Hua Hin’s Harbor for Hipsters
North of Hua Hin’s most heavily touristed area, the frangipani-lined Naeb Kehardt is where a fashionable, younger crowd congregates. It’s Hua Hin’s coolest street—the nucleus of the town’s teens and trend-setters, cheek-to-jowl with cafés, boutique hotels, and quaint street food vendors. It isn’t the big attractions, but rather the atmosphere that draws people here.
The relatively new Velo Café, run by young baristas who, if you take note of the cycling and culture magazines on the shelves and let the name of the place sink in, are clearly gear-heads, the café not only serves excellent coffee (try the iced caramel macchiato), but also homemade cakes and sandwiches. It’s small and compact, but the air-con stays on high all day. Start your day here or head down the road, where an offshoot of the BACC’s beloved Gallery Drip Café has opened next to The Memory Hua Hin. Serving some of the finest slow drip coffee in Hua Hin (and central Thailand, for that matter), Gallery Drip is a relaxed spot to meet up with friends made all the cosier with minimal décor and local art on the walls.
Closer to Velo, old shipping containers have been transformed into gourmet burger bar 31burger. Wash down a surprisingly affordable beef burger (B128) with a Phuket lager or a traditional herbal drink, like butterfly pea with lime. If you’re looking for a slightly more atmospheric setting, check out Coco 51, where Thai cuisine and seafood combines with the soundtrack of live jazz to elevate date nights. Or simply enjoy a couple of sundowners in the fresh briny air. In this same block is You Yen, which ranks among nearly everyone’s all-time favourites, thanks to spectacular seafood (don’t miss the deep-fried sea bass) served in a nostalgia-evoking beachside garden that really tugs at the heart strings.
Moving further down Naeb Kehardt, café-cum-art gallery Chub Cheeva stakes its reputation on Thai dishes, sweet drinks, and desserts, as odd as that combo may sound, and they’re all good—especially the chocolate cake. What’s more, the place is perfect for photo ops, with its large murals, quiet courtyard, and home-like interiors. For a sweet treat, check out the popular Eighteen Below; the specialties here are artisanal ice cream and super-rich cakes and brownies.
Don’t want to get away? We don’t blame you. Besides the stunning Putahracsa (see p48-49), check out—or check in to—a couple other distinctive boutiques. Baan Talay Chine Resort sits near the shore at the most isolated end of the street. Studios and pool villas feature Chinese-style furnishings and design embellishments, and the whole place has the feeling of a really comfy home. Look into the long-stay promotions if you’ll be in Hua Hin a while.
Closer to town is Green Gallery Boutique Hotel, a cosy bed and breakfast with individually designed rooms set inside a classic teakwood bungalow separated into three zones: Gallery, Courtyard, and Beachside, offering vastly different design aesthetics. Green Gallery provides a perfect example of gentrification done right. The old home retains its original early-20th century structure, but the fixtures and facilities are purely modern—comfort and classic style. Really, Green Gallery speaks for Naeb Kehardt itself. The merger of old and new (making places decidedly cool) is exactly what this road running parallel to the shoreline is all about.