A Secret Bangkok Beach Getaway
We’re lounging poolside at the Bangkok Shangri-La Hotel, sipping Pinot Grigio while dealing with this champagne problem: Where should we embark on a last-minute side trip and city escape? We had three days before our return flights home. Our wish list: beach, sun, yoga, great food, pool, and spa—all with hassle-free transport to and from the Bangkok airport.
The Evason Hua Hin turned out to be our perfect getaway. Despite its namesake, this luxury resort spa is located in Pranburi, a sleepy beach town about 30 minutes north of the more well-known Hua Hin and approximately three hours by car from Bangkok. We felt as though we discovered Bangkok’s best-kept secret beach getaway.
The next afternoon, our driver picked us up at the Shangri-La lobby and transported us in a comfortable, leather-interior private car from Bangkok’s city chaos to the Evason. The first glimpse we had of the welcome lobby, an open-air building framed by graceful palm trees and a peaceful water-lily pond, set our minds at ease that we found the right getaway spot. This feeling was affirmed when we were greeted with cold eucalyptus-scented towels and tropical juice at check-in. Lek, the front desk receptionist, spoke impeccable English. She suggested the flat-rate half-board program (all-inclusive of buffet breakfast, dinner, bike rental, free Wi-Fi, and one spa treatment); we blissfully accepted.
The beachfront rooms at the Evason have an expansive balcony the size of a small yoga pavilion with a view of the ocean. A huge chaise is perfect for afternoon napping while gazing at the waves. The interior room décor is decidedly eco-chic with stone and wood elements gracefully blending with soft white flowing fabrics.
And a little known secret is any guest can request a yoga mat for his or her room to open the day by practicing yoga on the balcony, watching the waves break, and listening to the morning calls of frogs and birds in the trees.
The spa at the Evason is the perfect anecdote to a long day playing in the sun. “Swadi-kah,” they greeted us with the traditional Thai welcome at the spa reception. We were ushered over a carved stone pathway to the relaxation room, a hut poised on top of a lily pond with big green chaises for reclining and an inviting tray of dried fruit and water for snacking.
With the complete board package, we had a choice of three types of massages or a facial. I chose the 60-minute Swedish massage. I spent a few minutes breathing in the smell of eucalyptus in the steam room. Then the spa therapist collected me, bringing me to a small, private, cave-like room where there was a bowl of fragrant flowers floating in water underneath the massage table.
The next day, I decided to try the Thai Silk Facial in addition to my daily massage. The treatment included a lovely cucumber cooling cream, a hot towel on the feet, and a neck rub—all for approximately US$45.
We were absolutely delighted to discover the main activity at the Evason Hua Hin is lounging—delicious, lazy, decadent relaxation. Lounging on the room balcony overlooking the ocean. Lounging on the big comfy sofas at the bar. Lounging at the spa. And, best of all, lounging at the infinity pool, watching the sunset with sangria in hand.
When we were in the mood for more adventure, we found there are archery courses, guided hikes, kayaking tours, and shopping excursions on tap at the Evason. Despite this impressive variety of diversions, we found ourselves more often opting for the simple pleasure of riding a bike down the beach. We passed by many roadside cafés and open-air spas, stopping at one to indulge in an hour-long $30 foot massage.
Down the road, we encountered a beautiful deserted beach, where we had an impromptu picnic. We also discover that here you can take kite-surfing lessons.
Despite being adventurous foodies, we had no regrets about selecting the full-board option; the Evason offers so many charming dining experiences, we were never bored with the cuisine during our three days at the resort.
The breakfast buffet at the Evason is an impressive array of sweet and savory delights served al fresco by the beach at the restaurant. For those in search of savory fare, the restaurant offers a custom noodle soup bar, an egg station, a selection of traditional Thai dishes, and sushi.
For those who fancy a sweeter breakfast option, there is pancake station and a mouth-watering offering of freshly baked French pastries. Our favorites were the almond croissants that are buttery, sugary and “worth the pain.”
And to accompany our breakfast meal, we had a glass of mixed fruit juice at the juice bar. My go-to combo each morning was papaya, mango, pineapples, and jackfruit with lime.
All three dinners we enjoyed during our stay involved delicious food and a great ambiance—in three distinctly different culinary styles. At Coast, the Mediterranean restaurant, we enjoyed a candle-lit dinner under the moonlight on the beachfront. We gorged ourselves on a seafood platter with lobster, oysters, mussels, and sea bass; a Greek salad; and a molten chocolate soufflé topped with vanilla ice cream.
At Kieng Sah, the Thai restaurant, we dined amongst the lily pads, serenaded by musicians playing traditional Thai instruments. I couldn’t resist ordering my favorite Thai dish, the Pad See-ew—soft rice noodles pan-fried with pork, Chinese broccoli, and soy sauce. On our last night, we ordered Thai street food and sipped martinis at the more casual Noodle Bar, where a live band sang cover songs of ’80s American classics.
Arriving and Departing
Getting to and from the Evason Hua Hin was as easy as an ocean breeze. The Bangkok Shangri-La concierge arranged our private car transfer on the way there at a rate of approximately US$120 for two people. We were surprised by the speed and comfort of the journey.
On the way back, I departed solo for a 5 a.m. flight from Bangkok International to Los Angeles. I was a bit nervous about traveling at midnight on my own via an unknown transfer service, but Oriental Escapes exceeded my expectations. When I explained I would be traveling alone, the company offered to provide a female driver without prompting. The driver arrived early for the pickup, and she was courteous and efficient. The company also provided a complimentary upgrade to a luxury vehicle, complete with leather seats and bottled water in the back. We made exceptional time on the road, and I was safely deposited at the airport well in advance of my flight home.
My only regret was having to leave behind the beauty and relaxation of the Evason Hua Hin.