or less if you travel with a group in a van – journey time about four hours. The train takes five, even six hours, biding its time to gather steam after leaving Bangkok.
From Bangkok, public minivans depart from Victory Monument and cost around 250 baht – the journey can be hair-raising at times, and takes around 3 hours.
Travel tip: if you hire a tuk-tuk taxi, strenuously clarify the price and destination. Else, you risk being driven somewhere miles out of your way.
Hua Hin’s popularity began to increase in the 1920’s as the railway line from Bangkok was constructed and King Rama VI built Klai Kangwon Palace as a summer retreat.
Hua Hin’s station is one of the oldest in Thailand and its main feature is The Royal Waiting Room that used to welcome King and his court when they were visiting the town.
Originally, it was situated at Sanamchan Palace in Nakom Pathom and was known as Plub Pla Sanamchan. Eventually, the room was tranported to Hua Hin.
It is designed in the same style as Maruekkhathayawan Palace and is an attraction not to be missed if you are staying in Hua Hin.
The train station is located at the top (west end) of Damnoern Kasem Road.