Wines, ATV rides and alpacas

Close to Bangkok is the seaside resort town of Hua Hin. Michelle Ng shares how she managed to spend a short but supremely fulfilling two days there.

Hua Hin Beach

The next time you find yourself in Bangkok, be sure to hop over to Hua Hin. This quaint little seaside village with endless beaches is just a three-hour drive by car from the bustling shopping haven that we all know and love.

En route to Hua Hin, you’ll get to appreciate sights of paddy fields, rivers, mountains and several Thai temples. Despite being chosen as an ideal getaway by King Rama VII back in the 1920s, Hua Hin has resisted urban development and remains rather obscure, which is why Hua Hin is the perfect place to go to get a feel of Thailand’s old-world charm without giving up the resort experience.

I stayed at the Radisson Blu Resort Hua Hin, which offers everything you could possibly need for a secluded getaway. R&R opportunities are aplenty here. With only 116 rooms, the resort never gets overcrowded and you can always be sure to get a chair by the infinity pool.

The best room to get has to be the one with pool access (it’s connected to the common pool). You can literally open your balcony door for immediate access into the pool for a super convenient midnight swim if you feel like it. If you and your buddies get neighboring rooms, you can consider having a pool party late into the night. There are also suites with their own private pools if you want your own space without giving up the gorgeous views.

Their infinity pool overlooking the beach also lets you enjoy the salty ocean breeze without having to set one foot on the sand. On a clear day, you can even look across the Gulf of Thailand.

And if for some reason you find yourself awake at around 4am, head down to the beach to watch the fishermen return to shore with their catch. Just remember to bring a flashlight with you as there are no lights on the beach.

Taste some local wines

Monsoon Vineyard

Wine enthusiasts will be thrilled to visit the nearby Monsoon Vineyard. I went on the guided Monsoon Vineyard tour, where the guide led us through the fields and taught us more about harvesting grapes in a tropical climate. The wines here don’t taste like the ones we’re accustomed to and it’s interesting to learn more about Thai wines. Fun fact: did you know that harvest season comes twice a year in tropical climates?

Before leaving, be sure to stop by their shop to grab a couple of bottles of wine and some grape sorbet for the trip back to your hotel. Or better yet, have a food tasting and wine pairing meal at their restaurant.

Get your blood pumping with ATV rides and water parks

If you are willing to travel out a little, there are two huge waterparks just a short drive away in Ch’am—perfect for chasing the midday heat away. Also around Ch’am are paintball, ATV and go-karting places, which are great if you’re holidaying with a group of friends. You can easily ask your hotel reception or a day tour guide for recommendations on how to get there.

Stop by the Hua Hin railway station

This is for those who love having a bit of culture and history thrown into their trips. I visited the Hua Hin railway station where you can check out the old Royal Waiting Room that’s built right by the tracks. The waiting room is not open to visitors, but you can snap a few photos outside the pavilion, which bears a striking similarity to the Maruekathaiyawan Palace, a Thai-Victorian style summer palace in Hua Hin.

The Hua Hin Railway Station is also part of the route connecting Bangkok and Malaysia, so just hop off at the station for a couple of minutes if you happen to find yourself at a rest stop in Hua Hin. Visit the Hua Hin Coffee Station for some local coffee or Thai milk tea.

Say hi to alpacas

On my way back to Bangkok, I stopped by the most adorable Alpaca-themed cafe. And no, they don’t have alpaca meat on the menu. It’s called the Alpaca Restaurant because it has a stable full of real alpacas at the back. The kitchen serves up pretty good local fare with a modern twist as well as refreshing Chang beer.

It’s best to visit the cafe around 5pm, when the weather cools and the keepers bring the alpacas out for a walk so you can go crazy taking pictures with them. If you happen to visit earlier in the day, just ask the waiters very nicely to see the alpacas. They’ll be more than happy to show you to the alpaca stable.

Explore the nightlife scene

Hua Hin Night Market

There isn’t much nightlife in Hua Hin, except for their night markets. The Hua Hin Night Market on Petchkasem Road is open every night, and you can find local food options and souvenirs, but the selection pales in comparison to the amazing markets in Bangkok.

One of the locals was telling me about the Cicada Market, an arts and crafts market that only opens on weekends. It’s a real pity I couldn’t stop by. Besides loads of handmade crafts, there are also performances, music and stand-up comedy acts for visitors to enjoy, apparently.

Getting there

Thai Airways has daily direct flights from Singapore to Bangkok, where you can take a connecting domestic flight to Hua Hin. You can also opt for a car transfer, or take a train from the Bangkok Railway Station there. Both options are about three to four hours of commute.

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You can find the original story (and many others) in our 22nd Birthday print issue here.