Hidden gem: Eat, shop and chill out at the Huay Sai Royal Development Study Center

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It’s always nice to discover new places and even better if you don’t have to travel very far to find them.

While Hua Hin’s beaches, world glass golf courses, water parks and great seafood restaurants are well publicized, there are also plenty of hidden gems that can be found just a short drive away.

Located on the northbound side of the bypass road in Cha Am is the Huay Sai Royal Development Study Centre.

The centre has undergone somewhat of a makeover recently which has seen the construction of a new area for visitors, which includes a cafe, restaurant and shops selling organic produce and handcrafted local goods.

The cafe, or rather the Huay Sai Coffee Bar, is open daily from 9am to 5pm and serves a variety of coffees, drinks and snacks. It has an indoor air conditioned cafeteria, as well as an outside seating area which offers breeze even during the hot weather.

At the Welfare Tree Shop you’ll find a wide range of different plants, flowers, saplings, and perennials, as well ornamental plants. All of the plants on sale are very inexpensive and some of the saplings are even given away free of charge.

The products on sale at the centre come from different royal initiatives from across the province and throughout Thailand. The aim is to sell unique items at affordable prices, which helps local people and in turn boosts the economy.

On sale are cloth bags, hats, tie-dye fabrics, baskets, woven fans, umbrellas, clothes, handicrafts and assortment of other items, which are perfect for gifts or to use yourself – all of which are very reasonably priced.

The main building includes the vocational training centre and restaurant, which despite its small menu is a real gem.

The restaurant offers everyday favourite Thai dishes such as pad thai and pad kaprao from less than 30 baht.

When we visited, we picked up pad kaprao gai for 25 baht, pad thai for 28 baht and stir-fried beef tenderloin with sauce over rice for just 30 baht.

For dessert we had a fresh ice cream made from organic cow’s milk from Cha-am-Huay Sai Dairy Cooperative for only 10 baht.

And despite the affordable prices, the portion sizes and quality of each dish was very good.

The restaurant forms part of the vocational training centre, which teaches locals cooking skills as part of career development.

And every Wednesday through Sunday from 11am to 1pm there is live music in the form of a violinist or pianist, which creates a nice atmosphere for diners.

The Huay Sai Royal Development Study Center came to be following a visit to the Huay Sai area from His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej in 1983.

Huay Sai was once a lush woodland area which is home to an array of wildlife. In fact, the name in Thai means ‘creek of gazelles’.

However, over a period of 40 years the area had been almost devastated due to agricultural use.

Following his visit to Huay Sai on April 5, 1983, His Majesty issued an order saying, “If left like this, Huay Sai would eventually become a desert” and that the area should be developed as an agricultural development research and development center, with a focus on forest restoration and cultivation, by properly allocating property within the project and allowing people to live and participate in the center’s various activities in order to avoid encroaching on and destroying the forest area.

The aim was for the centre to become a “Living Nature Museum” that the general public could study and visit, and which they can then apply their learnings in their own communities.

Between November 20, 2019 and November 20, 2021, the Department of Tourism Ministry of Tourism and Sports awarded Huay Sai Royal Development Study Centre the Agritourism Standards Excellent level certification.

For people in Hua Hin and the surrounding area, or those travelling northbound along the Cha-Am bypass, the centre is well worth a visit.

Sample the delicious food at very affordable prices, purchase unique and high quality products from royal projects, or learn about agriculture and the work that is being carried out at the Huay Sai Royal Development Study Center (tel. 032-593-253).

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