Do you ever feel like getting away from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok, but not too far away? Sometimes taking a short flight to Phuket or Chiangmai can still be a hassle since you have to arrive at the airport hours before departure and delays are more common than airlines would like to admit. Also, outside of Bangkok transportation is far less convenient with taxi cabs charging higher fares and forget about the BTS or MRT – they simply don’t exist. Not all of us are designed to endure bumpy rides in tuk tuks or the dreadful red pick up trucks where seats are not even guaranteed. If you’re the backpacker type or the “adventurous” type then read no further. This is a guide to Hua Hin designed for travelers who value a certain level of comfort and are not afraid to splurge a little bit. My partner and I just had the most wonderful holiday and here’s how we did it:
Initially we’d planned on hiring a driver from bkkbigtaxitour to take us to Hua Hin and back to Bangkok, but the round trip price would set us back THB 5,400 which is about twice the cost of renting a car. Another reason we decided to drive ourselves was the flexibility it provided us, not to mention the convenience of having a car while in Hua Hin. We also took into account the privacy we would get by having our own vehicle, since Thai drivers tend to get squeamish if passengers start locking lips in the back seat. If you and your partner can’t keep your hands off each other then I would recommend renting your own car.
After careful research we chose Avis Thailand for their competitive rates and as it turned out their service was top notch too. We went for the Group D Toyota Corolla 1.8 which ended up costing just under 3,000 THB with full insurance for 2 days. You can also get a smaller car for half that price. The best part about renting from Avis is the free late return for up to 4 hours. Trust me, with the traffic here you’ll need it as a safety net.
We picked up the car from Avis’ Downtown location in Sathorn. Their office is actually inside the Caltex gasoline station, which gives you the added convenience of filling up last minute when you return the car.
Google maps came in quite handy for the road trip. We set our destination for the hotel and were on our way. It takes about 2.5 to 3 hours to get from Bangkok to Hua Hin and if you booked a hotel as nice as the Cape Nidhra then you do not want to make any unnecessary stops. Petting animals at the Swiss sheep farm and shopping at some factory outlet simply cannot compare to lounging around in your very own private deluxe pool suite. However, we did have to stop for a quick lunch break at Porto Chino, the only civilized shopping plaza along the way with food choices such as the ever reliable Fuji Japanese restaurant.
Finally we arrived at Cape Nidhra, a quiet little place tucked away on the main road. Well, it seemed small from the entrance, but once you’re inside the hotel it actually stretches out all the way to the beach. We were led into our parking spot and then whisked away on a golf cart to the lobby for check in. We had booked the deluxe pool suite on Agoda.com and paid just over THB12,000 for two nights.
After 3 hours on the road, nothing else seemed better than taking a dip in the private pool on our balcony and that’s exactly what we did. In fact, that’s all we did for the rest of the day with a bit of room service and bubble bath time in the large, oval-shaped tub that was the perfect size for two.
The next morning we woke up bright and early, completely refreshed from a restful slumber and eager to try the breakfast buffet. I’ll be the first to tell you that it’s everything you could ever want for breakfast. Made to order eggs in any style, fresh pancakes and waffles with real maple syrup, and juice from toasted miniature coconuts are just a few of the items I went back for seconds. I found it a bit amusing that they served Chinese food like fried rice and noodles, and realized it must be to accommodate the influx of tourists from China.
For lunch we were pleased to find this 98-table outdoor restaurant Saeng Thai Seafood serving local seafood in a no frills atmosphere just minutes away from Cape Nidhra by car. It’s situated right on the beach so you’ll get a great view no matter where you sit. The steamed crabs paddle leg (THB 350) comes ready to eat, saving you the hassle of cracking the shells. Steamed sea bass with lemon (THB 550) is another great dish if you like tangy Thai flavors. Other dishes we recommend are: Grilled spotted Babylon snails (THB 950), Stir fried clams with chili (THB 150), and Stir fried shrimp with cashew nuts (THB 200). Just remember you don’t have to dress up for this place. Comfortable flip-flops and tank tops are perfectly acceptable.
After a stroll along the beach we drove to our spa treatment at the Sheraton Hua Hin Resort & Spa, which was about 15 minutes away. Massages are common and affordable all over Thailand, but there’s nothing like getting a spa treatment in an upscale resort. What’s the difference? Well-designed rooms with quality massage beds combined with therapists trained to international standards, and of course all the finer amenities. At the Shine Spa, we tried the Shine Massage (THB 3,700.-net for 90 minutes/ THB 4,700.-net for 120 minutes) which combines three different massage techniques. We started off with traditional Thai massage with the masseurs stretching out our muscles and pressing in all the right pressure points to relieve tension. Next up was the herbal ball compress where various points over the body is pressed rapidly but firmly with an extremely hot ball made with fabric that is filled with herbs. It takes a bit getting used to if it’s your first time, but it’s certainly invigorating. The session ended with a relaxing oil massage that left us covered in the wonderful scent of their signature Orange & Mint oil which filled the room throughout the treatment, releasing its revitalizing aromatherapy.
When it was time for dinner we head to InAzia, a truly romantic setting for two people still floating on the clouds of their honeymoon love. This modern Pan-Asian restaurant is situated within the Sheraton Hua Hin Resort & Spa and offers a diverse menu of Japanese, Thai and Indian cuisine sure to satisfy the pickiest eaters. Since I live in the little Japanese town of Bangkok known as Thonglor, where both Japanese and Thai food are available at every corner, we decided to try the Indian set menu (THB 900++ for 2 persons). A mango smoothie was the perfect match to the ethnic spices and herbs in the dishes. Portions were generous and we gladly stuffed ourselves with the samosas, curries, roti and much more.
The next morning we indulged in our last breakfast at the Cape Nidhra, took a final dip in our private pool and promised ourselves that next time we’ll book a longer stay.
Written by Yvonne Liang
Photo Credit: Sheraton Hua Hin Resort & Spa