Some Points of Religious Etiquette:
Although the Thai do not expect visitors to believe in Buddhism, they do expect that visitors respect Buddhist images, beliefs, and practices.
You need not participate in rituals, but you are certainly welcome to. You may, for instance, pay homage before a high-ranking monk or a Buddha image by kneeling, presenting a wai, and bowing to the floor three times. Or you may wish to make symbolic (incense, candles, and gold leaf) and financial offerings at a temple.
Even if you don't participate in rituals, in the presence of a monk, you should keep your head lower than his (stoop if he is standing and sit or crouch if he is seated). Be very careful not to point your feet at anyone, particularly a monk or Buddha image.
The doorway of the bòt (main temple building) has a raised threshold, which must not be stood or stepped on. Thai people believe holy spirits reside in these thresholds.
Women must never touch monks or novices (nen) and men must never touch nuns (mae-chee).
When you visit Buddhist temples, wear appropriate clothing—trousers for men, knee or lower length skirts for women and, for special occasion, tops with long sleeves for either gender. Some tourist-frequented wat permit inappropriately dressed visitors; most don't.
If you participate in presenting alms (merit-making gifts). Everything given must not be used prior to presentation (even the first serving of food, for instance, is taken for alms-giving). Sniffing flowers or incense renders them used and therefore unsuitable for giving.
Hua Hin to Bangkok
It is a long ride, but when I took the ride it was about 4.5 hrs in a mini van and we arrived just before traffic started to get bad in Bangkok. It'll be longer if you get into bad traffic for some reason or other. As far as getting you directly to the airport, don't know why unless you were to hire the car to take you directly there I don't know of another way.
Khao Tao Temple - Great views and friendly monks
Located about 13 km south of Hua Hin adjacent to a little sleepy fishing village, Khao Tao was probably my favorite temple in the area. There are many beautiful sculptures, including a dragon-riding Buddha and a giant golden turtle, as well as great views of the sweeping Suan Son Beach. Follow the short path up the hill through several monk bungalos to find a huge sitting Buddha at the summit, majestically overlooking the temple below.
The monks at this temple were particularly friendly and outgoing.... they even offered me several free servings of Cha Nom Yen (Sweet iced tea w/ milk) and delicious noodles. I was so impressed by their kindness and hospitality that I made a donation anyways. As it turned out, the monks were raising funds for a new temple roof at the time, and they had me sign my name on one of the roof's future tiles.... so next time you stop by the Khao Tao Temple, feel free to say "Hi" to my tile for me :)
Quick tip: This temple offers a wide variety of tasty refreshments for its visitors free of charge. Nevertheless, I encourage you to at least make a small donation; after all, it's for a good cause.
Bottom-line: I saw a lot of temples in Thailand, and the one at Khao Tao still stands out in my mind as one of my favorites. From the interesting sculptures to the picturesque landscapes to the exceptional hospitality, this temple is definitely well worth a visit.
Beautiful sunrises from the beach
Hua Hin's beach faces east, making it a prime location for viewing some incredible sunrises.
I dragged myself out of bed, and took these pictures between 05:30 and 06:30.
All in all, they turned out to be some of my favorite photos from Hua Hin. That said, I definitely recommend to make yourself get up early at least one morning, as tough as that may sound.... You'll thank yourself later.
Check out my "Sunrises" travelogue for more pics....
Quick tip: A tripod is extrememly useful for taking clear pictures in the low light.
lots of fun
First visit (probably about 1991) we took the train. Very slow. Next time we took the bus. Better, but still a hard trip with a small boy under your arm.
After that, we just rented a car/taxi/tour mini bus. Much easier, and well worth the extra. Door to door, air con etc.
Even flew a couple of times.
Stayed in a guest house a couple of times. Good & friendly, clean, quiet, pool etc. Even played golf at Royal Hua Hin one time, invited by other guests.
Then tried a small hotel. Again, great value and enjoyed it
Pool and beach, obviously. Royal palace. Nearby state park. Lots of good restaurants.
Drove down to Prachuab Khiri Khan a few times - beautiful beach.