Go where the locals go … the seclusion of the seaside village of Hua Hin.
Hua Hin, Thai for head rock, was deemed by King Rama VII as a place worthy of royal relaxation in the 1920s. The railway line from Bangkok helped make it the perfect rainy season retreat. The summer palace is still there and is used by the reigning royal family. Many wealthy Bangkok families own estates along the coast and the influence of Europeans remains. With a clean white beach stretching kilometres both sides of the town, along with reasonable prices and excellent seafood, it offers a wonderful escape from the urban north, with locals preferring the secluded village to the more touristy beaches of Pattaya, Ko Samui and Phuket.
Thailand’s first golf course was built in Hua Hin in 1924 – now there are 8, with others under construction. They are world class with reasonable green fees and caddy charges.
In 1923 the beautiful colonial-style Railway Hotel opened as accommodation for guests of the king. Today the grand building is the Sofitel Central and its unique architectural style and lush gardens recall the era of Rama VII. It was featured in The Killing Fields as Phnom Penh’s leading hotel.
While Thailand was never a British colony, the European appearance of the hotel is because, by Royal decree, it was designed by an Italian architect.
It has 154 luxuriously appointed rooms and suites, all with a rich décor of polished hardwood, sparkling chandeliers and ornate marble, softened by the jewelled hues of Thai silk and cotton.
Terraces and balconies overlook the sea, 16 hectares of sprawling, topiaried gardens, rock pools and fountains and there is a good choice of eating and drinking places, a games room, two floodlit tennis courts, giant chessboards, petanque, croquet, three pools and three separate pools suitable for children.
The Palm Pavilion serves fresh local seafood, Salathai serves Thai cuisine, Railway Brasserie specialises in oriental food, The Rajpruek Lounge cooks up a great American breakfast, the poolside Palm Terrace serves light meals and the Museum Coffee and Tea corner is there for a drink and refreshment. Live music is played in the Satchmo Club.
There is plenty to do in the town when the sun goes down. The lights come on a people head there for delicious food and great bargains. Thai and Chinese food is served along with pizza, pasta, meat pies and tandoori chicken. There is a wonderful variety of exotic fruits and kanoms, tasty Thai sweets.
Markets selling clothing, shoes, jewellery, CDs and all sorts of souvenirs provide after-dinner browsing fun.
Early risers can wander to the wharf and see the fishing boats arrive with their fresh catches. Also there you can enjoy a pony ride along the beach, jet ski or relax under a shady tree while having a traditional Thai massage.
If you wish to venture further afield, there are plenty of things to see and you can very easily hire a bicycle, scooter or car to take you.
3 hours south west of Bangkok in Thailand.
Qantas flies daily to Bangkok.
Qantas Holidays has a five night package to Hua Hin, including four nights at the Sofitel Central starting at $1585 per person from Perth. $1706 from Sydney, $1788 from Melbourne, $1807 from Brisbane and $1891 from Adelaide. Prices are return economy and include charges/taxes and are current at time of recording but may vary at time of booking. Seasonal surcharges and conditions apply. Available for travel from February 12 to March 31, 2003.
4 nights accommodation in a superior room at the Sofitel Central Hua Hin, including welcome drink on arrival, starts at $340 per person twin share.
Anyone planning to travel to Thailand should check with the Department of Foreign Affairs for the latest travel advisory covering this area.
Please note prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowledge are inclusive of GST.
Sofitel Central Hua Hin Resort
1 Damnernkasem Road
Hua Hin Prechuap Khirikhan 77110, Thailand
Ph: 0011 66 3 251 2036, 37 or 38
Fax: 0011 66 3 251 1014
Qantas Holidays: Ph: 13 14 15