Here’s something a lot of people don’t know about me: I love bathtubs. The clawfoot, the European wraparound, the whirlpool, the freestanding–you name it, and I’ll soak in it. I especially love a bathtub plopped right in the middle of this gorgeous marble bathroom in an exquisite 5-star resort on the Gulf of Thailand. There’s even a few bottles of organic bubble bath on the counter for me to try.
I simply can’t wait to take a long, hot bubble bath tonight.
Before we get there, though, a little bit about where we are: we have just arrived at the elegant Dusit Thani Hua Hin resort. Frequently ranked amongst the world’s most glamorous resorts, Dusit Thani Hua Hin consistently wins luxury hotel awards and recognitions and is often cited as one of the most prestigious hospitality companies in the world. Their resorts are spread throughout Thailand and much of Asia, with locations in the United Arab Emirates, the Maldives, India, China, and the Philippines. And though I never imagined I’d had the chance to stay in such an exquisite place, here I am, the ever-present budgeteer, staying in one of the nicest rooms in the entire resort. I’ve thrown my bags all over the two rooms, taking up as much space as I possibly can (because why not?), checked out the living room, bathroom, and walk-in closet, and now I’m standing on the terrace munching on a dragon fruit the staff has left in a complimentary fruit basket on the kitchen table. I’ve got fifteen minutes before I need to be back in the reception for dinner, so I’m taking a much-needed moment to myself to watch the sun fall over the gulf, enjoy this piece of sweet fruit, and uncloud my mind from everything we’ve seen and done so far this week.
Hua Hin is the smallest city we’ve visited on this trip, as we’ve spent the rest of our time in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Considered by many Thais to be Thailand’s first beach resort (who needs Phuket?), Hua Hin is a famed hotspot for local Thais and their families and in recent years has found new popularity with foreign tourists as well. As a destination, Hua Hin has an unusual history, especially in terms of its evolution from fishing village to destination vacation hotspot: the city traces its modern history to the 1920s when the Royal Thai family decided to buy beachfront property here and build a summer home to escape the gripping humidity and sweltering heat of Bangkok in the summer months. (Because Hua Hin is only two and a half hours from the country’s capital city, it seemed like the perfect alternative to the islands in the southern regions). The most famous summer palace built during Rama’s reign in the 1920s–Phra Ratchawang Klai Kangwon, which roughly translates to the “Far from Worries Palace,” which I love–remains the royal family sojourn and the home-away-from-home for all Thai royalty. So, as you can imagine, where the royal family goes, the Thais want to be, too.
In the 1980s and 1990s, luxury hotel groups started popping up along Hua Hin’s coast, and international tourism in this small city was born. Foreign visitors began gracing the area and supporting local business and tourism endeavors, and now, what was once a sleepy fishing village is now a bustling city synonymous with its beaches, night markets, rocky shorelines, excellent fishing, and national parks, mountains, waterfalls, caves, Buddhist temples, and other historical sites. It’s also the home to many wealthy expats, Thai and foreign retirees, and the place where many middle-class and high-society Thais spend their weekends.
The rest of our night is delightful–we have a very light dinner and take taxis out to Plearn Wan Night Market, a contemporary Thai night market modeled after one from the 1960s. The two-story open-air wooden platform complex is strung up with blinking lights, old gas station pumps, statues of 1960s pop culture and cartoon icons, and soft 1960s Thai music playing from loudspeakers. When we finally return to the Dusit Thani late that night, I am more than ready to fill the tub and take a long, hot bath.
I’d like to say that this trip to the Dusit Thani was unforgettable. But something about that work doesn’t quite express the depth of beauty, hospitality, and exquisiteness of our experience here. Instead, I’ll just say this:
My very long bubble bath that night was perfect.
How to get there:
Hua Hin is about 2.5 hours by car from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport. If traveling on your own, take the Expressway to Highway No. 35 (Thon Buri-Pak Tho) (you’ll pass both Samut Sakhon and Samut Songkhram provinces). In about 100 km, turn left at the junction to Highway No. 4 and follow Petckasem Road to Dusit Thani Hua Hin.
Dusit Thani Hua Hin
1349 Petchkasem Road
:+66 (0) 3252 0009
Article and photographs by Kristin Winet.