Saturday, February 25, 2012

"Winter" in Hua hin

As you may have noticed, there has been a lot said about Stockholm lately. That's fine, there is heaps to do in Stockhlm, hence a lot to recommend. But as I usually spend December/January in Hua hin in our house there, I'd like to give you a taste of what a winter without snow can be like.
When people think of Thailand they usually think of Phuket or one of the many wonderful islands around it. Some think of Koh Phi phi, Koh Samui or Koh Pa-nga with its full moon parties. Some think of amazing dive waters or secluded beaches. Me, I think of Thailand as my second home. I think of getting out of the taxi after a long flight and then drive, entering our house. I think of the getting there late at night, eloping 1m of snow in Sweden to arrive at 25 degrees and going for the first swim in the pool. I think of the first morning, waking up and taking a couple of seconds to realize that it's not a dream. I'm actually there, in paradise.
When it comes to Hua hin, I am simply at ease. It's a town that can make anyone feel comfortable, no matter what age you are. It just has something to offer everyone. I'll share some of my personal favorites with you here, making it a tad bit easier for you if you are heading over!
Where to stay?
Well for me it’s easy, I obviously stay in our house (you can to, if we're not there!). But I think you should consider the location of your stay carefully when you decide to go. First, what are your needs, wants and budget? Do you want  a private pool or hotel breakfast? Do you want to stay at the beach or do you want to be able to relaxed dinner on your private terrace? Do you want to stay in town or are you ok to pay a tuk tuk around 150baht to get there, just to be able to enjoy not having to listen to the 24h traffic?
Absoluteapartment offers a wide range of places to accommodate most tastes. But we have our priorities set straight, our guests want private swimming pools mostly. They want to be able to have maid service, massage, meals etc a phone call away. And they want the comfort of a home away from home. To me that is what we are offering. No matter if you choose to rent one of our places or to rent from someone else, we do think a house is the best way to experience Hua hin!

Fishing- Catch and release
This is an expensive trait in Hua hin, god knows why, but it’s also fun and if you love a good struggle, do it! There are 2 main locations, depending on budget but check out Fishing lodge and Greenfield.
4WD, paint ball, elephants and much more. This is where I head out if I'm staying for a long time and need some excitement; I especially recommend a game of paintball with your friends, much more exciting than a round of golf.

Main Hua hin beach: Big, lots of tourist and big hotels. Go horseback riding, relax, rent a kite board, and have fun!
Takiabi beach: More relaxed, less people and friendlier. This is where I'd go with children who aren't the youngest but not big enough to tackle the wind and waves at the main beach.
Military beach: Some Thais on vacation otherwise deserted. Private, cheaper, no hawking and no sun beds. Very nice!
Kao Tao (turtle beach): Small, clean secluded. A paradise if you are with small children!


Several different, most famous is the Night market, in the center of Hua hin where they sell clothes, food and jewelry. Most is fake but quite descent quality! Fruit markets are scattered around town at different days, one is up by soi 114 and has good prices on anything that you can eat!  
Elephant riding
Heaps of places around town, most include a quite boring elephant show however..

Restaurants in Hua hin
Ahw, well, by now, if you have followed us for a while, you know that I'm fond of food. Hua hin is as well, lucky me! As usual when it comes to Thailand we are very keen on empathizing that you shouldn't miss out on the local markets, the local hawkers, the fruit carvers and all the rest of them. The best local food is usually found in the smallest most modest places, but there are exceptions.

Local, cheap and good

Not being fluent in Thai, I will try to describe the locations instead..
On your way to monkey mountain, at the very end of the main beach in Hua hin, you find a small and simple sea food tavern. Actually you will find lots of them, but to get to this one, walk on the beach and pick the last possible place. I dare say they serve the best seafood in Hua hin! Don't miss the crab!

The market at Soi 114, serves anything basically, cooked fresh, and lots of other things to buy to in terms of fresh fruit, sea food and deserts.

The market outside Grand hotel has lots of good half restaurants (egg hawkers with a few tables and chairs), some of the best sweet corn in Hua hin and much more.

If you walk the night market street from the beach and upwards, you get a large restaurant at the second intersection to the right. It looks kind of shabby but the food is excellent!

On the parallel street to petkhasem, next to the railroad, walk from the station towards the south and you'll find plenty of ok cheap restaurants filled with Europeans that spend the winter in Hua hin. One that stands out is Kim’s kitchen, they do excellent basic Thai food at outstanding prices and they deliver!

Up market but definitely worth it

Coco 51: At Soi 51, towards the beach, really really nice, good food, relaxing beautiful setting. Lie music during the evenings and good atmosphere.

Hilton: Roof top restaurant, very good, very pricy.

Brasserie de Paris: Naresdamri road, at the waterfront. Good food!!

Along Naresdamri road, towards Hilton you also have a little dock side restaurant, I wouldn't call it upmarket but it isn't cheap so it gets to be here anyway. However, it's really cozy, very relaxed, good place for children and the seafood is good!

Sofitel: Several restaurants, beautiful settings.

Marriott: Great for special occasions, their buffets at the beach for thanksgiving for example are stunning. Great service and so beautiful.

Above all of these I’d like to really stick my neck out and say Dusit. Their Monday all inclusive buffet could be the best in Thailand in terms of value for what you get. For 1200Baht you get not only the hotels selection of red, white and sparkling, but mainly a really good buffet that goes all the way and include anything from Fresh oysters and roe to different steaks and seafood. Do leave room for the large dessert section and then finish with a large cheese platter. A place that holds anything from a chocolate fountain to Oyster for 1200baht is excellent value!

Night life in Hua hin
In general one can say that Hua hin nightlife is quite calm and more focused on late night diners that continue until the wee hours but there are exceptions.

Sun set cocktails
Above all, literally, is Hilton. Take the elevator up to the sky bar, enjoy a cocktail while the sun sets over Hua hin. Great view in all directions, good service and perfect cocktails.

Sofitel, nice charming atmosphere, at the beach you can see the last of the sunbathers leave the beach while sipping a cool drink and having some nibbles of good Thai cuisine.

A bit later..
Depending on your type of scenery but Soi Binthabat is the definite bar mecka of Hua hin. Naturally there are lots of lady bars but this is simply the Thai scenery. A few places that are better than other according to us is the Irish bar O’Neil’s, good music, good atmosphere and descent food and beer selection. Hua hin Brewery has a relaxed outside seating area and a good nightclub inside. A must for the late crew but ok for the rest as well if you sit outside. El Murphy’s stand out when it comes to live music, their band is the best in town for sure, but come early they stop playing around midnight and tip heavily, they don't earn nearly as much as they should!

To get a good idea of where everything is, please use this Great map of Hua hin Bars that HHAD has created.

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