A sensational seaside getaway

Hugging the Gulf of Thailand, around a two-hour drive south of Bangkok, Hua Hin has been the Thai Royal’s seaside getaway of choice for the last 100-years and a popular tourist destination for travellers for the last few decades.

This former fishing village is now a town with an action-packed array of things to see and do: choose from boat trips and mangrove tours and hikes to hilltop temples flanked by macaque monkeys. There are also shiny shopping malls, thrilling waterparks and lively night markets offering delish local street food.

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Golden sands and family-fun

One of the official homes of the Thai royal family, city-by-the-sea Hua Hin makes for a refreshing escape from the heat and chaos of Bangkok. Around four miles of smooth golden sands grace Hua Hin’s shores, with another half a dozen near-empty beaches in the local area.

Protected by the arching Gulf of Thailand, its shallow teal-green waters remain calm throughout most of the year, ideal for stand-up paddle-boarding, kayaking and squeal-inducing banana boat rides. On a more serene note, rise early at least one morning to catch the splendid cherry-red sunrise.

There’s more to Hua Hin than just the beach. Aside from paddling, pony rides and building sandcastles, family-friendly activities include Crayola-coloured Vana Nava Water Jungle with vertiginous chutes, churning rapids and gravity-defying surf slides; the old wooden Hua Hin Train Station where kids can play conductor aboard an antique steam locomotive; and the Hobbit-y Phraya Nakhon cave, which is illuminated by sunbeams every morning, located within the wondrous Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park. If you can, spend a whole day to marvel over the dramatic limestone karst mountains, mangrove forests and tiny islands inhabited by monkeys – and don’t forget to look up in the hope of catching a glimpse of a banana-beaked hornbill or purple heron flying past.

Hua Hin’s verdant surrounds also provide a great range of low-key activities for grown-ups. Try your hand at some of Asia’s best golf courses, such as the PGA-spec Black Mountain Golf Resort, the more challenging Banyan Golf Club, or the Royal Hua Hin Golf Club, the oldest links in Thailand, established in 1924. Hire a bicycle and ride out to fishing villages, jungle temples and coconut plantations.

Or go wine-tasting Shiraz and Tempranillo in one of the many verdant valleys surrounding Hua Hin. The upscale Hua Hin Hills Vineyard is one of the prettiest, perched on the hillside overlooking lush green valleys, flecked with elephants and golden stupas. Post-tasting, survey the scene with an al fresco lunch of smoked duck breast on crispy wonton and lobster with frozen red curry served on the vineyard’s Sir Norman Foster-designed terrace.

There is also a whole lot of eating to enjoy in Hua Hin too, with the night market stealing the top spot as the place for fabulous zingy-fresh seafood – make your way there after dark for whole barbecued snapper scented with lemongrass, steamed chili clams and creamy bowls of tom yum (a spicy coconut-galangal broth spiked with giant prawns).

Elsewhere, you will find just about every type of food imaginable, from garden cafes serving freshly-baked pastries and back-straightening coffees to La Terrasse, a romantic Italian restaurant lit with tiki torches above the beach.

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