Hua Hin, Thailand
Once a quiet fishing village, Hua Hin, Thailand became a popular summer getaway destination for Thais in the 1920s, when the Royal Family built their summer palaces there. Located on the eastern coast of the country and the shores of the Gulf of Thailand, it has year-round temperatures in the mid-80s F, making it a perfect beach getaway for those living in the sweltering chaos of Bangkok. By car or train, it is only about a four-hour journey, and with its population of about 85,000 people, it’s laidback enough to feel like a beach town, but still has all the modern conveniences of any Western city.
There are local daily markets all over the city which are the freshest and cheapest places to buy your produce. If you can’t grow it yourself, at least you know it’s grown nearby, and you are helping to support the local community. There are, of course, many international grocery stores to get those imported goods that remind you of home, but they do come at a cost. Living here and buying locally is not just a good way to keep your cost of living down, it’s a good way to support local families.
Because the Royal family lives in Hua Hin at times, excellent healthcare is a requirement, so there is the JCI-accredited Bangkok International Hospital right in the center of town. Many of the doctors and nurses are fluent in English, so a lot of expats choose it for their network of physicians.
The city itself runs parallel to the beach, with fancy hotels and seafood restaurants lining it. The restaurant scene has benefitted from Hua Hin’s international expats. Along the waterfront is a web of restaurants serving everything from fresh, right-off-the-boat seafood, to Indian and Greek food. Peppered in between the great restaurants are tons of bars and lounges, some with live music nightly.
Living in Hua Hin won’t be boring. The four-mile long, wide stretch of beach is known as a kite surfing destination during the windy months of February to April and October to January. With a few different schools to choose from, it’s a perfect place to learn the sport because of the shallow and calm waters of the Gulf. If the beaches don’t excite you, there is a new eco water park built into the jungle, Vana Nava, which has the largest waterslide in Thailand, as well as an infinity pool and surf simulators.
Although it’s a smaller scale city, it’s cosmopolitan with shopping malls, blockbuster movie theaters, and international grocery stores selling French wines and Norwegian salmon. But it’s still easy to find a quiet beach hideaway without a soul in sight. Hua Hin is quickly becoming one of Thailand’s premier golfing destinations, with seven different courses around the area and a few driving ranges to practice on. There is even an award winning vineyard 45 minutes away, with elephants and a restaurant that overlooks its five acres of grapes.
Hua Hin is an artsy town. The nightly Cicada Market is a fun event for locally made crafts, as well as a place to get a drink and cheap eats. There is also an artist village, which is a co-op for local artists, with a coffee shop, a stage for live music, and classes for anyone wanting to learn new skills. It was founded in 1998, and each artist has their own space to work in as well as to sell their art. Just walking through the maze of studios and seeing everything from antiques to glass blowing is awe inspiring. Some of these artists are well known throughout Thailand and display in galleries in Bangkok. It’s a great place to look when you want to furnish your new home and also to get involved with the local scene.