How Can Hua Hin and Cha Am Continue to Grow

Srettha Thavisin, the President of Sansiri
Srettha Thavisin, the President of Sansiri

Some New Ideas Needed; Thoughts By a Leading Property Developer

Srettha Thavisin, the President of Sansiri, a very prominent Thailand land and property development Company was recently quoted in ‘THE NATION’ offering some thoughts about the growth of Hua Hin and Cha- Am into the future. He’s what he had to say: “The town has been a holiday destination for me and my family since I was young. It usually took about six or seven hours to get there, driving from Bangkok and it had to be a well-prepared trip for all, since there were no 7-Elevens along the way back then. We usually thought of Hua Hin as a long holiday destination to justify the long drive, not a weekend getaway as it is today.

Then the highway was expanded and trees lining it were cut down. Hotels and condominiums started popping up along the beach strip from the former Railway Hotel to Khao Takiab. Tourists started flocking to the town. Where there are people, there are cars, but the town itself has only one main road separating the beachfront and the other side, connecting the market to beachfront plots, unlike Pattaya, which has a few roads running parallel to the main one. Hua Hin’s main road used to have one lane for each side. Now it has been expanded to accommodate two lanes of traffic each way, but it is still not enough. If you have been to Hua Hin during big holiday periods you know what it is like.

There are cars everywhere, and there is no way the town can grow bigger to accommodate them. Meanwhile we are seeing more hotels and condominiums opening on the opposite side of the beachfront, as land is getting very scarce and too expensive. This is because people still love Hua Hin for what it has been and what it still offers, and we all want a piece of it still. For a town like Hua Hin, it is obvious that if we go on like this without any introduction of new ideas that people will embrace, it cannot.

How Can Hua Hin and Cha Am Continue to Grow
How Can Hua Hin and Cha Am Continue to Grow

Seeing one big condominium development in the Cha-Am area that consists of more than 6,000 units currently under construction makes me wonder what will happen when it is complete. Will there be 6,000 more cars travelling to the town during Songkran period, and all going for dinner in the Hua Hin Night Market at the same time? Not only for Hua Hin but for other holiday hot spots, one of the ideas that I think might alleviate the pain for locals and visitors is another way for holiday lovers to get there without driving, as well as putting in place a more efficient city public-transport system. What if we had an updated and upgraded railway system that punctually commuted between Bangkok and Hua Hin or Pattaya? Would people still drive their own cars there if there were a tram or something that could take them around the town?

Similar to many business ventures, a town cannot keep on growing unless new ideas are embraced by the people who live there, run it, and have a say in how cities as well as country are being developed and governed.” So our question is; where are these ideas? Here are some examples of what could be considered but solutions are really needed right now:

A way to travel through Cha-Am without navigating the main beach road intersection – an overpass, underpass or bypass is essential. For example, it’s not too hard to travel through Petchaburi City.

A way to travel through Hua Hin without negotiating the CBD – once again, an overpass, underpass or bypass is essential.

A public transport system and way of commuting around the Cha-Am beach area which is much more than individual motorbike taxis, even circulating song taews would be a vast improvement. Mum and dad and the kids can’t get around on a motorbike taxi!

A way for walkers to use footpaths on the Cha-Am beach road. The current necessity to walk on a road congested with motorised traffic is both unpleasant and dangerous. Perhaps a significant part of the beach road could be a ‘walking street’? Every solution will have critics, costs and disruptions. However without a bold and visionary approach and real action the Cities can’t just keep growing.