Hua Hin is a beachside city on the upper Gulf of Thailand. This is where the Bay of Bangkok ends and the Gulf of Thailand begins. Outside of the bay is where the beaches start getting better. While it’s not the best beach on the Gulf Coast, it’s the best mainland beach near Bangkok.
Hua Hin is a proper city, as opposed to some Thai beach towns that grew to serve tourists. The appeal of Hua Hin for me is that it’s a pretty good beach attached to a normal city.
It would be a more popular city if it were easier to get to. It’s just a bit too far to be an easy city break by van or bus. It’s advertised as 3 hours from Bangkok, but it’s more like 4 hours. There is an airport, but it’s too close to Bangkok and not well connected domestically or internationally. As for trains, there are not enough convenient trains due to the single track (trains from both directions sharing one line).
I arrived in Hua Hin by train from Bangkok. The good thing about Hua Hin Station is that it’s close to the city centre. It also happens to be one of the most beautiful stations in Southeast Asia.
I stayed in the old town area by the Naresdamri seafront. The last time I stayed in Hua Hin I stayed in a guesthouse on a jetty in this area. The rooms are above the water, and you can hear the water sloshing underneath the floorboards.
Like so many places that are old and interesting, this area is under threat. There were signs around the street protesting the demolition of the old jetties.
There was one clear area that gave a hint of what was to come.
I went to the main city beach, which starts after the jetties. I arrived on a sunny day, and the water looked great.
It’s a good walking beach, so being by the old area is an ideal spot to start the walk.
Horse riding is a thing you can do on Hua Hin Beach.
At the southern end of the beach is the Golden Buddha.
Hua Hin had a reputation of being a sedate seaside town, associated with retirees and the official beach residence of the royal family. Things have changed since the pandemic. Hua Hin has been referred to as ‘Bangkok’s Hamptons’, with weekenders and second-home investors arriving. The Work From Anywhere movement has also contributed to the influx of young professionals. The pandemic was pivotal time in digital nomad history, when office workers realised they could leave the big cities and work by the beach.
The Hua Hin seafront is surprisingly low rise, so I wonder if this will change in the future now that Hua Hin is a hotspot. I made a list of Hua Hin projects to track what is being built.
One of the reasons I came to Hua Hin was to check on the progress of the new train station and the double-tracking project. Trains will be faster and more frequent when the double tracking of the current single line is completed. This visit was in March 2022, and the double tracking was supposed to be finished within the next year.
The line will be elevated through the city as part of the double-tracking project. This will remove the level crossings and enable faster train times.
The new station is a gigantic block that will never compete with the current station in the beauty stakes, but at least the old station will be preserved.
I will return to Hua Hin after the double track is open to see how the service from Bangkok has improved.
Michael B says
Hi James. Danang vs Hua Hin. Both cities with beaches. Which do you prefer . . . and why? Probably heading to SE Asia next winter (to escape the Canadian winter). Cheers!
James Clark says
I prefer Danang, though Danang has an offseason (Nov-Feb) which might be offputting compared to the dry season of Hua Hin at the same time.