Hau Hin Beach Thailand

Where can travellers escape to for a beach resort retreat that’s budget friendly as well as being known as ‘fit for royalty’?  Thailand’s Hua Hin of course.

Hua Hin Beach
Image credit: TAT
 

Literally fit for royalty, Hua Hin is the summer getaway for Thailand’s ruling monarchy and elite.  About two to three hours away from Bangkok by coach, many locals also now use the beachside resort town for their weekend holidays.

With development throttled by Royal Decree, and no building to go up beyond three stories unless it has special permission, Hua Hin has managed to retain its traditional laid-back, seaside character.

The ‘oldest’ resort town in Thailand, it still only sees around 90,000 residents calling the area home, and without an airport connection, there’s a tranquillity to the area not seen in more built up regions like Phuket.

Hua Hin Mountains
Image credit: TAT

Hua Hin’s idyllic white-sand beaches are a sight to behold, running 5kms long, it is rumoured to be one of the reasons why King Prajadhipok (Rama VII) built his summer palace, Wang Klai Kang Won “Far from Worries”, in 1928.

Hua Hin, can not only boast to be the holiday town of the Royals, but also has another claim to fame.  The township and surrounds is home to the highest density of world class golf courses anywhere in Thailand.

In this backdrop of relaxation, the ‘spa culture’ in Hua Hin is worth a mention.  Whilst Thailand is renowned for its wellness tourism, the spa experience is forefront in a complete Hua Hin itinerary. 

Home to arguably the world’s best spa, consistently named in Condé Nast’s top three and awarded Travel + Leisure’s best destination spa in 2006, Chiva-som has seen a whole slew of the rich of famous step through their doors.  Said to be Hollywood’s favourite spa property, Chiva-som doesn’t come without a price tag.

Of course, unwinding in Hua Hin doesn’t have to bankrupt a travellers account, with most hotels and resorts offering either an in-house spa or access to spa facilities – or travellers can be a little more adventurous and try out the array of massage parlours in the township.

Hua Hin Sunset
Image credit: TAT

The Hua Hin night markets are worth a quick glimpse as well, while not as bountiful as Bangkok’s block-wide sprawls, they have a character of its own – and many locals believe that souvenirs such as silk and carvings can be gotten here cheaper than in the capital; of course, bargaining is essential.

From relaxed three-star beach front properties, to the decked-out five-star locations that are almost a township to themselves, Hua Hin has a property to suit every budget – with even the higher end of town ‘cheap’ compared to average global rates.

For business travel, Hua Hin can cater small to medium sized events without a hitch.  With bigger properties able to room guests in the hundreds, plenty of meeting space, and outdoor and wellness activities galore; Hua Hin would suit a wide range of needs.

With spectacular sunrises over the water, and the steep backdrops of the Prachuap Khiri Khan in the distance, Hua Hin is the perfect traditional Thai beachside experience away from the modern day Rat Race.

 

Elephant Polo

Each September the Anantara Resort Hua Hin plays host to the King's Cup Elephant Polo Tournament, a charitable event which raises money for Thailand's National Elephant Institute in Lampang, northern Thailand. The 2005 King's Cup will take place from Monday 5th to Sunday 11th September.

The tournament was introduced to Thailand in 2001 by Anantara Vice President, Christopher Stafford. In just four years it has gone from a small 2-day event with 6 teams into a week-long elephant polo extravaganza featuring 14 teams from 3 continents, 55 players from 15 countries and corporate sponsors which include the likes of Mercedes Benz, Chivas Regal, Nokia, PricewaterhouseCoopers, American Express, British Airways, DBS Bank and many other international companies.
 


The Thailand tournament is played according to World Elephant Polo Association rules and is played with three elephants per team on a pitch measuring 100 metres x 60 metres, which is roughly one-third the size of a horse polo field. A game is comprised of two 10-minute chukkas, with a fifteen-minute interval.

To date the tournament has raised over US$100,000 for the National Elephant Institute, which provides medical care, sustenance, employment, welfare and mahout training to Thailand's elephant population. It is estimated that Thailand has around 2500 domesticated elephants and 1500 wild elephants. This is down from an elephant population of around 50,000 in 1950 and 100,000 in 1900. The National Elephant Institute's Thai Elephant Conservation Centre in Lampang is famous for its painting elephants and its elephant orchestra.