The resort town of Hua Hin is full of boutique hotels, restaurants, leisure activities and sea breeze – not the typical mental picture that comes to mind when you think of the word Christmas. Notwithstanding, the festive season in Hua Hin can be surprisingly enjoyable and a great place to celebrate the day with friends from near and far, old and new. For those with parents or friends visiting from abroad, it also offers a great place to relax and over indulge – an essential part of every memorable Christmas.

The most important part of Christmas for many people revolves around good food, good drink and good company. To fulfill these three criteria I’d suggest that you head to the Hua Hin waterfront. As Hua Hin is situated right on the Gulf of Thailand, you’ll have endless options in this respect. My personal favorite is a place called Chaolay, popular with local Thai’s, Bangkokians holidaying in Hua Hin, and expats alike. The aroma of fresh seafood wafts between the tables and the taste is unparalleled. The casual set up also makes it the perfect place to relax and linger over your meal, catch up with friends, and share stories. For those looking for an after dinner beverage or two, there are also plenty of laid-back bars and nightspots nearby for you to explore.

With food out of the way, you’ll undoubtedly be thinking – where should I buy my presents? My first stop is normally Bluport Hua Hin, situated right downtown and just a stone’s throw from a lot of the city’s restaurants and nightlife. Offering most brand names that you’re familiar with from back home, it is the perfect place to buy those big ticket items or other things that you’ve been craving since being away.

Next stop on the shopping trip is Seenspace Hua Hin, an oasis of trendiness in the middle of the city. Stocking discount brands, restaurants and Thai designer fashion amongst many other things, here is the place to find something truly unique that you’ll not be able to find back home. It also offers a range of cafes and eateries so you’ll be in no rush to leave!

As Webster University Thailand’s Cha-Am campus is physically located in the neighboring town of Cha Am, I must not forget some of the gems that are also located on ‘that side of the pond’. For dinner I personally like O-Zone, a lively seafood restaurant that has found just the right balance between price, variety and ambience. Located on Roomjit Road, it’s not too far from Cha Am Beach and a short drive from Webster’s Hua Hin Campus. It is easy find and if not – just ask one of the friendly locals.

After a couple of days recuperating from the copious amounts of food and drink from Christmas Day, it’ll soon be time to get ready to do it all again for New Years Eve!

Let’s be honest, Hua Hin and Cha Am do not have the same ‘hi-so glitz and glamour’ options that are available in Bangkok and they don’t offer the same degree of partying that can be found on the streets of the nation’s capital. However, what they lack in reputation and “oomph”, they certainly make up for in other ways! Here are my three favorite places to celebrate New Years Eve in Hua Hin / Cha Am:

Want to be a little bit fancy?

This option is probably the easiest to organize as there are literally endless options when it comes to fancy resorts in Hua Hin. Most of the large brand name resorts will offer a variety of packages that include dinner, some drinks and fireworks. Some can be pricey so be sure to do your research before booking.

Overlooking the water

Cha Am is known globally for its relaxed and chill atmosphere all year round. You’ll be pleasantly surprised to know that this same vibe is also extended to New Years Eve for those that want an easy and stress free night. Every year thousands of people make their way to the beachfront promenade on Narathip Road to watch the New Years Eve fireworks and 2016 will be no different. Live music, food and drinks are aplenty but get there early to avoid the crowds.

Want to put your dancing shoes on?

The options for western style nightclubs in Hua Hin is a bit limited so why not mingle with the locals and head out to one of the local Thai establishments. Venues such as Hin Nam Sai Suay and Stepz provide locations where you can dance and watch live performances if that’s your thing. If you’d prefer a typical western setup then head down to the Hilton Hotel. Although a little pricey the atmosphere can be fun!

Whether it’s a seaside breeze you craze, a fancy dinner with gourmet food, or a long night of partying surrounded by some of your closest friends, Hua Hin has you covered. Happy holidays to all staff and students of Webster University Thailand’s Cha-Am campus and I hope that 2017 is your best year yet!