Imagine, if you will, nightfall in a Southeast Asian metropolis of nearly 9 million residents; pulsing with life, dripping with tropical heat, aglow with neon and LED lighting. This is Bangkok, a city which has worked hard over the years to rid itself of its all-sleaze image and present both travelers and residents with a safe, unforgettable nightlife experience. Yes there are still seedy areas and ping-pong shows aplenty, and the sex-for-sale business is as vibrant as ever, but jazz fans and pub drinkers, karaoke singers and clubbers will be just as much at home here as those looking to indulge in the city’s more...ahem...uncouth offerings. Here’s a little help getting started.
For first time travelers it will be hard to bypass the tourists’ home away from home in Bangkok, also known as Khao San Road. Here amidst the countless stores and restaurants you’ll find plenty of drinking options full of thirsty out of town visitors. Pull up a chair at any of the outdoor tables, enjoy a rooftop shisha at Gazebo Club or swing up to nearby Rambuttri Road for a great pub-crawl atmosphere. Soi 11, one of the countless offshoots of Bangkok’s main Sukhumvit thoroughfare, is another great option. The always chic Supper Club is a staple so long as you don’t mind the cover charge, but there are plenty of other places to check out from sports bars to expat pubs. This little street is quickly developing into one of the Thai capital’s hippest nightlife destinations, along with club-friendly RCA Plaza not far to the east.
Have we forgotten something? Oh yeah, that little tidbit about Bangkok’s more lustful after-dark options. Sigh. Well, if you’ve come here to mix alcohol with skin, then you’ll want to remember the names Patpong, Nana and Soi Cowboy. Here’s a quick rundown. Patpong is the grandfather of the Bangkok red light industry, a market where you can shop for souvenirs and ping-pong shows. Beware, it’s easy to get ripped off. Nana is the most adult-oriented of the three, with no markets and plenty of go-go action. Not for the faint of heart. Our preference? Soi Cowboy, where the atmosphere is clean, low pressure and fun. Sure there are go-go bars, but it’s just as easy to enjoy a night out with friends without feeling like you’ve severely disappointed your grandparents. Whatever your preference, your night out in Bangkok is sure to be memorable, so head out with an open mind and make the most of the experience.