• Thursday, October 30, 2014

TRAVELOGUE

HUA HIN Quiet & Peace

By Taskin Rahman
Photo: Taskin Rahman
Photo: Taskin Rahman

Hua Hin has been chosen as one of the world's best places to retire by "Live and Invest Overseas". Strong points for Hua Hin were the low cost of living in general and the affordability of beach-front living in particular, as well as its overall expat-friendliness.

That just might give you a feel of how the place might be. I have seen a few couples in holiday mode but most of the people that I came across whether that be in the beach or in restaurants have been either a group of 40-year-olds or 30-year-olds with kids.

Photo: Taskin Rahman
Photo: Taskin Rahman

The beach in particular is not the prettiest in Thailand; it does not have the soft white sand and blue-green water that is the pride of Thailand. However, it does have something to calm oneself. If that is something you are looking for – Hua Hin is the place.

Getting There
The best way to go there is either via taxi from Bangkok city or by a bus from the airport. Taxis would cost about THB 2500 for one way, or you can get the bus that leaves from the airport. I would highly recommend the airport bus (www.airporthuahinbus.com). I have been on it and it was wonderful. The seats are big enough for one and a half persons with an adjustable pillow and a pretty big toilet for a bus. Each way, on this bus, costs THB 320. There is a ‘must avoid’ bus that leaves from the city which costs THB 180. You can also use the train as well or mini vans that leave every hour from different locations. But as it is not run by a company, I would avoid them.

Places to Stay
In Hua Hin, the hotel is the hero, so expect great hotels and it would be a good investment to stay in big fancy hotel. Personally, this is not something I can afford most of the times, neither something that I recommend as I don't find good value for investing in rooms where you will probably not spend 10 hours each day. Hua Hin is a different case altogether. As I said before, the hotel is the hero.

Big hotels like Sheraton, Hilton, Grand Centara and Cape Nidhra are an amusement and an attraction in themselves.  I would recommend Cape Nidhra which is a hotel of contemporary architecture with immense attention provided to “water” during its design and rightly so. Every room has a swimming pool. Yes, it does. It has a separate Jacuzzi in the toilet. You can access the shower from the room, from the pool and even from the closet.  The staff here are extremely friendly and do make up for the price charged. Cape Nidhra costs somewhere between 150- 180 dollars per night. The pool has the beach in front, submerged chairs, Jacuzzi and small tent-like dry surfaces for people to chill in the pool.

Photo: Taskin Rahman
Photo: Taskin Rahman

Centara Grand is the elite among the elites in Hua Hin. The hotel is a sight to see. Formerly the Hua Hin Railway Hotel, one of the classic hotels of the East, the Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Hua Hin was constructed in 1923 and has fully retained its old-world charm. Centara Hotels & Resorts acquired the lovely old property in 1985, and with every sensitivity towards its original elegance, has extended and upgraded the hotel, which stands on 16 hectares of beachfront land amongst topiary gardens that are one of the great local landmarks. I was scared to check the prices after I took a small tour inside and was lucky to see a wedding being hosted there. They have the most wonderful and majestic gardens that I ever came across and authentic Thai live instrumental pieces being played throughout the day. Even if you don't stay here, it is recommended that you visit this place once.

For the budget conscious, The Fresh Inn is just behind Hilton and is also in the thick of things as its by the Bintabhat/Bar Street and across Hua Hin brewing company which happens to be the most happening club in this beach town. Its about 60 dollars per night with a beach view with a binocular.

Food Talk
From authentic to multicultural cuisine, Hua Hin is a foodies' dream come true – a kilometre’s walk can give you Italian, Spanish, Thai, French and big burgers and coffees.

Photo: Taskin Rahman
Photo: Taskin Rahman

Paillote
Paillote is in Naresdamri road in Hua Hin. Black, white and red colours make this shop. The lunchtime and dinnertime atmosphere is completely different and at night, the lighting lends it a unique effect, making it quite posh and romantic. All the dishes were 4.5 out of 5 here. We tried duck confit in pepper cream sauce and it was amazing. I loved fried sol fish with boiled vegetable and lemon, garlic and butter sauce. Lamb chops were pretty good too.

Sawasdee
Sawasdee is also in Naresdamri road and right across Hua Hin Brewing Company. We had dinner and lunch both at this place. Dishes that I would recommend are crab curry which is simply the best crab dish I had ever, chicken in green curry, squid salad, sea bass in lemon sauce, barracuda grilled, sweet and sour sea food and tom yum soup. We were quite hungry at that time and the food was fresh out of the sea so it tasted extra delicious. We definitely went back to be equally delighted. This is much cheaper than the French restaurant. I would give it a 3.9 out of 4.

Cape Nidhra
This restaurant is located on Phetkasem road. The restaurant is called Rock and is on the ground floor overlooking the pool and the beach. It is slightly spicier than I would have liked, but I couldn't stop eating as the food was really good. We ordered prawn red curry where the red curry sauce was served in a shot glass, tiger prawns were all aligned about six of them in a rectangle plate and it all looked immaculate. Chicken green curry came in a classic pearl white soup bowl and looked as good as it tasted. This would be a 4.4 out of 5. Highly recommended..

Things to do
The best thing to do is sip some juice on the pool and watch the sea. But there’s more on offer, of course.

Cicada
Cicada Market is all about art, handmade crafts and good times. With an open-air market concept, it brings together Hua Hin's artistic talents and those who wear 'freedom of expression' on their sleeves. Beside the crafts market, you'll also find an art gallery.

Photo: Taskin Rahman
Photo: Taskin Rahman

Khao Takiab
One of the biggest attractions in Prachuab Kirikhan province, Khao Takiab translates as 'Chopstick Mountain' although you may hear it being referred to as Monkey Mountain due to the monkeys that live on it. The mountain is also home to a hilltop temple with sensational views of Hua Hin. The start of the hike up to the temple is marked by a large bell and a flight of stairs up to the main shrine which is a pagoda-like structure.

Hua Hin Market Village
Its about a THB 100/10 minute ride to the Hua Hin Market village mall. Probably the only air-conditioned mall in the area. This mall has everything starting from a studio to Svenson's ice cream.

Night Life
There is one club that is the Hua Hin Brewing Company that plays live music and a DJ steps in at midnight and Soi Bintabaht is the street for nighttime revelry with bars and cafes pumping up the volume till 2:00 AM. Other than these, I have not seen anything on the beach.

Hua Hin is a very relaxed beach town. It’s not an island for which it doesn't have the signature white sand and blue waters. However, it's a very relaxing place if you stay at a nice hotel. Off all the things you can do, relaxing by the pool or in the hotel and taking a massage at some of the nicest massage places is something you will probably enjoy.

Its only three hours away by bus and that makes it a hotspot for a lot of Thai tourists. If you are in with kids, definitely a place to go as it’s easy, quick and consistent.
 

Published: 12:00 am Tuesday, September 02, 2014

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