Thailand’s original beach resort is no palm- fringed castaway island and, arguably, is better for it. Instead, it is a delightful mix of city and sea with a cosmopolitan ambience, lively markets, tasty street eats, long beaches and fully functional city services. Hua Hin traces its aristocratic roots to the 1920s when Rama VI (King Vajiravudh) and Rama VII (King Prajadhipok) built summer residences here to escape Bangkok’s stifling climate. The more famous of the two is Phra Ratchawang Klai Kangwon (Far from Worries Palace), 3km north of town, which is still a royal residence today and so poetically named that Thais often invoke it as a city slogan. Rama VII’s endorsement of Hua Hin and the construction of the southern railway made the town the place to be for Thai nobility, who built their own summer residences beside the sea. In the 1980s, the luxury hotel group Sofitel renovated the town’s grand dame hotel and foreign tourists started arriving. Today, all the international hotel chains have properties in Hua Hin, and a growing number of wealthy expats retire to the nearby housing estates and condominiums. Middle- class and high- society Thais from Bangkok swoop into town on weekends, making parts of the city look a lot like upper Sukhumvit. There’s a lot of money swirling around but because this is a bustling Thai town, seafood is plentiful and affordable, there’s cheap public transport for beach- hopping and it takes a lot less effort (and money) to get here from Bangkok than to the southern islands.

We were lucky enough to be invited to stay one night at Yupadee’s brother’s condo. It is located right on the water with a double tiered infinity pool right above the ocean. Providing a beautiful view.

Yupadee drove us down for the night. Stopping at Phra Nakhon Khiri Historical Park Along the way.This national historical park sits regally atop Khao Wang (Palace Hill) surveying the city with subdued opulence. Rama IV (King Mongkut) built the palace, in a mix of European and Chinese styles, and surrounding temples in 1859 as a retreat from Bangkok. The hilltop location allowed the king to pursue his interest in astronomy and stargazing. Each breezy hall of the palace is furnished with royal belongings. Cobblestone paths lead from the palace through the forested hill to three summits, each topped by a chedi (stupa). The white spire of Phra That Chom Phet can be spotted from the city below.

We took the cable car to the top and enjoyed the view. The grounds are full of monkeys. I have decided against going to Lopburi as I now have a terrible fear of monkeys. They are scary little creatures when gathered in herds. We walked around the palace and the palace grounds. You can imagine how beautiful it once was and how modern it must have been in 1859.

We then had authentic ice cream sandwiches. They scoop ice cream on white bread and put syrup on top. All for the equivalent of 50¢.

That night we went down to the night market and enjoyed fresh you pick to order fish, jumbo prawns, squid, muscles, clams, and scallops. It was all amazing!

The next day the kids enjoyed the pool and swimming in the ocean before we had to head back into Bangkok.

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