Not very far from Hua Hin’s center lies a small soi number 51, also know as Soi Damrong Rat. For long, it has been a favorite of locals, some expats and domestic Thai tourists. However, the soi has stayed relatively untouched by foreign tourists. This post is a “beginner’s guide” of sorts to this wonderful little street.
Soi 51 is developing fast, with new businesses opening and old ones closing often. All the places I’ve listed in this post are well-established, popular joints that are not likely to disappear anytime soon.
Where is Soi 51?
This soi is easy to find, and it’s not far from the town center. Starting from the Clock Tower, head north following the Phetkasem Road until you find a street sign saying “51”. Alternatively, you can also follow Naebkehardt Road north.
Here’s a little map showing the exact location of Soi 51:
Either way, the distance from town center is about a kilometer, making it a 15-minute walk. If this seems like too much, grab a tuk-tuk or the red songthaew, if you’re visiting during its operating hours.
What kind of place is Soi 51?
When I come to Soi 51, it’s usually because I am hungry, and itching for some tasty, inexpensive Thai food or sweet, sweet desserts. Since the opening of Click (see below), it’s possible that more nightlife will find its way here in the future. This remains to be seen, but for now, Soi 51 is first and foremost a “restaurant street”.
And an excellent restaurant street it is. Definitely don’t miss Soi 51 when you’re in Hua Hin.
If you’d rather go and explore by yourself, you can stop reading now and head out to the soi. If you’d like to read some of my recommendations of where to eat, please continue reading.
Cooking Mama & Milkman
This place has always, since my first visit, been one of my favorite restaurants in Hua Hin. And I’m not the only one - in the evenings, the place is always packed with locals and, every once in a while, a few Western expats or tourists.
Technically, Cooking Mama and Milkman are two separate restaurants. The former sells various Thai dishes, and the latter specializes in tasty, milk-based desserts such as French toast with whipped cream and cocoa.
The service at Cooking Mama/Milkman is good - if the staff would speak English just a bit better, I would rate it excellent. Even at peak times, you’ll never need to wait for service or food for too long.
The decór inside screams “retro”. Walls are decorated with American advertisements from the 1950’s, food jars from the same era are placed on the shelves, and some of the tables look like they’re built from old car engine hoods.
Pro-tip when choosing a table: try to avoid ones right next to the kitchen area. The ventilation is not very efficient, which easily results in some irritating chili fumes in your eyes. Take your seat further away to avoid watery eyes and sneezing during your meal.
At peak hours, the restaurant can get quite busy. Along with Roti Gu, it’s a favorite hangout for the local students and young professionals. Peak hours start around 6 pm, and continue until closing time. Fortunately, you can also buy food as take-away, and eat in the comfort of your hotel room.
More info: Cooking Mama official Facebook page (mostly in Thai).
Roti Gu Cha Chak
Right across the street from Cooking Mama, is the local student’s favorite dessert place. As the name implies, this place specializes in roti.
If you don’t know what roti is (and are too lazy to read the Wiki article I linked): it’s a type of flat bread, originating in India, which is filled with sweet and/or savoury toppings. It’s popular across the Islamic part of South-East and South Asia.
While it’s entirely possible to eat roti with savory toppings, don’t expect to find any of that here - the menu is all sugary and sweet, with topping selection varying from berries to bananas to caramel, and anything in between.
The sweetness surely brings a crowd. Roti Gu gets really packed every night, with customer’s motorcycles filling up the sidewalk so that it might even get difficult to walk past. Fortunately, they have a lot of tables, so finding a place to sit shouldn’t prove to be too difficult.
If you like roti, you will love this place. If you’ve never had roti, this is an excellent place to try. Only if you truly hate roti, you may want to stay away. But even then, you could just have some of their tasty beverages, like iced tea or cocoa.
To sum it up: a must-try!
Amidst all the Thai restaurants on this street, it may be a surprise to find a place serving Nordic, more specifically Swedish, dishes.
Köttbullar, pytt i panna and other Swedish classics are on the menu here, along with other Western foods such as hamburgers and spaghetti carbonara. The other half of the menu consists of Thai dishes.
Personally, I don’t see much point coming here to eat Thai food - you can find those dishes anywhere. Come here when you feel like you need something much less spicy, but hearty, Scandinavian-style home cooking.
This restaurant always seems to draw a bit less crowd than the ones next to it, so finding a seat is not difficult despite its small size.
The Ma La cart
I don’t actually know the name of this place, although it probably has one. This place is a simple cart that sells Ma La, or grilled meats, veggies, and mushrooms, served with spicy chili powder. There are a few of these around Hua Hin, for example one just behind the Clock Tower.
Visiting a restaurant like this can be a bit confusing for a first-timer. The idea is that you will take a tray, collect the raw meats, vegetables and other goodies they have on offer on one side of the cart. After you’ve picked enough, you will hand the tray over to the cashier behind the counter, who will then ask your name, writes it down on a note and places your to-be-grilled stuff on the queue (sounds a bit like how Starbucks ordering works, right?).
And then you wait.
They don’t serve any drinks here, so at this point it might be a good idea to quickly visit the Family Mart nearby to pick some sodas, beers or any other drink of your choice. You will need it.
And wait a bit more.
And finally, your name will be called, and you can go to pick up your juicy, freshly grilled meats and veggies. They will come in a plastic bag, with a smaller bag of chili powder to go with it. The easiest way to spice up your malas is to dip them in the chili bag. It’s quite spicy, so if that’s not your thing, you’ve been warned.
To tell the truth, I might have exaggerated the waiting times a bit. You don’t need to wait terribly long - I estimate 15 minutes, tops, if there are many customers ahead of you. A few tables and seats are available, so you don’t need to just stand around while waiting.
You can find this cart in Naebkehardt Road. Turn right from Soi 51, and you will see it on the left-hand side of the road. The cart opens in the evening, after sunset.
If you’ve read my post about nightlife in Hua Hin, you’re already familiar with Click.
This popular nightclub was originally located in the Bintabaht area, where it became one of the town’s most popular nightclubs among local Thais, expats and tourists alike. Unfortunately, in early 2017 it was forced to close under a bit unclear circumstances. Many thought Hua Hin would have lost its premier nightspot forever.
But in the late 2017, a shophouse in Soi 51 went under renovation. This is not unusual in this fast-developing street, but soon a poster reading “Click - Where the Music Matters - Coming Soon!” appeared on the construction site, with Click’s Facebook page reopening at the same time. Clubgoers all around Hua Hin rejoiced.
Click finally reopened just before Christmas 2017, and Hua Hin’s favorite nightspot was back in action.
I’ve already covered how the place is in the post linked above, so I’m not going into too much detail here. In a nutshell, Click is a nightclub, equipped with a pool table and sleek interior design, with loud music played by skiled DJ’s, helpful and friendly staff and clientele consisting of local students and other young adults, Western expats and tourists from all over.
At the time of writing, Click is still the only nightclub in Soi 51. It remains to be seen if more will pop up in the near future, now that the floodgates are open.
Places to Stay
The central location and lively vibe makes Soi 51 an excellent place to stay. A handful of hotels and guesthouses are located on or near the soi, including:
- Asira - a sleek, modern boutique hotel with reasonable rates.
- TH Beach Hotel - a budget hotel tucked a little further away from the soi.
- And my personal favorite, Maria Room for Rent. This one’s on Naebkehardt Road, but within a walking distance of Soi 51. Check out my review here.
The links above are affiliate links, which bring you to a partner site, where you can easily check the current rates and make your booking. This comes with no additional cost to you.