Besides quiet beach resorts, swathes of clean sand and welcoming residents, Hua Hin has another magnet for visitors: the night market that lights up the streets every evening. Located on Dachanuchit Road in the heart of town, Hua Hin Night Market buzzes with tourists at the weekend, while locals tend to limit their visits to the honey pot to weekdays. The seaside town's biggest night bazaar has hundreds of vendors displaying a dazzling array of Thai traditional food and desserts alongside a variety of other merchandise.
Starting at the mouth of the 700-metre-long Soi Hua Hin 72, close to the old Chatchai wet market, hungry shoppers can take their pick from a host of pushcarts and stalls specialising in noodles. Everything from the ubiquitous pad thai to kluay tiew ped (noodle soup with grilled duck) to hot bowls of ka poh pla (dried fish-maw soup) is offered.
If you're not in the mood for noodles, keep strolling and you'll come across other famous Thai dishes like hoy tod (crispy fried mussel pancake with chilli sauce) and moo satay (roast pork with peanut sauce). You can also find a variety of sweets, including Indian roti, coconut ice cream, kanom buek (crispy egg crepe with golden threads) and luk chup (fruit shapes moulded from sugar and flour).
For a taste of Thai fruits, walk to the middle of market. Here you'll find stalls groaning with khao niaow mamuang (sticky rice with mango and coconut milk), and a variety of fruits like guava and mango infused with juice of Chinese plums. Turn your attention from the sweet fruits to the nearby crowd and you've probably located the popular Salee stall, doing a roaring trade in kapi waan (sweet shrimp paste).
You could save your date for dinner till the end of the market, though, for a choice of bigger restaurants. The large open-air eatery Lung Ja offers big plates of various seafood combos. But the coolest place is a small unassuming restaurant that serves simple Japanese food at very reasonable prices. Recommended dishes include the okonomi (a Japanese pizza-cum-pancake, Bt55), katsuramen (noodle soup with pork, Bt55), Buta steak (pork steak, Bt80), niku shogayaki (beef with ginger, Bt50), tori (chicken) curry, Bt55, gyoza (fried pork dumplings, Bt25) and the plate of five tokoyaki (batter balls with octopus, Bt20). The place is open from 6pm to 10pm daily.
As well as the mountains of food that meet the eye at Hua Hin Night Market, shoppers can also discover the kind of merchandise you'll find at any night bazaar in Bangkok or Pattaya. Items include handmade souvenirs such as bags, wooden boxes, postcards and paintings, Indian-style ornaments, fashionable clothing and shoes, colourful hairpins and toys. Small galleries run by local artists display some striking landscapes, portraits and sculptures.