Right across the Gulf from Pattaya, is its sister beach destination Hua Hin. But whilst the former is a stirring hub, Hua Hin shifts gear to a more down-tempo pace.
In 1928, King Prajadhipok picked this location to build his holiday palace Klai Kangwon, or (Far from Worries), signifying this idyllic region’s allure. The royal resort soon turned this fishing village into a coveted destination for locals, and that strong presence has kept a level of authenticity which continues to draw international travellers. It is a waterfront city – yes – but the heritage sites, artistic markets and delicious fare make it one-of-a-kind and perfect for seasoned visitors, and will lend a Thai signature to your corporate business events.
The Maruekathaiyawan Palace stands as another iconic royal monument. The summer palace is supported by 1,000 teak wood pillars to avoid the tides, with verandas, latticework and high ceilings to fully welcome the sea breeze.
For some religious sighting, Wat Huay Mongkol was built for one of the most prolific monks in the country – Luang Phor Thuad. Known to have transformed salt water to drinkable water for a ship crew, his miraculous work may grant one good fortune yet, especially if you walk under the bellies of the elephant statues flanking the giant statue.
Although the pristine beaches of Hua Hin are captivating, one shouldn’t forget about the abundant natural resources the area offers. Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park is only about an hour away, and features lotus lakes and endless fields for scenic sightseeing. The Bueng Bua Boardwalk over the marsh is particularly outstanding.
Closer to town is Khao Takiab, or Chopsticks Hill, where stunning panoramic sea views await from the elevated vantage. Or visit the Hua Hin Safari for some close encounters with the local wildlife, and partake in some easy nature trails.
Unassuming but delicious, Hua Hin’s food scene is best encountered at its markets. Cicada Market is 3.5 kilometres of food, shopping and performing arts, and the vibe is chill and enjoyable. While live entertainment starts up in the evening, you’ll find tasteful handmade wares and a variety of Thai food from the region and beyond – great for sampling.
Plearn Wan is more thematic, designed to mimic the 1950s with vintage clothing in a two-storey courtyard building. Here you can also find the best Thai street snacks both old and new.