‘Hua Hin may be next Phuket’

The former fishing village is set to see more buzz in the coming months as the urban to rural migration intensifies during the pandemic.

Long regarded as a weekend destination for Bangkok’s well-heeled, Hua Hin is seeing a resurgence in interest thanks to the pandemic. But this time, the crowd is more diverse – mostly younger ftais who are staying beyond the weekend, sometimes for months after having made the seaside town a base for their work from home (WFH) new lifestyle.

Coupled with better transportation access and new international schools, plus a sizeable number of new condominiums in the pipeline, the former fishing village is set to see more buzz in the coming months. “Hua Hin may even evolve into a more affordable Phuket or Bali,” predicts Bill Barnett, Managing Director of C9 Hotelworks.

Bill Barnett

The town already has all the infrastructure in place, asserts Proudputh Liptapanlop, Executive Director of Proud Group which owns the InterContinental/Holiday Inn/Vana Nava Hua Hin group of accommodations. ftere are wellness and healthcare facilities, sports facilities, retail malls and a thriving food and beverage scene. fte F & B scene is improving tremendously due to the strong demand from Bangkokians with their sophisticated palette. “We are only short of a Michelin guide for restaurants in Hua Hin,” quips Proudputh.

With a history as a summer residence for Thai royalty and a balmy year-round weather, as well as a diverse landscape comprising beaches, hills and jungles, Hua Hin’s appeal will continue to endure and even surpass that of its more popular Thai rivals. Hence, its dramatic makeover into a lifestyle-centric urbanised destination does not come as a big surprise. It only takes a pandemic for some globetrotting Thais to appreciate this underrated gem at their doorstep.

The pandemic has no doubt accelerated this trend. Previously the number one weekend destination for Bangkokians, Hua Hin is starting to see a more long- term community settling down like in Phuket.

“We definitely are seeing more take-ups for second homes in Hua Hin especially for luxury condos on beaches. ftese buyers are taking up residence instead of just weekend stays. So, it’s no longer just a retirement or weekend destination but a community place,” Proudputh observes.

Proudputh Liptapanlop

To adapt to the changing trends, developers and hoteliers like Proudputh have to adjust their products, for example offering more wellness facilities, and making their accommodations more family-friendly and pet friendly as well as raising the bar on their in-house restaurants’ offerings. “People need variety when they are under lockdown, so we have to cater for all that including longer stays.”

Long term stays is a natural progression for Hua Hin. Apart from a thriving dining scene, there are malls, sports and recreational facilities, a national park, medical centres, hospitals and good transportation links such as an expanded airport and upcoming high speed rail, as well as major improvements of the motorway. Soon, it would take only an hour’s drive from Bangkok instead of the current two hours.

Hua Hin also has a unique culture and a slower pace of life that appeal to stressed out Bangkokians. Thus, although it’s urbanising at a fast pace, the seaside resort town still retains its inherent charms.

Furthermore, notes Proudputh, due to the restriction on building height, the only way to expand is to move outwards, mainly southward to Plemburi, and even further south.

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