Hua Hin is a quaint and peaceful village on the gulf. The town is an artistic community with street art and murals all over. They specifically have this “eye” art all over walls and buildings. Hua Hin has a historic past as the royal resort town of the king, including his old, tourable beach house on the coast. This is a restful beach getaway that is much cheaper than the islands and much easier to access. There are not the loud pounding night clubs and bars of Phuket or the wild fire-filled full moon parties of Koh Phanang. This gulf city is a low key relaxing place stretching across a long strip of beach.
Hua Hin is one of the hidden gems on the gulf, offering both a true Thai cultural experience and a budget weekend destination. There are plenty of things to do between cafe hopping, beach hangs and several national parks nearby with beautiful hiking.
How to get there
Rent a car/drive
Hua Hin is a 2-hour drive south of Bangkok city and a 4-5 hour drive from Pattaya. This is a doable weekend trip from anywhere near the gulf. Renting a car is an option that usually costs around $30 USD a day and around $90 USD for a weekend. This is a great, budget option if you have an international driver’s permit or a Thai license and feel comfortable driving in Thailand.
Minibus from Bangkok/Pattaya
There are minibusses that run from Pattaya and Bangkok that go to Hua Hin for cheap.
The minibus can be caught from both the South and North bus stations in Bangkok and from Suvarnabhumi Airport. The minibus trip takes 3 hours (but remember to factor in Thai time) to arrive in Hua Hin for a $5 or 220THB fair. Minibusses leave every 30 minutes, but the service stops after 7 pm. Tickets don’t need to be bought beforehand and can be purchased right before the trip from the driver. This is the cheapest way to get to the city. It takes just a little longer than driving yourself and cuts the cost tremendously, so it’s a good option if you are trying to save some money. There is a great list of specific bus stations from Bangkok and schedules to Hua Hin here.
The minibus is the smartest option from Pattaya because the normal bus takes 6 hours and the minibus only takes 4.5 hours, however, they both cost $40USD for a ticket. The problem with the minibusses is that they are guaranteed to be pack with 12 people per van. If you get easily car sick, then this is not the most comfortable option. Minibuses leave from Pattaya Tai bus station in Pattaya and arrive at the station at SaSongRd street in Hua Hin. If you need to leave at night then minibusses may not work for your trip because they do not run very late. There is also very little luggage room on the minibus. Pattaya minibus schedules and information can be found here.
Taxi (Private transfer)
This is the fastest and most expensive option if you don’t want to rent a car or do not have a valid driving license in Thailand. If your trip is short and limited on a weekend this could give you the most time for your trip. The journey takes around 4 hours and will cost around $125 one way. There are many taxis on the street or services that you could hire for this transfer.
Train from Bangkok to Hua Hin
The train is a great choice for experience. The train leaves from Bangkok’s main railway station to Hua Hin. Hua Hin Train Station is walking distance to the town center which makes it a convenient way to enter the city when you don’t have your own form of transportation. The train takes 3 hours and 21 minutes and costs 400-500 baht for a reserved seat guaranteed online (only 200 baht in person at the station). Here is the schedule of trains and how you can book tickets for the train to Hua Hin from Bangkok here.
Things to do in Hua Hin
Hua Hin is a beautiful part of the coastline on the gulf and is surrounded by several national parks. The city boasts wine country area, hiking, and beautiful mangrove trees to be explored. There are several more private beaches further south from Hua Hin and a small town center with lots of cute coffee shops, little boutiques and local markets.
Historic Train Station
There is the cutest old historic train station in the city. It is a fun place to walk to from city center because of the old architecture and old train museum as well as a library you can explore.
Seenspace Community Mall (shopping &coffee)
This is a trendy new mall and community space filled with shopping, restaurants and coffee shops. The community mall was first in Bangkok in Thonglor and has opened a branch in Hua Hin. This is also one of our favorite spots in Bangkok, and so we were excited to check out the Hua Hin location. There are public spaces on the beach as well as an infinity pool and beach lounge at the main restaurant called Oasis. This is one of the newest additions to the city which has drawn a younger scene to the old beach town. A new trendy boutique called Hotel Bobcage is also now open atop the mall.
Seenspace has some great boutiques with trendy local Thai brands like, Seek 35, as Seen on Seenspace and Kab Kun Club. In the center of the complex, sits a beautiful teahouse called Sundance Lounge. It is a beautiful glass greenhouse with a hanging disco ball and black and white tiles. They had amazing tea mixes and was our favorite spot in the complex. Burning daylight cafe is a jungle space with neon signs, a ball pit, and their own sandpit and sun chairs. Also, their pineapple juice is more like a chilled smoothie that is natural and tastes amazing. Hobs is a bohemian gorgeous house of beers with sea views, bamboo walls, and greenery.
As far as coffee, you can visit Hickory coffee which is an artistic spot with quality coffee. It has a rugged, vintage vibe with a hole in the wall to get to the other room. Space Oddity Coffee from Bangkok has a spot in Seenspace Hua Hin as well and is a more open-air coffee spot under the mall overhang.
Local Artisan Market
Hua Hin has a whole host of markets, and they can go toe-to-toe with the best Bangkok and Chiang Mai have to offer. While the town offers several traditional Thai markets worthy of exploring, the best market to visit is the Cicada Market. This weekend night market is filled with not only lots of delicious fresh food but also a trendy and bohemian artisan community of sellers. There are nice linens, lace, and very bohemian and modern minimalist clothes. It also offers a lot of art, jewelry, and other beautiful artisan products. The market is open 4 pm-11 pm Fri-Sun and costs 50 baht to enter/park. There is live music, a beer garden and lots of great shopping. This is a fun spot to spend an evening in Hua Hin.
This is an old retro market in the city. It sort of feels like an old-school fair. From our visit, it definitely seemed to be more popular with the Thai community because you didn’t see many foreigners around. The place is a very colorful and festive open-air market with coffee, restaurants, shops and live music. There are surfboards and old VW vans and other fun beachy decorative areas for photo ops. There is a 20 baht fee for parking/entrance fee. If you are looking for a more local Thai experience, then this is a great place to visit off of the normal tourist destinations for most foreigners.
Monkey Hill overlook & temple (Khao Takiap)
This is a hike or overlook drive that you can do to get one of the best views of the gulf city skyline and beach view. The hill has a temple with a white pagoda on top with a great view of the city and ocean. The mountain is nicknamed monkey hill because so many monkeys live up there. You will definitely see some monkies on your hike/drive up. They will jump on cars and try to steal your stuff, so you need to be careful. The temple has no entrance fee and neither does the hill.
This is a cool cafe built like a glass pyramid filling the space with beautiful light. The natural feel is complemented by hanging dried flowers and natural wood details. They are a restaurant and coffee shop, depending on what you prefer. You have to enter different parts of the building depending on if you are looking for a restaurant or cafe. The restaurant is a bit fancier and the coffee shop is a more casual environment to hang out in for longer. It is best to go in the morning because it gets very hot inside in the afternoon and is filled with less light in the afternoon.
This is one of my favorite hidden gems of downtown Hua Hin tucked away on a quiet side street. It’s a small bar with a beautiful bohemian aesthetic. The place is down to earth and serves good drinks with an even better vibe and atmosphere.