Most of us know that Hua Hin is one of the most popular holiday resorts in Thailand, boasting an eclectic mix of beach and urban life. However, Hua Hin has a history, culture, environment, economy and infrastructure that distinguish it from the many island resorts of Thailand. Here are ten facts about Hua Hin that are not so well known.
Hua Hin District
There is much more to Hua Hin than the beach resort. Hua Hin district makes up one of the eight different districts in the province of Prachuap Khiri Khan on Thailand’s Malay Peninsula. Hua Hin, the town, is the centre of the district’s government and is situated around two hundred kilometres to the south west of the nation’s capital, Bangkok.
Hua Hin town was originally named Samore Riang by a small group of settlers who moved there from the north, in around 1834, to escape a severe drought. Samore Riang means “rows of rocks”, which reflected the rocks that were scattered along the beach. The name was subsequently changed to Baan Laem Hin before it was given its present name in around 1911. Formerly a fishing village, Hua Hin took off as a holiday resort when it was adopted by members of the Thai Royal Family who would travel there to avoid the heat and humidity of Bangkok. The construction of their royal summer residences and a new railway, which made Hua Hin more easily accessible, cemented its reputation as the most popular beach resort in Thailand. Since the 1980s, there have been major hotel and residential developments in Hua Hin and there is still a royal residence north of the town known as Phra Ratchawang Klai Kangwon (the Far from Worries Palace).
The main cultural influences in Hua Hin are connected to religion and the Royal Family. Thailand’s population is around 95% Buddhist and residents and visitors are expected to show respect for the traditions of the religion, especially when visiting a temple or a location that has a statue or image of Buddha. It is considered disrespectful to point your feet towards an image of Buddha, as it is to pose for a photograph in front of one. Similarly, Buddhists monks are to be treated with respect. They are not permitted to be touched by a woman and women should always dress modestly when entering a temple or being in the presence of a monk. The Royal Family is looked upon with considerable reverence in Thailand generally but perhaps even more so in Hua Hin, due to its longstanding royal connections. Any slight against or criticism of the King or the Royal family can constitute a criminal offence and may even result in the offender being arrested and prosecuted.
Hua Hin, as with the rest of Thailand, is protected by a wide range of laws that were introduced to protect the country’s environment. This is particularly relevant to Hua Hin, where anyone wishing to undertake a new property development that will impact upon the environment is legally obliged to produce an environmental impact assessment report for consideration by the authorities.
Hua Hin is home to many species of wildlife, not all of which are friendly! There are many species of snake in Hua Hin district, some of which are aggressive and venomous. King cobras, spitting cobras, kraits and vipers are the most dangerous of these. It is wise to avoid coming into contact with all snakes, which are only likely to bite if they feel threatened. Additionally, there are scorpions, centipedes, ants, spiders and other insects that can give a nasty bite or sting. In the ocean it is possible that you will encounter dragon fish, rockfish, jellyfish and sea snails, all of which can be highly venomous.
There are many festivals in Thailand that are also celebrated in Hua Hin. However, certain events are specific to Hua Hin, making it one of the more interesting places to visit. These include:
- The Food Festival, which is held at the end of November every year.
- The Jazz Festival, which takes place in June.
- The International Cricket Sixes Tournament, which is held over five days every April.
- The International Golf Festival, which takes place in August.
- Kings Cup Elephant Polo, held in September.
- The Vintage Car Rally, held annually, with a parade of vintage cars from Bangkok to Hua Hin.
On 11th August 2016 Hua Hin was the location of two bomb blasts, which killed one person and injured another twenty three. Twelve of these were understood to be tourists. On the following day, there were three further explosions, causing one more fatality and injuring four more people. Responsibility for these bombings has never been clearly established.
Buying a property in Hua Hin or anywhere else in Thailand is very straight forward and 100% legal.
If you are looking at buying a condo the laws are like this : In a condo complex 51% of the units must be Thai owned and 49% of the units can but don’t have to be Foreigner owned, this is fully compliant with Thai ownership laws and the ownership is registered at the local government land office department. In some holiday destinations in Thailand the foreign quota is always full in 99% of condo buildings but in Hua Hin where it is also a very popular resort for middle class and wealthy Thais 80% of condos are Thai owned meaning the foreign quota is never full, this means that a foreigner can buy from a Thai and the unit can be transferred from Thai quota to the Foreign quota.
House ownership is a little more complex but none the less it’s 100% legal and it’s always advised to hire a recommended lawyer that makes sure everything is contractually structured correctly.
Foreigners are allowed to own the structure of any property so you always own the house 100% and this is registered at the land office department. The land is leased, again this is 100% legal and you will get a 90 years lease (30+30+30) registered in your name at the land office, this lease is, in effect perpetual and it’s important to remember this fact that every time the property is bought and sold the new owner gets a brand new 90 year lease so in effect it never runs down, if you use a good lawyer there is lots of different points that will be added to the lease contract to give total security to the Lessee.
Hua Hin Railway Station
Of course, the beach is the focus of many visitors to the resort. However, there are other attractions in Hua Hin, the most iconic of which is the Hua Hin railway station. It was the construction of the station that opened up the resort of Hua Hin to the Thia Royal Family and aristocracy by reducing the travel time from Bangkok to a mere four hours. A trip on the railway is a genuine experience of Hua Hin history.
Hua Hin Attractions
There are numerous attractions in the resort and district of Hua Hin. Here are just ten of them:
- Kaeng Krachan National Park
- Cicada Market
- Sam Phan Nam Floating Market
- Vana Nava Hua Hin Water Jungle
- Mrigadayavan Palace
- Pa La-U Waterfall
- Wat Huay Mongkol Temple
- Black Mountain Water Park
- Hua Hin Night Market
Whether you want to sample Thailand’s best beach life or enjoy the history and culture of this popular resort and region, there will be something for you in Hua Hin.