travel

Black Mountain Water Park

31Jan

Black Mountain Water Park offers a fun-filled day for families and anyone needing a big splash. The park features nine different water slides, a wave pool, lazy river, beach pool, kids’ pool, and more – all set on a vast mountain-hugged landscape fronting a main-made lake just 10km north of Hua Hin. Owned and managed by the same people behind the Black Mountain Golf Course, the water park is the latest attraction in the group’s portfolio. It’s located opposite the golf course, on a local road that passes through Wat Huay Mongkol and Baan Silapin.

Highlights at Black Mountain Water Park Most of the park is open spaces, with little pockets of trees and greenery dotting the landscape. The nine water slides are grouped together, so you don’t have to walk very far to try them all. Some are built for speed, with long, narrow tubes that plunge straight down or in successions to the pool below, while others go round in circles before spitting you out in one big splash. From the water slides, you get to the slide pool and lazy pool. Ride an inner tube, or just float, and simply go with the flow. The swim-up pool bar is ideal for quenching your thirst, while the spa pool and fountain pool offer a little break from all the adrenalin-packed activities. The wave pool sends out huge waves every 20 minutes, and the beach pool is, well, like a natural beachfront.

Black Mountain Water Park
Opening Hours: 10:00 – 17:00

 

Plearn Wan Shopping Village

30Jan

Not just a themed open-air mall, Plearn Wan feels more like a living museum where you can experience a slice of life in 1950s Hua Hin. Plern Wan’s two-storey courtyard-style building, an architectural statement in itself, houses a community of period-style shops selling everything from liquor, inexpensive plastic-and-tin toys, snacks as well as a beauty salon, photo studio, outdoor cinema screen and a 20-room guesthouse or ‘Piman Plern Wan. From the main street, Plern Wan’s curious looking entrance – a giant structure fashioned from reclaimed wooden planks – is hard to miss. Stepping through the small opening (compared to the wooden structure) is like stepping into a time machine – suddenly, you find yourself surrounded by all things vintage. When it’s crowded, usually at night, the festive atmosphere resembles that of a well-organised temple fair from decades ago.

 

Plern Wan Fair Ground and Guesthouse Living up to its name (Plern Wan means the ‘joy of yesteryear’), Plern Wan has a fairground complete with a Ferris wheel, game booths and an outdoor cinema where screenings take place on weekend evenings. For those who can’t have enough of Plern Wan in a single day, check in to Piman Plern Wan, the boutique guesthouse located on the second floor. All rooms are individually decked out in a delightful period style, but they are not cheap and can be noisy during peak season (as the shopping and dining zones are right underneath it).

Plern Wan
Opening Hours: 10:00 – 22:00 (Mon-Thurs), 10:00 – midnight (Fri), 09:00 – midnight (Sat), 09:00 – 22:00 (Sun)

Hua Hin Night Market

30Jan

Situated in the Hua Hin centre between the Petchkasem Road and the railway line, the market basically encompasses one street that comes to life from 18:30 onwards, when traders line the street with their stalls selling various apparel, crafts, art, CDs, DVDS and cheap, tasty food – generally what you might expect from a Thai market. This is by no means the best place to shop in Thailand; you will finder a bigger variety of goods in Bangkok or say, Chiang Mai. However, Hua Hin does have a superb selection of seafood restaurants that line the road that hosts the Night Market, drawing a lot of attention from visitors eager to feast on the quality dishes on offer.

Entertainment Like Chiang Mai Night Bazaar, the mere market experience is entertainment in itself. Here is where you can get a real grasp of local culture and opportunity by practicing your Thai during the bartering process. Even if nothing on offer suits your fancy, just walking around and soaking up the atmosphere is a great source of entertainment with the various street vendors and live entertainers around. Most of the restaurants on the street double as bars where you can enjoy a beer or cocktail while watching the crowds move up the street. At the top end of the street moving away from the sea, you will come to Prapokklao Road, which is lively street consisting of shops, bars and restaurants.

Seafood

The seafood restaurants in this part of town are incredibly popular due to their atmosphere, quality of food and Thai-style low prices. With minimal space between each establishment, you can pretty much expect the same thing from each place and prices that closely compare to their neighbours’. Each restaurant usually has a small vending station outside where food is both prepared and sold on a street food basis. The usual seafood ice trays laden with freshly caught fish, crab and lobsters might help sway your choice – the bigger the better. From experience we can recommend that Khaimuk, Rod Yai and Ko Seafood are all worthy choices with excellent food coming in wholesome portions for a lot less than you will pay in the west. Other than seafood, steaks and western-style BBQ dishes can be easily found. Check out our Hua Hin Dining Page for more information.

What to Buy Primarily, Hua Hin Night Market is a place to indulge in food and drink but that is not to say that the shopping should go unmissed. As any savvy market-goer will testify, finding the good stuff is more often than not about getting into the thick of it – keep your ears and eyes peeled in other words. The sort of stuff you can expect to see goes along the lines of jewelry, crafts, some Buddhist tokens, beachwear, funky lamps and some counterfeit goods. The counterfeit goods here don’t feature as prominently as say, Bangkok, but you can still get your hands on a good ‘Chanel’ handbag or pair of ‘Adidas’ trainers. Women’s fashions in the form of dresses, skirts, shirts and tops feature quite prominently as do accessory stands where intricate, hand crafted pieces can be bought. Essentially this is a good area for some pre- or post-dinner shopping, especially if you’re looking to buy souvenirs or traditional Thai crafts.

Hua Hin Night Market
Opening Hours: 18:00 to 23:00 ( Best time to go after 19:00 )

Cicada Market

30Jan

Cicada Market is all about art, handmade crafts and good times. With an open-air market concept, it brings together Hua Hin’s artistic talents and those who wear ‘freedom of expression’ on their sleeves. Besides the crafts market, you’ll also find an art gallery, beer garden and live music. Open only on weekend evenings, the market is usually packed with weekenders from Bangkok. It is located on Phetkasem Road, about halfway between Hua Hin town and Khao Takiab.

 

Cicada Market – Hua Hin’s Art Market The market has four sections: Art a la Mode, Art Indoors, Art of Act and Art of Eating. Art a la Mode occupies the majority of the outdoor space and is dedicated to clothes, decorative items, home wear, and handmade accessories. Art Indoors is situated in the art gallery where the bulk of painting, sketches and sculpture are for sale. Housed inside the same building as the art gallery are a handful of shops selling creative knick knacks and souvenirs. Art of Eating, an open-air food court, enjoys an idyllic garden setting. Find all kinds of savoury snacks, sweets, salads, deep fries, stir fries, all the way to steaks, pastas and seafood barbecues. A separate bar and beer garden offers a good selection of alcoholic drinks.

Live Music and Shows at Cicada Market Part of Cicada Market’s philosophy to help promote Hua Hin as an art destination, Art of Act provides a platform for local art groups to express their talents and creativity. The market’s open-air amphitheatre has seen performances by Hua Hin’s Sasi Dance Group, B Boy, pantomime, music bands and invited artists from Bangkok, such as Koh Mr. Saxman. All in all, Cicada Market reflects Hua Hin’s laid-back yet vibrant personality. It’s not just another outdoor night market but a place where you can chill out, appreciate art and join in the fun.

Cicada Market
Opening Hours: 16:00-23:00 (Friday, Saturday), 16:00-22:00 (Sunday)

Hua Hin Railway Station

30Jan

Built during the reign of King Rama VI, and only a short distance from the centre of town, Hua Hin’s railway station and adjacent royal waiting room are undeniably attractive. The brightly painted wooden buildings that are Thai in concept and design somehow manage to have a ‘Victorian’ feel to them. The story about the birth of Hua Hin as a royal seaside getaway town would be incomplete without a mention of this historic railway station. Back in the early days, there was no road access to this idyllic beach town, and train travel was a new and delightful alternative to get from Bangkok to Hua Hin instead of by boat.

A Brief History – The Birth of Hua Hin With the train station in place and the northern-southern rail line connecting Bangkok and as far south as Singapore in 1921, the town was gradually built around it. European expatriates would travel from Penang and Singapore to enjoy a seaside vacation in Hua Hin. A road was constructed from the train station to the beach where the town’s first luxury hotel – The Hua Hin Hotel Siam – once stood. The hotel, designed by Italian architect A Rigazzi and operated by the Royal Siamese Railway (RSR), has two storeys and boasts elegant colonial-style architecture with verandahs on either side. Today, it has become part of the Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Hua Hin and Hilton Hua Hin Resort & Spa. By 1926, Hua Hin was pretty much set to be a popular seaside town, complete with the train station, luxury hotel, two royal palaces (Klai Kang Won and Maruekhathaiyawan) and a nine-hole golf course (laid out in 1921).

Embark on a Historic Journey Today, the train station has become a popular tourist attraction. Its quaint, East-meets-West architectural style stands in stark contrast to the modern hotel buildings and outdoor malls that have become an integral part of 21st century Hua Hin’s skyline. Relive the splendour of Hua Hin’s past by combining your visit to the train station with Maruekhathaiyawan Palace, also fashioned in similar style with open verandahs, covered boardwalks and beautiful fretwork details. Better yet, relive the past and take the train from Bangkok to Hua Hin, a journey that takes about four hours compared to 2.5 hours by car.

Hua Hin Railway Station
Opening Hours: 07:00-23:00

Maruekathaiyawan Palace

30Jan

Like many buildings in Hua Hin, this Thai-Victorian style summer seaside palace was constructed in the early 1920s during the reign of King Rama VI. It was designed by an Italian architect and built with golden teak from the demolished Hat Chao Samran Palace, with lots of verandas, latticework and high ceilings to keep the structure cool during summer.

The Setting
Set on a vast manicured landscape fronting idyllic Cha Am Beach, the candy-coloured mansion comprises three one-storey pavilions with more than 1,000 pillars supporting them to avoid flood damage. All buildings are connected by covered boardwalks, designed to catch cool breezes from all directions, leading all the way to the beach front.

Period Splendour When approached from afar, the sight of the palace against the backdrop of white sands and cerulean-blue sea conjures up an image of a place suspended in time. You can almost imagine court servants scurrying down the corridors, going about their daily business, while the king and royal consorts take residence in the royal chambers.

Back in those days, each of the three buildings had clearly defined functions. A series of halls located in the south wing served as the residence of the king and royal consorts. These consisted of royal sitting and relaxing rooms, the royal chamber of the princess consort and a reading room. The north wing served as accommodation for court servants, and the two-story open pavilion or ‘Samoson Sewakamat Hall’ served as the official venue for royal functions as well as for theatre and entertainment.