Located at about 220 kilometers south of Bangkok, the city of Hua Hin is one of the most popular seaside resorts in Thailand. This small town, which name literally means “stone’s head” has experienced increased development since the arrival of the railway at the beginning of the 1990s. Although its history is not as glorious as that of famous ancestral cities in Thailand, Hua Hin has become a major hotspot for tourism in just a few decades, for Thai elites as much as for foreigners. As a matter of fact, even the royal family owns a residence there, in which they regularly spend their summer holidays.
The origins of Hua Hin
Few historical sources mention the origins of the city of Hua Hin. Apparently, it had been inhabited by local peasants since ancient times. During the 18th century, it was repeatedly attacked by Burmese soldiers. The year 1767 marked an important milestone in Thailand as the country experienced the complete destruction of Ayutthaya, the capital of the Kingdom of Siam, also known as the Kingdom of Ayutthaya. The ruins and temples of Thailand’s former capital and the remains of the royal palace are still visible to this day, located about 80 kilometers away from Bangkok. The fall of the Kingdom of Ayutthaya had awful consequences on the entire country, notably on the city of Hua Hin which was completely abandoned.
The rebirth of Hua Hin in the 19th century
In 1834, the province of Phetchaburi, close to Hua Hin, was affected by drought. In response to the scarcity of resources and food, a group of fishermen decided to leave the province looking for a more favorable living environment. Heading south of Phetchaburi, the fishermen discovered the ancient city of Hua Hin which had been destroyed by the Burmese. Amazed by the beauty of the place, they decided to settle there and to build a village which they named Samore Riang, which literally means “row of rocks” and refers to the multiple rocky outcrops scattered across the sandy beach. Under the reign of Rama III, the small village was first named Hin Riang, then Lam Hin.
The rise of Hua Hin in the 20th century
The beginning of the 20th century has seen the important development of the railway system in Thailand. The first steam train (the Siam Orasumphol) bordered the Chao Phraya river up until the Gulf of Siam. Numerous stopovers were set up across the railway in order to make the journey more enjoyable. In 1911, Lam Hin was officially renamed Hua Hin. In the same year, the railway company decided to build a railway line to connect Hua Hin to Bangkok. Since then, the city has experienced a massive boom and has become the main seaside resort for the royal family and the country’s elites. The royal residence “Saen Samran” was built on the beach. Right next to it, luxurious bungalows were built in order to host Prince Tewawongworapakorn and his family. The small railway station built in 1911 is still seen as an important landmark in Hua Hin.