Hua Hin Live Music
Hua Hin has a diverse music scene and hosts several notable events such as the annual Jazz Festival, which has become internationally known and attracts many acclaimed musicians. There is plenty of live music around town in the bars, music pubs, discos, clubs, hotels and restaurants. Special events and festivals are occasionally held at various locations and local beaches, and are normally publicised several weeks or months in advance. In the low tourist season many of the smaller venues cut back or stop their live music altogether. However, there is enough variety in Hua Hin to satisfy most visitors whether it’s rock, instrumental jazz, Thai pop or an improvised jam session.
Bars with Bands
A few downtown bars have cover bands playing Western rock and pop at maximum volume several nights a week. Most are quite accomplished and manage faithful renditions of popular and classic tracks. Besides the venues listed below, numerous other bars scattered around also have live music. Some are further from the town centre, or lesser known Thai bars not usually frequented by foreigners.
The veteran Stoned Head Band plays nightly at El Murphy’s Irish bar in Soi Selakam, pumping out heavy rock and blues classics with aplomb and displaying some deft guitar work. There’s enough room inside to enjoy the music in air-conditioned comfort. Close by in the main bar street (Soi Bintabaht), the loudest music comes from Jimmy’s Bar which has a few decent local rock bands on rotation. As expected, it’s mainly classic Western rock and the amps are turned all the way up to number 11. Customers can shout requests and chat up the girls outside when the band takes a break. The adjacent bars can’t really compete with the volume levels, so you can even enjoy the music next door.
Poonsuk Road has two bars with regular live bands, Marina Bar opposite the temple near Sara-Jane’s restaurant and London Bar further down towards Dechanuchit Road. Both have rock cover bands but the one at Marina tends to play a few Thai numbers too. When the band is in residence at London Bar it normally attracts quite a lively crowd. Between these two bars on Poonsuk Road is a small raised plaza where solo female singers belt out covers of romantic pop songs. They sing several times a week and seem to be popular with a mature audience and couples. There’s enough floorspace to pull off a few impressive dance moves.
Retrophilia is an unusual and little-known music bar near the top of the night market on Dechanuchit Road, and has live music on Fridays or Saturdays. The antique decor and memorabilia is funky and attracts a trendy crowd. The music is rock and jazz.
Thai Music Pubs
These are typically larger establishments that combine a bar, restaurant and club. Lively bands play rock, pop and country music (known as ‘phleng phuea chiwit’ or ‘songs for life’) to a mainly Thai audience. Modern Thai music might not be to everyone’s taste but the tunes can be quite catchy and easily enjoyed. Table service is provided and many stay open quite late. New venues open occasionally but as the signs are not always written in English, keep an eye open to find the latest developments.
At the 100 Pipers Pub near Soi 68, the in-house 100 Pipers Band plays energetic Thai rock and country music most nights except Mondays. Located on Petchakasem Road on the opposite side to Golden Place, Absorba Pub has an outdoor restaurant and several bands which play laid back pop and jazz starting around 9 p.m. There’s also a pool table. Baantormai (บ้านตอไม้, signs in Thai only) is a music restaurant and pub at Soi 23, close to the Index mall.
Hi4 Pub is a bustling venue in Soi 7 at the Hin Nam Sai Suay complex. It can be quite crowded and you’ll be served table drinks while listening to the Thai pop and rock acts. Hi4 draws a young Thai crowd as well as a few expats and in-the-know tourists. Luknam Pub is less polished but lively, and has Thai country music every night. There’s also consistently good food. Be prepared though, as the toilet attendants can attempt a back breaking Thai massage on unsuspecting customers. It’s on the main road to Pala-U going west out of town.
Neuk Sanuk (นึกสนุก, signs in Thai only) is located on Naeb Kehardt Road just before Soi 45 when heading north. Look for the large street sign with a ‘Give Friends 100%’ advert. Close to here is the Thonglor Pub and restaurant, about halfway down Soi 51 which joins Petchakasem Road with Naeb Kehardt Road. There’s Thai pop and chilled out acoustic music every night and it’s often crowded with locals and visitors. When it’s really busy, the customers spill over onto the pavement.
Music Clubs and Discos
There aren’t many conventional discos in Hua Hin. Perhaps the most well known is the ever-popular Hilton Disco, also known as the Hua Hin Brewing Company. Located on Naresdamri Road right in the centre of town, it’s open between 6 and 2 a.m. every day. The entertainment is provided by pop and rock bands and a DJ. It draws some criticism as the music is extremely loud and the drinks expensive, but on the plus side there’s also a pool table and attractive, friendly clientele. The Hilton usually stays open when the bars are sometimes forced to close to comply with local licensing laws.
A few minutes’ drive from the town centre near the Grand Hotel and market is Seine, a medium sized modern club formerly known as Check Cheu that plays host to Thai pop and rock bands. It’s unknown to many visitors due to the location but it’s a late night haunt frequented by Thais. Inside it’s mainly tables and chairs and a stage at the rear. The main entrance appears rather tatty but the atmosphere inside is fun and the music fine.
A small and friendly venue, Souay Vista Social Club is an intimate music club and restaurant in Soi 94 with music performed by local acts such as The Stone Band, Eddi and the Joker Band, and Mr Tommy. Distinguished guest musicians appear regularly. Music styles are varied and include jazz, rock, reggae and classical guitar. Regular jam sessions are held and instruments are provided so that audience members can participate. It’s approximately 1 kilometre up Soi 94 near a bend in the road.
Restaurants with Live Music
Many restaurants have live music to give some additional ambience. The venues mentioned below have performers on various nights especially in the high season, but in the quieter low season some don’t play at all. Many more restaurants in Hua Hin have music that changes regularly, so keep an eye out to learn what’s on and when.
Chez Loulou is a tiny French restaurant and bar at the railway plaza, close to the 7-11 shop opposite the railway station. Jazz music and jam sessions are held outdoors in the high season every Wednesday and on special occasions. The more upmarket Coco 51 is an atmospheric seaside restaurant with exceptional jazz every night between 7 and 10 p.m. The music is low key and smooth, which fits the mood of the surroundings. The musicians are impressive and have a good local reputation. Prices are expensive but the location and food is excellent. It’s in Soi 51 on the beach side, just off Naeb Kehardt Road.
At the Fat Cat Guesthouse and Piano Bar there’s live jazz, Dixie and swing every night at around 7 p.m. courtesy of “Doctor Jazz”, otherwise known as Danish resident Sverre Bey. He’s a prominent local musician and occasionally plays at other venues around town. It’s near the fishing pier on Naresdamri Road at the Chomsin Road end. Livanto Restaurant at Damnoen Kasam Road also has a stylish lounge bar upstairs with piano duos and other popular music.
For live jazz Ray’s Place Restaurant is the place to be, with twice weekly jam sessions in the high season between 8 and 11 p.m. and resident and guest musicians. The Hua Hin Ensemble band also plays occasionally. They’ve become popular events and busy at peak times. The restaurant is on the corner of Sa Song and Amnuaysin Roads close to the night market. Customers should arrive early evening during high season to get a seat.
Terrace 90 has live music on the upstairs terrace at weekends but there’s not much going on in low season. The rear garden at Sara-Jane’s on Poonsuk Road also has nightly music (usually a singer and keyboard player) and the classy Oceanside restaurant on Naeb Kehardt Road has a regular live DJ.
Hotels and Resorts
Most upmarket hotels and resorts in Hua Hin have live music of some kind, often in a lounge bar or restaurant. A few notable venues are mentioned below.
The Polo Club at the Dusit Thani Hua Hin has resident musicians that play mainly jazz and blues, as well as the occasional guest artist. Closer to the town centre and bars, the Milestones bar at the Hilton hotel has a house band, Filipino Trio, which plays international and classic pop hits. Not to be mixed up with the more lively Hilton disco, Milestones bar is inside the main hotel.
Local and renowned instrumental jazz band the Hua Hin Ensemble play on Fridays and Saturdays at the Rest Detail Hotel, whilst at the Sofitel’s stylish Satchmo Club there is a nightly Filipino band.
Special Events and Concerts
Every year Hua Hin hosts numerous high profile music events and a few lesser known ones. The Hua Hin Jazz Festival normally takes place in June and has become an important event that draws many visitors to the town each year. Talented international and Thai acts play on stages set up on the beach. Another local beachside event, the Honda Summer Fest, is a music and fashion festival at Khao Takiab beach with Thai pop, rock and reggae bands. Similar events in the past have included the Hua Hin Rock Festival and Chill Band on the Beach.
The Preserve Hua Hin Concert takes place in December each year at Khao Hin Lek Fai hill, featuring popular Thai musicians. The aim is to raise awareness about environmental issues in Hua Hin, and the proceeds are donated to charity.
Music in Hua Hin is not all about jazz, pop and rock, however. The acclaimed Silpakorn Summer Music School has given classical music concerts at the Dusit Thani Hua Hin resort. The school attracts very talented Thai musicians and famous conductors have been involved in past performances.
Live music is also available at Cicada Market near the Hyatt hotel in Khao Takiab. Between Friday and Sunday evenings there is a diverse mix of musical styles such as jazz, pop and acoustic. It’s in a lovely garden setting and there are many other activities.
Plearnwan vintage village at Soi 40 is a unique local attraction which has acoustic and traditional Thai music on the weekends. Very popular with Thais, it’s worth a visit to experience the exhibits and shops as well as the music. Weekends can be very crowded.
The Vic Hua Hin Theatre just south of town often has music by interesting or unusual local and international acts, ranging from jazz musicians to a cappella groups.