History of Hua Hin
Hua Hin, which means stone head in Thai, is steeped in history. It is the oldest resort in Thailand. Once, a sleepy fishing village where local fisherman would bring in their catches of fish to feed their families, Hua Hin was ‘discovered’ as a resort by King Prajadhipok in the 1920s. Hua Hin is widely recognized as a royal resort and has the King’s Summer Palace here called Klai Kangwon, which means far from worries. Up until 1934, Hua Hin was called Samore Riang, which means rows of rocks when translated into English.
Also, up until June 23rd 1939, Thailand was originally known as Siam. Although Hua Hin was originally better known as a fishing port only, the town still has an active fishing fleet here today. If you travel just past the Hilton Hotel, you will come to a small jetty. Here, you can not only watch the Thai fishing boats bringing their catches of fish in, but you can also watch the local fishermen that fish along the jetty. Khao Takieb is also another place where you can watch the fishermen brining in their catches of fish, crab and prawn. At nighttime, looking out over the Gulf of Thailand, Hua Hin’s horizon is covered with neon green lights. These lights are used by the hubdreds of Thai fishing boats to lure the squid to them.
The King of Thailand’s Klai Kangwon summer palace was built in the early twentieth century. The palace is very attractive and has mature gardens. The town of Hua Hin came to be because farmers that farmed the land further north in the province of Petchaburi were affected by water shortages. Therefore, they decided to move south to the area where the beach had brilliant white sand and big rocks jutted out of the water – now known as Hua Hin or stone head in Thai.
The King’s Summer Palace is located just north of Hua Hin. It is built next to the sea and the gardens are spectacular with many different exotic plants. There are also some big lakes and the grounds are open to the public in the morning and the afternoon for people to visit. You must dress appropriately. Every day, floating about a kilometre out in the Gulf of Thailand, you will see numerous ships of the Thai navy that guard the palace. At night, these ships light up the horizon beautifully with their green lights and make a stunning backdrop for those eating their dinner at the numerous restaurants along the beach.
The King’s Summer Palace is not the only piece of architecture famous in Hua Hin. The Hua Hin railway station located in the centre of the town is also iconic in Hua Hin. Also built during this time, this distinctive red railway station was originally a Thai sala or pavilion from Nakhon Pathom province. There is a room called a Royal Waiting Room that used to be used for receiving the King and other elites on their arrival to Hua Hin. The railway line, finished in 1911, brought many affluent Thais and aristocracy to Hua Hin and who then decided to build holiday homes here.
The Sofitel Hotel in Hua Hin, which was opened in 1986, used to be called the Railway Hotel. It was originaly built in the 1920s. The Sofitel is located right on the beach in Hua Hin and is one of the most stunning hotels in Hua Hin. It is located directly down the street from Hua Hin railway station. The Royal Hua Hin golf course – Thailand’s oldest and most famous golf course – was commissioned by King Rama VI and constructed in 1922 to welcome the hotel guests. Interestingly, the Sofitel hotel was used as a location for the famous film The Killing Fields about Cambodia’s civil war with the Khymer Rouge in Cambodia. The movie won 3 Academy awards.
Take time to really look around at some of the historic sites when you come to Hua Hin. Even if you are not too interested in history, The King’s Summer Palace is simply stunning; the Railway Station has lots of character and is a great place to take photos; the golf course is right next to the railway station so should be seen for its beauty and the Sofitel Hotel is just down the road on the beach and has beautiful grounds and architecture. There are some very beautiful old temples too. The big one in the centre of town near the clock tower is fascinating. And, on Soi 116, just 5 minutes south of Hua Hin, there is a temple with a beautiful roof on it.