Bangkok has so much more to offer tourists and travellers than its reputation for girls and the bars of Patpong, Soi Cowboy, Nana “Entertainment” Plaza. This makes the experience a lot more enjoyable and better for the family than during Thailand’s days as an R & R retreat for US soldiers from the Vietnam battlefront.
Bangkok is unrivalled for its variety of nighlife. Most of it is accessible from the BTS Skytrain. Throbbing clubs like Lucifers (2nd Floor of Radio City, Patpong Soi 1), and The Talisman (Sukhumvit Soi 20), live music, bowling, ice skating, dinner shows featuring Thai classical dance and sword play, dinner cruises on the Chao Phya River in an old teak rice barge, and Thai boxing bouts at Lumpini Stadium. Things to do at night catering for all people and all budgets.
The city’s bars, pubs and clubs runs range from sidewalk stalls overflowing with cheap beer and whiskey, to California-chic clubs like the Q bar (Sukhumvit Soi 11) and ultra-packed nightclubs full of bouncing, middle class Thai university students and expats. Royal City Avenue(RCA) is whole street of huge clubs the size of aeroplane hangars, packed with teenagers, jumping around to dance versions of Thai pop.
Silom Soi 4 has about 20 boutique size clubs line chairs and tables on the street. One club – Tapas became so popular that the owners extended it to take over the clothing store next door. It used to be just a whole in the wall.
English and Irish pubs such as The Bull’s Head (Sukhumvit Soi 33/1) and Shenaningan’s (Silom Soi 4), have very authentic atmosphere’s. And dancing to music more varied than its clientele, Bangkok?s bar scene spans almost every conceivable theme.
The Khao Sarn Road area while famous for backpackers in tie-dyed “uniforms” of rebellion has a lot to offer for all ages. Street food here is excellent, especially the pad thai and just walking around there is plenty to see and buy at the many market stalls.
There is also a spattering of hangout bars, cafes and restaurants no longer hidden away by the river, on Phra Athit Road, just beyond the temple near Khao San. Hemlock has great food and a gallery upstairs usually for students works from nearby Silpakorn University College of Fine Art. This area is great fun during its festival in October.
But before 11pm, Bangkok can be a lot gentler. Like taking walks through night markets at Patpong or the Flower Markets near China town. Like enjoying the park on Phra Arthit Road right on the river opposite Wat Arun which too is a great place to watch the sunset over the city of angels. Evening rowing a boat in Lumpini Park in the afternoon is a pleasant and inexpensive escape from the bustle.
A great walk at night is around Pramane Ground where you can see the gold spires of the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Keow glittering at night.
Jazz and blues at the old Saxophone Pub at Victory Monument or Brown Sugar (Sarasin Road (Lang Suan)) which as a new acid jazz lounge up stairs and still the most reliable Non-Kenny G “real jazz” combo in Bangkok. Plenty of talented hotel Filipino bands and live acts visiting from the US, Australia and Europe. There are great Thai Elvis and Thai Tom Jones shows accompanied by very tight bands at Radio City (Patpong Soi 1) with Lucifer’s (2nd Floor of Radio City) nightclub up stairs if you want to keep going.
There are latin dance clubs with live bands from South America such as Le Havana (Sukhimvit Soi 22) and The Salsa Club at Pathumwan Princess Hotel.
For a raucous Thai music night out try Tawan Daeng (Red Sun) brewhouse on Rama III Road who are famous their dark beer courtesy of a Munich Brewmeister.