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It’s been over 15 years since we were last in Thailand which is why we desperately want a Thailand family holiday. Back then, we were young, free and single, travelling with our respective group of friends and island hopping back and forth through Bangkok over several months. In the capital, we spent most of our time off the Khao San Road, a famous hangout for backpackers, I learned to dive in Koh Phi-Phi Don (the famous setting for Alex Garland’s The Beach), partied at the Full Moon Party in Koh Pha-Ngan, took some time out in Krabi and Ko Lanta before exploring the northern half of Thailand including Chiang Mai.

A Thailand Family Holiday | My Travel Monkey

We were slightly apprehensive about returning to a country in which we hold in such high regard – having fallen in love with it all those years ago. Which is why, perhaps, it took us so long to go back. Had the country changed beyond recognition? The thing is we knew we wanted to experience a Thailand family holiday.

Our Thailand Family Holiday – An Overview

Stepping off the plane and into Suvarnabhumi Airport was the first noticeable difference. It took us about 10 minutes to realise that this wasn’t the same airport to the one we had flown into – this airport was built in 2006, four years after we had left.
Hua HIn Railway Station - My Travel Monkey

Our destination to Thailand’s original beach resort of Hua Hin was only a few hours away by road. This was the main reason why we plumped for Hua Hin as the base for our Thailand family holiday. After such a long plane journey, we couldn’t face catching a connecting flight.

Hua Hin History

Hua Hin started out as a small fishing village but in the 1920s became Royal getaways when King Rama VI and Rama VII built their summer residences in the area – then the Thai nobility flocked to the coastal town in droves, making Hua Hin the place to be.
Now it is the safest area in Thailand. On our first morning on the beach, we couldn’t fail to notice the two huge warships patrolling the waters. Phra Ratchawang Klai Kangwon (Far from Worries Palace) is still a royal residence today and was just around the corner from our first hotel.
Attractions in Hua Hin Thailand | My Travel Monkey

Where to stay in Hua Hin?

Hua Hin actually means ‘stone head’ which is illustrated perfectly by the rocks that emerge during low tide on the public beach and, even though both hotels we stayed in – the Rest Detail and the Grand Centara – in overlooked it, none of the Hua Hin accommodation lining the coastline is allowed to privatise their own stretches. Which we thought was a good thing. Both our hotels were fantastic – although very different from one another. While the Rest Detail was contemporary and chic, the Grand Centara exudes colonial grandeur (click on the links for full reviews of both). Both made ideal accommodation for a Thailand family holiday.

Hua Hin Beaches

On some evenings, it was lovely to see the locals mingling with visitors and enjoying the cooler sand and waters as the fruit sellers and horse wranglers moved swiftly up and down, vying for custom. And, while the beach is lovely, Hua Hin isn’t known for its sandy delights or crystal blue waters – for that, you have to go elsewhere. But it’s a popular destination especially for city folk in Bangkok looking for an idyllic escape for the weekend.
Tuk Tuks in Hua Hin | My Travel Monkey

Meanwhile, in comparison to our experiences of the seedier side of Thailand, Hua Hin wasn’t full of go-go bars and working women touting for business. At least, not on the main streets. The resort definitely has a more family feel to it and it was great to see so many other parents out with their children.

Is Hua Hin for kids?

The locals certainly love kids judging by the reaction Monkey caused when we were wandering about. One night, Monkey angrily turned round to me and asked: ‘Why do people keep touching me, mummy?’ We both took it in our stride, however, explaining to him they thought he was adorable, which is why they couldn’t resist touching him! There was no point getting annoyed – not all cultures follow the very British stiff upper lip.A Thailand Family Holiday | My Travel Monkey

Things To Do in Hua Hin

Hua Hin is full to the brim with upmarket hotels ranging from boutique luxury to grand scale international chains. It’s also well-known for its golf courses and famous Hua Hin night market. We spent a lot of time there, just pottering and taking in the sights and sounds (read here for the best Hua Hin attractions).

Hua Hin Night Market

It’s a great place to visit with stalls filled with a variety of wares from souvenirs and toys, to clothes and knock-off DVDs. But the best part about the market is the food stalls and the make-shift tables that spring up – the delicious smells emanating from the roaring fires that are cooking up seafood with rice and noodles, pork and fish balls on sticks, roast pork and fried chicken – and one of my favourite takeaway dishes,  fresh pancakes with bananas and chocolate sauce.
Thailand Family Holiday - Hua Hin Night MarketIt’s alive with noise, colour and life, the hub of central Hua Hin – everyone flocks there and all around in the surrounding streets you will find massage parlours (not the dodgy kind I hasten to add), restaurants, bars and tuk-tuk drivers lined up waiting for their fares.

Hua Hin Food

Hua Hin also offers much for food lovers. There are an endless choice of restaurants from traditional Thai and seafood, mainly located along the wooden piers stretching out along the seafront, to pizzerias, French bistros and Indian curry houses. We were often overwhelmed with indecision about our evening meals – leaving up to Monkey to decide what he fancied on occasion.
Hua Hin Food | My Travel MonkeyIf you’re prepared to go further afield there’s plenty outside of Hua Hin to explore from Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, temples, stunning beaches, water parks, elephant sanctuaries, and even a vineyard and winery. There are plenty of attractions in Hua Hin.
We ventured out to some extent during our two-week Thailand Family Holiday, but the main purpose of our trip was to bask in the glorious sunshine, have fun in the pool, and to eat seafood. Which we did in spades. Everything else was a bonus.
The pool at The Rest Detail Hotel | My Travel Monkey
Since 2002, much has changed in Thailand. It’s not as cheap as I expected. Don’t get me wrong, in comparison to UK prices, it was still a steal, but it was easy to spend the cash on not very much – a tuk-tuk ride here, a drink or two there. There’s much more construction than I remember, too – building sites and cranes dotted every spare corner in Hua Hin and its surrounding districts; new beachfront condos are being built around the clock, as well as shopping malls.
Due to the recent floods in the city, wealthy Bangkokians are looking to buy second properties away from the capital – a place to escape should trouble strike again. It’s hard to know if this is a good or a bad thing. Speaking to some locals, it would seem the latter – they’re already worried about how their beautiful coastlines are going to look in a decade, while the mounting litter problem is only getting worse.
The Rocks at Hua Hin Beach | My Travel Monkey

Our Thailand Family Holiday Was a Success!

However, none of this detracts from what a beautiful resort Hua Hin is – its rich culture, steeped in Buddhism; the Thai’s important traditions such as their unwavering love for their King and Queen, to the ornate spirit houses (san phra phum) that you find outside homes, hotels and public areas; and the friendly Thai people, who are always ready with a smile.

Hua Hin is a Royal playground fit for the aristocracy as well as high-society Bangkokians – plus thousands of visitors from all over the globe. And you can see why.

It’s not far from Bangkok with great transport links to and from the capital; it’s the perfect base to go beach hopping without the hassle of the more difficult transfers amongst the southern islands; it offers a good mix of city and seaside – there’s a cosmopolitan ambience, but it’s still possible to enjoy Hua Hin on a budget.
For us, though, it was the perfect place to unwind, and the perfect place to remember why we stayed in Thailand for several months all those years ago. The perfect place for a Thailand family holiday…