A few days ago we boarded a bus from Bangkok to Hua Hin, Thailand. Beach bound.
Our one-month stay in the big city was over. Our first COVID-era vagabonding visit completed.
The good news: no problems or issues or unexpected surprises. In all, a solid start to what we hope will be many more years, countries, and continents to wander despite COVID.
Bangkok to Hua Hin by bus
Let the real vagabonding begin: no better way than a bus trip.
First, with our bags in tow, we jumped in a nice, comfy, air-conditioned taxi cab for the 10-minute ride from our Bangkok Airbnb rental to the regional transit center (Ekkamai terminal) – 100 Thai baht ($3) including tip.
We had checked the bus schedule days earlier – and arrived about 40 minutes prior to the 11 a.m. departure time. Our destination: Hua Hin — a beach town about three hours south on the Gulf of Thailand. Tickets were 200 Baht ($6) each.
We knew the route. We had actually taken this same shuttle service in early 2019 when we came the other direction.
Things were different then — busier. This time, far fewer people, cars, traffic, tourists.
As the photos above show, the Ekkamai bus station was mostly empty. Our mini-bus, maybe 70 percent full. Only one company makes the run to Hua Hin these days, every two hours.
The modern highway trip itself: smooth, fast, free-flowing traffic all the way. Our bus speed was moderated by traffic cameras. But the continual needless weaving across all five lanes while the driver talked on his cell phone was slightly concerning.
Bangkok to Hua Hin in the ‘new normal’
As we noted in a previous post, the tourism recovery is just beginning in Thailand. This country only reopened without restrictions on May 1, 2022.
And currently, Chinese visitors – who normally comprise up to 30 percent of Thailand’s tourists – are not permitted to leave China for leisure.
We arrived in Hua Hin in a downpour. Thankfully, we had no problem summoning a Grab ride (Asia’s Uber) from the bus drop-off point, which was a big puddle on the side of the road in the center of town. Not a taxi in sight.
It’s the first time we’ve used Grab in two-and-a-half years. The ride to our Airbnb rental a few kilometers away as the rain shower abated cost 89 baht, or $2.55.
Actually, only our newer budget smartphone (Samsung A03s for $123) supports the Grab app now — Ellen’s iPhone 6 is too old.
Hanging out in Hua Hin
Same story in Hua Hin. Not very busy. Lots of businesses still closed.
The songthaews – pickup-truck public transport (10 Baht / 30 cents per ride) – are few and empty. Even the massive malls and cheap food courts are devoid of any crowds. Some close early, too.
But to us, the beach is even more beautiful with fewer tourists And Hua Hin has lovely, almost-white sand stretching more than 8 kilometers. (Much of it does disappear at high tide.)
Beachfront bars and restaurants at all price points are available. I continue to eat fresh spicy papaya or mango salads every day.
Our first visit to Hua Hin in 2019 was cut short by some medical issues. This time, we look forward to a long month of relaxation, seafood, salads and beer for me.
Behold: a beach town bargain!
Lastly, one big reason we returned to Hua Hin is the price of the place we’re staying.
In fact, it is THE cheapest accommodation we have EVER booked! Only $280 for a month – including the Airbnb and cleaning fees! The building is older but our 8th-floor place is like brand new — a very recent rehab.
Granted, it IS a studio apartment – which we usually avoid. But after more than two years in our spacious Philippine COVID rental, a small space – at this price – is OK for a month.
We are right off the main drag through town, have a sea view, five minute walk to the miles-long beach and stores and mall, with pool, big TV, fast internet, strong AC, hot water, kitchenette, couch, nice tile bath, and more. We’ll do a ‘Kortan’s Crib’ video tour soon.
For now, we are more than happy to take advantage of the COVID-era laws of supply and demand that produced this bargain.
Indeed, we’ve noticed there are some good deals out there as international travel restarts again.
As always, be thankful and generous, happy trails & more beer.
Life is NOW!