Hua Hin is everything other beach towns are not. While Pattaya and Phuket are all about partying and doing a little too much of everything, Hua Hin is all about chilling out. This small town of 50,000 come to life in the high season, between November and February. Even then, though, you get the feeling the people here are not so much looking for excitement as they are peace.
Hua Hin's beaches are most famous for one thing: they're never crowded. Even in the high season, tourists are mainly Thai who are not that fond of the sun and so they stay away from the beach. As a result, the rocky but clean coast offers over three mostly-bare miles of sand for walking and exploring. Aside from the occasional stray dog and a few sunbathers, you're likely to have the place to yourself.
If you're looking for nightlife, Hua Hin has its share of girly bars, pubs and places to sit down for a drink until late night. However, this is also the place for those who want to stick around for a while. Hua Hin has lots of gated communities catering to farangs (foreigners), who come around to stay for a month or three when it gets too cold back home.
Hua Hin is surrounded by several national parks. Drive for one hour just north of Hua Hin and you'll find lush forests, massive waterfalls and plenty of caves to explore. Sam Roi Yod National Park is a prime destination for birdwatching, especially between November and May. The park is also home to marshes, limestone mountains and pristine hidden beaches, offering something for everybody. Want to kayak, snorkel or hike up a waterfall trail? You can do it all at one of the many other national parks minutes away from town. Hua Hin is also home to the largest kiteboarding school in Thailand and is known as one of Thailand's best golf destinations.
Hua Hin is a relatively new town. It became well known after the king built a summer palace here in 1928. The king still vacations at the Wang Klai Kang Won ('Far from Worries') palace several times a year. When he's not there, his palace is open to tourists. Exploring the grounds and the royal rooms is a favorite tourist treat. So is stopping by the very bright, very colorful 1920s train station or spending a day in Khao Takiab, better known as Monkey Mountain, because of its large population of wild (but surprisingly friendly) monkeys.
Hua Hin's night market offers plenty of options to engage every one of your senses. Whether you're looking to try tom yam kung nam khon (a local specialty that combines shrimp with coconut milk), buy some incense or shop for souvenirs, the night market is the place to visit. Vendors will hit you with a high price at first (this is a main touristy street, after all), but you can always bargain for a better deal. In fact, bargaining is expected almost everywhere, so never pay the first price you're quoted.
All in all, Hua Hin is a great destination for those who want beach life, easy access to nature, and decent nightlife –All without the insanity that often accompanies other beach towns in Thailand.
53/9 Petchkasem Rd., Soi 5/1
Hua Hin, Prachuap Khiri Khan
26/1 Naratdamri Rd
Near the fishing pier