Well, this is a kind of just back report, we were actually back last week but general life and boring tasks like doing the holiday washing took over and I haven't had chance to write anything down until now! Sadly, our trip already feels like a lifetime ago! This isn't a full trip report as such, as I have a tendency to go on when I start writing so didn't want to bore you with too much detail! This is more a highlight reel of our experiences whilst in Hua Hin. I have done separate reviews of the hotels we stayed in, and all the places we ate so if anyone wants more detail they can look on my profile and go through the individual reviews.
So ... we arrived in Hua Hin on the transfer shuttle from Dusit Thani Bangkok to the Duist Thani Hua Hin. It was an unbelievably bumpy ride! I was sat in the back and was being bounced out of my seat for 2 hours, which I had to laugh about otherwise I probably would have been ill!
Dusit Thani Hua Hin - Initial impressions, looks very posh! Impressive grounds and entrance way and lobby. Check in we felt a bit rushed and didn't get to enjoy our lovely welcome drink as the guy was hanging around just watching us waiting to take us to our room, so we threw them down out necks and headed off with him. We were obviously staying in the older part of the hotel as the corridors got more and more tatty and tired as we walked through. Our room was nice, a decent size and generally pretty clean and tidy. Over the 9 nights we were staying there were quite a few niggly things that happened which didn't ruin the holiday but just weren't what we expected of a 5 star hotel. But in general the hotel was fine, we weren't in it much anyways as ate out every night and were out on various trips or at the beach all day. I would prefer to stay in Hua Hin next time as, although the bus was fine into the town, it didn't run very regularly and didn't run very late either.
After our last trip in Thailand last year, we wanted more relaxation as we'd felt really rush last year because we kept moving round and stayed in about 5 different hotels! So this is why we'd only done Bangkok and Hua Hin this time. We spent about 4 of the 8 days just chilling on the beach at the hotel. The beach was nice, quite big and pretty quiet, it didn't feel totally packed with people, so was nice to just relax and catch up on my books which I never have time to read at home!
The other 4 days of the holiday were taken up with trips:
We hired Mr Roong for the day to take us over to Phetchaburi to have a look around the sights there. Mr Roong was fine as a driver, on time and polite enough, not very chatty but guess we weren't really in the car long between sights. No sight of worms either as one other poster had found in his car! So that was good :o) We visited the following in Phetchaburi:
Phra Nakhon Khiri historic park (Khao Wang) - Really great place, so beautiful. The views from the top of the hills were great. Was a little hard walking round and up the hills as it seemed to be the hottest day when we visited so we were all lovely and dripping with sweat. Really quiet here too, we only saw 1 other couple wandering round and the only other people we saw were groups of Thai School children.
Wat Mahathat Worawihan - Another pretty temple, again no tourists, mainly Thai people coming to pray.
Wat Yai Suwannaram - We were the only 2 people at this temple, apart from a monk sat inside. It was so nice having the place to ourselves. Although I feel a bit sad that not many people are visiting as it obviously needs money spent on it to maintain and restore parts of the temple as some parts were starting to fall apart.
Tham Khao Luang - This was one of my favourite places, it's a cave with Buddha images and a reclining Buddha inside. It's really quite beautiful and again was so peaceful and quiet because we were the only two people here! Although we did nearly get trapped down there by monkeys! Two monkeys appeared on the stairs back up to the top and every time we tried to walk up them they started screeching at us and baring their teeth and getting ready to pounce!
Mrigadayavan Palace (Marukhathaiyawan) - I know a lot of people on here recommend visiting here, but we weren't overly impressed. It was interesting from an architectural point of view as it's built out of teakwood and does look quite beautiful. But there's not really a lot here to look at, it's just a nice place to wander round for half an hour.
The one thing that surprised us whilst wandering round the town and driving round is that there were barely any other tourists around. The whole place was pretty much all Thai people, and showed more of Thai culture here, we didn't even spot any proper restaurants or anything, it was mainly just street stalls. It made a nice change being here to being places jam packed with tourists - would def recommend people visit here for the day.
Wildlife Friends of Thailand
This was an amazing day! I hadn't heard anything about this place until I happened to be reading a forum post and in amongst the replies was a suggestion of visiting this place. Wildlife Friends of Thailand (WFT) is a rescue centre for injured, mistreated or orphaned animals, it's about 30mins from Hua Hin. You can visit the centre for free and have a wander round, you can go and volunteer here from 1 week to 6 months or you can visit for the day and have a guide show you round which is what we did. This day trip cost 5000 baht for the car, you can have up to 6 people in the car so if you had 6 it would obviously work out cheaper. We thought it was quite a lot to pay for the 2 of us, but I can tell you it was worth every penny! Matt who works here and showed us round was fantastic. He took us round the centre introducing us to the animals and telling us their stories and how they came to be there. Matt told us they regularly have bags dumped over the wall of the centre and when they open them up they have animals inside because the owners are too embarrassed to bring them in. He also told us about how the centre works, is funded and how they try to rehabilitate as many animals back to the wild as possible. They have had 1500 animals there, now they only have 400 at the moment as the rest have gone back to the wild. We spent the afternoon with the elephants, we took Pai Lin, one of the elephants, for a walk and then came back and helped out the vets with cleaning the wounds of some of the other elephants. It also made us aware how few places there were around in Thailand that were helping these animals, Matt said it's hard for people to tell because a lot of places have things like 'sanctuary' in the title but actually are still mistreating elephants.
Everyone we met was so lovely, we had lunch included and sat with all the volunteers for lunch so it was nice to get to chat to everyone there. The centre is purely funded by people visiting and volunteers paying to stay, so if no one visits the money runs out. They've just built some amazing new environments for the Gibbons and Monkeys and hope to build more depending on funding. They're trying to recreate as natural environment as possible and limit the amount of human contact the animals get so they can be ready to go back to the wild. This place is doing amazing work for these animals and I really would encourage anyone in the area to go visit.
We decided to do an overnight stay here as we worked out that going on the day trip you'd only get 4 hours on the island, but in total spend 5 hours or so travelling to get there and back. We booked through www.sawadee.com, but this website also had pretty much the same rates: r24.org/huahinwhatson.com/…pictures.html
We booked into a Thai Style Villa in the Big Bay Resort. The villa was beautiful, really nice. The bathroom was a bit more rustic than I'd imagined, but I got used to it, was fine for a night or two! Koh Talu was absolutely beautiful, had the lovely clear waters and powdery white sand that the islands have. It had more of a desert island feel to it too as there were so few people staying here. The only time it became busy was when the day trippers came back from their snorkelling trip and were on the beach until the boat came, but we just escaped to the other end of the beach at that point. Our package included all meals, soft drinks and a trekking trip and snorkelling trip. We didn't do the trekking trip as were being a bit lazy! My boyfriend did the snorkelling trip and enjoyed it, he said it was good and quite a bit to see! You could easily go snorkelling off the pier yourself as well as there was plenty of coral and fishes around. My only regret about this place is that we didn't stay longer than one night! Would highly recommend it to anyone!
Just a few comments on a few of the places we ate, and some of our favourites!
Oceanside: Cannot believe this wasn't on the list of restaurants for Hua in, best place I've eaten in a long time! Food was amazing, atmosphere is amazing, beautiful views as pretty much on the beach. Cocktails were also so yummy! and to top it off the service was great, the staff were so attentive! 3 courses plus a side, plus 5 cocktails and 2 bottles of water came to 3000 baht. I know it's expensive for thai standards but we thought it was totally worth it! I would like to say a big thank you to boltotraveller who recommended this place to me in response to my forum post, we went back several times and very much enjoyed it!
Livanto - This was another one that wasn't on the list of restaurants but was again great! Gorgeous food, does a mix of Thai and European. Again the service was great, cocktails were brilliant (you may be able to tell I love my cocktails :o) and we came away stuff! It was again expensive for Thai standards, but worth it.
We also ate at Sara Jane's after reading recommendations on here, we weren't disappointed! Great food and cheap. Also lovely little garden dining area, we went back here a couple of times - you have to have the chocolate brownie!
Prime was another one we tried after reading reviews on here, mainly steaks etc but again was really good.
Onn Onn the Corner - we went in here by mistake thinking it was Moon Smile and Platoo. Turned out great though as was really nice Thai food and unbelievably cheap. I think 2 courses and 2 drinks came to 235 baht!
Sawasdee - This was the only average meal we had, went based on the reviews on here but were a bit disappointed. It was very cheap and the mains were ok, but the starters weren't great. Just felt this place was quite average and there were nicer places to eat, maybe we just got a bad day as the reviews on here are all glowing!
I feel a bit bad that we didn't visit some of the sights actually in/near Hua Hin like the railway station, Khao Takiab etc. But we really did want to try and stay chilled and felt that if we filled all our days with sightseeing we'd go back exhausted. Also, it means we have stuff to see when we come back! I would come back to Hua Hin as it was a lovely place and really enjoyed it and would recommend it to people.
I realise I have ended up going on a bit, I would just like to say a big thank you to everyone in the forums who has posted responses to my questions, or who have been responding to others and Inadvertently helped me when I have read their response! I don't know how I'd plan my holidays without TA! Roll on the next one! (which is in May so planning can commence :o)
If anyone wants to read in more detail about our trip or take a look at the selection of pics (down from the thousands we took!) of our trip, then I have posted them on my travel blog: