A Comprehensive Travel Guide to Hua Hin, Thailand

Editor’s Note: This is going to be a super long blog post with quite a lot of pictures.

We travelled to Hua Hin, Thailand for our honeymoon and it is a really scenic place with pristine beaches all over the coastal area.

Currency
The Thai Baht is the currency of Thailand and like the pound, it originated from a traditional unit of mass. At the time of writing, we assume 1 Singapore Dollar to be approximately 25 Thai Baht. For the best exchange rate, consider heading down to The Arcade at Collyer Quay.

Getting to Hua Hin

If you want to get to Hua Hin from Suvarnabhumi Airport, you can purchase bus tickets from the ticketing counter that is located at Level 1 Gate 8 of the airport; alternatively, an easier option is to book your bus tickets online (which we did) via Airport Hua Hin Bus.

The bus service from Suvarnabhumi Airport to Hua Hin operates daily with 6 departure times and early booking is recommended.

What amazed us about the bus service is the 24-seater luxury coach itself. It is really comfortable and there’s more than sufficient leg space. There’s even a toilet on board the coach. 

In case you’re wondering, the journey from Suvarnabhumi Airport to Hua Hin Bus Station took about 3 hours. While there are other alternative forms of transport to Hua Hin (e.g. car), we found taking the bus to be the most economical and the most comfortable.

Travel Tip #1: Before you take the bus to Hua Hin, go to the nearby convenience shop and stock up some snacks and drinks to munch on during the long bus journey as there are no pit-stops during the bus ride.

Getting Around Hua Hin

We arrived at Hua Hin Bus Station in the evening and went to Villa Market Hua Hin to pick up the Nissan Elmera Eco that we rented to get around Hua Hin. The car rental rate that we paid was SGD$220 for 4 days of usage.

Driving in Hua Hin is relatively safe (even safer than driving in Bangkok). The roads are easy to navigate around and Google Maps worked quite well for us to get around Hua Hin and Cha-Am (a district north of Hua Hin). In case you’re wondering, Thailand practises the right hand drive so if you have been driving around Asian countries, it shouldn’t be a problem. Drivers in Hua Hin aren’t that aggressive but as always, practise defensive driving and always check your blind spots!

Travel Tip #2: If you have already decided on the places that you want to visit in Hua Hin, open up Google Maps and saved all these places before your trip so that it will be easy for you to navigate around. With Google Maps on your mobile phone, you save money by not having to rent a GPS set from the car rental company.

Accommodation

For our accommodation, we took the path less travelled and stayed at The Restro Hotel, a boutique hotel with a retro theme to it. We booked a superior room for 3 nights of stay through Agoda and in total, we paid SGD$285 which is inclusive of breakfast.

The owner of the hotel is a young gentlemen and he was very polite and thoughtful. Breakfast was also a hearty affair and the room that was assigned to us had an industrial theme. The last we heard, the hotel now has a pool and if you are keen to stay there, do book early because they are always running at a 100% occupancy rate!

Local Attractions

There are plenty of attractions in Hua Hin and it was a pity that we did not have enough time to explore Hua Hin. There were so many things that we wanted to do in Hua Hin and getting around was easy since we rented a car to drive there.

For The Shopaholics

There are a couple of night markets in Hua Hin and when we were there, we visited two night markets; the Grand Night Market and the Cicada Market. The Grand Night Market is small and quite typical of most Thai Night Markets. The souvenirs are quite common and there wasn’t anything much that were unique. Street food vendors are abundant if you’re shopping for food.

In case you’re wondering, the Grand Night Market is situated next to the Grand Hotel on Petchkasem Road and is open daily from 5pm to 11pm. Do note that they are closed on Tuesdays though.

As for the Cicada Market, we enjoyed shopping over there because there are some pretty unique finds over there. What’s more, it is the place for the artsy fartsy! The only downside is that Cicada Markets only opens on Fridays and Saturdays from 4pm to 11pm and Sundays 4pm to 10pm; so if you want to visit, be in Hua Hin over the weekends. If you’re staying at The Restro Hotel, you can walk to the Cicada Market and it should take you no more than 15 minutes .

For The Thrill Seekers

If you’re a thrill-seeker and you are planning a visit to Hua Hin, you can consider visiting Siam Milsim and Sky Club Asia.

SIAM MILSIM

At SIAM MILSIM, we went for the ATV Tour and we had a go at their shooting range. It was a pity that we missed SIAM MILSIM’s Zombie Infection event because it is their signature event which is essentially a full 9-hour war simulation game complete with authentic combat uniform, big airsoft guns, boat, jeeps, truck, real zombies (actors) and yes even insurance too.

I must say; safety was well observed throughout and Damien who was our instructor at SIAM MILSIM, makes sure that we know the weapon handling commands and safety procedures before we enter the shooting range to do some shooting. Personal protection equipment were also issued prior to the shoot and there will always be an instructor next to us to ensure that we were doing the right stuff.

As for the 4 Wheel Drive (4WD) ATV Tour, it was an entirely new experience for both Jacqueline and I. We really enjoyed ourselves and we had a great time admiring the beautiful scenery around Hua Hin’s mountain. Yes, we rode up the mountain!

What is super amazing about SIAM MILSIM is that for most of the activities less the shooting range; they will have a dedicated staff who will take pictures and videos of you which you can then share on your own personal social media platforms after your visit; and yes, its complimentary. We definitely hope to visit SIAM MILSIM again!

SIAM MILSIM
Open Every Day : 10am – 7 pm
Address: 10/469 Huahin 94, HuaHin, 77110 Prachuap Kirikhan Thailand
Telephone: 091-6970821
Email: info@siammilsim.com

Sky Club Asia

If you want to soar into the sky for a truly amazing flight experience; you might want to consider checking out Sky Club Asia, a paramotor flying training centre in Thailand. For just 3,900 Thai Baht (approximately SGD$150), you get a 20-minute safe, comfortable, and exciting flight experience where you can enjoy panoramic views of Sam Roi Yod National Park and along the beaches of Dolphin Bay, Pranburi.

To be honest, we were extremely lucky that we got the chance to fly because the weather was rather erratic when we visited Hua Hin. In order for us to have a chance to fly, we had to change our itinerary a couple of times so that we can accommodate the ideal day and time for flying which was very much dependent on the weather conditions as well. The flight takes off at one of the air strip in Hua Hin (which is a 25-minute drive from Hua Hin City Centre).

If you want to fly with Sky Club Asia, do contact them way in advance so that they can advise you on the possible flight dates and times when you visit Hua Hin. Should you not be able to secure a flight or should your flight be cancelled at the eleventh hour, do not despair because the pilot truly cares for your safety and will only fly when the weather permits.

Sky Club Asia
Operating Hours: By Appointment Only
Phone: 08 740 11113
Email: info@skyclubasia.com

For The Nature and History Buff

Pansook Farm

We drove North of Hua Hin to Cha-Am and stopped by Pansook Farm (also known as 1000 Sook Food and Farm on TripAdvisor) where we spent half a day there for some photo opportunities. From its name, one could well guess that Pansook Farm is an actual farm and just so you know, there is an entrance fee which will cost 50 Thai Baht (approximately SGD$2) for an adult.

At Pansook Farm, there are many different kinds of animals and you can actually feed and touch them. In fact, there are many such farms in Cha-Am but in the interest of time, we only managed to visit Pansook Farm.

If visiting farms isn’t really your kind of thing, you can visit the many pristine beaches at Hua Hin. Takiab Beach is one such beach and it is within walking distance from The Restro Hotel.

The Hua Hin Railway Station which is still operating as a legit train station is also an attraction not to be missed.

For The MasterChef Wannabes

We have always enjoyed eating Thai food and because we really wanted to learn to cook some authentic Thai food, we enrolled ourselves into a 1 Day Thai cooking course with Thai Cooking Course Hua Hin.

Although there are 3 menus available, there is no fixed schedule as to when a particular menu will be taught. For the course that we attended, we learnt to cook and prepare Pad Thai, Tom Yum Goong, Thai Green Curry with Chicken, and Khanom Lod Chong (a jackfruit and coconut dessert).

The course fee for 1 adult is 1500 Thai Baht (approximately SGD$60) and it includes a morning guided tour at Hua Hin’s Local Market, a recipe book, a certificate of completion, transportation to and fro the hotel (if it is located within Hua Hin Town), and a sumptuous 4-course Thai meal.

What we really love about the cooking class is the fact that we got an entirely hands-on session after a demonstration by Beau (our instructor). The class size is kept small and this allows for maximum class participation and guidance by the instructor who was really patient with answering all the questions that we had.

After the class, we could not wait to hone our culinary skills and we are really glad to have attended the course because we can now cook authentic Thai food by ourselves. Just so you know, all of the Thai ingredients that we used at the cooking class can be found in Singapore too!

In Summary

Honestly, we enjoyed ourselves in Hua Hin and we really wished we could have spent more time there. In fact, we will definitely consider visiting Hua Hin again and check out other places that we have not had the chance to visit. We hope that this comprehensive travel guide to Hua Hin, Thailand has been really useful and if you have any questions or comments for us, do feel free to do so below!

My Honest Thoughts About Chef In Box

Chef-In-Box is Singapore’s first Vendcafé that serves an assortment of instant meals, beverages, and snacks. Located at a corner of the void deck of Block 320C Anchorvale Drive, the Vendcafé is starting to attract quite a lot of people. In this blog post, I will share with you what I honestly think about Chef In Box.

Novelty Factor

Truthfully speaking, there is no novelty factor because vending machines that serves food, drinks, and snacks are pretty commonplace. Although Chef In Box’s vending machines may be state of the art, the idea of retailing food and the likes through vending machine is not. I really don’t think there is a big difference between buying instant food from convenience stores like 7-Eleven versus buying instant food from the vending machines because either way, the food has already been processed, prepared, frozen and all it needs is a microwave for it to be heated up.

Quality and Taste of Food

When I visited Chef In Box’s Vendcafé with Jacqueline, we had the Chicken Bolognese Spaghetti and the taste is below hawker standard. Seriously, a plate of spaghetti from the Western Stall at a Hawker Centre or even the Kopitiam tastes way better. Just don’t expect too much from processed frozen food. As for me, I would gladly head down to McDonald’s for a Fillet Ol Fish Meal any time. Just so you know, the food that they have in the vending machine are Halal-certified.

Value for Money

The price range for the main courses is between SGD$3.50 to SGD$5.00 and it is pocket-friendly. Although there is an assortment of main courses available, not everything that is displayed on the food menu is actually available. I would say that the price is quite similar to what one could get at the Hawker Centre or Food Court. What’s a plus point for Chef In Box is that they accept both cash and cashless modes of payment.

Environment Sustainability

In one meal, there are lots of non-biodegradable disposables and plastic packaging involved. I really don’t think this is environmentally-friendly as compared to having a meal at the hawker centre where plates and utensils are washed and re-used. Also, I don’t see any recycling bins nearby and I personally think that having a recycling bin nearby would have addressed the issue about being environmentally-friendly because their products are mostly packed in plastics, metal, and paper.

Will this fad die off? Maybe, maybe not. Vending machine is a convenient way of getting a quick meal fix and they are still largely popular here in Singapore. If Chef In Box can improve on their quality of food, be more environmentally-friendly, and perhaps consider more fresh food (healthier-choice food) versus processed food; then probably Chef In Box will be a hit among Singaporeans. 

[2016 Tech Review]- ASUS ZenWatch 2

It’s been two weeks since our last update and there just isn’t enough time to do everything that is written on my to-do list. Nevertheless, I guess it is about time for a blog update and in this post, I will be sharing about the ASUS ZenWatch 2 that I recently had the opportunity to review.

The ASUS ZenWatch 2 Charging Via A USB Cable.

Design

In terms of design, it looks pretty sophisticated and although I have to admit that I don’t quite fancy square watches, the ZenWatch 2 is an exception. Paired with an elegant strap, the ZenWatch 2 can definitely be a good-looking watch for just about any occasions; formal or informal. Available in 2 different sizes, 1.63″ for the gentlemen and 1.45″ for the ladies, the ZenWatch 2 fits perfectly on the wrist. (Pardon my hairy hands)

Specifications

The ASUS ZenWatch 2 runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 at 1.2GHz with 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage. It also has a 6-axis gyrometer and accelerometer and is powered with a 400mAh battery. Weighing just 60g, the ASUS ZenWatch 2 is lightweight and isn’t too bulky to carry around. The ASUS ZenWatch 2 also has a built in microphone, Bluetooth connectivity and Wi-Fi capabilities. With an IP67 rating, the ASUS ZenWatch 2 is not to be used when in the showers or when going for a swim.

Functionality

Although the ASUS ZenWatch 2 works well with Android smartphones, it is compatible with the Apple iPhone too. Functioning like how most smart wearables should, the ASUS ZenWatch 2 is a great personal assistant that can help with reminders, navigation, and even translation. However, as with almost all smart wearables (with the exception of the Pebble Smartwatch); the battery life of the ASUS ZenWatch 2 is not long-lasting and dies out by the 2nd day of usage. If you are a fitness buff and you are looking for a wearable that can keep track of your activities and monitor your heart rate, the ASUS ZenWatch 2 is definitely not the smartwatch for you. You will be better off getting a fitness band instead.

Back View of the ASUS ZenWatch 2

Price

Retailing for SGD$229, the ASUS ZenWatch 2 is one of the most affordable smartwatches that are available on the market. Although it may lack a couple of features that are available on the more premium range of smartwatches, the ASUS ZenWatch 2 is still quite a worthy buy.

As for me, I probably would not consider buying the ASUS ZenWatch 2 (not that it is not good) but rather, I would personally prefer a round watch that is durable and long-lasting. Being the kind of careless and rough guy that I am, Casio’s G-Shock Mudmaster would be pretty suitable for me since it is the epitome of durability and strength.

Do you know of any other outdoorsy watch that is durable but yet trendy? If you have any suggestions for outdoor watches, do feel free to comment below.

SHAOLIN, Now Showing At Marina Bay Sands Singapore

I have always enjoyed watching movies that depict Chinese martial arts like Wing Chun, Shaolin, Wushu and the likes and just last Sunday, Jacqueline and I watched SHAOLIN at the MasterCard Theatres at Marina Bay Sands and it is the ultimate display of theatre and physical prowess.

SHAOLIN 2016 Live In Singapore

Direct from the fabled Shaolin temple in the foothills of the Song Shang mountain, the twenty strong cast performed incredible “superhuman” feats. The show combines traditional Shaolin Kung Fu, inch perfect choreography with dramatic lighting and sound that evokes the spirit of their traditions in one breath-taking performance.

Though I enjoyed the performance, it simply isn’t Jacqueline’s cup of tea. The stunts that were performed during the show didn’t quite resonate with me but I enjoyed the storyline and the setting. I have to admit that there were certain scenes that were pretty draggy and repetitive and the show could have been better if more information was shared about the martial art techniques that were demonstrated.

One of the many death-defying stunts that will be performed during the show

SHAOLIN will be showing in Singapore till 31 July 2016 and if you are keen to watch it, you can book your tickets here.

Do you know that there are two different styles of Shaolin Kung Fu; the Northern Shaolin and the Southern Shaolin?

The Northern Shaolin martial arts being the more popular style is still being practiced in the Songshan Shaolin Monastery in China’s Henan province today. The Southern Shaolin Monastery also known as the Fujian Shaolin Monastery refers to a Buddhist monastery located in Fujian province, China; by tradition it is considered the source of all Southern Shaolin Chinese martial arts.

Interestingly, both the Northern & Southern Shaolin Kung Fu styles are brought to Southeast Asia by refugee monks and old masters after the second world war and during the Chinese Cultural Revolution.

Rent or Buy: Which Is the Better Decision for You?

Whether you are for buying or renting a piece of property, this argument—about whether to purchase or lease a place to live in—is almost as old as time. Some claim that buying a home is a wise decision because it means that you will eventually stop having to pay for rent at some point in your life, and you gain equity. On the other hand, people say that renting is a much wiser option because it means you will not be stuck paying the same mortgage for the rest of your life.

Both arguments definitely have their own pros and cons, but how will you then know which one you should go for? While there is no one answer that can suit every single person on the planet, there are certain factors that you have to consider so that the answer can become much clearer to you. In this article, we will talk about the pros and cons of buying and renting, and why you would want to choose one option over the other.

The Case for Buying Your Own Place to Live In

Pro: You will eventually have a place of your own, filed under your own name.

This one may seem like more of a form of having some bragging rights, but it is hard to deny the social status that you can gain if you can say that you have bought your own home with your own hard-earned money. Plus, at a certain point, you will eventually no longer have to shell out any additional money in order to stay there, compared to renting a place, where you will have to put down money for a long period of time to stay there, and you will not end up with a property that you can call your very own.

Con: Your house might not actually be worth all that much in terms of today’s money.

Sure, at least you can say that you fought off the effects of inflation in some way, so that your money did not end up simply depreciating in the bank. However, that is assuming that your home actually did increase in value, and did not depreciate, either. That can be hard to tell, especially given the housing crisis that shook the world a few years ago. Who says that the same scenario would not happen again? Plus, your house is not exactly in cash form, yet, not until you sell it, and it can be hard to sell depending on the state of the economy. Instead, just invest your hard-earned cash into actual cash investments. At least you will not have to deal with the headache of listing your home and walking potential buyers around. According to an article on CNBC, you must also consider what is often called the Breakeven Horizon.

Prices of Sentosa Cove Condominimums Down A Whopping 36% From Its 2011 Peak. Image Credit: 99.co

The Case for Renting Your Own Place to Live In

Pro: You will have a much more flexible lifestyle.

If you are the type of person who is always jetting from one country to another, then renting is absolutely perfect for your needs. You can even easily find a good number of service apartment on a property listings site called PropertyGuru Singapore, which is popular due to its ease of use and as well as its large database. But this kind of living situation is not just for people who love to travel; it can also be for people who have to constantly go from one continent to another in order to conduct business meetings and other such work for the office. For example, if you were to be promoted but it requires having to be relocated to a completely different part of the globe, then you would be in a lot of hot water if you found yourself tied to a mortgage contract that will not end until a decade or two (or three) down the line.

Con: You may not be able to customize your home as much.

If you are the type of person who lives for home improvement and modifications, then you might be in for a sad day-to-day experience if you decide to lease a property instead. While there are some landlords who might allow you to do a little improvement here and there, most landlords forbid you from adding anything to their units for fear of you breaking their purchased property, as well as making things more complicated once you finally move out and the new tenant does not like the improvements that you have made.

Questions You Can Ask Yourself to Make a Better Choice

According to an article on The New York Times, there are quite a number of things you could think about in order to see which option would be the best for you in the long run. Here are a few of them:

• Are you planning to stay in that location for a long period of time, perhaps over several years of your life?

• Do you have a high tolerance when it comes to anything involving large amounts of risk, in case the value of your home depreciate in the future?

• Will you be able to pay for all of the costs involved with buying a home, including taxes, insurance, and even closing costs?

In Conclusion: Look at All Possible Points of View Before Signing Any Contract

Just remember that no one solution fits every individual, because every single person has a very specific set of needs, wants, as well as the current situation they are in; such as how financially stable they are and what they want to achieve in their life. Regardless of which option you choose, make sure to base your final decision on your own needs, and do not do something just because somebody else said that it worked for them and that it is the one right answer for everything. With a much more critical way of looking at the world and at the real estate situation, you should be able to make a grounded decision with both your feet on the ground instead of basing things on gut feelings and premonitions.