Hua Hin is a unique Thai holiday resort town, as popular with the Thais as it is with foreign visitors. I reckon it’s Thailand’s closest thing to a European style holiday beach town and the seafood restaurants in the centre of town are a major for visitors. Hua Hin is also a popular choice for retirees and the town and surrounding area has a large ex-pat community.
Hua Hin Beach
Hua Hin is set on a long stretch of white sandy beach which immediately explains its appeal to Bangkok residents looking to escape the city at the weekend. This is when it gets most busy, particularly the half dozen seafood restaurants on the seafront.
Beyond the seafront area of the city centre there are a number other attractions and more laid areas which appeal to foreign visitors such as the lively Hua Hin Night Market, the pretty train station, and numerous other recreational centres such as golf courses and water parks for children.
Hua Hin was once a busy fishing port
The centre of Hua Hin features a series of wooden fisherman’s wharves protruding into the sea. Some of the wharves have been converted into hotels, but the majority have become restaurants. These restaurants are large and make the majority of their income catering for large groups of Thai people on Saturday night.
The prices are reasonable and the service good. The food isn’t bad either. To cater for the large groups a lot of the seafood appears to be part prepared in advance with the final part of the cooking done on order. The quality of the food suffers slightly for this, but overall the experience is good. I eat in one of these restaurants whenever I am in Hua Hin.
Atmosphere in Hua Hin
The rest of Hua Hin is fairly low key. There are a lot of Western-run businesses in the town catering to the needs of foreign tourists and ex-pat residents. There is a large resident population of mainly retired British and German men, some married to Thais. It’s all fairly tame and civilised. There are a few noisy bars but they are tucked away on the side streets.
There seems to be very few young Westerners who come here and the Thai’s pretty much keep themselves to themselves and don’t stay up all night drinking. No noise, no hassle and no real dangers. Add to this the nice restaurants and hotels and you have a pretty close approximation to an Italian resort town.
Things to Do In Hua Hin
Major Hua Hin Attractions include:
- Hua Hin Train Station, which dates back to the 1920s.
- Local Culture
- Hua Hin Night Market
- Hua Hin Chinese Temple
- Plearn Wan Shopping Mall
- Fish Restuarants on the Nares Damri Alley
Hua Hin, when you scratch beneath the surface, is still essentially a Thai town. There is plenty of authentic Thai food on offer.
I found this Nam Phrik Plaa Too stall just back from the sea front. Plaa Too is a small fish with a mackerel type taste. This is eaten grilled with Nam Phrik, which is a kind of thick chilli sauce, and raw or part boiled vegetables. This is about as uniquely Thai cuisine as you find anyway.
Hua Hin Night Market
Hua Hin Night Market is a very popular nightly market with many inexpensive seafood restaurants and stalls selling clothes, craft work and other items intended as souvenirs. This market is actually most the lively place in Hua Hin between the hours of 18.00 and 21.00 and it is well worth coming to eat here for the atmosphere in itself. We like to eat at small restaurants in Hua Hin Night Market such as Duan Jai Seafood where three dishes, rice and 2 large bottles of beer will cost about 500 THB. Superb value for money and just as good as the more expensive seafood restaurant on the sea front in the town centre.
- Location of the Night Market
Fish Restaurants on the Nares Damri Alley
One of the things Hua Hin is particularly well known for it sea front fish restaurants on the Nares Damri Road. These fish restaurants are located over the sea on old fishing piers. The more famous of the fish restaurants, such as Chaolay Seafood and Charoen Potchana, are fairly expensive but serve top quality seafood such are large crabs and Phuket lobster. Expect to pay more around 700 to 1,500 THB per person including a drink. depending on what you order. There are also some less expensive restaurants such as Ket Sa Rin Seafood where you order set menus with a wide range of seafood dishes, rice and salad for 800 to 1,000 THB for two people – a real bargain.
- Location of the Nares Damri Alley
Plearn Wan Shopping Mall
This popular Shopping Mall is intended to appeal more to the Thai tourist rather than the Western tourist, but I still found it an enjoyable place to visit One of these attractions is Plearn Wan, which means ‘time before’. It is a shopping mall a couple of kilometres outside the town centre on the main road.
The shopping mall is built in wood and meant to replicate original Thai buildings and sells a lot of old fashioned food and products. I am not sure about the authenticity of this ‘historic recreation’ but it is really popular with Thai tourists who come here to have their photograph taken, buy some tourist trinket and eat some food from the stalls in the mall. Overall all I enjoyed it. It didn’t cost anything to get in either.
- Location of Plearn Wan Shopping Mall
There are other things to do. There is a cinema and some good shopping outlets. You can also get your feet nibbled by small fish for 150 baht for 15 minutes. The fish are ‘Doctor Fish’ originally from Turkey where people have been getting nibbled for centuries.
My girlfriend enjoyed it. I didn’t try. Children will enjoy Vana Nava Hua Hin Water Jungle, which is large water park a few kilometres South of Hua Hin town centre.