Bangkok at Night

Make no mistake, Bangkok after dark is a man’s town, full of girlie bars, massage parlors and private clubs. But growing affluence in the city, particularly among the yuppie set, has spawned a proliferation of pub-style establishments offering food, drinks and live music—and, most importantly, somewhere to take women. A dozen or so high-quality, hi-tech discos dotted around town provide late-night entertainment for the younger set.
The raunchy go-go and show bars continue to draw visitors to the two parallel streets that form the notorious Patpong area (its darker element now diluted by the extensive night market that gives the whole area a distinctly touristy atmosphere). Just up the road, a series of gay bars lines Soi Jaruwan (Patpong 3), clustered around the highly popular Rome Club. And a short walk away, Soi Thaniya’s clubs, bars and restaurants cater to an exclusively Japanese clientele; non-Japanese are not at all welcome. Alternative strips to Patpong have sprung up on Sukhumvit’s Soi Cowboy, a lane jammed with friendly bars where many residents choose to drink and hide from the tourists, and at the Nana Entertainment Plaza on Sukhumvit Road’s Soi 4, whose bars would prefer the tourists but aren’t lively enough to attract them.
The growing number of pubs downtown, notably on the east side of Lumpini Park and in the neighborhood of Sukhumvit, has created a healthy outlet for a lot of live music, mainly jazz, folk and pop. As a consequence, they are busy most nights. Popular among the business set are the members-only clubs, where well-dressed hostesses entertain clients. Steep prices usually deter nonmembers—if they have any sense.
Like most big cities, Bangkok is a fickle place where a spot in favor today could well be struggling tomorrow.