Hua Hin On A Budget

08.February 2013

Budget, Our Budget, Thailand

Hua Hin, ThailandHua Hin is heralded as the perfect spot for a quick beach holiday. Only two (or so) hours from Bangkok it certainly is easy to get to but, as a weekend get-a-way spot for wealthy Bangkokians would it fit our teeny-tiny budget?

It’s true, the expensive, brand name, hotels and resorts (think Sofitel, Hilton, Grand Centara) dominate the coast line with their high-rise buildings, swimming pools, beautiful grounds, and world class restaurants but there is more to Hua Hin than that and we were determined to find it.

Sleeping

As we had a week to spend, and a desire to settle in a bit and call somewhere ‘home’, I set to looking for an apartment. It wasn’t difficult. Wimdu has a great selection of units throughout the city at all price points. The booking process was super simple; I just entered in Hua Hin as the destination, selected the dates I needed, and browsed the selection of available apartments. Pictures, detailed descriptions, map locations, and prices were all right there to help me choose. If I had any questions, or wanted to confirm dates, I could simply message the owner directly. With discounts given for weekly, and monthly, rentals it soon becomes clear that slow travel is the more affordable way to go.

Tira Tiraa, Hua Hin, ThailandWe ended up in a lovely studio apartment, away from the beach but near many eateries and the night market. With our own, albeit small and without a stove (can it really be called a kitchen then?), kitchen we can prepare morning coffee and breakfast at our leisure, keep our beer cold, and enjoy afternoon cocktails on the patio. Perfect.

At about $43/night, with the weekly discount, it would be a great deal (although certainly not the cheapest room available in town – you can stay in hostels and boarding house rooms for much cheaper) but Wimdu (and most apartment rental sites) add a service fee to the bill which raised the cost to $50/night. I hate service fees. I guess if our stay was a month, or longer, then the service fee is amortized over a longer period which would lessen the impact but to those of us looking to apartments for shorter term accommodation the service fee just sucks.

Eating

Hua Hin is a tourist town so there are plenty of places to grab a bite at all price points. From hotel restaurants to seafood houses on stilts, beach front dining to night market fare, and the ubiquitous mobile stands around town, there is surely something for everyone! We’re on a budget so we kept it pretty low key; breakfast in our apartment (we buy yogurt from 7/11 and fruit from various vendors), noodle soup from the corner for lunch, and most often dinner at the night market.

Here are some of our favorite places:

From carts all over. Noodle soup with pork. 20 baht (about 70 cents). This is a lunch time staple.

Hua Hin, ThailandChomsin Food Stalls; on the corner of Th Chomsin and Th Naebkhardt. BBQ duck and pork over rice and papaya salad + 1 beer. 160 baht ($5.35).

Hua Hin, Thailand

Hua Hin, ThailandNight Market; Th Dechanuchit from 5pm onward. Moo Seafood right in front of the 7/11 was our favorite – the places more ‘in’ the market were more expensive. Stay away from the lobster and large prawns and it’s actually very affordable.  Wild boar curry, snapper with ginger, and steamed rice + 2 beer. 380 baht ($12.70). The best we had here was the prawns with cashews and squid with thai curry – about the same price but unbelievably good (no pictures that day).

Hua Hin, ThailandOnn Onn Corner Restaurant. For more of a ‘sit down’ experience; the food here was excellent and the prices very reasonable.

Hua Hin, Thailand

Drinking

Is this where I confess how much we actually drink? Well, let’s just say that it’s very affordable to quaff one or two here in Thailand. A large Singha beer from the 7/11 costs 42 baht ($1.40) and when out for lunch or dinner we’re paying somewhere around 80-100 baht ($2.70 – $3.30).

Hua Hin, ThailandWe like to have a cocktail in the evening and have taken quite nicely to the local SangSom and soda concoction. A bottle of SangSom is 250 baht ($8.40), and soda and ice can be had at the 7/11 for pennies.

Hua Hin, Thailand

Beach

This is kind of where it all falls down for me. The beach just isn’t that great. North of the pier the beach is hemmed in by the concrete wall demarking the city; the beach looks desolate and uninviting. South of town, skulking in the shadow of the behemoth Hilton Hotel, it is patterned with beach chairs and umbrellas almost as far as you can see. There are a few open spaces to spread out a towel but the sand is coarse and the surroundings not exactly inviting. I usually love the juxtaposition of city and beach but here it seems all too separate; the beach is for the foreigners and the city is for the Thais. It’s a shame.

Hua Hin, Thailand

Getting Around

The city center is small enough to walk around, if you’re staying in the city. If you’re not then I’m guessing you’re at one of the resorts and maybe have no reason to leave?

If you want to go further afield there are plenty of taxis, tuk-tuks, moto-taxis, and Songthaews to get where you need to. We love the freedom of having our own moto-bike. You can rent a scooter for about 200 baht ($6.70) for the day. The roads here are quite busy so it’s not a beginner move but if you’re comfortable riding a moto-bike in Thai traffic it’s a great way to get around.

Hua Hin, Thailand

For me, Hua Hin didn’t deliver what I was looking for. It lacks the charm and laid back attitude that other beach towns possess and, quite frankly, was filled with retirees or those looking for a place to retire (now I know that at 45 I’m no spring chicken but I was positively a baby in this town!). Next time I will take the time to head farther south.

 

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11 Responses to “Hua Hin On A Budget”

  1. Talon Says:

    I hate those service fees as well, and they can really add up. One time I was checking out places, and the fees amounted to one night’s stay! Just ridiculous!

    I’ll have to check out SangSom. I’ve been surprised at how expensive other liquors are here. I guess in my mind I was expecting much cheaper booze. LOL

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  2. Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) Says:

    I hate service fees too! I much prefer that companies just bundle these fees into the price you see initially rather than tacking them on at the end. So often they make a good deal feel like an average one, and this is part of the reason we have not been renting more apartments on this trip. The service fees are just killers every single time, and so it always seems cheaper to just get a private room at a hostel or even hotel rooms than to go the apartment route!

    And sorry to hear that Hua Hin was a bit of a let down. Truth be told, I’d never even heard of it before this post, but it sounds like it is eminently skippable!
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted..How Do You Like Them Apples?

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  3. Holly Says:

    Hmmm… Kho Samet was stunning 13 years ago. It was a local tourist island south of Bangkok… so not alot of foreigners. They called the beaches ‘Diamond Sand’ because it was so fine and white. It was stunning, cheap, and not very busy as it was non-tourist season for the locals when we were there. I would be curious to know if it has changed alot since.

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  4. Cam @ Traveling Canucks Says:

    You’re photos are making me miss Thailand! The food, the beer, the beach… ;-)
    Cam @ Traveling Canucks recently posted..Our VIP Experience at Cirque du Soleil Amaluna

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  5. Darlene Says:

    Gillian we opted for heading to Koh Samui in 2008. We were going to take the train and have that adventure but with reports of bandits holding up trains on our route we opted for a cheap flight from Bangkok instead.

    We heard mixed reviews about that island, some loved it, some said it had gotten too touristy. So we opted to stay in the Fisherman’s village, away from the main beach (Chewang). I think we paid about what you did there a night and we had a beach villa literally steps to the sand which was lovely! We also got breakfast included which was an assortment of fresh tropical fruits, fresh squeezed juices, coffee and our choice of a hot main dish, they’d cook whatever we wanted: eggs, pancakes, etc.

    We too rented a scooter and toodled around the island which you can literally do in a day. We went off the beaten path a few times and saw some really neat temples and villages. Lunch we usually did the street food carts wherever we were, dinner we splurged once and spent about $60 at a fancy place that had tables on the beach. I think our favourite lunch (okay there were two) was just down the road from our hotel under big umbrellas we ate at a table on the sand. Can’t have been more than $8 each and that was our fancy lunch. Our other one was at The Big Buddha at a place there that just had THE best food! We still talk about it. Again probably under $15.

    I’d highly recommend the island or one of the nearby quieter ones like Koh Phi Phi or Koh Panong? I”m sure I’m spelling them wrong
    Darlene recently posted..Photography Q&A Session recordings #1 and #2

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  6. Arti Says:

    Looks like a wonderful place. I would certainly love to sample the vegetarian fare there. Your appartment looks neat too.
    Arti recently posted..Nanzen-ji Temple in Kyoto, Japan

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  7. Hogga Says:

    That all looks super delicious!

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  8. Kate @ 30Traveler Says:

    I’m looking forward to hearing how you like Chiang Mai and how you go with your apartment search up there!
    Kate @ 30Traveler recently posted..Travel bloggers best dozen: My 12 best posts in 12 categories, from the last 12 months.

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  9. Stephen S. Says:

    Great breakdown but I want to know who won at cards :) Safe travels Gillian.
    Stephen S. recently posted..Giveaway: $100 off the “I Love Istanbul Tour.”

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