In Thai, Hua Hin means Head Rock, so whilst Hua Hin is quite flat, there are quite a number of hilltops from which to view the area in all directions. Here are just three hilltop lookouts that you can easily explore in a few hours. Just grab a Tuk Tuk or Songthaew, or if you have a bike licence, hire an inexpensive motorbike or scooter and take off.
1. Khao Hin Lek Fai (เขาหินเหล็กไฟ) or Flint Stone Hill
Also known as Radar Hill due to the radar towers situated right at the top, Khao Hin Lek Fai lookout is not far from the centre of Hua Hin. Turn off Phetkhasem Road, Hua Hin’s main road, onto Chomsin Road (Hua Hin Soi 70). This road heads west from the city and takes you up and around the back of Hua Hin. Around 3kms from the city, the turnoff to Khao Hin Lek Fai is to the left at the top of the hill.
Khao Hin Lek Fai is around 163m high and is a magnificent place to spend an hour or two viewing Hua Hin and its surrounds. As you enter the enormous carpark, the map on the right shows you have a selection of 6 viewing points, though viewpoint 1 does not appear to exist any longer.
Around 50m from the carpark you encounter a large stone tablet by some trees. The tablet has an image of King Bhumiphol Adulyadej (Rama IX) on it. In front of the tablet is a large number 987. This is to indicate the number of the Royal Development Project. King Bhumiphol created over 4,000 projects throughout Thailand; everything from irrigation to land conservation, cloud seeding and water management. The grounds in this central area feature beautifully manicured gardens. This is where viewing points 4, 5 & 6 are located within close proximity. Viewing point 4 is directly opposite the gardens and a statue of King Prajadhipok (Rama VII), with his face gazing over the city that he loved so much.
In 1926, King Prajadhipok commissioned the building of Wang Klai Kangwon, Klai Kangwon Palace. The name means 'far from worries'. This palace became the summer residence of the Thai royal family; a tradition that continues to this very day. Whenever you see the naval vessels in the waters off Hua Hin, you know the king is in residence.
Of the 5 available viewing areas at Khao Hin Lek Fai, only 4 & 5 have metal viewing platforms and safety rails. These both have some spectacular views. Some of the others require a little bushwalking and possibly some rock climbing, though none of it seems at all dangerous. It’s part of the fun of such panoramic views of Hua Hin. Take the plunge and go to all 5 to see all there is to be seen.
This begins to the right, just before the small café, which is often unattended during the week. It is a paved track that heads 60m straight before beginning to undulate for a further 50m, turning sharply upwards for a further 50m before ending in 20m of dirt track. The vantage point here is OK, with views towards the Gulf of Thailand to the east as well as Khao Takiab to the south, but if you’re feeling adventurous, climb a further 50m up the large rocks to the right; it is a fairly easy climb, but you will be well rewarded if you do. Once atop the rocky outlook, you can see stunning 360° views of Hua Hin. This is by far the best of the 5 available lookouts and one that is heavily utilised by Thais.
There is no sign for this one, but if you check the map, you will see where it is. This one will take you down to a disused dam or water storage. You head down the track around 100m until you get to the dam. Around 40m past the dam the path ends in rocks with a view towards the hills to the SouthWest of Hua Hin as well as South towards Khao Takiab. The vista is rather unspectacular and it is easy to see why this one is now not signposted.
If you want a little adventure, though, right near the dam are 27 concrete steps leading to a path that goes 60m paved and then heads down for another 100m before becoming a dirt track. It seems to continue down and down endlessly, so the guess is it leads to the bottom of Khao Hin Lek Fai. Not wishing to experience the entire climb back up the mountain to the awaiting vehicle, this is where a quick U-turn is in order. It is a nice bushwalk all the same, but I would not advise going all the way to the bottom unless you're up for a hefty hike back up.
This is very close to the main trail and is the most easily accessible lookout of all. It overlooks the Gulf of Thailand to the East, but primarily points SouthEast towards Khao Takiab. There is a large metal viewing platform and a sign of Hua Hin.
Follow the sign for this lookout along a paved path for 100m, with the last 30m sloping upwards. The path then turns to dirt where you head along another 100m gradually heading down, ending in stone steps which lead to the metal viewing platform. From here, you are facing directly East to the Gulf of Thailand, though you can see from Cha-am to the North, past the centrally located Hilton Hotel and onwards to Khao Takiab to the South.
There is a very small dirt track branching off to the right just before you reach the stone steps. This goes up for around 20m and leads to a vantage point looking back to the SouthWest and the hills of Hua Hin.
From the central area where 4, 5 & 6 meet, you follow a paved track past the toilet block on the right. You walk for 200m before completing the final 20m on a dirt track leading to an area with some rocks. There is no platform at this lookout and the viewing point looks NorthEast over the Royal Hua Hin Golf Course and towards Cha-am to the North.
Whilst some tracks to the lookouts give you an ‘off the beaten track’ feel, if you persevere, you will see some great views. Early morning or later in the afternoon around dusk are your best times. Wear comfortable walking shoes, especially for the viewing points with no platform.
Perched atop a hill, this temple is one of our favourite lookouts, combining a beautiful temple, giant Buddha statue and spectacular views. This giant statue of the Buddha with an umbrella over his left shoulder and a walking stick in his right hand serves as a watcher over the city of Hua Hin, Khlong Road and Klai Kangwon Palace. It was built alongside the temple in 2014.
As you head north out of Hua Hin along canal road, you can see this imposing figure standing tall. This is a great place to spend some time looking out over Hua Hin, without the addition of pesky monkeys all around. There are areas to sit and look out over the ocean and relax in the cool breeze. Wat Khao Noi offers spectacular 360° views of Hua Hin.
You can drive straight to the top, but if you’re feeling adventurous, take the 101 step staircase all the way up to the temple and statue. The customary ornate Naga carving along the balustrade is very impressive. If you are so inclined, you are permitted to sign your name on a roof tile. This tile will be used on the roof of the temple or other buildings; a small donation in exchange would be the appropriate thing.
You can find Wat Khao Noi on Chon Pra Than Soi 62. If you take Soi 58 from Phetkhasem Road (turning left into Soi 56) then continuing across the canal for around another 1 km where the temple is on the right. Just look for the giant statue.
Lying at the southern end of Hua Hin beach, this 270m high hill is home to many cheeky monkeys, macaques, so be watchful of cameras and other property; feed them at your peril. It is well worth the trip to look back on Hua Hin and south towards Pranburi, as it commands some spectacular vistas.
Depending how you arrive at Khao Takiab will determine in what order you see things. If you have your own transport, you have the choice of starting at the bottom or the top. For those who don’t like as much climbing, you may find that a top-down approach suits you best. If on a scooter or motorbike, or you get your hired Tuk Tuk or Songthaew to take you directly up the hill, then you will be greeted with Wat Khao Takiab, the Monkey Temple. The Chedi at the top of the steps is where you will get your best views back towards Hua Hin. If this is how you arrived, skip over the next section, as you will be doing the steps in reverse.
If you catch the public green Songthaew, then you will begin at the bottom of the hill. From where you are dropped, just walk back towards the Supatra Hua Hin Resort and the beach. The road goes straight for about 50m and swings around to the left. The beach is not much further down. Once there, you will see the impressive 20m tall standing gold Buddha statue - Phra Pang Haan Yad; this is where your climb begins.
The local council has been clearing some of the base of the hill and surrounds for a resort being built. In doing so, it has made this local attraction more desirable to visit.
Initially there are only a handful of stairs leading past food vendors to the large Buddha statue. Past that, the ascent begins to the right. The stairs are relatively steep here, beginning with 74 steps to get you to the first landing area. As a detour, halfway up on the left is a break in the railing that leads to a small Buddha image in a tiny cave; it’s quite nice for a photo detour and overlooks the Gulf of Thailand. Back on the steps, the first viewing area leads off 15m to the left to a lookout on some rocks. This has decent views of Hua Hin as well as Cha-am back to the north. 32 more steep steps get you to a small souvenir shop run by a lovely female monk. There is great viewing to be had in this area. There is a large disused building with stone slabs with names on them. It loos like a memorial of sorts, though not in use any more. There are signs talking about the radar, which can be seen on top of the hill.
On this level, you have 360° views of the surrounding area. You can see the newly built terminal for the Hua Hin / Pattaya ferry. If you walk to the highest point you can find, you can look across to see the magnificent Chedi of Wat Khao Takiab surrounded by trees; there La Mer seafood restaurant below as well as Khao Takiab beach to the north. Atop a small platform with maybe 20 small steps is a life size statue of the Buddha with an umbrella over his shoulder. There really are some amazing viewing opportunities to be had at this stop.
Since the Chedi is our next destination, exit this area by the road off to the left. It heads down, paved at first, then dirt as it swings around for about 200m before joining the main road coming up from the fishing village. On your left you will see a sign letting you know you are at Wat Khao Takiab.
Continue past the entrance to La Mer and up to the rest of the temple complex. Here there are more large Buddha images along with more steep steps leading up to the Chedi, where you can find some of the best views to be had. Ring the bells for good luck.
When you descend from the Chedi, look to the right at a red arch with both Thai and Chinese writing on it. This leads down a winding road about 100m to what are a bizarre and beautiful collection of statues and pagodas. The macaques are also on this road in their droves, so stay alert, as they have a tendency to snatch bags, cameras etc.
When you reach the bottom, look to the right and you’ll find a statue of Guanyin, the many-armed Chinese goddess, also known as the Goddess of Mercy; she makes this worth the walk back up. There is also a sort of rotunda with more beautiful paintings inside as well as a collection of other statues and pagodas.
Inside the small temple you will find paintings telling old Chinese tales. There is also a large golden statue of Budai or Pu Tai, also called the Laughing Buddha, whose duty is seen to be the protector of children, the weak and the poor by Chinese people.
Once you are done with the Chinese flavour at the bottom, walk back up that winding road and you are done with Wat Khao Tabiab. From here, the fishing village begins in some 200m via the road. Walk along and see some of the freshest seafood in Hua Hin; sample some at the many small restaurants along this road. Once you reach the end of the road, you are back at the beach where it all started, unless of course you started at the top, in which case you will end up descending the steep stairs alongside the huge standing Buddha statue overlooking the beach. If you were on your own transport, you can pick and choose whichever order suits you best.
As you can see from these three locations, there are many impressive views over Hua Hin and the surrounds, as well as Cha-am to the north and Pranburi to the south.
So what are you waiting for, grab some sort of transportation and head to these magnificent locations to see Hua Hin laid out in all its glory?