Hua Hin has always considered as a romantic and elegant holiday destination, and a popular seaside gateway for the family. The sentiment started off about 100 years ago when the Royal Family and affluent Thais would spend their summers. I have lost count how many long weekends spent there. I recalled my first visit taking over three and a half hours thirty years ago, with the drive passing through rows of beautiful and towering pineapple trees. Now, the three hour short drive encourages its popularity remain for Bangkokians in taking a break from the hustle and bustle of the capital for relaxing weekends. The popular Hua Hin attractions are the countless attractive seaside houses, villas and a few captivating vintage summer palaces. In addition, the newer, purpose built community malls and special themed sightseeing villages mean there is something for all generations.
Perfect weekend getaway
According to Christian Wurm, General Manager, Hyatt Regency Hua Hin and The Barai, “With its natural unkempt beauty, Hua Hin offers just as much charm, adventure, and luxury as other Thai destinations. It is a tropical paradise with mile long beautiful beaches and a peaceful ambience making it suitable for families, couples, or friends’ vacation. Its location on the Gulf of Thailand is within easy access especially from Bangkok, so it is the perfect combination for a spontaneous weekend getaway or longer visits too. Hua Hin is more than just a break closer to home; you will feel a sense of serenity, a sense of belonging while you soak up the ambience at your own pace.”
David Ippersiel, General Manager of Sheraton Hua Hin Resort and Spa also advocated, “For locals and expats, Hua Hin is a family friendly weekend getaway at the beach. There are a wide variety of things to do and several special tourist attractions. Hua Hin is a seaside city with a colourful royal past, a laidback present and a promising future. It is an enthralling city for every visitor.”
Old world charm
For first-time visitors, Hua Hin’s appeal lies in the town’s tantalising old time feel, best illustrated in Hua Hin Railway Station and the Maruekhathaiyawan Palace. The summer seaside Palace, often referred to as “the palace of love and hope is located midway between Cha-Am and Hua Hin. It was built in 1923 under the royal command of King Rama VI using golden teakwood from the demolished Hat Chao Samran Palace. Another tourist’s favourite is the Klai Kangwon Palace. The 83-year-old Palace was formerly the personal residence built by King Prajadhipok (King Rama VII) in 1926 on his privy purse and given to Queen Rambai Barni.
Hua Hin offers a wide variety of activities from cultural experiences and outdoor trips to culinary adventures. As a coastal town, Hua Hin has an abundance of fresh seafood, especially blue crabs and tiger prawns and these are available from street food havens to upscale dining. For eye catching natural attractions, the rainforest Phraya Nakhon Cave is certainly worth a visit. Located inside Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, its spectacular beauty is among one of the most photographed landmarks of Hua Hin. For avid golfers, there are a few classy and renowned golf courses where golfers play against picturesque backdrops of hills and lakes.
Exploring the night markets that offer food, fashion, and handicrafts offers another enjoyable experience. “Chat Chai” market, popularly known as Hua Hin Night Market, was originally built on royal treasury land. Its seven arched roofs are in honour of King Rama VII. Available daily, the market offers street food stalls, vendors selling clothes, local handicrafts, and souvenirs. Another must visit place for art lovers is the weekend only Cicada Market. Created for artists to connect with locals and visitors, Cicada Market comprises four zones. “Art A La Mode” presents casual clothing and accessories. “Cicada Art Factory” features original artworks from young artists. “The Amphitheatre” presents various entertainments, ranging from concerts to theatre. “Cicada Cuisine” is dotted with stalls selling local and international dishes. During the day, it will be amusing to try the 25B per set Royal recipe “Khao Chae” at Khao Chae Paa Auen, which serves “Khao Chae” (cooked rice served in cool jasmine flowers water), “kapi” (shrimp paste)” balls, sweetened fish and “chaipo waan” (sweet pickled Chinese turnips).
Trendy instagram spots
With social media, everyone likes to share their best and fun moments with family and friends. There are several popular “instagrammable” places in Hua Hin. McFarland House at Hyatt Regency Hua Hin is a restored two storey 19th century pavilion that has been transformed into a beachfront restaurant. The ambience is rustic and casual. The restaurant has become one of the landmarks of Hua Hin, a perfect place for a wonderful afternoon tea, lunch or dinner with excellent food. After a round of golf, Prime Restaurant at Black Mountain Golf Course is great place to relax to wine and dine. Other “insta-worthy” places include Baan Chok, a beachfront café and eatery, and Memory House Cafe. Although it is a normal cafe, which sells cakes, pastries, coffees, teas and drinks, the surrounding areas of Memory House are designed to offer the feel of calm and relaxation with the wide lawn and tall grass.
Monsoon Valley Vineyard
Apart from seafood, fine dining and street foods, Hua Hin now offers quality vino to go with their tasty top notch cuisine. The must visit spot for new experience is Monsoon Valley Vineyard, an awesome place to visit with family and friends, especially during the harvest events. Monsoon Valley was founded in 2001 by Chalerm Yoovidhya, a wine loving entrepreneur who sought to build a robust Thai wine culture. Formerly known as the Hua Hin Hills Vineyard, the Monsoon Valley Vineyard was built on a former elephant corral, a precious land where wild Asian elephants were once domesticated. This land is mostly made of sandy soil and slate, which is ideal for growing many grape varietals.
The vineyard’s proximity to the sea allows it to enjoy a cool nightly breeze, while the sandy and loamy soil enriched with sea shells and fossils lends our wines their characteristic flavours and freshness. In 2006, Monsoon Valley Vineyard Hua Hin had its first harvest. The Monsoon Valley Bin 9 Royal Reserve 2005 was created in honour of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great and served at the Royal Palace on the occasion of 60th anniversary of His Majesty’s Accession to the Throne.
Monsoon Valley Vineyard recently celebrated their “Exceptional 2021 harvest”. With remarkable grape quality, the attention turns to creating great quality wine and adding to over their 320 International Awards secured from previous vintages, the most of any Thai wine. Monsoon Valley White Shiraz was being named “World’s best Rose” by James Suckling in 2018, beating out over 150 Rosé’s from around the world in a blind taste test.
Suppached Sasomsin, Winemaker at Siam Winery clarified, “As a Winemaker I am very excited about this year’s vintage. Not only was it a bountiful harvest, the high quality allows me to use conventional winemaking techniques to express the terroir. This year’s grapes are incredibly balanced and with over 30 varietals bearing fruit, I’m really looking forward to creating wines with unique character. On top of our Shiraz, Sangiovese, Chenin Blanc and Colom bard varietals, I am especially excited about the quality of this year’s Merlot grapes, which has historically been very challenging to grow in Thailand. We have been experimenting with growing Merlot grapes for almost 10 years, and the plants have matured nicely, producing consistently well-balanced fruits over the past 3-4 seasons. We look forward to being amongst Thailand’s first wineries in introducing locally grown Merlot this year.”
Today, Monsoon Valley produces 4 ranges of wines, which include Classic range primarily served in Thai restaurants around the world; Premium and Signature range served at leading hotels all over Thailand, and the Cuvée flagship range, which is made from the finest grapes from our vineyard each year. The vineyard continues to pioneer grape growing techniques in Thailand in order to prove that Monsoon Valley Thai wines can overcome the tropical climate, and assure that Thai farmers can grow great quality grapes and produce the best wines.
The perfect venue to taste and enjoy the internationally recognised premium quality Thai wines at Monsoon Valley is to dine at The Sala Wine Bar and Bistro. Inspired by the enchanting shape of the Thai pavilion, Sylvia Soh, a former Norman Foster architect, designed this restaurant building as a place to offer information about viticulture and the science of winemaking. The design of The Sala Wine Bar and Bistro combines the local beauty of Thailand with modern aesthetics to give visitors a comfortable, yet spectacular experience. Monsoon Valley offers an impressive dining experience amid the relaxing atmosphere of hectares of vineyard. The menu was inspired by the vineyard setting, using wines, grapes, and grape leaves to create unique dishes that can be enjoyed with Monsoon Valley wines.
Throughout the year, Monsoon Valley Vineyard offers a range of fun excursions, such as vineyard tours and cycling tours, wine tastings, elephant feeding, wine safaris, and most of all the Harvest Festival held annually from March to April.
With the current Covid-19 situation, Hua Hin remains the right choice for a laid back beach town feels with fresh air and sunshine. To unplug from the everyday monotony of life, the seaside town offers suitable options of romantic escapes, family getaways, golf drives, pet-friendly breaks and spa recharges. Its popularity as a holiday sanctuary is never ending!