The Royal Resort…Hua Hin

Mornings on the beach at Hua HinAt the end of another bus ride my friend Paula and I arrive in Hua Hin the old Royal Resort where since the 1920’s the elite and Royalty of Thailand have come to escape the traffic and smog of Bangkok. I immediately liked the feel of the place. With its old train station, colorful fishing boats and piers jutting out over the ocean filled with seafood restaurants and inns it had a familiar feel…like a quaint New England fishing village but with an Asian flair.

Lunch on a terrace overlooking the ocean in Hua HinWith the far superior beaches of Ko Samui, Krabi and Ko Samet nearby it is hard for Hua Hin to compete for the diehard sunbathers but its idiosyncratic charm and easy access to Bangkok makes it a perfect weekend getaway spot. Besides, because the King spends almost all of his time living here these days the town is very well maintained and quite safe.

Hua Hin train station circa 1923

Hua Hin train station circa 1923

Of course, the overcast skies and wet weather that we encountered in Sukothai and Ayutthaya followed us down to the beach.  The early morning walks along the 5-mile beach were mostly grey with only an occasional ray of sunshine bursting through.  These moments of light were always short lived and I never seemed to be anywhere very photogenic when it happened.

Fishing boats waiting for the tide in Hua Hin

Fishing boats waiting for the tide in Hua Hin

The town was a sleepy fishing village when King Rama Vii decided he wanted to build a house here.  The opening of the Bangkok-Malaysia rail line brought change… A wonderful Victorian rail station little changed since its construction, the building by the King of a Royal 9 hole golf course (later expanded to 18), the grand old Railway Hotel and the Kings Summer palace Klai Kangwon (Far From Worries) brought the modern world and the wealthy of Bangkok to this once nondescript village.

Dawn at the beach in Hua Hin

Dawn at the beach in Hua Hin

We did not stay right on the beach but were only a few blocks away so it was a quick walk to the water.  The three-mile walks from our hotel along the beach each morning were a treat.  Nice resort hotels along with private residences dotted the beachfront and one property in particular stood out…the old Railway Hotel now called the Centara Grand Beach Resort.  Because of my penchant for lovely old hotels, I put it on my things to do list for Hua Hin.

Walking the town of Hua Hin

Walking the town of Hua Hin

Walking north up the beach until we arrived at the piers we cut into town and wondered along the narrow shop filled streets. I was dumfounded by the number of tailor shops in this little town…there must have been fifty. Of course, there were also plenty of the ever present jewelry and gold stores interspersed with the flip-flop and t-shirt stores to offer tourist of every budget shopping options.

The grand old Railway Hotel

The grand old Railway Hotel

After a hot day of wandering the town, I was ready for a cold Gin & Tonic and thought there would be no better place than sitting on the veranda of the old 107 room Railway Hotel. We arrived as a storm was just rolling in off the ocean, which did not give us a lot of time to stroll the 16 hectares of beautifully manicured gardens filled with topiaries and fountains.  With moments to spare before the heavens opened, we settled ourselves into a couple of nice comfortable wicker chairs overlooking the gardens and ordered drinks.

The lobby of the Railway Hotel

The lobby of the Railway Hotel

I do not kid myself; I know the drinks in these places are exorbitantly priced  but the crisp linen napkins, the little bowls filled with peanuts and banana chips, the newspapers on the wooden rods hanging on the rack and the jazz combo playing in the background goes a long way to assuaging the pain of a $6 gin & tonic. It is obvious that standards have slipped…I seriously doubt that they iron the newspapers before they put them on display and for that matter, the guest shoelaces are no longer pressed…but what can I say, these are savage times in which we live.

Topiaries in the garden of the old Railway Hotel

Topiaries in the garden of the old Railway Hotel

The three days in Hua Hin were just what was needed after eight days of 14th century ruins.  Walks along the beach, some great seafood dinners, cocktails and dinner in a grand old hotel …who could ask for more. Now it is a couple of days in Bangkok before heading back to Chiang Mai to await the next journey.

About Larry Bosco

In 2010 I had one of those “Is this all there is” moments and so in January 2011 I retired from Real Estate Appraising, sold off all my worldly goods and headed out as a solo traveler in search of a new place to live. Since then I’ve traveled around the world, made new friends and had many great adventures and some not so great. After staying almost a year in Cuenca, Ecuador I have headed back to South East Asia where I began the journey in 2011. Currently I am living in Chiang Mai, Thailand
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4 Responses to The Royal Resort…Hua Hin

  1. Claudia Hammer says:

    Hua Hin sounds like a great place to have a getaway and the Railway Hotel is the perfect place to have G & T’s even though they don’t iron your shoe laces.

  2. Ed Tohid says:

    A good one Larry…Hope to see the city and have a drink in the hotel soon.

  3. Jeanne says:

    I am in my last week of France. We are in Nice and it has just rained and is quiet cool now, long pants and a jacket is the order of the day and off to the Matesse Musee.

    I am drinking red wine, just is the thing to do,

    Love you post

  4. Cathy Joseph says:

    What an absolute beautiful and inviting place! The lawn so perfectly manicured, and even the lobby looks so “royal”. It looks like a bit of heaven….add a great G & T, what could be finer?!?
    Cathy

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