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Frigate assigned to escort Pattaya-Hua Hin ferry

The navy has assigned the frigate HTMS Kraburi to protect the Pattaya-Hua Hin ferry, which made its first trip on Thursday after rough seas delayed the unofficial launch on Jan 1.

The frigate was already deployed in the upper part of the Gulf of Thailand, a statement by the navy said. It was assigned work with the Marine Department to ensure maritime security, especially for the Pattaya-Hua Hin ferry service.

HTMS Kraburi would escort and remain in constant contact with the ferries of the Royal Passenger Liner Co Ltd, the operator of the two-hour trip between the two popular tourist destinations.

The service launched unofficially on Jan 1, with free passage offered until Jan 15 and the official opening set for Jan 12. However, the first run was delayed by rough seas in the Gulf, until Thursday, Jan 5.

The company is currently using only one of its three ferries, offering one daily return trip. It will be docked on Jan 11 for maintenance and checks ahead of the official launch the following day.

Departure time is set at 8.30am and the return trip at 3pm. The ferry is scheduled to depart Hua Hin for Pattaya return from Jan 7 to 10 and from Pattaya to Hua Hin return on Jan 13 to15.

After the fare-free period, the basic ticket cost will be 1,250 baht a trip per head.

The ferry company has bought three 38-metre long ferries from China, each capable of carrying 339 passengers. Each ferry has 286 seats on the first deck, with 44 business class seats on the upper deck and two VIP rooms. Prices for the upper deck have not been announced. There is a crew of eight. The ferries can travel at up to 27 knots, according to the company.



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Inside an Architect’s Bag

There are many stereotypes associated with being an architect — our “over-the-shoulder” messenger bag is certainly one of them. In my particular case, I definitely fit the mold of the architects stereotype because not only do I have a messenger bag, I love the one I own.

I wrote a post a while back titled “An Architects tool bag” in which I listed the things I thought were paramount to me doing my job. In that post, I talked about the items that were in my office that I used the most often — that is not what this post is covering — and I thought it would be interesting to show people what I carry around in my bag. I’ve seen posts like this before, and while being a little bit voyeuristic, I typically find them interesting (I’m not going to think about what that says about me).

So … what is in my architect’s bag? Let’s take a look.

1. MacBook Pro 15”: I got this computer for my birthday present in 2012 after being a lifelong PC user. Despite the fact that there are aspects of my Mac that I love, I am still struggling to learn how to use it in some instances. [NB: This post was originally written in 2013.]

2. 12” x 50 yard roll of trace paper: I go through a lot of trace paper, and I can’t imagine that ever changing. I do wish that I still had access to yellow trace, but the yellow doesn’t xerox as cleanly as the white.

3. Architectural scale: I literally have dozens of these things laying about. They are like zucchini in the summertime; they seem to multiply on their own over night.

4. Pencils: Ticonderoga erasable “Carmine Red” 425T and Prismacolor “Mediterranean Blue.” I keep two different colors on hand: red to mark up drawings and make notes, the blue to add some color to my sketches (typically sky or windows).

5. Sharpie Pens: “Fine Tip” and “Ultra Fine Tip.” Two of my heavy-use, go-to pens for sketching. I like to sketch with the ultra fine tip, but I almost always go back over them with the fine tip to add some pen weight and profile lines. I don’t really know why it’s called a “fine tip.” It’s not particularly fine.

6. Paper Mate Pens: Flair M — the first pen that has worked its way into my “all Sharpie pen” lineup. I’m not sure when I started using the PaperMate Flair pen, but it has replaced the Sharpie Ultra Fine Tip pen as my daily use pen. All you have to do is look at the quantities and you know this to be true.

7. Medicine: Gas X (for bloating) and Sominex (sleep aid). Including these items on this list takes a bit of courage. I’ll admit that flying tends to make me bloated, and I don’t want to be “that” guy poisoning the air on the plane. You’re welcome.

8. Staedtler Mars drafting dots: I used regular masking tape when I was in school, but now that I’ve “made it,” I pony up for the drafting dots.

9. Business cards: I hand out a lot of business cards, and so I generally keep a lot on hand. Ironically, I don’t hand out these cards to potential clients all that much; most of the time, it’s at consultant and vendor meetings.

10. Ice Breakers breath mints: Again … you’re welcome.

11. Aquaphor Lip Therapy: I hardly use this stuff, but I keep it in my bag anyways. It’s pretty humid where I live, and if I travel somewhere dry, I need this stuff.

12. Tumi Delta Passport Wallet: A present from my wife to replace a wallet that I thought I had lost. I don’t like sitting on my wallet so I like the ones that are tall so I can spread the contents out. Anything to make the wallet thinner (the economy has been helping make it thinner).

13. Change: (7) quarters, (2) dimes, (2) nickels and (5) pennies

14. Headphones: Sennheiser IE4 ear buds. Great headphones, pure and simple.

15. Portable Hard Drive: A LaCie Porsche Design P’9220 1 TB USB 3.0 Portable External Hard Drive 302000. I don’t like to keep to keep “Life of an Architect” stuff on work computers (and I process a lot of photos and graphics), so I carry around this portable hard drive.

16. MacBook Pro 85w Magsafe portable power adapter with wrist bracelet rubber band: I have two chargers, one I keep at home and the other that travels with me. Despite the fantastic packaging that is associated with Apple products, I’m not aware of one that deals with the power cord. I took a rubber wrist band bracelet that my daughter had (and said she wasn’t EVER going to wear) and use it to keep my cord nice and tidy.

17. Tumi Men’s Meridian Letter Padfolio: Also a gift from my wife some years ago, this is what I bring with me to client meetings. There is room inside for a pad of paper, a pen, some business cards and storage or loose papers.

18. Black framed glasses: What did you expect?

19. Moleskine Classic Soft Cover Large Plain Notebook, Black (5 x 8.25): I literally have dozens of these things, and yes, I like to sketch in them.

20. Rubber bands, size #32: I buy my own rubber bands, and I always look for the #32s. Not only are they sturdy enough to wrap up a roll of drawings, they are superb for shooting at your coworkers.

21. Stanley Powerlock Tape Measure, 30’ length: I’m surprised at how often I need this, but I generally keep it in my car. It’s too heavy to tote around every day. Not sure why it was in my bag today.

22. iPhone 5: My sweet, new phone (as of 2013) … that I love.

23. Calculator: A Calculated Industries ‘Measure Master 5.’ Calculated Industries actually has the latest version of its calculator available as an app, and I have it on my phone … I just need to remember that it’s there and I’ll probably leave the calculator at the office.

There you have it — a sneak peek into my bag. If you want any of these items for yourself — or maybe you just want to see what they might cost — the links above will take you to the right place.





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Bluport Hua Hin Resort Mall to see multi-billion baht expansion

Hua Hin Asset Company, a joint venture between the Umpujh and Liptapanlop families, will allocate an additional 2-3 billion baht to build new attractions and develop a residential project for the second phase of its Bluport Hua Hin Resort Mall, which is due to open next month.

The new expansions will push the overall budget for the project to 8 billion baht.

Supaluck Umpujh, Hua Hin Asset’s vice chairman, said the second phase will be built on a 25-rai plot located behind the Bluport shopping project over the next two years. The new development will respond to increased tourism in Hua Hin.

“We believe in the potential of Hua Hin, which TripAdvisor has ranked fifth among the top 10 tourist destinations on the rise in Asia,” she said.

The government’s plans to expand Hua Hin airport near the subdistrict of Ban Bo Fai in Prachuap Khiri Khan, along with the high-speed train project to the resort town, reflect Hua Hin’s growth potential.

Ms Supaluck, also vice-chairman of The Mall Group, has suggested that the government build a port in Hua Hin to attract more tourists, particularly foreigners. The port would become a new transport alternative for Hua Hin.

“If tourists can conveniently travel to Hua Hin, they will stay longer and spend more money. This will benefit the Thai tourism industry in the long run,” she said.

The Bluport Hua Hin Resort Mall, located opposite Intercontinental Hotel Hua Hin, is due to open on Oct 1. The company will spend about 200 million baht on its official launch, which is expected to bolster Thailand’s tourism industry and overall economy, as well as solidify the country’s retail status in Asean.

The shopping project has 200,000 square metres of space, of which 50,000 sq m has been allocated for a department store. Another 25,000 sq m has been set aside for a shopping plaza, 10,000 sq m for a supermarket, 15,000 sq m for a theme park and pedestrian footpaths, while the remaining 100,000 sq m is for parking.

Daily visitors are expected to number 20,000 during weekdays and 40,000 at the weekend. Hua Hin Asset forecasts its annual retail sales at 7 billion baht and expects to break even within seven years.

Ms Supaluck said the Bluport Hua Hin project represented a new milestone for The Mall Group, which has a lot of retail experience in Bangkok, having developed The Mall, Siam Paragon, and the Emporium and Emquartier shopping malls.

Due to increased tourist arrivals, the group has focused its expansion efforts in Hua Hin, Phuket, Pattaya, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Koh Samui.


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Hua Hin Vintage Car Parade 2016

Each year, normally in December when the chances of rain are slight, this rally takes place between The Sofital Central Plaza, Bangkok and The Sofitel Central, Hua Hin.

Some 60 antique and classic cars make the 225km journey and after arriving in Hua Hin, rest up in town for the night before setting off on a parade around Hua Hin the next day that takes them to Klaikangwon Palace, via the railway station and back again.

This is quite a spectacle, reminiscent of The London to Brighton rally that takes place annually in the UK.

If you’re fond of old cars, then you are sure to appreciate the examples you will see, especially in such a foreign land. They are normally in pristine condition and include fine examples of E-Type Jaguars, Mercedes, Alfa Romeos, Fiats and many more.

Date: Dec 12th, 2015 – Dec 14th, 2015 (To Be Confirmed)

© 2006 Images copyright

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Phraya Nakhon Cave

An Amazing Temple Inside A Hidden Cave Near Hua Hin

The magnificent Phraya Nakhon Cave is one of the most mystical and mysterious landmarks of Thailand but only a few travellers get a chance to take a picture of it. The reason is simple: this gold and green pavilion is hidden inside a hard to reach cave and only a handful of dedicated visitors will do the effort to visit it. Those who do are rewarded with a stunning vision that looks like it’s straight out of an Indiana Jones movie.

Phraya Nakhon Cave is located in the Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park in Prachuap Khiri Khan province, a 45 minutes drive south of Hua Hin. First step to reach the cave is to drive to the small village of Bang Pu located by the beach, and from there decide if you’d rather rent a boat to take you around the cape to Laem Sala beach, or walk a 30 minutes trek above the hill leading to the same Laem Sala beach. Since the boat ride only costs 150 to 200 baht per person and considering that you still will have to climb 430 m of uneven and steep steps we recommend you save your energy and take this short ride to the cave. You can also combine a boat trip to the cave with Monkey Island, ask at the pier.

Once you’ve reached the beach you’ll notice a large rustic restaurant you’ll be more than happy to use on your way back. You will need to pay a National Park fee of 200 baht and a guide might be assigned to you as apparently you can’t go there without one, and don’t be surprised if your guide is a tiny 9 year old girl. From the bottom of the stairs it’s a serious climb, so unless you are fit and used to stair climbing go slowly and take your time: 430 meters seem to be a piece of cake on flat land but when climbing uneven slippery steps, it proves to be a complete different story.

Close to the top the path progressively eases then starts going down into the first cave. Don’t go imagining a dark scary pit; the sunlight cascades generously from the open ceiling of the first cave. This first cave looks beautiful with a natural stone bridge called ‘hell bridge’, but nothing prepares you to the surreal beauty of the second cave, the one you really came to see.

A short wooden path connects the two caves and finally it is there: since 1890, the Kuha Kharuehat pavilion stands gloriously in a ray of sunlight falling from a circular hole in the cave ceiling. If you are lucky to be the only visitor, the unusual silence adds to the majesty of the site… This pavilion stands on a hill surrounded by trees and vegetation. The pavilion was built at the end of the 19th century for the visit of King Chulalongkorn the Great (Rama V). Later, King Prajadhipok (Rama VII) and the present King of Thailand, King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX) also visited the cave.

Once you have taken enough photos and your legs start to feel less shaky, it is time to go back. Walking down is less tiring in some way but beware of the slippery stones! Stop at the restaurant for some well needed refreshements or food. Note: We saw a very skinny dog in the cave, so if you read this, bring him a little something from your breakfast. We gave some money to the guides so they can buy some fried rice for the poor dog. Note also that the light is at it’s best before 11 am!

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Air Space Has Landed on the Runway in Khao Takiab and the Doors are Open

The glasshouse barn-like space with the full scale replica of the world’s first aircraft, the 1903 Wright Flyer hanging from the ceiling, sets the scene.

Air Space actually includes three ‘Space’s; The Café, The Restaurant, and The Outdoor Garden. The Café offers an all-day Western menu, including breakfast and coffee. The coffee bar features coffee beans from Chiang Mai, as well as a selection of nine distinctive coffee tastes including beans from Kenya, Honduras and Nicaragua. The signature coffee is “deconstructed latte,” served in champagne glasses. Customers are encouraged to take a shot of espresso, a small glass of warm milk, a glass of café latte, a glass of sparkling water and a bite of homemade pastry. The Restaurant offers seafood and Thai cuisine.

The must-try appetiser is “miang som o” (herbed pomelo salad with grilled shrimps on deep fried wild betel leaves). For main dishes, stir fried crab meat with herbs and paprika, deep fried sea bass topped with Thai style spicy sauce, and roasted duck with red curry and fresh fruits are highly recommended. Finishing off the meal with iced ladcheag in coconut milk with cantaloupe, black sticky rice, and homemade popped rice would be a nice way to sweeten the rest of the day. The Outdoor Garden offers a full bar list, including the Thai herbal drinks – “naree rumpueng” and “mah kratueb rong.”

Highlights include seven aviation-themed cocktails, including “steward” and “black box.” The Steward is a blend of whisky and fresh coconut water. The taste reflects the steward’s character; aggressively charming. The very first sip brings a strong taste of whisky, yet the after taste is soft, creamy, and freshly sweet from coconut water. A black box, as its name suggests is served in a black box. Order it next time you are at Air Space to reveal what is hidden inside. Live music is provided from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM on Monday to Thursday, and from 6:30 PM to 10:30 PM on Friday to Sunday.

For further information: Call 063-916-0999 or see,
Address: 12/399 Hua Dorn, Nong Kae (Khao Takiab)

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East-West ferry to run by 2020

The Hua Hin to Pattaya service is tipped to cut journey time by two-thirds.

The government’s proposed East-West Ferry Project to link the resort towns of Hua Hin in Prachuap Khiri Khan and Pattaya in Chon Buri province is expected to be up and running in four years.

It currently takes about five hours to drive between the resort towns. But when the ferry begins operation, estimated to be in 2020, travellers can expect to have their journey time shortened by about two-thirds, said Prachuap Khiri Khan’s Marine Office 3 chief Suriya Kopatta.

Mr Suriya said the Marine Department (MD) has hired a consultancy firm to conduct a feasibility study of the project. The study is due to be wrapped up by December this year.

The project will then be proposed to the Transport Ministry, which will then seek cabinet approval for a budget to construct ports for the project, Mr Suriya said.

The project, he said, would help shorten travel time between the lower Central Plains, covering Prachuap Khiri Khan and Phetchaburi, and the eastern provinces of Chon Buri, Chanthaburi, Rayong and Trat.

Pattaya is about 345km from Hua Hin by road, but only 105km across the Gulf of Thailand.

Mr Suriya said a modern ferry would be able to handle between 300-500 passengers and 30-60 vehicles on the trip, and would take only one-and-a-half hours to complete the journey.

The project is tipped to boost the economy, enhance the country’s competitiveness and reduce heavy road traffic during long holidays, he said.

The stretch of water in Pran Buri district is suitable for a ferry port, Mr Suriya said.

The port would be constructed on a 30-rai land plot just 37km from Hua Hin.

The department is developing plans for ferry ports on both sides of the Gulf of Thailand. Private firms will be hired to run the ferry service.

A privately-run ferry service from Pattaya to Hua Hin and Phetchaburi’s Cha-am has been offered in the past, but was not financially viable, causing the operator to stop service in 2011.

The service focused on serving tourists, not on cargo.

The government has plans to build a deep-sea port in Prachuap Khiri Khan to cater for cargo shipments, especially from Myanmar once the Thai-Myanmar Singkhon border pass becomes a permanent crossing.

A feasibility study on the port project is under way.

The ferry service and port project chime with the government’s 11th National Economic and Social Development Plan (2012-2016), which promotes the connectivity of various modes of transport to reduce freight and logistic costs, according to deputy Phetchaburi governor Kittibordee Pravit.

The cost of transporting goods by sea is lower than for rail or road freight services, the deputy governor said.

With one litre of fuel, just under 218 tonnes of goods can be transported by sea, 85.5 tonnes by rail and 26.5 tonnes by road.

Sea transport also ensures the effective use of fuel, reduces greenhouse gases and lowers road maintenance costs, Pol Lt Col Kittibordee said.

The projects would also be a boon to industry in Phetchaburi, which focuses on processed seafood for export, he added. Meanwhile, work is under way to study development strategies in the southern areas.

OTP chief Chaiwat Thongkhamkoon said the study will wrap up next month.

Nakarin Satthamnuwong, engineering lecturer at King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi (KMUTT), said the study has initially found the development of the South’s coastal areas should involve new economic activities that thrive on tourism and farm product processing.

The development plan is to be divided into two phases.

In the first 10 years, starting next year, tourism revenue is expected to soar and account for 80% of the region’s income, with the rest stemming from other economic activities, such as food processing and fishing.

But following the first 10 years, tourism is expected to only account for only for half of the region’s revenue as new economic activity is promoted.

Based on the 2015-2022 transport infrastructure development plan in the South, two highways will be constructed.

One will stretch 83km from Songkhla to the Sadao border crossing, at a cost of 23.9 billion baht, and the other 5km from Kathu to Patong in Phuket, costing 10 billion baht.

As for water transport, cruise wharfs in Krabi and Surat Thani’s Koh Samui will be built at a total cost of 2.9 billion baht.

The second Songkhla deep-sea port, worth 13.9 billion baht, will be built, and Pak Bara port in Satun will be constructed at a cost of 17.7 billion baht.

For air transport, a 12.9-billion-baht upgrade of Phuket airport will be completed this year.

Nakhon Si Thammarat and Hat Yai airports will be next in line for expansion.

Based on current railway developments, a double track will connect Prachuap Khiri Khan to Chumphon, Chumphon to Surat Thani, Surat Thani-Hat Yai to Songkhla and Thung Pho (Surat Thani) to Thanun (Phangnga).

Korakot Tetiranon, secretary-general of Nakhon Si Thammarat Chamber of Commerce, said Nakhon Si Thammarat is the centre of the transport link between Surat Thani and Songkhla.

Activities concerning goods distribution and transport connections should be promoted in this area, he said.

“As Nakhon Si Thammarat is surrounded by provinces where the central authority would set aside a great deal of budget for investment, the OTP must ensure this group of provinces moves ahead in the same direction as the development plan in the South,” Mr Korakot said.

The private sector in the province is in the process of developing cargo distribution centres at a cost of 800 million baht, said Anucha Thanawut, chief of the Thung Song municipality’s public works department.

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Why Thailand Is The Ultimate Digital Nomad Destination

It begins a with a daydream, usually on a Monday morning, sitting at the office. The light at the end of the tunnel is the blinding glare of a computer screen, a digital clock ticking down the hours until you can go home, sleep and begin the cycle again on Tuesday.

The daydream begins the same way as it always does: the weekend is over and the gritty instant coffee is seasoned with the tears of realization that Friday is far, far away. Unopened emails continue to load, each bold subject line a sharp jab. You close your eyes, take a deep breath and dream of a world without cubicles, no more clocking in for work and no micro managing. This is a dream that may seem out of reach, but it’s not as uncommon as one would think.

Meet the digital nomad. This Individual quit their day job in search of freedom and adventure. They stuck it to the man and traded job security to pursue freelance opportunities or start an online business. They work when they want, from wherever they want, fueled by the desire to experience the world not as a short vacay, but as a way of life. I’m not gonna lie, life as a digital nomad is hard work that takes patience and perseverance. Long hours, unpredictable earnings and business risks that don’t always pan out are all part of the game. There are also location factors to consider, such as cost of living, personal preferences and most importantly: internet reliability.

Thailand tops the charts as a favorite destination for digital nomads, and it’s a no-brainer as to why. Not only is it a country of incredible beauty with a fascinating culture and friendly people, but Thailand offers digital nomads affordable living and plentiful work resources that can help beginners find roots in a foreign country while making the transition to working independently.

Thailand has something for everyone

Would you like to post up on a picturesque tropical beach with a cold Leo in hand or work in a quaint cafe with strong, local coffee and a mountain view that isn’t a screensaver? Nomad List ranks Bangkok as a top city for digital nomads, focusing on factors such as climate, affordability, internet speed and city size. The capital city is famous for its extravagant temples and bustling markets, but as a major international hub, offers all the modern comforts of home. With Suvarnabhumi Airport at the heart of the city, cheap domestic flights through airlines such as, Lion Air, Nok Air and AirAsia make quick weekend getaways a breeze. If you’re craving salt and sand, head to Phuket in the Andaman Sea or Ko Samui in the Gulf of Thailand. For mountain trekking and delicious Isan cooking, head to Chiang Mai; another travel favorite with a blossoming digital nomad community.

Fast internet and coworking space in Thailand

Finding a place to settle with fast, reliable internet can be one of the biggest challenges for a digital nomad, especially in developing countries. Southeast Asia is coveted by travelers and expats alike, but Thailand is one of the few countries in the region that boasts satisfactory internet above 10 MBps and caters to digital nomads with quality coworking spaces. All you need is a monthly membership and your laptop to access a coworking space in Bangkok. The Work Loft, a full-serviced office in Bangkok, not only ensures stable internet, but offers amenities such as private meeting rooms and a cafe. Other popular options include Punspace in Chiang Mai and Stash in Phuket. Look for coworking spaces that offer free trials for newbies. I took advantage of the free 14-day trial from The Work Loft and didn’t pay a thing for working space while in Bangkok.

Affordable living and comfort

Coming from a western country, the cost of living in Thailand is quite affordable, especially if you’re just starting out and on a strict budget. As the second largest city in Thailand, Chiang Mai offers a subtle mix of hip, urban style and creative innovation while retaining that slow-paced living that a hectic metropolis, such as Bangkok, may lack. Nimmanhaemin is a prominent area, with stylish boutiques, lush gardens and artsy cafes dotting the streets. It’s possible to find a modern, fully furnished studio apartment starting around $300 a month. Gorge yourself on fresh, authentic Thai curries and noodle dishes for less than $5 a pop and feed your caffeine kick with strong local beans brewed straight from the mountain farms of the North for under a $1. Renting a scooter for no more than $8 a day is the way to explore all Chiang Mai has to offer. You don’t need an international driver’s license to rent, but it’s something to consider since police will pull drivers over to check, and will fine those without a license.

Thailand is perfect for meeting other digital nomads

Perhaps you’re making the leap to living the digital nomad lifestyle all by your lonesome. It can be daunting to bunker down in a new country where you don’t know anyone and english is not widely spoken. Don’t fret- Thailand is one of the biggest tourist destinations in the world, also favored by expats. Every month, events and workshops are held in Bangkok and Chiang Mai for digital nomads to meet and network. Western restaurants and bars are plentiful, making it easy to connect with other foreigners and english speakers. Chiang Mai has a meet upevery Saturday morning for anyone to join in a challenging hike up Doi Suthep mountain. Don’t forget those coworking spaces I mentioned, where you can befriend other folks that can relate to the travel/work lifestyle.

Thailand visa requirements

And, we come to everyone’s favorite topic of travel: visas. Though the visa requirements are constantly changing and it’s important to stay abreast of new developments and procedures, Thailand is still a fairly lenient country when it comes to staying long or short term, with various visa options to choose from. Apply for an education visa to study the Thai language and become bilingual while pursuing your online business. A self-defense visa allows you to work with a professional and learn vital techniques for protection or if you aren’t sure how long you’ll stay and prefer a month-to-month visa, there’s always the good ol’ border run for a tourist visa. But, beware: border runs are getting increasingly strict, especially with foreigners who have overstayed or have done multiple back-to-back border runs over a long period of time.

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Fit for a king! Inside the idyllic coastal town that Thailand’s monarch calls home (but few foreign tourists bother to explore)

The whitewashed walls of the king’s palace are reminiscent of a colossal Spanish hacienda.

They are barely visible through the thick canopy of trees — and the palace itself is closed to the public.

This tantalising glimpse is probably as close as I’ll get to an audience with a king whose reign is of such extraordinary duration as to even outdo our own Queen Elizabeth II.

The writer visited Khao Takiab, a wooded outcrop jutting out into the sea like a clenched fist just on the edge of Hua Hin

A dramatic dusky sunset paints a vivid backdrop to a painted fishing boat in the Gulf of Thailand at Hua Hin

King Bhumibol of Thailand has been on the throne since June 1946, and here in Hua Hin, on the northern coast of the Malay Peninsula (around three hours’ drive south from Bangkok), is where he lives.

Now 87 years old, he became king at a time when Stalin still ruled Russia, the Nuremberg Trials were taking place and cinema audiences in the U.S. were flocking to see the newly released It’s A Wonderful Life.

He is loved by his people with a reverence that seems ubiquitous; indeed, many believe that it is his continued presence on the throne that is single-handedly holding the country together.

Hua Hin itself — a small, low‑rise town with sprawling food markets, dozens of hotels and with a markedly more local feel than Phuket, attracts Bangkok dwellers in droves for weekend stays.

As voluminous pillows of cloud skate across the cerulean sky, market traders selling coconut milk, herbal remedies and skewers of barbecued pork gaze out to the sea, whose choppy, frothing waters slurp against the vanilla-coloured sands.

This is a town that few foreign visitors bother with, preferring to push on, straight to Phuket.

But they’re missing out. Fishing boats still bob lazily in the harbour and the night market comes alive after 8pm, with local couples feasting on freshly-made ice-cream and bartering over everything from spray-painted T-shirts to hand-stitched handbags and retro lamps.

Creature comforts: An in-room hot tub inside the tranquil Amari hotel

The Amari hotel exudes tranquillity from the moment you step into the rich, blue-walled lobby, complete with a lounge full of leather chess sets and rattan chairs.

The hotel’s seafront restaurant serves mountainous plates of fresh lobster, clams and crab, and there’s an outstanding spa where I had seashells placed against my ears so I could hear the sound of the ocean during my massage.

The hotel can also arrange trips to the Hua Hin Hills Vineyard, just 18 miles away, where some surprisingly fine local wines are being produced — its Chenin Blanc and Colombard Monsoon Valley varietal recently won a gold standard award from Decanter magazine.

And there is another royal element. Maruekatayawan is a palace built by King Rama VI in the Twenties, which directly overlooks the beach.

Now vacated and open to visitors, its long, teak-floored galleries are a cross between a seaside pier and an M. C. Escher picture, stretching seemingly endlessly across the beach front.

King Bhumibol, whose reign began in 1946Palm trees line a relaxing beach at Hua Hin

Surrounded by coconut groves and mangroves, it was here that the unfortunate king, who named his home ‘Far From Worries’, was staying when a coup against his absolute monarchy was launched in 1932.

After registering my commiserations, I headed to Khao Takiab, a wooded outcrop jutting out into the sea like a clenched fist just on the edge of Hua Hin.

Home to hundreds of macaques, the indolent beasts sprawl, sleep, bicker and play at the foot of a flight of steps so steep as to look like they come straight from an Inca fortress.

A sweaty climb to the top brought me to a Buddhist temple where, brandishing a bunch of daffodils bought from a vendor outside, I entered the small prayer room, dominated by an altar upon which perched a small model of a rather skinny-looking Buddha.

Following the example of locals, I placed myself on my knees, pushed my head and hands to the floor three times and inhaled the pungent smell of the burning joss sticks.

I felt suitably becalmed. And why not?

The king still sits on his throne in the palace nearby, the fresh lobster still crawls into the fisherman’s nets and the sun continues to beat down on this royal, and utterly beguiling corner of Thailand.

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Khao Hin Lek Fai (Flintstone Hill)

If you’re looking for some spectacular views of Hua Hin, you need search no further than Khao Hin Lek Fai (Flintstone Hill).

It is situated about 3km west of the town centre. Follow Chomsin Road over the railway line and instead of bearing right with the road to Pala U, keep going straight ahead. It’s a steep climb to the top, but worth it once you’re there.

There are 3-4 lookout spots and it’s a popular location with locals, especially at sundown which is arguably the best time to go. Try all the lookouts as they offer views in different directions, you can see as far south as Khao Takiab and beyond and north towards Cha-am.

If you’re feeling fit you can join the active crowd who make the daily trip to the top by running or cycling. However it is not for the feint hearted!

There are a few stalls selling food and drink and a bird centre that never seems to have many birds aside from the peacocks roaming around. A well laid out garden with many different species of shrubs, trees and bamboo, together with a statue of King Rama VII adds to the ambience of the location.