Low-key and uncrowded, fronted by a five-kilometre beach, Hua Hin, the Thai beach town my wife Vivien and I call home is also surrounded by three of the country’s biggest national parks. Its central location on the gulf coast means easy access to plenty of out-of-town beaches, too.
As well as the great beaches, natural beauty and historic attractions you’ll also find a thriving food scene, international hotels, championship-level golf courses and excellent healthcare. And although Hua Hin has long been a popular retreat for well-heeled Thai families, happily you won’t find the same crowds of foreigner holidaymakers here as you would in hotspots like Phuket or Koh Samui. The pace here is far less frantic—it’s still something of a hidden gem—which is why my wife Vivien and I have been happy to call it home since 2015.
One of our favourite things about life here is all the opportunities for fun and adventure right on our doorstep. Whether you’re scouting Hua Hin out as a potential retirement haven or just visiting there are some excursions you simply can’t miss.
One of our top recommendations is Monsoon Valley Vineyard, a winery about a 45-minute drive inland. Driving from town you’ll pass through aloe vera and pineapple plantations. You can buy freshly picked fruit straight from the farmer at rustic roadside stalls (25 baht or $1 for mid-sized pineapples).
The size of the vineyard is the first surprise. It covers an expansive 162 hectares (400 acres) of verdant countryside—this is no token tourism venture. The vines stretch out in long rows as far as the eye can see.
In the far distance, a temple glistens gold. Hedges of manicured bougainvillea line one side of the entrance road as you make your way past the vines and into the vineyard proper.
Sitting in prime position atop the hill overlooking the vineyard is the main sala. This large Thai-inspired open-air pavilion houses the tasting rooms, wine bar, bistro, shop and wine cellar.
Visitors can take guided vineyard tours in safari-style Land Rovers. For the more independent, there are the mountain bikes, or you can simply stroll on foot amongst the vines. A more exotic option is to jump on one of the vineyard’s elephants—you don’t get the tour commentary but seeing the vineyard atop an elephant is something special.
I highly recommend lunch at the bistro, especially combined with a wine-tasting package. Try the spicy grilled beef sirloin salad with lemongrass, Thai herbs and red grapes or Vivien’s favourite, the sesame crusted salmon salad with a spicy red wine vinegar dressing. When it comes to dessert you’ll be spoiled for choice. But oh, what a problem to have. The pomegranate cheesecake is not to be missed…
…and the rest we’ll have to come back another day for. The premium wine tasting package with generous samples of Colombard, White Shiraz (Rose) and Shiraz greatly compliment a quality lunch.
As ways to spend a sunny day here go, savouring a leisurely lunch overlooking verdant vines under blue skies is hard to beat…
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