The pandemic has seen an influx of wealthy Thais from Bangkok buying properties in Hua Hin, which is helping to fuel a surge in property prices in the town.
According to an article in the South China Morning Post, Bangkok residents are saying goodbye to traffic gridlock, noise and pollution in favour of life by the beach.
Hua Hin has long been a favourite weekend destination among Bangkok Thais, but since the start of the pandemic, and with ongoing restrictions in the capital, a new wave of residents have been purchasing property in Hua Hin as people move for a lifestyle outside the big city.
The South China Morning Post spoke to Tjeert Kwant, group CEO of Banyan Thailand, who made comparisons between Hua Hin and the Hamptons – the famous summer destination popular with wealthy New Yorkers.
“Hua Hin is to Bangkok what the Hamptons is to New York,” Tjeert said.
“It’s a place for people living in the metropolis – especially the higher middle class and the upper class – to escape to, a place where they feel safe, where they have space.”
The COVID-19 situation in Hua Hin, which despite being one of the first locations in the world outside of mainland China to report a COVID-19 case, has remained fairly stable, even during the so called third wave of infections. To date there have been around 12,000 cases and just 81 deaths in Prachuap Khiri Khan province, which includes Hua Hin.
By comparison, Bangkok has been the epicentre of the third wave of infections, which has resulted in greater restrictions on nightlife, parks and gyms.
With inbound travel only now starting to be relaxed into Thailand, it is Thais not foreigners who are fuelling the domestic property market in Hua Hin.
“Buyers are looking for a place to prepare for unexpected circumstances in advance … properties considered as their safe haven,” Artitaya Kasemlawan of CBRE, Thailand’s leading consulting firm to the South China Morning Post.
“The market is being driven by Thais.”
Chanat Pongtratik, president of the Tourism Council of Prachuap Khiri Khan province, said: “Hua Hin has lots of room to grow … we’re not going to just sell sea, sand, sun any more, we’re now selling our DNA: leisure, royal charm, boutique hotels and a great food scene.
In the article, one anonymous buyer told the SCMP how she had spent “north of US$1.5 million”, on a property in Hua Hin.
“We think in the long term it can only go up – people are realising Hua Hin works well … you don’t have to be in the city, you can still work, you can easily commute.”