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Our thoughts on Living in Hua Hin, Thailand

We call the current travel mode we are in; Lifehopping. We are trying out different places for size and seeing how we like living in each one. The idea is that we stay for a few weeks or a month, rent a home rather than stay in a hotel, and live as if we were there full-time to try the lifestyle out. We shared our thoughts on Penang in a previous post after our stay there. So, here are our thoughts about Hua Hin.

Hua Hin is a resort town just a few hours from Bangkok. The town developed because the southbound trains stopped here and it has been a popular getaway for Bangkok residents ever since. It is also the site of the Monarch's Summer Retreat. Less of the sleepy beach town vibe you might expect in Thailand's more famous coastal destination, Hua Hin has a more upscale sophisticated feel, with five star resorts and very little of the seedy bar-girl culture that is ubiquitous in some other Thai tourist spots.

View south of Hua Hin from Hilton hotel. Khao Takieb is the rock at the end of the bay
The problem with resort towns is that everything is geared around tourists or retirees. There is very little else of real-life and I think that has been a key learning for us on this particular LifeHop. If we wanted fill our days playing golf, going to yoga classes, swimming in the pool and fraternizing with other ex-pats, then a resort town may be a good choice. While I understand why some people make that choice (hey, we might in the future), we are not ready for that yet. We enjoy the hustle and bustle of everyday life and a thriving local community vide and identity. We commented that Penang was a little too sedate for us, well Hua Hin is much sleepier. To be fair it is a tale of two experiences. Friday and Saturday nights we found to be much busier but the other five nights were so much quieter with empty restaurants and bars almost everywhere.

We also found the locals to be a little detached. We thought it may be a language barrier or being weary of tourists but even between themselves we didn't see much evidence of joy. It was a stark contrast to the friendly confident locals we met in Penang, always curious about where we came from or where we had visited and seemingly enjoying their life and being optimistic about their futures. Not so much in evidence in Hua Hin.

Our favorite things in Hua Hin:

The Beach. Hua Hin has an expensive coastline. The beach is fabulous, we could walk 3 mins from our AirBnB and find ourselves on miles and miles of wonderful sand at Hua Hin beach. Fantastic seafood or cool beers can be found at numerous beach restaurants. The sand was perfect for walking on and we took the opportunity to stroll the 5km into town many times along the shore. It was perfect.

Khao Takieb beach at Riot Cafe. A perfect way to spend a lazy day.
A short bike ride away is Khao Takieb Beach, where we rented loungers for a few bucks a day. We swam in the sea often. The sand slopes very gently and you can go a good way out and still touch the soft sandy bottom. The water is very warm, in some ways this is nice as you can loll around for quite a while but doesn't provide refreshment from the the intense heat.

Night markets: Only held at the weekends (Fri, Sat and Sun), the lively and always wonderful Cicada Market attracts lots of people. The stalls have high quality merchandise, there is always live music and a great set of food vendors. If you want to try street food but don't fancy navigating the locals favorite places elsewhere this is a chance to try local dishes in a more tourist-friendly setting. You will pay a little more but it's still great value. Tamarind Market next door to Cicada is also only on at the weekends and we found more authentic food vendors here and less tourist centric merchandise.

The main Hua Hin Night market (Chatsila) is in the center of town, nearer to the train station and is on every night. There is a great choice of food vendors here and this is a good spot for fantastic seafood.

Fun weekend market

Fantastic seafood at the Night Market
Shops & restaurants: We mostly ate at the markets mentioned above or the food court inside Market Village, a shopping mall in Hua Hin. For a special treat Andreas is an Italian restaurant with excellent food. We don't normally gravitate to western food, but after four months in Asia, we figured one night of non-Asian food was in order. This place was reviewed well and had an authentic Italian chef/owner who we met while there and it did not disappoint. The choice of coffee shops and bakeries is a lot less than we enjoyed in Penang but we found a good few spots. Velo cafe is trendy as is Ob-Oon .  Locally in Khao Takieb we also liked Café Délices. They had a few baked items each day and always had a warm and smiling welcome for us. Unfortunately that's a little rare around these parts.

We cooked at home a lot, on our wonderful rooftop terrace with BBQ grill. There is a Tesco in town for everyday groceries although we found it was not as good as the store we had in Penang but was OK for basics. We supplemented the basics with produce and seafood from the Chat Chai market and the more upmarket store Villa Market.

Overall we enjoyed our time in Hua Hin but it is definitely not a place for us to consider as a longer term home in the future. It was simply too hot to really make the most of everything on offer. According to locals the climate is more bearable for just three or four months of the year for spending time outside enjoying the beach and the beautiful national parks nearby. But mostly, for us, it was just too sleepy and tourist focused. A great place for a vacation but not somewhere that we would want to live. It's fun trying out places for size and it's OK with us if they don't feel like home. With each stop we learn more about what we are looking for in a home and the search is all part of the fun.

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