Hua Hin is the ideal Bangkok getaway. After a 2-3 hour car ride, you can transport yourself away from the hectic nature of Bangkok to a place with actual nature! Hua Hin is something of a secret held onto by Thai families, but we’ll unveil the most popular attractions in the region.
There are no shortages of worthwhile activities in Hua Hin. The top 10 things to do in Hua Hin is:
- Best Beaches
- Maruekhathaiyawan Palace
- Phraya Nakhon Cave
- Black Mountain Water Park
- European Cities
- Khao Daeng Viewpoint
- Bueng Bua Boardwalk
- Inu Cafe
So why should you visit Hua Hin? It’s a great way to have access to Thailand’s beautiful beaches and nature without the extreme level of tourism present in the Southern islands. Hua Hin is perfect for travelers who want to have their cake and eat it, too.
Most visitors in Hua Hin are looking for a beach escape. While certainly not on par with the Southern islands, it’s important to remember that only a few beaches in the world actually can compare to Thailand’s southern islands like Phi Phi or Phuket. Hua Hin’s beaches are great for different reasons.
Khao Takiab is arguably the most beautiful beach in Hua Hin. The giant cliff on the Northern end of the beach creates a beautiful background for any of your pictures. While not visible from your point a view, a Buddhist temple sits on the backside of these cliffs. The restaurants here and amazing and the crab omelets are to die for (partly because they’re only $2-3 USD).
Khao Takiab differs from the average Thai beach because of all the activities allowed on the shore. Whether you want to receive massages only 10 feet from the water’s edge or rent a jet-ski, you can do it all on this stretch of beach.
Cha-Am Beach is a bit further North of Hua Hin’s city center and is known for the parties and events it hosts on the shore. These monthly concerts are popular because this area is relatively quiet and away from the hustle and bustle of a normal Hua Hin beach.
The hotels that sit upon Cha-Am’s shores are few and far between so it never feels too crowded when relaxing on this beach. You’ll find a few clusters of trees that provide shade during the day. It’s quite funny to see hundreds of beach towels and relaxing beach-goers under this shade when you compare it to the 2-3 tourists max sitting outside the comfort of this shade.
Hua Hin Night Market is a single street that goes on for as far as the eye can see. Around 6 pm or just as the sun begins setting, the vendors put the final touches on their respective booths and prepare for the hordes of people that will shortly come through the area. Whether you want ‘I love Thailand’ t-shirts, Thai DVDs, handmade wooden crafts, or the stereotypical elephant pants, this street will have the goods for you.
Feel free to haggle on some of the prices offered to you. It’s quite a common practice in Thailand. However, one of the most alluring draws of the Hua Hin Night Market is the food. Stall after stall sells food that will blow your mind. The fresh seafood available here is very popular due to the close proximity to a number of fishing villages.
Most of the seafood restaurants and stalls also sell beer so we recommend finding a way to sit down to enjoy your meal. It’s quite hard to walk while eating seafood if you have a drink in your hand.
The Cicada Market is a more luxurious take on a street market. This posh market is the type of place you can buy lobster from a Thai man at a stand. It’s a little expensive for the suggested price range of most budget travelers, but this is a great place to sit and enjoy a nice (albeit, overpriced) beverage. They frequently host Thai musicians to add to the pizzaz of your evening.
Tamarind Market is right next door to the Cicada Market and in our humble opinion, 5 times as good. The price range is certainly more reasonable. In fact, the food/price value is so amazing, it’s unlikely you’ll even find a seat if you visit. We recommend splitting up your team – have one individual find a table while the others venture off for the food.
Whether you want Spaghetti Carbonara inside of pineapple or an entire duck for $5 USD, this place is Guy Fieri’s dream. You can get a plate the size of your upper body filled with seafood like prawns, shrimp, fish, and octopus for an extremely reasonable price. If you can’t find a seat, just bring your food a hundred feet North to the Tamarind Market and enjoy the posh atmosphere without the posh prices.
There are tons of great bars in Hua Hin worth visiting, however, the best is a little bit out of the way. The majority of tourists in Hua Hin spend their time near the beach. The majority of the locals (Hua Hinites?) live a bit West from the beach in a more traditional part of town. It is here that you can find the one and only Hua Hin Reggae Bar.
The Reggae Bar in Hua Hin is known for looking as though the bartenders built the building themselves (and I mean that in the best, most artisan-positive way possible). There are smiles all around and most of the staff are also quite talented when it comes to performing renditions of Bob Marley’s greatest hits.
You can come to the Hua Hin Reggae Bar for the pool table or for meeting like-minded individuals. Either way, this is a great way to avoid the stuffiness of your normal Thai vacation spot bar and meet other people who are happy to sit on a tree stump seat while listening to ska music.
Hua Hin Walking Street, also known as Soi Bintabaht Walking Street is an extremely lively place for those after a crazy night out in Hua Hin. It’s not an expensive street so you’ll be able to find affordable beer and drinks at almost every bar. Some bars have live music, some have electronic music, and others have country music. You can find anything on this famous Hua Hin street.
Maruekhathaiyawan Palace (trying saying that 5 times fast!) sits in the middle of Cha-Am and Hua Hin. It was the seaside vacation home of King Rama VI in the 1920s. It was built shortly after Thailand completed the first legitimate railroad from Bangkok to the Cha-Am area.
The first palace in the area was built on a beach further North but was ultimately destroyed because the king wanted something different. He preferred buildings made of teak wood so Maruekhathaiyawan was built entirely of teak wood – quite the impressive feat. An Italian architect designed the palace and the architectural style is significantly different than traditional Thai palaces built during the time period.
As many beach towns in Thailand are quite susceptible to being damaged in storms, monsoons, and heavy rains, Maruekhathaiyawan Palace was built was this knowledge in mind. They used over a thousand pillars to keep the entire structure lifted off the ground. For those who have made it to Hua Hin and are looking for something different out of your visit, this is a great place to check out in Thailand.
The separate buildings are all connected by walkways that offer a covering so those on the walkway can stay dry during the rainy season. It also has the added benefit of creating a cool breeze. It’s a great way to avoid the heat during the Thai summer.
Phraya Nakhon Cave
Phraya Nakhon Cave is hard to reach but absolutely worth the journey. Most Google Maps estimates indicate that it will take 45 minutes to reach the trailhead from Hua Hin. We recommend you double that time estimate. This is important because you need to reach the cave by 10 am.
When you reach the small beach village where the trailhead begins, you have the option to take a small boat or hike up (and then down) a mountain. When you reach the second beach, there is another trailhead with a different mountain to climb. Make sure you pack the right amount of water. It won’t take more than 1.5-2 hours to reach the cave from the first trailhead, and that’s if you’re going slowly.
When you reach the cave, you begin to climb down into the area that holds this gorgeous temple. So why is it so important to reach the cave by 10 am? There is a large hole in the top of this cave that allows a shining ray of light to reach the innards of this area. From 10 am to 11:30 am, this line shines directly onto the temple. The exquisite sight is often compared to a scene from Indiana Jones.
From personal experience, I would actually argue that it’s better than an Indiana Jones film. A security guard sits at the bottom of the cave. He’s bored out of his mind because his job (even though the scenery is incredible) is to sit and watch for 8 hours. Ask him to take a photograph and he’ll be more than happy to oblige. Plus, he knows the absolute best angles to take pictures inside the cave.
There’s more than just the temple inside this cave. You can find some incredibly tall trees (almost redwood height) inside the cave and a dragon-like rock formation. Take the beauty in, because you have to hike the entire journey back, as well. Luckily for you, there’s a nice restaurant just beside the second trailhead. You can even rent a chair outside the restaurant to enjoy the beach views.
Black Mountain Water Park
If you have young kids, we highly recommend the Black Mountain water park. Many of the (mainly Russian) tourists who visit Hua Hin do have young children and they likely choose this location because it is a far cry away from the raucous partying that takes place in the Southern islands. It’s more kid friendly here.
The water park highlights around 10 water slides, a giant wave pool, and even a pool made with actual sand. Black Mountain sits around an actual mountain and is just beside the Black Mountain Golf Course. This leads one to believe that they use the park’s water to keep the golf course green but of course, that’s just humorous speculation.
There are two different shopping centers modeled after famous European cities. These are certainly tailored to the wealthy Thai family who wishes for a European jaunt without leaving the comfort of their backyard. They are named The Venezia Hua Hin and Santorini Park Cha-Am.
The Venezia is meant to be a copycat of (you guessed it!) Venice. The construction team that built this park built the shopping mecca around a large canal system to mimic the classic Italian town. This project does appear to have quite a few empty storefronts so only time will tell if the project is ultimately a success. Either way, it’s worth checking out.
The second shopping center attraction is called Santorini Park Cha-Am. This retail haven is intended to mimic Greece’s Santorini by imitating the white and blue architecture of the city. Here you can find a carousel, a small water park, and much more. We highly recommend both of these interesting tourist attractions. It’s a great way to see two different continents in a single visit.
Khao Daeng Viewpoint
Khao Daeng Viewpoint is a little further South than the Phraya Nakhon Cave. However, both attractions are a part of Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park. This viewpoint will take your breath away, because of its beauty and more literally, because of the challenging hike to the top. It’s a great way to see the limestone cliffs that jet out of the water in tandem with the village’s rice terraces.
If you’re an early riser, we highly recommend visiting at sunrise and then heading over to Phraya Nakhon to catch the light that peers into the cave. It’s a great way to see a few of the different spots worth visiting in one morning!
Bueng Bua Boardwalk
The Buen Bua Wood Boardwalk is the perfect way to end your outing at Khao Daeng and Phraya Nakhon Cave. This park isn’t necessarily suitable for taxi drivers (and will cost you a pretty penny if you try to do so). We recommend hiring a private driver for the day or renting a motorbike if you feel comfortable on two wheels.
This boardwalk extends an entire kilometer over some of the prettiest marshes you’ve ever seen. If you see a friendly local with a boat, you can even pay them to ride through the marsh. This is a famous attraction because of all the lotus flowers that bloom in the water. It’s beautiful and at times the boardwalk even sits in the shade of the limestone cliffs that surround this marsh.
The Inu Cafe in Hua Hin is legendary. This coffeehouse and restaurant house more Shiba Inus than you can count. The dogs are all so friendly and well-behaved, though certainly behave better when you offer them a treat. You can buy dog treats here and find yourself surrounded in a sea of these classic Asian dogs.
It’s the perfect place for those after a new Instagram picture. You can expect the prices to be high as compared to normal food in Hua Hin, however, there is an important reason for this. In order to keep food clean in a dog cafe, they need to take extra precautions. If a dog or cat cafe offers cheap food, it’s normally a sign that the litterboxes are right beside the kitchen… Ew!
All in all, Hua Hin offers a ton of different great activities for your Bangkok getaway. It’s a great place for those with families and an even better location for those who enjoy the outdoors. If the smog of the big city is beginning to be too much to handle, check out Hua Hin for much cleaner experience.
How do you get to Hua Hin?
Hua Hin is very close to Bangkok. The drive only takes 2 – 4 hours depending on Bangkok traffic. We recommend buying a cheap bus/minivan tickets for the short ride. If you are not a fan of close quarters, you can hire a private driver to take you the distance for less than $100 USD.
Where should I take my kids in Thailand?
The best family vacations in Thailand include Phuket, Hua Hin, Bangkok, and Chiang Mai. These are all relatively large cities with family-friendly activities for young children. We recommend that parents with young children avoid places like Pattaya, Khao San Road, or Koh Pha-ngan during the Full Moon Party as tourists tend to be intoxicated to the point of social disturbance.