The Pattaya-Hua hin ferry was introduced earlier in the year with great fanfare. There were some early troubles as the weather prevented the newly built “ROYAL 1” Ferry from completing its maiden voyage. The Gulf of Thailand is open ocean and can get quite choppy at times. The service has now settled down into its usual routine. The pricing structure has increased lately, at first promo fares of 990 baht, to 1200 baht upstairs and 900 downstairs, now most recently to 1250 downstairs and 1550 upstairs. This is rather expensive to the alternative option of taking a bus for around 300-400 baht using a company such as Bell bus or the official government bus.
The ferry pricing may seem rather exhorbitant compared to the bus but you are saving a fair bit of time by skipping the bad traffic getting out of Pattaya, into Bangkok, and out of Bangkok to Huahin, these are the worst traffic hotspots in all of Thailand and can take around 4-6 hours to do.
By comparison the ferry does the trip in around 2.5 hours, obviously not including your taxi to and from the pier. On a clear day, the ferry can make the trip in under 2 hours. Once you arrive it is about 10-15 mins to downtown Hua Hin and there are taxis waiting to pick up passengers at the pier. A taxi should cost around 200 baht, or it is possible to walk to the main road and get a songtaew for 10 baht.
We recommend calling ahead to make sure the ferry is running on the day you intend to travel as there can be bad weather on the day. The departure times can also change without notice due to the tides, which cause the ferry to leave earlier and you can be caught out. The ferry is airconditioned but it is advisable to take a centre seat away from the glare of the windows as the aircon vents are located in the middle keeping you cooler.
recent reports are that the ferry has travelled empty most days, that would be true since this is the low season now for tourism but maybe the high prices are also turning people off along with the uncertainty of whether the ferry will actually run that day. The unreliability factor makes it difficult if you are trying to book accomodation and plan your trip in advance.
It would seem that the government has big plans for the ferry service with two more boats scheduled to commence service from the ports near Pattaya to Hua hin, including Sattahip to Koh Chang. This is despite the fact that the ferries are not currently attracting much patronage. The company behind the service obviously has backing to run at a loss for the first few years, or otherwise has been overly optimistic about the level of demand.
Hua hin is a small seaside resort maybe a quarter the size of Pattaya and lacks the large nightlife options in Chonburi. There are a few girly bars around the Hilton hotel area but if you are planning to make this the main reason for your trip to Hua Hin it would be a disappointment. Hua hin also has beachside resorts which you don’t find so much in Pattaya, as well as restaurants out on a pier over the ocean where you can get good seafood.
We think that if you are wanting to get a change of scenery or take your LLT somewhere that she has not been lately then the hua hin ferry is a sensible option, but you need to be aware of the relatively high price and the unreliable nature of the service means that you will have to be flexible in your plans.
for more infomration take a look at the Official ROYAL FERRY WEBSITE