Hua Hin Tourist Attractions
Hua Hin (meaning stone head) is a popular beach resort on the Gulf of Thailand 232 km (144 mi.) south of Bangkok, and, since the Royal Family stopped going to Bang Pa In, is where King Bhumibol has his summer palace.
Apart from its other main attraction - a km (2 mi.) stretch of fine white sand - Hua Hin has little else of importance, but would certainly suit anyone who wanted to get away from the noise and bustle of Pattaya on the other side of the Gulf. There are a number of quiet hotels and bungalow complexes ranged along the coast that are particularly good for a family holiday.By car: Highway 4 or 35 from Bangkok via Samut Songkhram.By bus: from Bangkok Southern Bus Terminal (about 6 hours).By rail: on the main line from Bangkok down the Malay Peninsula (229 km (142 mi.) from Bangkok, about 4 hours 30 minutes).The rise of Hua Hin up to 1910 is closely linked with the building of the railway line down to the south of the country. Until then an insignificant little township, it was discovered by Bangkok's "top ten thousand" with chief among them the son of King Chulalongkorn, Prince Nares, who was the first to build a summer palace here (Saen Samran House). This was later to be extended with parks and bungalows by successive princes and princesses. Although visitors can tour the rooms and gardens of King Rama VII's palace they are not allowed into King Phumibol's palace, which is by the west entrance.
Looking like a European pleasure palace, the royal residence of Klai Klangwan ("far from all cares") was built by Rama VII and completed in 1910. Recently renovated, it stands in magnificent grounds extending down to the sea. The rock which looks like a head at the southern end of the sandy beach gave Hua Hin its name.
Hua Hin has Thailand's second largest fishing fleet and the bustling fish market in the north of the town is well worth a visit, especially in the morning when the big catches of fish are being landed.
Wat Khao Lad
Wat Khao Lad, 20 minutes from Hua Hin by bus, is perched on a nearby rock and anyone who clambers up the steep flight of steps to it will be rewarded with a lovely view of the sea, the mountains in the east and the village of Khao Takiap.
The daily night market on Dechanuchit Road, with all its street traders, is also worth a visit, and has many restaurants and stalls selling cooked food.
The elegant Railway Hotel in the center of Hua Hin is another place worth seeing. At one time the quarters for the employees of the Thai State Railway, the Hotel Sofitel Central Hua Hin, as it is now called, has kept its original 1923 ambience of the colonial-style grand hotel, despite extensive refurbishment.
Hua Hin's little station is the end of the line for a restored steam locomotive of the kind that was used by the Royal Thai Railway, as it was then called, until 1975. Nowadays steam has given way to diesel and some stretches of line have even been electrified. There is a charming little royal waiting room as well.