Soi Cowboy, Bangkok
This is a very short street, only 150 meters long but is exclusively go-go bars and sexually oriented shows. While this is not my thing, I do like to people watch and this is a place to see some very interesting people and happenings right in the street. Really no reason to enter any of the establishments as there seems to be plenty going on outside.
The bright lights, loud music and scantily-clad women make for a walk through experience you can try. This is not a family oriented area. Leave the kiddies home!
The street gets it's name from T. G. "Cowboy" Edwards. He was an American air serviceman that opened the first bar on the street in 1977.
Found this to be a place for good entertainment specially for males though i happen to visit the place to have a look. So many pubs and night clubs together with adult strip clubs in the area and you have to buy a drink to get into most places.
Dress Code: You are free to wear whatever you wish..
Similar to Nana Plaza, this place is flooded with Ah go-go bars and and pubs but has less outlets compared to Nana. Constantly flooded with tourist, its a nice place to just grab a drink, chill out and enjoy the music...
Dress Code: Anything goes...
Bangkok is known for a hot spot in adult entertainment, and rightfully so. If you’re walking down the street by yourself you will practically be attacked by hookers. You’re best to keep your wits about you and move on quickly. That being said, if you venture into the depths of the dark underworld of prostitution know that your chances of contracting an STD, especially AIDS, will be significantly higher than any western country. Use only trusted and known condoms that you have bought yourself. Be careful cause you’re already being stupid!
Dress Code: None
On Khao San Road theres heaps of bars, the best probably being Gullivers on the corner, a great place to meet travellers. The Grand half way along is also good for a beer.
Patpong is where all the GoGo bars are, beware of flying darts and ping pong balls!
In 2005, alot of Patpong had closed down. Other bars on Sukhumvit include - Cathouse(Soi4 in the Nana Plaza), Gullivers(Soi5), and all the gogo bars down Soi Cowboy(Around Soi 21-23 ish)! If you hang out late at night at Soi 13, you can get some cheap grub and you'll meet some interesting people!
Well when a Brit told me it was not to far down the road, I thought it was a bar. I was wrong. Its a street of bars, and gogo clubs. So if you want to hear some live music the bar on the left as your walking in is ok, laid back to, where you dont get hassled. There might be some others but cant remember now. Then if your into the gogo clubs theres a few of those too.
Dress Code: Whatever really, I dont think it matters to anyone as long as you got some money.
Soy Cowboy is situated just off Soi Asoke (Asoke Skytrain station). It is a fairly long road with bars running all the way down it. Just ask a cab driver to take you there and they know where it is.
This place can have a reputation of being a bit seedy but my wife and i had a great laugh here in a few bars but one in particular was called 'Tilac'. It had the usual girls dancing on tables and fairly loud music but we didnt get any hassle at all.
We had a long conversation with an American guy and ended up playing a bar game with a girl who worked there.
All the other bars are good. Just find your bar and enjoy a few beers. Who knows what will happen eh?
Dress Code: No dress code.
Country Roads is the last bar on the western end of Soi Cowboy. It features live music and several pool tables as well as an indoor bar and an outdoor bar. Happy hour runs until about 10pm, during which, draft Chang (elephant) beers are only about 60 Baht ($1.50). Throughout the evening, several elephants passed by my spot at the bar, and I fed them by hand for 20 baht (US$0.50).
The naughty side of Bangkok!
I would rate as follows:
Nana - seedy but can be fun. I'm not too keen on the beer bars around the area, a bit "larger loutish"
Patpong - crowded with touts and associated "characters", girls in the bars really quite pushy for drinks
Cowboy - best of the bunch for those interested. Almost respectable in some ways! More relaxed.
Bangkok has no single area for nightlife and the bars are spread out all over town with a few concentrations in areas such as Patpong, Silom Soi 2 and 4, Soi Sarasin and Lang Suan, Royal City Avenue, Banglumpoo, Soi Cowboy and Sukhumvit Soi 33, among others.
The bars tend to be fairly cheap, with beers running to about 80 baht a bottle (Happy Hour 49 Bhat). Exceptions are hotel bars and franchise outlets such as Hard Rock Cafe and Planet Hollywood where drinks are considerably more expensive.
These are not favourites, but this and the next 2 tips are a slice of Bangkok night life. I'm not sure there is anything else quite like it but then my travels are not exhaustive. They are all skin markets more or less. They are Soi Cowboy, Nana Plaza, and to a lesser extent, Patpong. I am not suggesting these places are for everyone, but they are an experience.
The least in-your-face of these is Patpong. Sure, there are lots of hustlers on the street trying to get you into the bars, but the vendor stalls almost drown out the flesh trade. The initially raunchy reputation has drawn tonnes of tourists over the years, and with that, vendors started to invade the area. It is now a family experience to walk thru the place and see anything and everything on sale. Behind the closed doors are girlie bars, still there with shows like live sex shows, women shooting darts and blowing up balloons - and not with their hands or mouths. I have never gone into the bars here, but they are more oriented to tourists. A walk down Thaniya Plaza in Patpong at night will take you past many many many lovely Thai working women that seem to be gushing out of their nightclubs onto the street. At one bar they are dressed up as Singapore Airlines flight attendants. This street houses quite expensive girlie bars that are geared toward Asian men. There was one good non-girlie bar called the Barbican in Thaniya Plaza that was a good hangout in 1999-2000, but do not know if it is still there.
One thing about Patpong - if you do decide to go into the bars, do not venture upstairs, even if staff invite you to. This is where the scams take place - where you cannot leave unless you pay a couple of thousand baht, situations like this. So be warned.
Dress Code: Then there is Soi Cowboy. This is located one street north of Sukhumvit Road, between sois 21 and 23. More low key crowd-wise, lower priced and lined with girlie bars. The girls hang around outside and want to talk to you as you walk by, trying to get you to their bar to by a drink so that they can collect a royalty. There aren't as many sex-type bars here - the workers are more laid back and often just want to chat and drink with you so that you can buy them drinks of which they get a cut. You can go here to watch sports on TV, and enjoy chatting up a Thai or just being on your own - employees don't stay on your case if you are just want to keep to yourself. Beers are not priced too high.
Clientele here and on Nana Plaza is 95% foreign male, quite a few expat regulars.
[Continued on next tip..]
There are many to visit depending on what you are looking for to entertain you. Go-go bars to many to mention located in Nana Entertainment plaza or Clinton Plaza, Soi Cowboy or Patpong. Disco located at most larger Hotel. Cabarets. Every side street has at least one beer bar.
Not my favorite but the most interesting was the Cabaret show at Simons it was hard to believe that none of the performers were not woment but men different but interesting.
Dress Code: Casual long pants and a shirt.