Hua Hin Attractions
Most Thais see Hua Hin as a romantic and elegant get away holiday destination. This started off about 100 years ago when Royal Family members and the more privileged people would spend their summers there. As a result Hua Hin now has countless lovely seaside houses, apartments, villas and a few attractive vintage summer palaces.
Hua Hin is usually full of people taking a break from Bangkok at weekends and it’s just a short drive away. Much of Hua Hin’s attraction lies in the town’s charming old-world feel, best illustrated in Hua Hin Railway Station and the Maruekhathaiyawan Palace.
Hua Hin Railway Station
Built during the reign of King Rama VI, and only a short distance from the centre of town, Hua Hin’s railway station and adjacent royal waiting room are undeniably attractive. The brightly painted wooden buildings that are Thai in concept and design somehow manage to have a ‘Victorian’ feel to them. Hua Hin Train Station made number eight on Newsweek’s 2009 ‘Best Stations’ list along with Chhatrapati Shivaji (Mumbai), St. Pancreas (London), Grand Central Terminal (New York), Gare de Limoges-Bénédictins (Limoges, France), Central Railway Station (Maputo, Mozambique) and Atocha Station (Madrid). Even if you don’t arrive at the resort by train, go and have a look. It’s charming, quirky and photogenic.
Like so much in Hua Hin this summer seaside palace was built in the early 1920s during the reign of King Rama VI. It was designed by an Italian architect and features lots of verandas, latticework and covered boardwalks using golden teak from the demolished Hat Chao Samran Palace. Maruekhathaiyawan Palace consists of three one-storey high buildings with more than 1,000 pillars supporting them to avoid flood damage. The buildings also contain high ceilings to keep them cool during summer. The beautiful passage from them leading to the sea is one of the many charming features of the complex. The palace is halfway between Hua Hin and Cha-am and is open to the public daily from 08:00 – 16:00.
Hua Hin Night Market
Situated in the centre of town between the Petchkasem Road and the railway line, the market encompasses one street and comes to life from 18:30 onwards, when traders line the street with their stalls selling various apparel, crafts, art, CDs, DVDS and cheap, tasty food – generally what you might expect from a Thai market. This is by no means the best place to shop in Thailand; you will find a bigger variety of goods in Bangkok or say, Chiang Mai. However, Hua Hin does have a superb selection of seafood restaurants that line the road that hosts the Night Market, drawing a lot of attention from visitors eager to feast on the quality dishes on offer.
Wat Huay Mongkol
This Buddhist temple is home to a Big Buddha statue that was commissioned by Queen Sirikit. It also houses the largest statue in the world of Luang Phor Thuad, set within a park-like setting that attracts many visitors each weekend. Luang Phor Thuad being a legendary Thai monk revered for his enlightenment and ability to perform miracles, many believe that the amulets created in his image guarantee safety in times of distress.
Klai Kang Won Palace
King Rama VII built this palace located on the beach just north of central Hua Hin as a summer home for his queen. Designed in European style with a Spanish flair, it was completed in 1929 and is still used by the Royal Family as a residence. The Palace was later expanded by the current king, His Majesty King Bhumibol (Rama IX) who also spent his honeymoon here in 1950. The newer buildings were designed to have the same style as the original palace. In addition to extremely attractive buildings and furnishings, there are carefully manicured gardens and a fascinating shell museum. When the Palace isn’t being used, it is open to the public.
One of the biggest attractions in Prachuab Kirikhan province, Khao Takiab translates as ‘Chopstick Mountain’ although you may hear it being referred to as Monkey Mountain due to the monkeys that live on it. Take note that you should never under any circumstances trust a monkey; they don’t get their reputation for being cheeky from nowhere. Keep bags zipped and under no circumstances give them any food. The mountain is also home to a hilltop temple with sensational views of Hua Hin. The start of the hike up to the temple is marked by a large bell and a flight of stairs up to the main shrine, a pagoda-like structure. Expect to see a giant golden Buddha statue standing tall facing the sunrise.
Sam Roi Yot National Park and Tham Phraya Nakhon
Although it is 60km south of Hua Hin and 40km south of Pranburi, many visitors to the region take time to visit this interesting national marine park. The name means ‘three hundred mountain peaks’ – a reference to its numerous limestone peaks between which there are marshes and mangrove swamps. The mountains and wetlands contain an abundance of wildlife, including barking deer, crab-eating macaques and serow, an Asian goat-antelope. The park is also home to many resident and migratory birds. One of its most popular attractions is Tham Phraya Nakhon, a cave with a hole in its roof that allows a shaft of light to shine upon a Thai-style pavilion built for King Rama V. It is truly remarkable.
Plearn Wan is an entertainment/guesthouse complex located not far from Klai Kang Won Palace. The unique brown wooden building features many shops as well as a café and some guestrooms all decorated in old Thai-style with the atmosphere of the 60s in mind. Plearn Wan means ‘reminiscences of yesteryear’ and is open daily for shopping and dining from around 10:00 but Plearn Wan is famous for its ‘nang klang plaeng’ (open-air movies), live music and temple fair festival which runs every evening from Friday – Sunday.
Kaeng Krachan National Park
Considered the largest national park in the kingdom, Kaeng Krachan offers 2,915sqkm of forest, part of it in Hua Hin, Prachuab Khiri Khan Province. The park features many natural attractions such as waterfalls, caves and a reservoir lake. Therefore it offers plenty of trekking opportunities. Kaeng Krachan is home to many wild animals including black-and-yellow broadbills, barking deer, tapirs, Asian elephants, tigers, wild dogs and Asiatic leopards. It is one of best place for bird-watching in Thailand. There, you’ll find camping zones and basic accommodation.
Cha-Am Forest Park
This is by no means up to the National Park standards but if you fancy a relaxed day amid some pretty scenery then Cha-Am forest park is definitely a worthwhile contender. Situated on the Phetkasem Road, it is easily reached by taking the Narathip junction when coming from the direction of the beach. Once there, there are monkeys and peacocks as well as some interesting birds. A lot of families and couples come here to chill out and to picnic. Cha-Am is only 20 minutes away by car from Hua Hin. All these things and a lot more can be experienced in Hua Hin.
This article was a courtesy of Asia Web at http://www.huahin.bangkok.com/attractions/top-ten.htm.