The once-sleepy beachfront resort town of Hua Hin, 125 mi/200 km south of Bangkok on the west coast of Thailand, has begun to attract well-deserved attention. As the location of the summer palace of the king of Thailand, Hua Hin found favor with wealthy Bangkok Thais long before it was discovered by Western tourists.
Today its visitors are not just big-city Thais slipping away for a weekend of clean air and fresh seafood. Hua Hin, which is easily accessible by road and rail, is now squarely on the map as a premier holiday destination and is attracting visitors from around the world. Although the town has lost its sleepy feel because of a boom in business, hotels and housing, Hua Hin has managed to retain some of its charm. It is an excellent family destination, popular with golfers and an idyllic place to bask in the sun.
In the early 1920s, during the reign of King Rama VI, the Royal State Railway of Siam opened a line to the seaside town in order to allow ease of access for the royal family. A beautiful railway station was built and to this day remains as one of the oldest, most well-preserved stations in Thailand. (Unfortunately, the trains are so slow that it's much quicker to reach Hua Hin by car. Regardless of how you get there, the historical train station, one of the oldest in Thailand, warrants a visit.) The advent of the railway was closely followed by the construction of Klai Kangwon Palace in 1926 by King Rama VII. Meaning "far from worries" in Thai, Klai Kangwon continues to be used as the official royal residence, a fact that ensures Hua Hin has a special place in the hearts of the Thai people.
A 4-mi/7-km stretch of beach and shallow water makes Hua Hin a fine playground for the whole family. The wide expanse of sand is used for a range of activities including horseback riding, kite boarding and alfresco dining on fresh seafood. Beachfront accommodations are plentiful and in a range for all budgets, from simple guesthouses to luxury resorts and spas. Golfers will appreciate its nine top-quality golf resorts. The town also hosts an annual jazz festival in June.
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