Bangkok has some of the best night life in Southeast Asia. There’s quite a range of options and the city centre can become pretty frenetic and lively.
In among the reams of go go bars and beer bars are expat pubs, cocktail lounges, and mega nightclubs. There are also many gay and lesbian bars as well as more refined night life options for those looking for a little sophistication.
Go go bars and girlie bars (beer bars) are both loved and loathed and are a major slice of the Bangkok night life scene. They reside in three main areas – Nana Plaza, Soi Cowboy and Patpong – and are busy every night of the week. You can buy girls at these places and take it back to your hotel, while sex shows are also popular, though somewhat touristy.
The Thai capital is also loaded with Western-style pubs that are popular with expats, tourists and locals, with Sukhumvit and Silom roads playing host to most of them. Here you will find a glut of British and Irish-theme places along with German and American-centric watering holes. Pub grub, sports on TV, quizzes, live music and DJs can be found here.
Bangkok pubs are in the midrange price, with both local and imported beers, as well as beers on tap in some of them. For budget drinking, Khao San Road has the best selection and highest density of bars in Bangkok. This is the de facto backpacker area of Bangkok (on Rattanakosin Isle), though is also becoming more popular with Thais and families. More on Bangkok night life.
Clubbing is big in Bangkok, too, especially among young, moneyed Thais. The Thong Lor and Ekkamai areas of Sukhumvit Road are the best, with cool bars and huge nightclubs. Popular mega-clubs include Q-Bar and the plush and expensive Bed Supperclub, while RCA is a pedestrianised street filled with clubs and bars.
Most places close by 2am in Bangkok (at the latest) as gone are the days of the 24-hour bar culture in Thailand. You can still find after-hours pubs if you’re desperate to keep drinking – look for half-closed shutters – but the main areas of Nana, Cowboy and Patpong shut at the proper time.
Red Light Areas in Bangkok
Bangkok’s red light districts are based around Sukhumvit Road and Silom Road. The Nana Plaza (Nana Entertainment Plaza, or NEP) is on Sukhumvit Soi 4 and is the busiest and best place to pick up prostitutes and ladyboys; Soi Cowboy (between sois 21 and 23 of Sukhumvit Road) is more laidback, yet raunchy with naked ladies on stage; while Patpong (based across two lanes of Silom Road) is the original and best known for its sex shows (ping pong) and its night market.
The girls are about the same price at either, with a two-hour shag costing in the region of 1,500 baht; more for go go girls. Nana Plaza is the favourite and consists of three floors of bars in an arcade setting. It is easy to get to (Nana Skytrain) and has hotels, pubs and restaurants nearby, located as it is just off Sukhumvit Road. Soi Cowboy is a few stops down on the Skytrain and quite relaxed, with more of a local, expat crowd.
Patong is still a big hit, although it is very touristy and a bit boorish, with its bland sex shows. There are some pretty girls here in the myriad beer bars and go go bars, but it’s a bit pushy. Nearby on Silom Soi 4 is a mix of gay and straight bars, along with the Langsuan area where you can rub shoulders with young parting Thais. More on Bangkok night life.