We originally planned to drive down to Koh Samui for a 7 day visit, but the weather was not cooperating with us! Rain was in the forecast every day, much of it very heavy. Not only would that make the island stay less pleasant, the drive could be treacherous.
We looked to the north for options, but the weather was even worse, a tropical storm was causing major flooding.
We studied maps and weather reports and finally decided to watch for a break in the weather and go for a short 5-day trip to Hua Hin. Only 3 hours to the south, Hua Hin is a beachside resort town that we had wanted to explore.
At Don Mueang International Airport, we rented a Toyota Hilux (diesel, manual transmission) pickup truck from Budget (932 THB / 28 USD per day). We like the large size for safety and the higher ground clearance is great for rough roads and rising water!
Keep in mind that you need a Thai driver’s license or International Drivers Permit rated for your vehicle of choice (car or motorcycle) to drive legally in Thailand.
Marrakesh Resort and Spa (3551 THB / 107 USD per night) – We decided to plan on staying holed-up indoors watching the rain. We wanted a hotel that, should that scenario come to fruition, we would be comfortable. When we saw that Marrakesh had a two person jetted tub with ocean views on the balcony, we were sold!
The view from the balcony was very nice. For privacy, there is an electric screen that you can lower while bathing.
Another selling point for Marrakesh is that the beach is clean, clear of umbrellas, and huge! It is great for long beach strolls.
North and closer to the center of town, near the Hilton, you have the crowded beach, the beach umbrella rentals, and the vendors. Not our scene!
After checking into our hotel room, we had lunch at the hotel’s restaurant – Al Hamra Restaurant. We had pan-fried whole sea bass and it was very tasty.
The restaurant prices are high, and you get dinged with a 10% service charge and 7% tax, but it is very nice to have the option of not having to leave the premises! If you are looking for more food options at better prices, Bluport Resort Mall is within walking distance (500 meters).
We spent the remainder of the afternoon exploring the beach near the hotel and taking a very long bath. For dinner we took an evening stroll north along the beach to the town center and had a fantastic meal at the Royal Indian Restaurant. We returned to Marrakesh to round out the day by listening to live music at Al Bahr, the hotel’s relaxing beach bar.
Waking up to a rain-free day, we decided to hit the road. As we headed south out of Hua Hin, we stopped at Rajabhakti Park (free). Open daily from 8 AM – 6 PM, this is a great spot to stop, stretch your legs, and take some photos. The park is dedicated to honoring past Thai monarchs. Since the information is only in Thai, you must do your research before or after your visit. Rajabhakti Park consists of three sections:
- The statues of seven kings who reigned between 1279 and 1910.
- An area for royal ceremonies, military parades and a reception area for foreign dignitaries.
- A museum with biographies of each king.
The seven large statues are made of bronze and have an average height of 13.9 meters (45.6 feet). The seven kings from left to right:
- King Ramkhamhaeng – King of Sukhothai from 1279 until 1298
- King Naresuan – King of Ayutthaya from 1590 until 1605
- King Narai – King of Ayutthaya from 1656 until 1688
- King Taksin – King of Thonburi from 1767 until 1782
- King Buddha Yodfa Chulalok (Rama I) – King of Siam from 1782 until 1809
- King Mongkut (Rama IV) – King of Siam from 1851 until 1868
- King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) – King of Siam from 1868 until 1910
After our brief visit to Rajabhakti Park, we continued south to our destination – Pranburi Forest Park (free). Pranburi Forest Park, only 17 kilometers (10.5 miles) south of our hotel in Hua Hin, makes a nice half-day excursion. Located at Pran Buri River’s estuary at the Gulf of Thailand, the small park is 3.17 square kilometers (1.22 square miles) in size and features two nature trails: a beach route along the coastline and the more popular mangrove nature trail. We took the 1.2 kilometer (.75 mile), 1 hour walk on the mangrove nature trail raised boardwalk. There are interpretive signboards in English with interesting information. The highlight of the trip is watching the colorful mud crabs.
The trail has an observation tower that has great views of the surrounding area. Not long after passing the observation tower, you pass a dock with long-tail boats for hire (may not be operation if the water level is too low). The guides offer a 40 minute boat trip through the mangroves. We did not take the boat ride or ask the price, but we have seen prices listed from 400 – 600 baht per boat.
After our relaxing walk, we briefly explored the coast. Before returning to our hotel, we had lunch at the park’s onsite restaurant. We had Pad Kra Prow Moo Krob (Crispy Pork Belly With Chilli and Basil) – it was delicious!
In the late afternoon, we walked south along the beach to Khao Takiab (aka Chopsticks Hill or Monkey Mountain).
You start your walk up Khao Takiab with a very impressive 20 meter Buddha statue overlooking the sea.
A little past the Golden Buddha, a steep stairway leads further up the mountain.
At the top of the stairs, there is a small temple and amazing views of the area.
A dirt road connects this viewpoint to the main temple area – Wat Khao Takiab. The temple is famous for the hordes of macaques waiting to be fed by tourists. Not being a fan of monkeys, we did not visit Wat Khao Takiab. If you do visit – secure your valuables. It is reported that digital cameras and handbags are sometimes snatched by the monkeys.
While Vana Nava Hua Hin Water Jungle was within walking distance of our hotel, we chose the smaller and less expensive Black Mountain Water Park after reading many reviews. Being further removed from the city, the park was less crowded. As we had read in reviews – we did not have to wait a single time for a slide! As quickly as we could walk up, we could slide down! We ended up getting much more exercise than we expected.
The rides at Black Mountain Water Park are not as big as those at Vana Nava Hua Hin Water Jungle, and they do not have as many, but it was perfect for us! We had a very nice visit.
We were excited to wake up to another rain-free morning. We loaded our day-pack and headed to Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park (200 THB / 6 USD per person). Located 65 kilometers (40 miles) south of our hotel, it takes about 1 hour to reach the park headquarters. Established in 1966, this was Thailand’s first marine national park. The park name means “Mountain with 300 Peaks”. The park’s attractions are spread over a large area and are best explored by car.
After purchasing our tickets, we walked directly across the street from the headquarters and followed a sign to Porcupine Cave. After a brief uphill hike, we found the entrance to the cave.
While we could not (and still cannot!) find information about this cave, it was a great place to explore. Bigger than it first appeared, there were many chambers. Every time we thought that we had reached a dead-end, we would find another opening. Always remember to pack your headlamp and spare batteries! We spent about a half-hour exploring Porcupine Cave.
Next we continued our visit by driving 700 meters to the Khao Daeng View Point trailhead. A ranger is stationed at the trailhead to check tickets and to make sure that you read a sign about the difficulty of the short, but steep, 300 meter uphill hike.
Once you reach the 157 meter high view point, you have beautiful views of the mountains, shrimp farms, and the Gulf of Thailand.
Next we drove to the coast and the trailhead for Sai Cave. This is another very steep climb. It is 280 meters to the cave entrance, and the hike in takes about 30 minutes.
This large cave was spectacular! Best of all, we had it all to ourselves.
We spent about 30 minutes exploring the cave and its many chambers.
Just as we finished our return hike, it started to rain. We decided to have lunch at the restaurant located at the trailhead parking lot. Once again we had Pad Kra Prow Moo Krob, and, once again, it was delicious!
The rain settled in, and we were forced to head back to our hotel and bathtub. We were exhausted and satisfied from our hikes and cave explorations, but there were other attractions that we did not get to visit:
- Khao Daeng Canal – 1 hour cruise of the mangrove forest
- Sam Phraya Beach – 1 kilometer long beach lined with casuarinas trees
- Kaeo Cave – guide required
- Laem Sala Beach – secluded beach reached by charter boat or 350 meter trail
- Phraya Nakhon Cave – houses the royal pavilion of King Rama V who visited the cave on June 20, 1890 (main park attraction)
- Thung Sam Roi Yot Freshwater Marsh – largest freshwater marsh in Thailand
We have many reasons for a return visit to Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park!
One final morning bath, and then we checked out of the hotel and returned to Bangkok.
We had a blast on our brief visit to Hua Hin! We lucked out and had great weather, while much of Thailand was getting rain and flooding. The good weather allowed us to get out of our hotel room and explore – although with such a nice room, staying indoors was a pleasant option!
- Time of Year: August 2017
- Length of Stay: 5 Days, 4 Nights
- Total Trip Cost – 2 People: 791 USD*
- Cost Per Day / Per Person: 79 USD*
- Visa Information: Thai Embassy, U.S. citizens carrying a tourist passport and in possession of an onward or return airline ticket do not require a visa to enter Thailand. The passport must have at least six months validity remaining to be allowed entry.
*Excluded from the cost analysis:
- International Airfare – International airfare is not included because fares vary depending on your starting location.
- Travel Health Insurance – Travel health insurance is not included because we have health insurance valid in Thailand.
GPS Coordinates: Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4
Click to expand
Don Mueang International Airport @ 13.920257,100.601909
Marrakesh Resort and Spa @ 12.544064,99.963642
Royal Indian Restaurant @ 12.568918,99.960151
Bluport Resort Mall @ 12.547879,99.962726
Rajabhakti Park @ 12.502253,99.964898
Pranburi Forest Park @ 12.413497,99.985216
Chopstick Hill (Khao Takiab) @ 12.518572,99.978510
Black Mountain Water Park@ 12.604164,99.889424
Vana Nava Hua Hin Water Jungle @ 12.532460,99.962088
Khao Sam Roi Yot Headquarters @ 12.128669,99.954604
Porcupine Cave @ 12.128942,99.954384
Khao Dang View Point @ 12.129769,99.957718
Sai Cave @ 12.178314,100.008682
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You can copy and paste the latitude and longitude into Google Earth, your browser, or into your GPS.
*Disclaimer- ALWAYS verify locations, transportation routes, GPS coordinates, etc. Errors are made, routes changed, sometimes we are just plain wrong. No one knows what you like more than you. If the trip is worth doing, it is worth doing right! Do your homework.