As much an art installation as a commercial enterprise, Plearn Wan in Hua Hin is a recreation of the old-fashioned shophouses that once occupied the Thai-Chinese
What to do in Plearn Wan
Food is the main highlight at Plearn Wan. But other than the usual pad thai or grilled meat skewers, you will find a good mix of old and new. Hard-to-find snacks, such as ‘tong muan sod‘ (sweetened pancake) and ‘ka lor jee‘ (similar to Japanese mochi), are cooked up by order at one of the hawker carts lining the walkway along with typical fare such as noodles and barbecued pork over rice. And if you are a fan of Thai sweets, you will find a myriad of mouthwatering recipes here, from mango sticky rice to grass jelly with shaved ice and preserved fruits in sweetened syrup.
Besides hopping from one food cart to the next, shopping is another favourite pastime for visitors to Plern Wan. The collection of one-off souvenirs, toys, clothing, fashion accessories and even a shop selling various kinds of ‘nam prik’ (chili paste) is quite impressive – even if you don’t buy anything, it makes for quite a pleasurable look around.
The two-storey wooden complex of stylized old-fashioned shophouses, reminiscent of those that made up the Thai-Chinese neighbourhoods of Bangkok and Hua Hin, includes shops and cafes that hawk a variety of vintage merchandise, retro fashion and toys, and home-made food and ice cream.
One café sells coffee freshly brewed in the traditional Thai style, while another vendor offers mini crispy pancakes stuffed with shredded coconut, sweet corn, taro, coconut jam. Children gather around a man fashioning nam tan pan (local candy) into tiny animals. A music store offers LP records by crooners from the ’50s and ’60s. A pharmacy displays herbs, roots and other concoctions that were once dispensed by grandmothers to treat the sick. There is even a gold retailer and a pawnshop.
You won’t go hungry here either with the many food stalls offering everything from keaw–pla–tha–chaloam (Thai fish noodle soup), kuay-jub (stewed noodles with pork and egg), and phad-Thai-ror-2 (apparently the original phad-Thai) to pon-kum-wan, or Thai desserts made from old recipes.
Plern Wan Fair Ground and Guesthouse
Living up to its name (Plern Wan means the ‘joy of yesteryear’), Plern Wan has a fairground complete with a Ferris wheel, game booths and an outdoor cinema where screenings take place on weekend evenings. For those who can’t have enough of Plern Wan in a single day, check in to Piman Plern Wan, the boutique guesthouse located on the second floor. All rooms are individually decked out in a delightful period style, but they are not cheap and can be noisy during peak season (as the shopping and dining zones are right underneath it).
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