Where are you celebrating the Thai's new year?

Instead of going to Bangkok for your annual Songkran ritual, why not head over to Hua Hin, the seaside resort of Thailand? Whether or not you've been there or not, Songkran is the Thai New Year's festival, which means it'll be celebrated no matter where you are in the land of smiles. Consider these few spots.
 

Eat


Photo credit: www.facebook.com/coralvinehuahin

Coral Vine Bar & Restaurant

Getting good seafood in Hua Hin isn't as easy as it once was. We recommend driving further along the coast to this spot, just north of the main town and staking out its own stretch of tranquil waterfront. The restaurant, which belongs to the Coral Tree Villa resort, serves up the day’s catch in dishes like pasta with smoked chili cream and sweet crab meat ($15) or sunflower sprout somtam that’s topped with fresh prawns ($10). The place has a lofty industrial look, but the decor pales beside the natural beauty on display. Come for a refreshing, sundown gin and tonic ($12), here made with a Thai twist using chili and cilantro.
 


Photo credit: seenspace.com/huahin

Der 

Into the fray of Thai cuisine at Seenspace comes this bistro specializing in Isaan fare. The venue’s put together of stark monochrome and concrete, with large black-framed windows. The kitchen, too, is glassed-in, meaning you can watch the chef bring dishes from the heart of Isaan to life. Not to be missed are the tam lao kung muak yad sai (grilled shrimp and stuffed squid dressed in somtam sauce with dill, $8) and suup nhor mhai (spicy bamboo shoot salad, $3), which is salty and tangy—practically made for dipping sticky rice.
 

Sundance Lounge

This gloriously sun-dappled glasshouse at Seenspace (Hua Hin Soi 35, +66 (0) 89-182-1088) cuts a refined yet relaxed look: gilt-edged tables, deep cream couches and checkered-tiles. Tea and sweets are the order of the day. Choose your tea by nose: the tray of samples is presented to you to sniff from—but pick wisely, as each pot of tea ($10) comes with a tarot card reading of your future. Try the passion fruit tea ($8), which is tangy and includes the fruit’s crunchy seeds. The kitchen rolls out familiar comfort dishes like eggs Benedict on soft French bread ($9) and homemade pesto spaghetti with plump sauteed prawns ($10). 


Drink

Gravity Sky Bar 

Novotel Hua Hin’s displaced snooty rooftop culture with street style. Upending the norms are two Thai artists: graffitist Kittipong Kamsart, whose work has graced the front of the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, and muralist Rukkit Kuanha-wate, who has here made his mark with a blue whale in his iconic, colorful and geometric style. The service has stayed classy, though, as has the drinks menu, which includes a flight of sensory cocktails that will have you questioning whether you’re a synesthete. Tired of the murals? There’s always the 360-degree view. 
 

Vana Nava Sky Bar

With the just-opened Vana Nava Sky Bar on the 27th floor of Holiday Inn Hua Hin, Asia’s hotshot bar designer Ashley Sutton eschews his extravagant steampunkery for classic marble and lots of glass, including in the deck that overlooks a water park. There’s still some Jules Verne to the design, though, with brassy seashell lattices and seating upholstered in grey and copper colors. Behind the creative cocktail menu is renowned “mixsultant” and frequent Sutton-collaborator Joseph Boroski. Need something to go with all the eye candy? The tapas-style menu boasts bar grub with a Thai/Japanese/Mediterranean palate. 


Sleep


Photo credit: www.enjoychocolatebox.com 

Chocolate Box 

We don’t blame you for wanting to stay at Hua Hin’s Seenspace mall all night. And with their new boutique hotel, Chocolate Box, you can. Inspired by that old Forrest Gump maxim which will not be repeated here, the hotel's 23 rooms come in three flavors: White Chocolate (for two, $240), Milk Chocolate (for four, $328) and Dark Chocolate (for six, $416) in a hierarchy that proves what we’ve always known: dark chocolate reigns supreme. Size aside, the rooms are fashioned from the same mold, each decorated in a modern, minimalist style and every shade of gray for a soothing vibe. The rate includes a la carte breakfast that’s served from 7am-5pm. Is there chocolate involved? Maybe. 
 


Photo credit: www.minorhotels.com/en/avani/hua-hin 

Avani Hua Hin 

Avani Hua Hin, formerly Ananda Hua Hin Resort & Spa, occupies a quiet stretch of beach. The 185 rooms/suites and 11 villas toe the line between modernist and traditional, contrasting square architecture with Thai textures. Rates start at $152/night, but you'll want to shell out at least $546 for a one-bedroom villa with plunge pool. Active vacationers can check the array of watersports on offer. The Hammam spa room has a Turkish steam bath, which you can follow up with a massage ($63). Come evening, find your way to the resort’s jazz lounge for mellow blues with cocktails and mezze plates. 
 

Holiday Inn Vana Nava Hua Hin 

What’s better than a water park? A water park at your doorstep. Holiday Inn has entered the playcation game with their new branch inside Vana Nava Hua Hin Water Park (+66 (0) 32-809-999). Wake up with a ride on Abyss (Thailand’s largest water slide) or float down Lazy River with this hotel’s unlimited access to the water park. The 300-room, family-friendly resort is just 15 minutes from downtown Hua Hin. For those looking for a break after a day on the slides, there’s a resort spa, a 26th-floor pool bar and a rooftop bar with a glass-bottomed deck. The beach is also within reach—just a 10-minute walk or a short ride on the free shuttle. Prices are $113/night.