Whilst visiting my Dad in Bangkok in January with my husband Neil, two excitable children – Ella aged three and a half and Frankie at 21 months and a baby (4 months) on the way we stayed at Dad’s small studio condo in Hua Hin. It was a bit of a squeeze – all four us in a 32sqm apartment and with Ella’s leg in a cast having fractured just days before we left the UK it presented additional challenges but we managed it.
Ella was naturally frustrated and wanted to be in the swimming pool or in the sea as it was so hot and so each day we endeavoured to find somewhere to visit to keep the children fully occupied. One day we went to Rajabhakti Park – one of Hua Hin’s latest attractions. Standing in a line against a backdrop of forested hills are seven giant statues of great Kings from Thai history.
An impressive sight, the bronze statues measuring nearly 14 meters tall honour great Kings of various era in Thai history, namely Sukhothai, Ayutthaya, Thonburi and Rattanakosin. Each statue carries a plate with the name of the King and the period of reign. Rajabhakti Park was built by the army and was opened in September 2015 by HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn. The large park south of Hua Hin was developed to demonstrate the Thai people’s loyalty to the royal institution.
Swiss Sheep Farm
The farm has a very European feel, with props such as windmills and tulips, a Mini and a VW Beetle car adorned with British flags and many places for photo opportunities with frames hanging from tree branches and various statues and figures to pose with.
For a small charge you are able to hand feed sheep grass or bottles of milk; carrots to rabbits in their own enclosure and food to alpacas whilst being enclosed with them. You can pay to have a horse and cart ride around the farm, and also have a ride on a horse led by staff. Ducks and geese roam freely and the farm prides itself on having the only sheep runners in Thailand, though they weren’t running the day we visited. There is a small games section, a 3D museum and small cafe providing drinks and food.
The park has a truly Arabian feel with buildings similar to those in Arabia and wellmaintained grounds throughout. For a small charge you are able to hand feed camels, giraffes, flamingos, sheep, ducks, fish and lorikeets – a real treat that you are often not allowed in England.
In particular the lorikeets, ducks and flamingos where you enter their enclosure and they are inches away from you – or feeding on you in the case of the lorikeets! For an extra charge you are also able to ride camels. There is an indoor inflatable section, trampolines, mini quads and various rides for older children. There is a 4D movie theatre, restaurant and shop.
The park has been given a Greek feel with blue and white buildings, and beautiful Bougainvillea cascading down the walls. A specific Miffy’s Garden section with various displays allows for photo opportunities. There are also many other photo opportunities around the park with signs and props available.
There are many rides available, all for an extra charge. There is a giant Ferris Wheel offering great views, and a two tiered merry go round. There is a 3D ‘trick of the eye’ museum, a virtual battle in a 7D simulator, water balls and aqua boats for older infants. There are many boutique shops and cafes offering different types of food.
Wildlife Friends Foundation
This sanctuary is located in a very rural and scenic location but is worth the drive out from Hua Hin for a visit. The sanctuary believes in keeping wild animals wild, and discourages petting and any hands on interaction with the animals for these reasons. The animals are very well looked after by many volunteers from all over the world; with most being rescued from cruel ‘entertainment’ tourist sites across Thailand.
From monkeys of many species, an alligator, tortoises, elephants, wild boar and deer, the sanctuary houses over …. animals. The full day ticket involves a trek through the sanctuary, being introduced to various animals and listening to their backgrounds and how they came to the sanctuary. After a traditional lunch which is provided, the afternoon includes the highlight of walking with an elephant and washing it down after with hoses and brooms, which is an interesting experience.
The visitors are then taken on trucks to see the expansive elephant paddocks, where we witnessed elephants taking a swim, being fed and relaxing comfortably in their natural environments. A non profit organisation, the entry fee goes back into the upkeep and maintenance of the animals and their manmade habitats.
Hutsadin Elephant Foundation
This is a small sanctuary caring for just six elephants, much closer to Hua Hin. Based in a beautiful temple, it has a rustic and relaxed feel with free roaming chickens and cats and dogs. You are able to trek with an elephant and their mahout (trainer) for around 25 minutes through natural surrounding grasslands, feeding the elephant with fresh fruit whilst you walk and once you have reached midway through the walk.
When you return to the paddock you can help wash the elephant using hoses and brooms, and have an exciting photo opportunity where the elephant will even give you a cuddle with its trunk. The staff are very knowledgeable and provide many educational seminars at the sanctuary and in the local area, including at local schools. The elephants are well cared for and seem very at ease in their environment.
We walked with Songkran that seemed to be the star of the show and although enormous, especially to my two small children, was very well behaved. The kids loved it. We would have loved to have taken the children to the two waterparks in the area – Vana Nava Waterpark on the road going south towards Rajabhakti Park which has won a host of awards in the 3 years that it has been opened and has just had a new resort hotel built alongside. Or the Black Mountain Waterpark which although some 10/15kms out of town has a big following. Hopefully next time!