The twin resorts of Hua Hin and Cha Am are popular destinations for package holiday-makers and Thai tourists alike. Of the two, Hua Hin has more to offer in terms of attractions and things to do, but both resorts have their own appeal. Hua Hin has long been a favourite of the Thai Royal Family and the King has a palace here. The area also offers some of the best golf courses in Thailand. Cha Am is said to have the longest beach in Thailand and the town is very popular with Thai visitors attracted by its proximity to Bangkok. Cha Am is 25kms north of Hua Hin with regular buses taking 30 minutes to travel the distance.
Where to stay in Hua Hin & Cha Am
Hua Hin has some very atmospheric budget accommodation in the form of guest houses built on the jetties jutting out into the sea. For those with a larger wallet, try the historic and beautiful Railway Hotel, built in the 1920s and now known as the Centara Grand Beach Resort. In between these two extremes there are hotels to suit all tastes and budgets. The choice of accommodation in Cha Am is far more restricted than that in Hua Hin. Cha Am is extremely popular with Thai visitors, many of whom visit from Bangkok on the weekend and public holidays. This means that accommodation can soon be booked up for Friday-Sunday, but it also means large discounts are often available for stays from Monday-Thursday. The Hua Hin area is very popular with European tourists, particularly those from Germany and Scandinavia (and increasingly from Britain). Package holiday companies tend to use accommodation on the coastline in between Cha Am and Hua Hin. This means that visitors tend to be a bit out of the way from both Cha Am and Hua Hin, but it does provide the benefit of each hotel effectively having their own private beach for their guests. All hotels in these areas will be able to arrange transport for those wishing to travel to either central Cha Am or Hua Hin.
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What to see and do
The royal residence in Hua Hin, Klai Kangwon Palace (‘Far From Worries’) was built in the 1920s and is not open to the general public. However, tourists can visit the grounds at Marukhathaiyawan Teakwood Palace which was also built as a royal summer residence in the 1920s. Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park (‘Three Hundred Mountain Peaks’) is a highly recommended day trip, but it isn’t easy to get to by public transport and an organised tour is probably the best option. A large standing Buddha sits at the base of Khao Takiab (Chopstick Hill) and on top of the hill is a shrine and great views of the coastline. A bit further south is Khao Tao (Turtle Hill) and Tam Khao Tao (Turtle Hill Cave) where you will find shrines and a giant Buddha on top of the hill. The location is popular with Thai tourists and makes a pleasant change from sitting on the beach.
Formerly a small fishing village, Hua Hin has grown with the rise in tourism but the fishermen can still be seen plying their trade and no trip to Hua Hin is complete without sampling the day’s catch at one of the array of wonderful seafood restaurants such as Chao Lay Seafood. For a panoramic view of Hua Hin and the coastline, take a visit to the viewing platform on the 17th floor of the Hilton Hotel. In Hua Hin, the night market is pleasant enough whilst a modern indoor shopping mall can be found at the Market Village just south of the Sao Paulo Hospital on the main Phetchkasem Road. A local Thai night market is also held adjacent to the hospital from Wednesday to Sunday. If you like golf, the Hua Hin area is home to some outstanding golf courses. Royal Hua Hin is the oldest public course in Thailand and the more recent Springfield Royal Country was designed by Jack Nicklaus. And be sure to check out the delightful Hua Hin Hills vineyard and sample the range of award-winning Monsoon Valley wines.
From Bangkok, it is approximately 3 hours by road to Cha Am with the trip to Hua Hin taking an additional 30 minutes. Trains to Hua Hin take a leisurely 4 hours with services departing from both Bangkok Hua Lamphong station and Bangkok Noi (Thonburi) and arriving at the delightful Hua Hin train station. There are frequent buses between Cha Am and Hua Hin (journey time 30 minutes). In Hua Hin there are local bus services that run between the main beaches and there are also tuk-tuks.
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Hua Hin & Cha Am weather
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