Hua Hin (หัวหิน) is one of eight districts (Amphoe) of Prachuap Khiri Khan province in the northern part of the Malay Peninsula in Thailand. The province is located on the Isthmus of Khra, the narrow landbridge connecting the Malay Peninsula with mainland Asia.
Hua Hin’s seat of government, also named Hua Hin, is a beach resort town, in fact Thailand’s first. The district has a population of just over 85,000 in an area of 911 km². By road, it is 199 km southwest of Bangkok.
Not being an idyllic island retreat has quite possibly assisted Hua Hin, as there is very little of the sleazy sex trade of the more famous island resorts of Phuket and Samui. Consequently, Hua Hin really has a cosmopolitan feel, displaying a wonderful mix of city and sea, with long, sandy beaches and well planned infrastructure. There are, bustling markets; Chat Chai in the mornings, selling both fresh produce and street food, as well as Chat Sila; the night market, which has food, along with clothing and the usual tourist items for purchase.
As a result of its location, Hua Hin’s food encompasses all four of Thailand’s food regions, making it a foodies' dream come true. This therefore means you will find a plethora of street food and small restaurants blossoming, as well as high and low end Western fare. Most of all, it is seafood which dominates, as it is plentiful and affordable, with many seafood restaurants located right on the edge of the water, or on the pier.
Hua Hin traces its aristocratic roots to the 1920s, when Rama VI (King Vajiravudh) and Rama VII (King Prajadhipok) both built summer residences here to escape Bangkok’s stifling climate. The more famous of the two palaces is Phra Ratchawang Klai Kangwon (Far from Worries Palace). Located 3km north of town, it is still an official Royal residence today.
Rama VII’s endorsement of Hua Hin and the construction of the southern railway made the town the place to be for Thai nobility who built their own summer residences beside the sea.
The 1980s saw the advent of luxury hotels starting to move in and foreign tourists began flocking to Hua Hin in numbers. All the major international hotel chains now have properties in Hua Hin. You will also find and a growing number of wealthy expats retiring here to the condominiums that dot the town. The burgeoning middle class of Bangkok likes to invade on weekends, making the town bustling and vibrant.
With seriously cheap public transport in the form of songthaews (see Getting Around), taxis, motorcycle taxis, tuk tuks, buses and minivans to cart people around, moving around and from beach to beach has become hassle-free. In comparison to getting to the southern islands, travel to Hua Hin takes both less effort and vastly less money.