Things to consider before settling in Hua Hin, Thailand. And why it isn’t for us.

Things to consider before settling in Hua HinThings to consider before settling in Hua Hin

We really, really wanted to like Hua Hin after our stay in Bangkok. We stayed there for 5 weeks and I held off writing this post, hoping that something could warm us up to the place. Nothing did. Except for maybe the Airbnb apartment which we rented. It felt an oasis in an otherwise uninspiring beach town. In fact I thought about called this post “Ho Hum about Hua Hin” (rhythmic but I don’t think it would be very SEO friendly).

For those not familiar with Hua Hin: it is a town approximately 3 hours south of Bangkok along the Gulf of Thailand. It is famous for being the location of the King of Thailand’s summer palace and is a very popular place on weekends when Thai tourists stream in from Bangkok. Besides the beach (which stretches 5 km down the coast to the hill of Khao Takiab), Hua Hin has a lively night market, some great seafood restaurants, as well as some of the best golf courses in Thailand. It is a popular retirement spot for expats drawn to its many international restaurants (you can find cuisine from all over the world), warm and dry temperatures, and abundance of lively bars including girlie bars (which I’ve previously written about here). Expats can find good accommodation options (i.e. to Western standards) in condominium buildings stretching down the coast as well as all the imported food they could hope for in both boutique stores as well as some fancy malls (there’s a Tesco Lotus). It really is a town perfectly set up for the expat

Hua Hin train station

Hua Hin’s train station, one of the oldest and considered the prettiest in Thailand.

.sunset in Hua Hin

Views over Hua Hin and the hills from the fishing pier.

fishing boats in Hua Hin, Thailand

Docked fishing boats.


seafood in Hua Hin

Huge catches offered at some of the seafood restaurants along the night market.


beach in Hua Hin, Thailand

beach vendor in Hua Hin, Thailand

Above: Beach images, Hua Hin.


Things to consider before settling in Hua Hin

You’ll always see  navy ships just off the coast of Hua Hin.


Khao Takiab. Things to consider before settling in Hua Hin

A pretty spot for great views of the coastline is the temple of Khao Takiab (otherwise known as ‘Chopsticks Hill’ or “Monkey Mountain’).


Reasons we didn’t warm up to Hua Hin

– The town is built up along the highway from Bangkok heading south. This means a lot of traffic, noise, and pollution from trucks, buses, cars. It is not a quiet beach town. Central Hua Hin is the exception with a network of streets built up towards the beach and, on the other side, towards the train station. But it does mean that heading anywhere in Hua Hin requires going down Phetkasem road (otherwise known as Thailand Route 4, one of the four major highways in Thailand).

– For a ‘beach’ town you often would never know that you are along the beach. Naretdarmi Road lines the coast but you would never know it because private businesses have taken over these prime location and built their stores and restaurants on either side. See the two photos below – the coast is actually located about 30 feet behind those buildings on the right. You can walk that whole road and never see the beach. EXCEPT if you stay at the Hilton or Sofitel/Centara Grande which occupy prime real estate and where you have unimpeded access and views to the beach. Access to the beach for the public is via one small road which runs between these two hotels. A travesty actually and many say a perfect example of selling out to big business.

Things to consider before settling in Hua Hin

Things to consider before settling in Hua Hin


– Look at the photos above again. Notice that there are no sidewalks? This is the main tourist street. If you walk through central Hua Hin you constantly have to give way to cars and motorcycles. Again, where’s the central planning?

– One of the main activities is riding horses down the beach. There are also stray dogs on the beach. Horses and dogs poop. Residents complain about increased pollution from shipping. The beach is nice to look at but I wouldn’t spread my towel on it.

– Cockroaches. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen as many cockroaches per square meter as we saw in Hua Hin. We also saw a couple of cat-sized rats. Between the crappy or non-existent sidewalks, traffic, cockroaches and rats we didn’t much enjoy wandering out at night in Hua Hin.


As you can see from the photos above, the geography stretching down this coast is gorgeous. It is the humanity, lack of planning, and dirtiness that has, for us, ruined Hua Hin. The expat may not face the above on a daily basis; as an expat I’d stay further down the coast in the vicinity of Takiab in a nice beach-side condo and venture out to play golf, meet the beer girls or pick up whatever groceries I need at the spiffy Tesco.  I can see how Hua Hin would have its points. As a tourist I wouldn’t come here. I don’t get the attraction. Either way, Hua Hin is not a place that would bring us back.

From another blogging couple: A different opinion of Hua Hin.



Some resources on Hua Hin


I’ve previously written about accommodation in Bangkok and how expensive it is finding good quality furnished apartments for the 1-3 month traveller. Hua Hin was no different. We rented an Airbnb apartment and paid USD 1000 for 5 weeks (that comes to USD 800/month). If you sign up to Airbnb using this link you’ll save $45 CAD (approx. $35 US) on your first stay.

If you want a hotel. A few places we were recommended: Centara Beach Resort (the fanciest place in Hua Hin. Honestly a bit rich for our blood) OR if you want to be down the beach and have a beach holiday, the super fabulous Resort de Paskani. 

If you wander around town you’ll see signs for rooms to rent. Most we saw were on Naretdarmi Road (ie the main tourist street). We can’t vouch for the quality but it is an option worth exploring for those that just show up in Hua Hin looking for cheap accommodation.



Most people fly into Bangkok and either take the train or a private transfer (see below) to get to Hua Hin. We use CheapOair for all our flight bookings.


Other ways to get to Hua Hin

Lots of options on getting here including train, bus or even private transfer (not so expensive if there are several of you). Have a look at options below.

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Many restaurants of all kinds in town, especially along Naretdarmi Road and at the night market. No specific recommendations, depends on your taste.


Have a different opinion on Hua Hin?



Related: How about Prachuap Khiri Khan instead?


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Things to consider before settling in Hua Hin
Things to consider before settling in Hua Hin

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  1. We have been in Hua Hin since mid January, and we have been quite fortunate to have discovered a few pavements to walk along, but you do not come across many along small side roads around Hua Hin, and street lighting can be scarce in part so best to have a torch with you. We stayed just short of 30 days in a condominium before flying to one of our favourite destinations, Singapore. We arrived back to Hua Hin and are now staying in a 3* star hotel for the next 18 days before a five night stopover in Khao san Road, Bangkok, before flying back to Portugal where we have lived for the past five years. Khao San Road was one of our favourite places we used as a base when travelling to Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia some15 years ago. We are well aware that the place may have changed in that time, but we still look forward to going there. As for price tiers, one for Thais and one for expats, quite understandable really when you consider that the majority of Thai people are quite poor. We know of a bar in Nazare, Portugal near where we live and the owner there has two drinks lists, one for locals and one for tourists, we avoid it like the plague. We don’t know of any other bars that do this along the coast. For us, Hua Hin is a great pace to spend the winter months due to the weather. It is also far cheaper than the UK for drinking wine, beer and eating out, but way over the top price wise for us as we have some of the best wines in Portugal at very good prices, the beer is also cheap and eating out is not expensive. There are a lot of imported products here in Thailand such as European cheeses and other goodies that are quite pricey, even a decent wine in the supermarkets are very expensive. Generally, you can eat out in small local restaurants very cheaply, food courts in the open air markets are good, but in those we tend to eat chicken and rice or curries. There are a couple of pop-up street restaurants which are also very good. The food courts in Blueport Mall and Market Village are also OK for a cheap lunch. We have enjoyed eating in a couple of German restaurants as we lived there for almost twenty years and enjoy the food. Sea food we can give a miss as we eat enough of that at home. Hua Hin beach is beautiful, we have walked from Chopsticks Hill, Khao Takiab to downtown Hua Hin near the Hilton Hotel. take plenty of drinking water with you if you do decide to walk this long stretch of beach as there are no beach snack bars until you are near the Blueport Mall area. One of the best local restaurants we have eaten at is Mr. A’s next to Sombat Bus Station. The food is always freshly cooked, good portion sizes and the price is very cheap. Pat’s Place on Soi 94 has the best red wine for me in price and size, it is also from a box so not really possible to tamper with. Some of the night markets sell wine from a bottle, but what is on the label of the bottle and what is actually in the bottle are two very different things to consider, and at 140 baht a glass, cheap by UK prices, but very expensive by Portuguese prices, I was not prepared to even try it. We have enjoyed the night markets here, as they are so different. We love Chitsila market, it’s so vibrant and lively. All in all we have enjoyed our stay in Hua Hin, and leave here next week for Bangkok. Would we come back to Hua Hin? Probably not. I think most backpackers would enjoy a stay here, the place is pretty laid back, it has a fabulous beach and there are plenty of hostels. to choose from. We have done a lot of travelling in our time and very rarely go to the same beach resorts twice. There are too many places out there to visit. Maybe next time we will visit one of the islands in Thailand.

    1. Thank you for the tips Lynne. Since we wrote this a few years back we visited Prachuap Khiri Khan which is a few km down the coast. Wrote about it here. Granted there’s lots less to do…but it is a beautiful place and still feels untouched. If you’re ever back in the area check it out.

  2. An interesting article and accurate for 2014. Things have changed a lot since then as the town has grown but some things have not. A bypass means the heavy traffic tends to go round but is more than made up for by the weekend influx from Bangkok. Pavements are better in some places but others unchanged. Two big malls now, Market Village (with Tesco) and Bluport (more up market). The beach access is just as bad. I have lived in Hua Hin since 1990 however rarely go into the centre of town as in my own opinion has just got worse. The town has expanded like crazy in recent years and what was a quiet holiday town has become a small city spread over a huge area.
    Most expats actually live farther out from the town, myself included as apart from anything it is cheaper. Hua Hin is expensive and there is a noticeable difference in price between there and Pranburi or even Cha Am. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I certainly would not challenge yours as it is not a place for everyone. I am happy to leave central Hua Hin to the tourists both Thai and foreign and if I want to go to the beach will take the family to Suan Son Pradiphat. I stopped playing golf a few years ago as it is so expensive and took up cycling (trail riding rather than road as it is safer), much cheaper and better for your health. Hua Hin is attractive to retirees as it does have the facilities such as hospitals, transport links, restaurants that cater to westerners all of which come at a price.
    I would recommend to anyone reading the article who is considering Hua Hin as a place to live come and stay as you did for an extended period to get a feel for it before committing. It is not for everyone for sure but for some it may be perfect.

    1. Thanks very much for your comment Greg. Great feedback.
      By the way, we were in Prachuap Khiri Khan just about a month ago. Thought it was a really pretty place. Whether I could live there or not I don’t know, but I’d go back anytime….

  3. Hi Frank,
    I’m moving to Hua Hin from Nakhon Pathom in May 2018, which is why I was reading your article.
    What I really want to say though is I love the way you respond to negative and/or rude and aggressive comments. You are clearly a man who knows how to handle a troll. If only the rest of the internet community was as calm and considered the world would be a better place.

    1. Thanks so much Steve. I usually cringe when I see that I have a comment on this post – so it’s nice when somebody has something positive to say. I wish you all the best in Hua Hin! 🙂

  4. I was in hua hin for a few hours, travelled from Bangkok to look at a rental condo. Not really sure about living there 1-3 months. But it appeared clean and the infrastructure good. May I suggest that the rats and roaches seen was due to your being close to the market. Maybe it is not the same everywhere. A couple of Brits working for the rental agency have lived a long time in HH. Maybe they like the pussy. Anyway what I wanted to say was the 1BR condo I looked at was furnished and quite nice, though small but adequate, had a pool and gym in the complex but the rent and utilities would come to about AUD 1500 per month. Same as the equivalent cost in mallorca, Spain.

    1. Thanks Ken. Yes, not as cheap as expected huh? We were a bit surprised by some of the rent costs (in Bangkok as well).
      Roaches and rats – yes. But they extended a good 5 block radius…which means most of the center. I still haven’t as many roaches and rats as I saw in Hua Hin when we were there. Maybe they just came out when we passed…

  5. I spent a couple of days in Hua Hin and enjoyed it. I took the train from Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong station and stayed at a hotel a couple of blocks from the beach in Hua Hin. I brought my bike and found the area pretty bikeable; there was even a dedicated bike path south of เขาตะเกียบ (chopstick mountain), although I did have to share the path with an occasional motorcyclist. 🙂 I saw neither roaches or rats during my stay, but it’s a tropical locale, so it’s an environment favorable to both. I also know one Bangkokian who has warmed up to the place despite the lack of azure water that more southern locales have due to the night scene, nice resorts, and great cuisine to be had.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience Keith. The rats and roaches were in the center of town, unfortunately we were a few blocks from the market so that didn’t help matters. Glad you enjoyed it.

  6. Its a shame you headlined the blog with the phrase….”settling in Hua Hin….” because you clearly had no intention of a retirement lifestyle but one of a “rent and see” month long visit.
    I agree to stay in an average condo in Hua Hin CBD is not the best and too really expect a total beach side resort atmosphere from the back door of your residence really does show a lack of foresight and planning on your part. Especially when you are talking about Thailand or a great deal of SE Asia actually
    Did you get over to the golf course condos at all?? Beautiful 3 – 4 bedrooms villas, lovely gardens, fully furnished and most will have a private plunge pool. About AUD200 per week. 5 – 10 minute motorbike ride to town.Beats the hovel you mention I would suggest hands down!!
    However an adequate article, really NOT correct though. Cockroaches,rats, dog shit???? Colour your stories, but try and be accurate too and not limit these pests with one or any particular country. Unless you reside in some sort of Nirvana like paradise of course.
    Hua Hin is a great town for the expat and perfect if you want to retire
    And thats all that needs to be said

    1. Thanks Craig. But you are talking about luxury condos on golf courses and I’m talking about living in the center of Hua Hin proper. You don’t seem to believe me but wander in the center at night – you’d be amazed by the cockroaches and rats. Its the worst we’ve ever seen in any Thai town/city.
      As far as the headline, we always had it in mind to explore different places with the idea of retirement in mind. Hua Hin was not for us. We actually decided to settle in Split, Croatia after having visited 3 times previously. We had the same open mind about Hua Hin. So it wasn’t misleading, it’s just that we knew pretty quickly that “it wasn’t for us”.
      As I’ve mentioned to a few commenters, we went to Nong Khai after Hua Hin and much preferred it, staying there 4 months. We could see ourselves there. But not Hua Hin.
      But thanks for taking the time to write down your thoughts.

  7. I agree with you, Huahin looks like a shiiitehole. I will never go again and even wonder why people go there, maybe the only reason is that they know nothing.

    1. That’s maybe a bit harsh. I guess you’ve been and didn’t like it?
      Let’s just say it’s just not our favorite place….

      1. Salut Frank ! Tu viens de Montréal? I stayed in Bangkok for 6 months and 2 weeks in Chiangmai. Chiangmai wasn’t for me but was thinking of checking out Hua Hin.It was interesting reading your thoughts.Anyway,is there a place anywhere in Thailand that has “reasonable” weather? Heat is ok,but the humidity is a Let me know,thanks,Yves

        1. Hi Yves! Yes, lived in Montreal 25+ years.
          Yes, you’re right about humidity. It’s all relative when it comes to Thailand. But we found the humidity particularly ‘heavy’ in Hua Hin. I always felt the weather was a little more bearable up north (Chiang Mai, Mae Hong Son…)

  8. We stayed a few days in Hua Hin 2 years ago. It was Okay (much better than Phuket in my opinion, the former Summer Palace was awesome, and the train station too, our hotel was convenient and not expensive), but I wouldn’t snowbird there.
    But that’s not because of Hua Hin proper, anywhere in SE Asia is not possible for us , because of the hot and humid climate. I like warm weather, but that’s just too much!

    1. You pretty much echo our feelings Lionel – Lissette doesn’t really like beaches and doesn’t especially like the heat. I think we much prefer spending our time in Europe actually.
      As we learned during our 6 months in Thailand, we much prefer it for ‘vacation’ than as a potential retirement spot.

  9. Wat a load of bollux, i lived in nong khai for 2 yrs, temp was close to 45 everyday.
    i came to hua hin because much much cooler.
    average 29d

    Nong khai was great originally but many lorries on every road made it dusty and horrible.
    I will never go back to that sweaty smelly shithole ever in my life again.
    ohhhhhhhh i love hua hin.

    1. Well, Bullux back to you! 🙂
      When were you in Nong Khai? We were there from Dec – Mar and overall had great weather.
      We were in Hua Hin in November (just before going to Nong Khai) and it was a cesspool of humidity.
      Lorries – maybe on the main road leading onto the bridge to Laos. Then yes, but that’s not the town of Nong Khai. Central Nong Khai is all small, cemented streets. Unlike Hua Hin where the highway cuts right through town.
      So we I’m afraid have very differing views but maybe that’s because we experience it in different ways.
      Are you an expat? If so would be interested to know – why do you love Hua Hin?

      1. Uhhhh read 2yrs covers every month.
        My friends there still complain about the heat, i am a keen cyclist and nong khai has become so dangerous with lorries speeding between NK and Ta bo.
        Also they are working on the river between the two places and even when you take the back roads still very dangerous.
        You say no girlie bars ha ha ha ha, do you allways wear blinkers?

        I enjoyed my stay at NK but now i,m 25 klms south of hua hin and its quiet traffic free and stunning restaurants and empty beaches.
        I agree on one thing, i rarely go to hua hin city only to report and get provisions.

        1. Uhhh…well, actually I was trying to be cordial. Maybe that was lost on you.
          If we’re going to be talking about the heat then I can tell you that going from Hua Hin to Nong Khai was a relief. Maybe you have selective memory.
          Girlie bars down a back alley – you’ll always find them if you look for them hard enough in Thailand.

          I’m talking about Nong Khai town vs Hua Hin Town and you’re talking about riding the bike on the outskirts of Nong Khai. Of course there’s traffic out there, just like there is on the major highway cutting through HH.. Then you talk of Hua Hin and refer to the traffic-free, empty beaches – 25 km south of Hua Hin. This post was about Hua Hin.

  10. Ken, if you are still around Id look elsewhere. HH is very ordinary.

    Look at some of the places out near Trat or in the south.

    Thailand still has some cool cheap spots but you have to look around a bit more. Some of the well known spots have been ruined by local developers as well as foreign tourism.

  11. As a travel blogger of more than 5 years,and living in five countries in that time,I have a little experience in living conditions in other countries. Currently, I am researching a move to Hua Hin, which I’ve identified,along with Khiri Khan, as a nice place to try for at least a year. From your report, Hua Hin doesn’t sound much different than Costa Rica, or St.Kitts-Nevis, or Indonesia. I got over the sidewalk situation a long time ago in Quespos, CR, and see no or poor sidewalks in a lot of places. You get over it; it’s not a consideration, really. Stray dogs, rats and cockroaches? Again, you get used to it. The roaches were just as bad or even worse when I lived in Florida. In Indonesia, the rats are part of the landscape,although there weren’t many dogs since Muslims consider them dirty (although in some parts of the country they are on the menu). I want to live by a beach so I can resume shore fishing like I had in Florida, so inner Thailand is not an option. I’ve been to Bangkok several times and Chiang Mai for a short visit. From the videos I’ve seen, the beach in Hua Hin looks great, and access is not as difficult as you make it out to be. The food prices and rents also seem to be on par or even cheaper than in Indonesia, where my rent was about US$230/month for a furnished 1-BR in the center of town. I like the fact that Thailand seems to welcome expats, unlike Indonesia. The 12-month visa is attractive, eliminating the need for regular visa runs. I also like to be able to shop local markets for food, while also having Western goods available if I want. I don’t need the Western restaurants but it’s good to know there might be a real pizza or fried chicken available if I want. And I want some nightlife,with the girls, playing pool and socializing with expats. Hua Hin seems to have what I need so I plan to give it a try. At the very least, it will be great fodder for my blog and maybe another in my growing list of ebooks.

    1. Hi Ken,
      I don’t want to be a downer but from my point of view there is little appeal to Hua Hin. I’m also not sure where you got the financial numbers from because we didn’t find it at all cheap and one of the major complaints from locals is that prices have soared over the last few years. The other major complaint among expats are the tougher visa laws: you mention the 12 month visa. One of the conditions is that you have to leave the country every 90 days for at least 48 hours. So a bit of a pain…
      Commentors on this post make it seem like there’s some kind of valor associated with putting up with roaches and rats. Roaches and rats are associated with filth and there’s a lot in Hua Hin.

      As far as restaurants, markets, girls and socializing with expats? Yup, there’s all that. But I could say that about most places in Thailand.

      As I said, we were there 5 weeks so I think we got to know the place pretty well. Its definitely not a place we would come back to. What we wrote was our opinion – people have different needs. If you end up there for a significant period of time don’t be shy to write back what you think. Good luck!

      1. Frank,
        I’ve lived in Asia a total of over 30 years and continuously since 1992 (the last 24 years). From your post, it seems your reasons for not liking Hua Hin boil down to the following negative issues —
        – traffic along the main highway is heavy & noisy — this would apply to most destinations I’ve ever seen in my home country or abroad. Solution: don’t chose a home close to the highway.
        – there are no sidewalks — I’d say, if you want all the amenities of home (such as sidewalks) then maybe you should stay in your home country, but won’t you suffer from much worse problems, like cost of living? If you want endless daily adventure — then venture to Asia.
        – lots of rats & cockroaches. Common problem in most parts of the world. Solution: Choose an area not preferred by rats & cockroaches.
        – poor access to the beach. I visited Hua Hin a few years ago and had no problem in accessing the beach, just walked across the street from the hotel to the beach park.

        We have lived in Chiang Mai the last 3 years. We love it — one of the nicest places I’ve ever lived in my 75 yrs. But, a lot of negative folks complain about Chiang Mai. We recently discovered that in Hua Hin we can rent a beautiful 3-BR house at half the cost of our rent in CM and the 8,000 baht/month Hua Hin house is MUCH MUCH nicer than our Chiang Mai house, it even has a gorgeous private pool. We plan to go to Hua Hin for a year at least, just to enjoy the much lower rents and to be near the beach.

        In my 30+ years in Asia, I have observed that the expats who are happy and know how to enjoy life are invariably happy wherever they go. The folks who pack their negativity in their suitcases and take it with them — they can never escape their “excess baggage” and are usually not happy anywhere, even at home.

        The most revealing information in your post is the idea that you can become familiar with a place in 5 weeks. It took us at least 2 years to become familiar with Chiang Mai, and after 3 yrs we’re still discovering new things every day.

        Just my observations. Your mileage may vary.

        Good luck to you.


        1. Thanks for the comment Brad!
          I think I’ve covered what I think of most of those points in some of my other replies.
          – Hua Hin is built up along a highway. Most places are not. I think that’s helpful to people.
          – “stay home” Expats settled in certain places have blinders on…there are places that fit the bill in both Thailand and SE without having to put up with the filth of Hua Hin.
          – Hotel to the beach park? That was my point exactly…you shouldn’t have to stay in a 5 star hotel to have access to the beach

          We’re not expats at this point, we’re slow travellers. “familiar” and “know” are two different things. We became familiar enough with Hua Hin to know that its not a place that we would want to ever come back to. I think most people can figure that out in 5 weeks. Chiang Mai also much, much bigger than Hua Hin, can’t really be compared. But I’ve gone there enough to know I much prefer it to Hua Hin.

          In the end if you’re happy with Hua Hin that’s great. But I can assure you it doesn’t fit the bill for everyone.

          Thanks for your points

  12. You’re right – but I wasn’t talking particularly about those who retire. I know a lot of my friends who are young that have exactly the same opinion and I am a freak for the to prefer to be in a less touristy, unknown place.

    Thailand, with its nature, architecture and original culture is (or was) amazing, of course, just like any other place in the world. Unfortunately, in my opinion the tourism industry destroyed it. Too many people coming there just to “abuse” what it has best without caring about the environment etc… probably they wouldn’t do it at home so they do it in Thailand – get drunk and stoned cheaply, get cheap prostitutes, etc… There is nothing wrong in having fun, but it went way to far I think.

    1. We saw that the last time we went and met a few Expats who are disillusioned. But it also applies to tourism – you commented previously on my Phi Phi post. Perfect example of a place that has been ruined by tourism. Its true for most of the south.

  13. I can see that you also sparked some controversy here because you said something negative about Thailand. I think people are so blinded by the media that when they think Thailand = Amazing, mythical, magical place out of this world. It’s funny how they defend it saying that South East Asia is just the way it is – without side walks, with pollution, crazy traffic, scams etc… and you should just love it the way it is. It’s great and that’s it. And it’s not true that there are no beautiful beaches besides towns – Vlora (Albania) has a beautiful, crystal clear sea right besides the main road.

    But, whenever I say that I loved Albania, Ukraine etc… the first comment I get is that I am crazy because those countries are poor and polluted. And mafia! Now, suddenly the poverty and chaos which seem to be an attraction in SE Asia (people love to watch the villagers working in the rice fields – its so natural, cool and trendy) becomes an issue. And the Balkans are nowhere near as polluted as SE Asia where you rarely can see the real, blue sky because of the smog and smoke coming from burning fields.

    To be honest, it’s so sad to see how mass tourism destroys the coast and the once unspoiled beaches… Unfortunately, slowly it happens in off the beaten path places too, like Albania, Macedonia etc… 🙁

    1. Thanks Tom. There’s a different breed in Thailand, an army of expats who’ve settled there to live the dream of sunny skies, beautiful beaches, and easy sex. They know damn well its not perfect but when you say anything negative they get angry because you are questioning where they chose to retire.

      But Thailand has changed. My mom the perfect example. Retired in Chiang Mai, loved it. It lasted about 5 years. Has gotten more crowded, more dirty backpackers and expats filling up the place, more smog and traffic. Prices have gone up and friendliness down. She’s now in Mexico which she prefers. Places come and go…

  14. Just read the comments on thaivisa. Funny how “happy” expats sound do angry and unhappy. You hit a few raw nerves. There were some considered responses though.

    1. Honestly, I think there are a lot of miserable expats in Thailand who maybe thought it would be the perfect life and it hasn’t turned out as expected. So they get upset when you question the place where they’ve chosen to settle because they figure you’re attacking them and their choices.

  15. I agree Hua Hin is ordinary. Beaches don’t compare with the islands, hotels are overpriced, seafood triple that of Prachuap Khiri Khan and trafficbis horrible. You should have stayed in Prachuap KK. Much nicer charming town!

  16. “Again, where’s the central planning?”

    You’re not in Kansas anymore. You’re in Southeast Asia where the idea of “central planning” doesn’t exist. Wait until you try to have a nice walk around Phnom Penh!

    1. We were in Nong Khai where we were quite happy with the central planning and where we did a lot of walking. Just because a place is in SE Asia is no excuse for it to be a dump. Have you been to Vientiane? Expats love making these snarky comments, the same way backpackers claim they know better than everyone else because they live at the local level (like being cheap is a virtue, ignoring there are some very well off Asians).

      My comments were meant to inform people who’ve never been to Hua Hin of the pros and cons of the place in our eyes. We didn’t like it. Nong Khai was a whole different story.

  17. Sounds like you want everything. An unspoiled beach. Sidewalks. Central Planning. Lots of activities.


    First, of all, unspoiled beaches don’t happen in cities–anywhere in the world. Where have you travelled to with an unspoiled beach in a city?

    Unspoiled beaches happen in remote fishing villages. There are no sidewalks. There is no “central planning”.

    You want “central planning”? Retire to Santa Barbara, California. They have bike lanes and many kilometers of bike paths. There’s a major university nearby that has cultural activities and lots of beer parties with up and coming bands playing in people’s front yards. There’s a great farmer market with organic food. Plus great Mexican food. The weather is outstanding. There are several great beaches, including 3 clothing optional beaches. It’s only a couple hours from a major city (Lis Angeles) if you get bored. The architecture is planned and all houses mist conform to the red tiled roofs.

    However, you won’t be able to afford it. There is no camping on the beach, that’s illegal. Santa Barbara is one of the most expensive locations in California. Why? Because it’s got everything (except racial diversity. It’s pretty “White Bread”).

    I would suggest you go to Santa Barbara before you criticize Hua Him, LOL. Sometimes, you get what you pay for.

    And sometimes you don’t. My favorite beach location is on the Pacific coast of Mexico. I’m not going to say the name, because that’s a Secret. I paid $1 a night to camp on the beach under a palapa. Nothing on the beach between my hammock and the ocean. No condos. No development. You have to take a bus to get there. Most Mexicans have never heard of the place, so it’s very difficult to get there. There’s no bars. There was one restaurant with fresh seafood. I don’t want to give you the impression it’s unknown–I met tourists from Canada, Belgium, France, Germany and Spain there. But only one American. So, for those in the know, it’s a great location. There’s nothing to do there, except swim in the ocean, walk on the beach or hike in the mountains.

    Again, I only paid $1 a night to sleep in a hammock on the beach. Name one location anywhere in the world that equals that, Mr. Travel Blogger. LOL.

    1. Commenters like you always add a bit of life to the blog 🙂 Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      Don’t forget that Hua Hin is supposed to be a beach town. Thailand Tourism Authority: “Hua Hin, one of Thailand’s premier beach resort towns”. HA! We’re actually not big beach goers, but when we settle down somewhere for a while we want something clean, where you can walk somewhere without dodging the roaches. And to all the detractors who say “this is Thailand, no sidewalks, dirty, don’t be a pussy..etc etc” – well, we are in Nong Khai and it’s pretty much everything we were looking for in a town. Hua Hin DOESN’T have to be dirty, it’s not a poor town. Could be a lot better, they just don’t bother doing anything to improve the place…

      You know what? There are lots of beach towns in the world where you don’t have to be a millionaire to live. It doesn’t have to be Santa Monica. There’s places in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Colombia…there’s places everywhere. And yes Mexico (I’m a big fan of Mexico).

      And I’ve been places where I’ve paid $1 to sleep in a hammock. I’ve even laid out my sleeping bag on beach and slept there. But I was young and I really don’t feel the need to brag about either of those experiences 😉

  18. HI
    I visited Hua Hin last year between Christmas and New Year 2013. I was rather new to Thailand, having made two short visits before. I moved to Bangkok in October 2013. I had visited a southern island years before; I wanted a nearby beach holiday. I had also been to Pattaya before, unfavorably impressed, and heard Hua Hin was much nicer, less commercial, etc.

    I was really disappointed in my short term stay. My experience was very much like yours: noisy (the middle of town guesthouse was near multiple bars with nasty loud music til 2 am), and crowded, poor beach access controlled by big resorts. Food prices were significantly higher than my BKK neighborhood. I was rather disgusted. Getting around is also difficult – no taxis, tuk tuks are pirate ripoffs, songtaw trucks hard to figure out. I wanted to get further south to nicer beaches, but affordable public transportation was hard – songthaws (covered pickups) are HARD to figure out at first, even though I spoke some Thai. I managed to get down to Khao Takiab with the songtaw but he wouldn’t take us to the top (my friend couldn’t hike it). Finally up there, the temple and everything were so very dirty, with aggressive monkeys. Charming to some, but… Upside: magnificent views, beach accessible and much nicer there – however, beaches are so so so much better all along the US coast, esp. Florida (whine whine whine, I know…)

    So as they say, “haters gonna hate,” but when you are hoping for a decent beach experience and are confronted at every turn with ickiness, it’s hard. And this after some other Thai beach and Bangkok experience. Rampant overdevelopment is the Thai curse, country-wide.

    I know you won’t slam or be overly negative in your blog posts, but SHORT TERM VISITORS NEED TO BE AWARE OF WHAT THEY ARE GETTING THEMSELVES INTO. While less overtly sex oriented than Pattaya, it’s the same icky overdevelopment and lack of proper beach access IN THE MIDDLE OF TOWN, which is where most short term tourists – who don’t have cars or motorbikes – can get around. As you say, no planning, just commercial whatever, how-ever… Short-termers can’t stay where the nice beaches are and also have good access to the stuff they need: variety of food, shelter, except at the overpriced resorts at Cha Am (nice beach there).

    Frankly, some negative publicity might help the situation improve – it is a “royal retreat” after all (bullshit x 1000…). Make sure the Thailand Tourist Authority knows your impressions.

    Anyway, I live in Chiang Mai now, which has its own problems, but is much nicer overall. Also, check out southern island Koh Yao Yai (or don’t – it’s not overdeveloped yet – LOL). Good luck.

    1. Thanks for the comment Paul. Actually you mention public transport which I hadn’t covered in the post. The Songthaws we found pretty handy getting from one end of town to the other. Taxis was a source of frustration. The security guard at the building called us one (none on the street) and it took 20 minutes. Took us less than 10 minutes to get to Hutsadin Elephant Foundation and we were late by the time we arrived. Cost: 200 Baht one way. We thought for sure that we had been ripped off but were told that’s the going rate, supply and demand. I’m not sure what the deal with that is in Hua Hin but you are right, not easy to get around without your own wheels.

  19. Dear bbqboy,

    I have lived in Hua Hin, worked there, toured there and visited friends in HH and surrounds for some time. Haven’t kept an accurate record but have entered HH over 50 times during a 30 year period. Cumulatively, perhaps several years in the immediate district. Having disclosed this I still could not possibly consider myself to have an informed opinion, and advise on retirement in Hua Hin.

    I don’t have a problem with the content of your post, just the title. It’s obvious your target audience is the tourist and the piece would be competent if titled appropriately. The content is a subjective, surface opinion of a tourist.

    I have lived in the province of Khon Kaen, district of Chumphae for 5 continuous years in retirement. If I had the intent to write serious copy about retirement in KK, I believe I am close to being well informed. I am persuaded (by retirement) that it takes an extended, integrated retirement experience – regardless of location – rather than a snapshot view, to offer advice on such an inherent, complex issue as to: ‘Hua Hin as a retirement option?’.



    1. Hi Rob,
      Appreciate your well-written comment and your opinion. I can understand – I lived in Montreal over 25 years and still discovered new things over the last few years. You’ll never know everything about a place no matter how long you stay.

      But how long do you have to visit a place to know whether it is a place that you want to settle in? Obviously you’re not going to spend 30 years everywhere you go. So how do you, in the first place, decide that Hua Hin is the place you want to retire in?? How did you decide that Hua Hin was the place for you?

      I think everyone can decide within a certain period of time if a place they visit is a place that they would want to spend more time in. I knew within a week that while Bangkok was a fun place to visit that we couldn’t live there. We initially liked Hua Hin (and please don’t think we have an intense dislike for the place) but realized with time that it’s not a place that we would want to retire in. We’ve been in Nong Khai for a month now. Loved it from almost the moment we arrived and we could easily see this as our base in Thailand both now and in the future. Before Thailand we spent 3 months in Prague. We would go back to there anytime.

      We’re not ready to retire. But we are travelling the world both to see places we haven’t been while also keeping an eye out for places where we could see ourselves retiring in the future. Of course it’s personal – places that you might like might not be places we would like for a multitude of factors. The above is an opinion piece on what we think of Hua Hin. I don’t pretend that the above is a detailed Hua Hin guide, I’m rather stating the pros and the cons as we see it. And as much as I don’t pretend to know it as you do having been there for 30 years, I can tell you that 5 weeks was enough for us to decide that it’s not the retirement spot for us.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment 🙂
      Frank (bbqboy)

    1. Oh, how so? If you’re capable of writing more than 12 words at a time maybe you can expand on the point you are trying to make. Otherwise just sounds like troll talk…

      I welcome people to write their opinions in an intelligent manner. Always like feedback even if different from my opinion. But if comments add no value to the conversation they’ll just be deleted going forward.

  20. What a load of rot. You clearly have no knowledge of thailand or travelling in asia. No sidewalks – what did you expect, that applies to 95 percent of thailand. I think because of you clearly very limited budget (850 us per month) you should make clear that you are a backpacker type and not someone able or in a position to retire in thailand. I have been once to hua hin 8 years ago and loved the place staying four weeks. Sofitel was a worldclass hotel and really enjoyed walking into a bustling town centre with hundreds of really good restaurants. We choose hua hin because of the golf, at the time 5 great courses within 15 mins drive and we liked most black mountain. Now we prefer to spend a month a year over xmas in phuket where we are right now. Island has also changed massively and all your gripes about dogs, sidewalks, traffic apply. However, over the past 6 years i think the island has improved for the better providing the option of a cheap and cheerful thai restaurant against the russian funded bliss or nikita beach clubs. Something for everyone and lots of good golf courses. My only gripe is that phuket has become expensive with a typical meal for 6 coming to 3300 baht which is just over a hundred us. This is more than south africa from where we come but i guess still good value if you live in pounds.

    1. Huh? Very limited budget? Where did you pull the $850/month from? I mentioned we paid for our Airbnb apartment (which was actually quite chic) $1000/5 weeks. Per month that comes to $800. Most locals would I’m sure tell me that’s pretty darn expensive.
      Sure, it has a couple of nice hotels. Is that how you judge a place? Because I’ve seen great hotels in some of the shittiest cities on earth.
      And I agree on the restaurants and golf. My dad loves golf and would probably love Hua Hin just for that. And that’s why opinions on a place are subjective. I really couldn’t care less about golf…
      Haven’t been to Phuket in 5 years but reading on forums lots of people would not agree with you. Again though, if you love golf then you’re probably in paradise.

    2. Comments like the one above (from Richard) make my blood boil. What is wrong with being a backpacker? I think this is the way you get to know the culture and the country! Otherwise, you don’t know if Richard loves the country he’s visiting or if he loves those closed resorts for western tourists built by corporations that have nothing to do with the local place. Maybe I’m different or there is something wrong with me but you must be out of your mind to come all the way to Thailand just in order to stay in a hotel and play golf. I just do not understand it.

      I think people should go to a place to discover it, absorb its culture and decide whether they like it or not. But they should see the reality and not be locked in the “posh westernized bubbles”. Is it not better to go to a 5-star hotel in the city where you live and stay there? At least you’ll save the flight tickets!

      1. There’s a lot of people like Richard who want nothing but their comforts and playing golf. Hua Hin is so damn hot I can’t imagine playing golf there. Sounds f*ing boring to me but I guess he’s entitled to his opinion.

        1. I know there’s plenty of people like that (I think majority of people) and thanks to them we can see the unspoiled coastlines turned into a construction sites and then closed posh resorts.

    1. Hey Stephen! Thanks for the tip about Chiang Khan.
      Good to hear that you also liked Nong Khai. Everyone has their own speed and some places better to live in vs visit. I think that’s the case with us.
      And thanks about the photos 🙂

  21. Hi Frank,
    There are no sidewalks ANYWHERE in SEA. Does ma heed in!!!
    You’ll be grand in NK. I love it there. Be sure to check out Chiang Khan a nice 200km ride west along the Mekong.
    Retirement? I did that once.
    All the best

  22. Thanks for sharing Frank! I decided to skip Hua Hin for now and it sounds like I’m not missing much… I’ll get down there some day but it’s no rush. That’s interesting you will be based in Nong Khai for 4 months. What made you decide to spend such a long time there? I’ve never been to the north east myself. Looking forward to reading your thoughts about life up there.

    1. Hey Skins! The way we are travelling we needed a base…and we’re just basically a bit fed up of Thai cities. I read good things about Nong Khai and a few people told me that it’s a laid back, pretty place. It’s exactly that. The Mekong here is beautiful and its gorgeous when the sunsets over it. Not much traffic, you hear the sounds of nature from your window in the morning. Its clean, not too hot; about 25C here vs the 32C in Hua Hin. And there’s just enough expat infrastructure; nice little cafes, bars..and no girlie bars yet which is fine for us. Really pretty. An alternative was Chiang Mai but just keep hearing how its getting crowded, too much traffic and pollution. Plus every other blogger in the world there right now 🙂
      Everyone has different tastes. For us it’s perfect for right now.

      1. Sounds good Frank. I’m assuming you are on tourist visas? At least you have an easy trip to Vientiane if you need a new one. Be sure to post your thoughts about life up there. I’ve been wanting to explore Isaan on a motorcycle. Need to brush up on my pasaa thai first. Cheers!

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