Ever seen a baby pineapple? In Hua Hin, the otherwise endless rice fields of central Thailand are replaced with plains of jagged cacti-like pineapple plants. Just one of the many contrasts we found during our recent road trips in Hua Hin and the surrounding provinces of Phetchaburi and Prachuap Khiri Khan. Oh, and the Monkeys. There’s a lot of monkeys in these parts of southern Thailand.
Anyway, in our more recent editions of “I’m bored.. let’s go live somewhere else” we jumped on the train from Bangkok to Hua Hin to live for a month. In Hua Hin, we rented a fancy studio condo (13,000 Baht) and a motorbike (3,000 Baht) for the month. We then rented a car on sunny occasions (900 Baht/day) to go on random road trips in Hua Hin and beyond.
Where to Stay in Hua Hin
During the month in Hua Hin, we stayed on the opposite side of the main Phet Kaset road, just a stone’s throw away from the beach itself as well as the 2 main malls of Market Village and Bluport. Bluport Mall proving to be rather handy for my visa extension with the Prachuap Khiri Khan immigration offices in the mall. From the condo, it is then a mile to find Hua Hin Beach and the main drag for tourists in Hua Hin. It’s called La Casita and it is also listed as a hotel (here) for friends to drop by etc. I would also recommend the same for longer stays.
Otherwise, when it comes to beachfront hotels, they are mostly luxury options along Hua Hin Beach (full list of Hua Hin Beach hotels here) including big chains incl. Hilton, the Marriott (we wined/dined at both these hotels as in video above), the Intercontinental and Centara. But, were we to choose ourselves, it would be less family friendly/more boutique like Cape Nidhra, the Standard, and maybe (Fanfan’s budget choice) the Seacret Hotel. Anyway, photos of our condo below… none too shabby.
Tourist Attractions in Hua Hin
Starting with the obvious, the major must-see tourist attractions in Hua Hin, that don’t exactly need to be covered on road trips in Hua Hin. This is more for people travelling in from elsewhere. Otherwise, we covered most of these by motorbike or with Grab (rideshare app). You could probably do it on foot as well, but it’s hot outside and I’m lazy.
Hua Hin Beach
The beaches are probably better found walking away from the main Hua Hin Beach, at least the less annoying ones, as the main Hua Hin beach is almost always busy with tourists, parasols, and the usual tourist tack. Although it’s great if this is your thing. Otherwise, horse riding is one of the more unique activities on Hua Hin’s beaches and can be found while plodding along the entire stretch of the nearby coastline. I don’t like beaches.
Hua Hin Night Market(s)
The night market (and morning market) are found opposite on the far side of the main road (away from the beach) and not far from the Hua Hin train station. It’s definitely worth the visit for the seafood restaurants but at the weekends locals/tourist tend to travel out to the more exciting weekend night markets with Cicada Market and Tamarind Night Market (both pictured below) which are located side-by-side along the beach road (directions here).
Khao Takiab aka Chopsticks Hill (7-km North)
An easy one to begin with as you can pretty much see Khao Takiab from Hua Hin beach and you could probably walk to it. Otherwise it’s a steep uphill climb to reach the temple on top of the hill, either from steps on the beach side, or following the main road to the car park. You’ll be quickly greeted by gangs of mischievous monkeys. Great views on top as well as from below on Khao Takiab Beach. (Hotels near Khao Takiab)
Getting to Khao Takiab: 7km North from Hua Hin to Khao Takiab (directions here)
Vana Nava Sky Bar at Holiday Inn (10-km North)
Following the road north from Hua Hin it is hard to miss the Holiday Inn Vana Nava hotel and Hua Hin’s tallest building. As with most sky bars I was a tad reluctant expecting ripoff prices and stuffy clientele. Instead, the prices were reasonable and the experience was causal. We opted for a bottle of wine costing 1,300 all in and I feel we got our money’s worth with the amazing views and awesome glass-bottomed Skydeck. Hotel Booking here.
Getting to Vana Nava Sky Bar: It is 10km North from Hua Hin to Vana Nava Sky (directions here)
Road Trips in Petchaburi Province (North)
First off, there are two provinces spanning this nearby coastline, the southern province of Prachuap Khiri Khan is where Hua Hin is located and then it’s Petchaburi to the north. Here we will start in the north with some of the better tourist attractions of Petchaburi province. (Hotel Bookings in Petchaburi)
Cha-Am Beach (28-km North)
This would be one to avoid for us, at least the main beach drag of Cha Am which is the equivalent of tourist hell. There is at least plenty of free parking along the beachfront of Cha-Am but the local beach restaurants/scammers claim they own them and try to force you to eat their overpriced tourist fare. Hua Hin is much nicer. Otherwise the surrounding scenery and the signposted “Scenic Route” of Cha-Am is really quite pleasant i.e. pictured bottom right is Khao Nang Panthurat Forest Park. There are also some nicer/less touristy beach hotels in Cha-Am (here).
Getting to Cha-Am Beach: It is 28km North from Hua Hin to Cha-Am Beach (directions here)
Tham Khao Luang Cave (70-km North)
Aka as Hill Cave Temple, Tham Khao Luang is exactly that, a temple in a cave in a hill. Surrounded by monkeys, the cave is easy to reach from a nearby temple car park which offers shuttle to the ticketing booth as part of the overall ticket price (25 Baht in 2022). The best time to visit Tham Khao Luang is just before midday when the sunlight beams through the roof of the cave. (Hotels near Tham Khao Luang Cave).
Getting to Tham Khao Luang Cave: It is 70km North from Hua Hin to Tham Khao Luang Cave (directions here)
Phra Nakhon Khiri Historical Park (67-km North)
Aka Palace Hill or Wat Khao Wang. Phra Nakhon Khiri is a Historical Park and palace complex located on 3 peaks overlooking the city. One a Buddhist Temple Complex, one a towering Chedi/Stupa, and nearest the arrival point a Palace and museum. The best way to reach Phra Nakhon Khiri is by a funicular train which is only an additional 50 Baht on the tourist entrance fee (200 Baht in total). Expect lots of monkeys. (Hotels near Phra Nakhon Khiri National Park here).
Getting to Phra Nakhon Khiri Historical Park: It is 67km North from Hua Hin to Phra Nakhon Khiri Historical Park (directions here)
Road Trips in Prachuap Khiri Khan (South)
Back again to Prachuap Khiri Khan of which Hua Hin is the largest city, although Prachuap Khiri Khan town is the actual capital of the province. So Hua Hin sits at the northern tip near Petchaburi meaning pretty much all tourist attractions in Prachuap Khiri Khan will be found south of Hua Hin.
Monsoon Valley: Hua Hin Hills Vineyard (36-km West)
Heading inland first, this attraction was actually from an earlier visit when we hired a local driver to take us to some inland waterfalls (Pala U Waterfall) before a free tour of the Hua Hins Hills Vineyard with some sampling of the locally produced Monsoon Valley wines (our write-up from ages ago here). Surrounded by hills in a shallow valley, there are some amazing views from the top gallery and restaurant, with elephants stomping about. Official Vineyards website here.
Khao Tao aka Turtle Hill (13-km South)
Found not far south of Hua Hin, Khao Tao lake is a simple day trip which could probably be reached by scooter. While the lake is the better-known attraction there is more to the area, including Haad Khao Tao Beach, there’s a rustic fishing village, and a scenic cliff-edge temple called Wat Tham Khao Tao. Sunset would be the best time to visit when the squid boats head out and there are amazing views both from Wat Tham Khao Tao temple and across the lake. It’s seriously serene (Hotels near Khao Tao here).
Pran Buri Forest Park (18-km South)
Pranburi itself is a beautiful region of Thailand, and I’d forever choose to travel south on a road trip from Hua Hin rather than north to neighbouring Cha-Am. At least when it comes to scenery and rustic local life. It is a region of beaches, wetlands, towering limestone karsts, and the mangroves of Pran Buri Forest Park are just an example of the unique and diverse natural beauty of the area. It’s more or less a 1-km wooden walkway through the mangroves with a viewpoint and optional boat tours in the wider mangroves. There are also more serene/secluded beaches nearby. (Hotels near Pranburi Forest Park).
Haad Khao Kalok aka Skull Hill Beach (30-km South)
Haad Khao Kalok is famous for its soft white sands and the rugged skull-shaped hill that it is named after. As with many beaches in these parts of Southern Thailand, Khao Kalok is ridiculously scenic but I found myself more drawn to the road trip scenery nearby where we passed local fishing communities and serene seaside scenes. The temple opposite the beach, Wat Khao Kalok, is also worth a nosy. We then stayed further along at Sam Roi Yot beach. (Hotels near Khao Kalok here)
Khao Sam Roi Yot (60-km South)
We travelled here specifically for the Khao Sam Roi Yod National Park, but the region itself is again extremely beautiful and is perfect for short road trips in Hua Hin and beyond Anyway, “Sam Roi Yot” means “300 survivors”, after the 300 survivors of a Chinese trading junk that sank on its coast. One of the more memorable attractions, just before reaching the National Park, is the old Chinese temple set beneath the massive backdrop of towering karts. (Hotels near Sam Roi Yot here)
Getting to Khao Sam Roi Yot: It is 60km South from Hua Hin to Khao Sam Roi Yot (directions here)
Khao Sam Roi Yod National Park (60-km South)
Twice now I have travelled to Khao Sam Roi Yod National Park but did not make it past the entrance gates. While this would likely be the main attraction of this coastal region, specifically the Phraya Nakhon Cave, I was unfortunate to arrive when the boats were grounded by rough weather. It is possible (but tough) to walk to the cave but I instead planned to return on a better day as the entry price is a bit steep (200 Baht for foreigners). And I’m not fussed for walking.
Getting to Khao Sam Roi Yod National Park: It is 60km South from Hua Hin to Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park (directions here)