I can safely say that just about everyone I’ve ever met that has visited Thailand has had only positive things to say about their time here. This is mostly because of the alluring tropical weather, amazingly friendly locals and, above all, its delicious range of food and drink. It really doesn’t matter whether you like sweet curry or spicy noodles, everywhere you turn you’re going to have some of the world’s tastiest foods ready and waiting for you to try.
Hua Hin is not remarkably different to the rest of Thailand when it comes to the types of food on offer. However, given the city is both a magnet for foreign tourists and right by the seaside, the choices for international cuisine and seafood are particularly impressive. A little further afield in Cha Am, there is also a huge selection of traditional Thai restaurants just waiting to be discovered.
Like most other university students, I live on a relatively tight budget and my savings don’t extend to too many fancy dinners at high-class establishments. As such, I generally eat at cheaper restaurants that allow me to travel more throughout Thailand and sustain myself during my time here. The best part about living here however is that just because I’m on a budget doesn’t mean I have to eat packet noodles every day. In fact – and perhaps it’s only me – I find that I never stop eating here! My three square meals a day has slowly morphed into four with a few snacks here and there for good measure. With so much delicious food around including tropical fruits and kanohm wan (sweet snacks), I’m sure I’m not the only one!
With so many options to choose from, it’s hard to list just a few different restaurants as there are literally hundreds (who knows maybe even thousands) in Hua Hin and Cha-Am. Notwithstanding, here are a few of my favorites.
Dao Talay (ร้านดาวทะเล)
Located opposite Cha Am’s main fish market and not too far from the Webster University Hua Hin / Cha Am campus, Dao Talay is a pretty simple Thai restaurant that serves exceptionally tasty fresh seafood. Whilst there is no direct sea view, you are still close enough to enjoy the cool sea breeze during your meal. My personal favorite is the neua boo pad pongari (เนื้อปูผัดผงกะหรี่) and I make a point to order it every time I go. With a very ‘local’ feel to it, be sure to take mum and dad when they come for a visit.
Krua Kannikar (ครัวกรรณิการ์)
This restaurant specializes in one particular food – chicken! If that sounds good to you then then be prepared to try chicken cooked in just about every way possible. Menu items start from about 50 baht and include dishes such as minced chicken salad, fried chicken, fried rice with chicken and spicy Tom Yum soup with – wait for it – chicken! With the restaurant operating for more than 20 years, they certainly know how to serve chicken to perfection.
Eat from the Street
Whilst a street cart isn’t exactly a restaurant, it’s nearly impossible to give recommendations about cheap and tasty food options without mentioning the ubiquitous street vendors serving traditional Thai food. With many vendors opening before the crack of dawn and closing up shop in the wee hours of the morning, street food is quite often my first choice. With a small bowl of delicious noodles starting at 20 baht, you’ll be able to keep plenty of money aside for that inevitable splurge. My tip: learn the Thai phrase for “not spicy” i.e. “mai phet”. This has come in handy more than any other phrase I know!
Ruamsaeb Yokkhok (รวมแซบ ส้มตำยกครก)
If you’ve ever walked down the main road of Hua Hin, then the chances are that you’ve walked straight past Ruamsaeb Yokkhok without even noticing. Specializing in Isaan food (Northeast Thailand), this restaurant has a wide selection of dishes including my two personal favorites, spicy som tum and larb. The serving sizes are more than adequate and prices range between 50-100 baht for most items. Head down here with a group of friends so you get the chance to try a little bit of everything!
So I must admit, I sometimes have those days where all I want to do is eat breakfast for dinner, lounge around, study a little bit and chill. Luckily, I found the perfect place that ticks all of these boxes! Located a little bit out of town, this bakery and restaurant serves Thai and Western food as well as desserts and coffee. With a super relaxed vibe, I have come here many times with my computer to work on an assignment. With a coffee only costing 45 baht and a hamburger less than 100 baht, why would you bother going anywhere else!
Hua Hin and Thailand more broadly is a foodies heaven. The ingredients are fresh, the taste unique and the price is extremely affordable. As my time at Webster University Thailand progresses, I have come to realize just how lucky I am to be able to eat this amazing food everyday. If you’re a little cautious when it comes to trying something different, try to be as open minded as possible. With so much to choose from, I can guarantee you that you’ll soon find a new favorite dish and become just as addicted to Thai food as I am. Bon appétit!