Bank holidays in Thailand usually fall on a Monday or Friday. On one such 4 day weekend, four friends and I decided to embark on an excursion trip. To make the most of our three full days away, we needed to squeeze in as many activities as possible without compromising quality. A relaxed afternoon at the beach to gossip about everything that matters, a cave hike to challenge our fitness levels, a forest walk to compensate for concrete jungle life; a swim in the ocean just because; waterfall trekking; and some night market fun. To top it off, wine tasting at an award winning vineyard.
Location: Hua Hin
A 2 to 3-hour drive from Bangkok, Hua Hin is a serene town which tourists and travel companies don’t make enough noise about (it's more popular with retired expats), but this place is a gem. With cool temperatures and a perfect balance between beach and mountain, it’s perfect for a quick escape from the capital's heat and smog.
Ellen, the fittest of the group and most experienced at life. I listened as she shared stories about how she moved from Brazil to Australia and the jobs she worked. Her excitement, zero regrets, and just the look on her face as she looked back made me think, “I want this for myself too. To look back and marvel at my adventures with the kind of energy and sincerity she did”.
Javi and Daniela are a couple of adventurous Chileans. Their stories as we walked back to our hotel from dinner were captivating and funny. How Javi learned to ride a motorbike, being caught in a storm in the middle of nowhere- bolts of lightning and all (trust me, you don’t want to be caught in a Thailand monsoon season storm), and their random trips around Thailand.
Just out of university and full of #selflove wisdom, Dipna’s the sweet one. She wakes up chirpy and ready to face the day. My little sister from across the Limpopo i.e. she's South African. A piece of home away from home.
Then there's me, the nature loving Zimbabwean. Wakes up groggy and not much fun to be around on an early morning. Dipna and I shared a room; discovering this side of me must have been a tad frustrating for her. My dearest friend Dips, if you’re reading this, please know I am eternally sorry you had to be stuck with that for 4 mornings. xoxo
This is what we found:
Hua Hin Beach
Khao Takiab Beach
A long stretch of white sand with portions secluded enough from vendors and restaurants you might think you're the only one here. Careful where you decide to have a meal along this beach. We ordered pizza at a certain establishment and it took almost two hours before it was served. AND they got one of the flavours wrong. Regardless, we had a relaxed afternoon on the beach. Just what we needed.
Getting here was a bit of a mission, but absolutely worth it. A drive from town, then a very short boat ride around the mountain, to a clean beach from where the trek begins. The climb up is steep and would be slippery on a rainy day. Going up on a busy day can take up to an hour as the trail is quite narrow. The flora is beautiful, and the rock formations as you draw near to the cave are amazing. You can skip the 400 THB boat ride and take a longer route which our guide advised would take double the time to get to the cave. An overnight stay at one of the park's bungalows might be worthwhile if you're looking to camp out in Phrayanakhon.
Pranburi Forest Park
This lush green forest is perfect for a late afternoon walk. If I lived in Hua Hin, I'd be here every Sunday just to busk in the silence and feel at one with nature.
Sai Noi Beach
We had a refreshing night swim here after a long day of hiking and trekking. If you'd like to drive out and spend a night on the beach, head over to Sai Noi. While we were there, two families were comfortably camped on the beach, in anticipation of the lunar eclipse.
Cicada Night Market
Perfect for a relaxed night of food, drinks, chit chat and shopping. The food section offers Thai, Korean, and Italian cuisine. There's probably more. In the vending stalls, you can find clothing, home wear, art galleries with paintings and curio. You can also pick up accessories; and beachwear if you forgot to pack some.
Pala-U Waterfall, Kaeng Krachan National Park
Trek the slippery trail and go for a cooling swim with the fish. Proper trekking shoes are advisable. Also, come prepared for a storm, especially if you're carrying photography gear. We were hit by a heavy one which made navigating our way out of the trail quite an adventure. Leave an extra set of clothes in the car, I didn't and had to brave my soaked clothes till we came by a roadside market. Luckily, things are pretty cheap here and I was able to score a decent outfit (See Monsoon Valley Pics below) for just 200 THB. Entry fee is 300 THB which is equivalent to about 8 EUR/9 USD.
Monsoon Valley Vineyard a.k.a Hua Hin Vineyards
Being here felt like we had left Thailand. Beautiful green views of the valley and surrounding mountains. Blue sky, clean air. Absolutely refreshing!
We had an awesome time exploring and discovering Hua Hin together. Sadly Javi and Dani will be leaving Thailand in two months. On the up side, we get to plan an excursion where we meet in another country. #Globalcitizens.
Hua Hin Travel Tips
To get to Hua Hin from Bangkok, you can choose to take a mini-van from Mochit or Ekkamai station for less than 300 THB. Or you can hire a taxi for 1800 to 2000 baht.
Accommodation can be as low as you want really. As with most towns in Thailand, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Sharing a very clean twin room, with a comfortable bed, and spacious private bathroom, cost me just 1750 THB for 3 nights.
The town offers various options of private taxi hire for excursion trips. We found ourselves the cheapest deal at 1300 THB for a 9-hour day! The highest we had seen was 2500 THB so this was not a deal to let go. Tawan turned out to be the perfect guide for us despite the language barrier. He went above and beyond his call of duty as he helped us navigate the slippery trail at Pala-U Waterfall. Not to mention leading us out of the falls during a heavy storm! If you’re headed to Hua Hin and would like a reliable driver, DM me for his details.