COCONUTS HOT SPOTS — A private house off Soi Ari is a haven for dog lovers as you can stand in the middle of a backyard as 34 dogs play, doze off, or dart in every direction.
Although the cafe is far off the main Phaholyothin Road, it proves to be worth a drive and remains a popular spot among young tourists, especially Singaporeans. I thought Truelove at Neverland sounded like an unusual name for a cafe at first, but after paying for our tickets (THB350 each) and getting seated, it all made sense — this place is practically a theme park for husky lovers.
There are a total of 34 dogs — including 25 huskies, the rest are akitas (Japanese mountain dogs), Australian shepherds, old English sheepdogs (who are practically mountains of fur that will keep bumping into you), and Momo — the lone shih tzu-spitz mix who is the leader of the pack.
First impression: The cafe is very clean, and we were surprised by the fact there was no smell at all. When we visited, the cafe’s owner brought out the four Akitas and gave them snacks before the playtime.
Schedule: There are only two play sessions daily, at 1pm and 4pm. In each session, the dogs are allowed to stay in the play area for an hour before being called back inside the house. As the cafe is on a first-come, first-served basis, we arrived just before noon and were surprised a line was already forming. While we waited for the playtime, we ordered cakes and beverages which were included in the ticket price.
Desserts: The three of us went for a red velvet cake, banana chocolate cake, and a chocolate ice cream cake with lemon tea, strawberry milk, and the Blue Valentine soda. Like most Thai cafes, the drinks tasted like they were overloaded with sugar. The cakes, especially the ice cream cake, were underwhelming. But in all fairness, the desserts weren’t the reason we were there or the strong suit of the cafe — we were all there to play with doggos.
Rules: Before entering play area, you have to change into plastic bag shoes (I highly recommend bringing a pair of socks with you). Then a cute English-language video presentation is played in the dining area to introduce Momo and inform guests of the rules.
Simple rules are washing your hands before entering and no feeding, chasing, carrying, or being a jerk to the pooches.
Playtime: As the door opens, the dogs run out of their house. The pooches are kept in four different areas, since some don’t get along. Staff are attentive and will make sure the fences stay closed as people go from one area to another.
The large main area features many seating areas for the guests. Some dogs just nap after staff feed them with an bowl of ice, some dogs are playful and will climb on you on command as pictured. Guests line up, and the staff will take a good shot of you and friends getting swarmed by the huskies.
And then there are the socially-awkward dogs who just hate people, according to the staff. We really appreciate that the cafe puts these three cute introverts in a separate zone where no human is allowed. When we visited, they didn’t even bother interacting with one another and were simply “people-watching.” I imagined that they were recharging their energy by being alone.
The grand closing: After the playtime is over, staff will tell guests to line up in the “safety zones” for the grand closing. Once everybody has their cameras ready, staff will open the gate and all of the dogs will sprint back into the house in unison.
Such beautiful creatures.
Ari Samphan 2