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History of Hua Hin, Thailand

Author: Wolfgang Jaegel

Hua Hin, literally meaning 'stone head' in Thai, is one of the oldest as well as the most popular beach resorts in the country, situated on the west coast of the Gulf of Thailand. Located about 200 km south of Bangkok and 85 km from the provincial capital, this resort town is much favored for its serene atmosphere comprising striking vistas, tranquil beaches, rainforest jungles, stunning caves, crystal clear water and clean white sand.

Once a typical fishing village, Hua Hin has now transformed into a well-established beach resort coupled with first-class facilities and traditional Thai hospitality. Attractions, among many others, are National Parkland of more than 2000 sq km and Teakwood Palace, which is 12 km south of Hua Hin. Hua Hin also provides excellent options to enjoy a range of activities such as elephant trips, fishing, beach cycling, snorkeling, and horse riding. Besides, Hua Hin is a golfer's paradise, with world-class golf courses such as Royal Hua Hin Golf Course and Lake View Golf Course.

Hua Hin boasts of a rich history. Throughout its history, Hua Hin has been known by different names such as Ban Samoe Rieng, Samoriang and Ban Laem Hin, until it got its present name in 1911.

In the late 19th century, a better option for traveling was introduced here, with the passing of the Siam Orasumphol - the first steamer - through many small communities along the Gulf of Thailand. The resort's royal connection, that has still to this day, began during the turn of the 20th century when Prince Chakrabhongse, a member of the royal family, came here for a hunting trip. Impressed with the tranquility of the area, he built a beach villa, which was first of its kind in Hua Hin.

However, the history of Hua Hin's transformation as a luxurious seaside resort dates back to 1903 when a railroad connecting Hua Hin to Bangkok was built here as a part of the Southern Railroad. As a result, the destination enjoyed the convenient access and it gradually began to draw the attention of nobilities such as members of royal people and aristocrats from the nation.

The first person to recognize the unequaled beauty of the place was Prince Nares, who served as the Minister of Public Works during the reign of King Rama V. As a result, he constructed an elegant residence, namely, the Saen Samran Royal Residence in 1911 at the southern end of Lam Hin Village. Subsequently, another bungalow, named Ban Plub Pa, was built by Prince Tewawongworapakorn nearby the Saen Samran. Again within a period of five years, a series of stunning bungalows were built by other members of the Royal Family at the northern end of the village.

In 1916, during the reigns of King Rama V and VI, the construction of southern railway line connecting Siam to British Malaya was completed. This in turn spurred the popularity of the place, and many elites of Bangkok society began to flock to Hua Hin.

However, until 1922, there were only limited accommodation and dining facilities for passengers taking a break at Hua Hin Railway Station. Understanding the problems, Prince Purachatra - the then Director General of the State Railway - took steps to provide better lodging and dining facilities.

As an outcome, in 1923, the Railway Hotel - a graceful Victorian structure coupled with a superb continental restaurant - was opened, which is today's Sofitel Central Hotel. Soon after this, the then king commissioned for road maintenance in order to build a golf course opposite the railway station. This led to the establishment of the country's first standard golf course, the Royal Hua Hin Golf Course. Later, the much famed night market, Talad Chatchai was opened.

After sometimes, inspired by the pristine beauty as well as natural surroundings of the place, Prince Prajadhipok commanded for the construction of Klai Kangwon Palace, even prior to his accession to the throne as Rama VII. On the completion of its construction, the palace was named Klaikangwon, meaning 'far from worries,' which in turn is still used by the members of the Royal Family.

Year after year, more and more attractions were introduced in the area by the Royal Family. Consequently, Hua Hin gradually shot to fame and became one of the sought after destinations, frequently visited by aristocrats from different parts of the country. Although, badly affected by the World War II, Hua Hin managed to recover.

Today, Hua Hin is undoubtedly a holiday destination of international stature. Despite its amazing growth and development as a splendid tourist destination, Hua Hin still continues to be a peaceful sanctuary, maintaining rich as well as royal Thai roots.

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