It’s no secret: Bangkok is a city with a wealth of entertainment to offer. Whatever your age, taste and persuasion, you can rest assured that this dynamic city can deliver.
Once the sun has made its exit and the lights are on, the Thais’ dedication to having a good time comes into play. There’s a buzz about the city, a feeling of expectation that something exciting and memorable is about to happen — and it often does.
Getting around town has never been easier, thanks to the BTS Skytrain and the MRT Subway traversing the city above the traffic. With many leading venues located near its stations, party-goers, clubbers and night owls will have no problem doing the rounds.
The choice of entertainment is growing and the style is more varied. Bangkok has never had so many pubs, bars and restaurants, each presenting customers with a different experience and a reason to return. Live music, too, has never known such popularity, largely because it’s a lot better than in the past. Interest in jazz, for instance, has increased significantly with many first-class hotels featuring leading local and foreign jazz musicians and entertainers.
While there are only a handful of stand alone jazz bars, mostly veterans like Brown Sugar on Soi Sarasin, there are good blues bands all over town. Hot discos with hip DJs are a prominent and permanent part of the scene, and many of the hotels have popular nightclubs.
Here are some of the best bars and lounges in hotels and stand-alone:
• BAMBOO BAR: The Oriental, 48 Oriental Avenue. Tel: 0 2659-9000. Worldclass jazz quartet, international guest singers and terrific atmosphere.
• BARSU: Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit, Sukhumvit Road. Tel: 0 2649 8358. Fine wines, cocktails, imaginative food and discreet music are all at Bangkok’s newest and sophisticated bar.
• BED SUPPERCLUB: Sukumvit Soi 11. Tel: 0 2651 3537. The scene is hot, the space is cool with its white interior packing in the well-heeled crowd under a domed ceiling. Live DJs and inspired cocktails.
• CLUB 88: The Davis Hotel, Sukhumvit Soi 24. Tel: 0 2260 8000. Red couches separated by beaded screen and comfy chairs sets the relaxing mood for a place to unwind with friends after work. Live band nightly except Sunday.
• DIPLOMAT BAR: Conrad Hotel, Wireless Road. Tel: 0 2690 9999. The hotel lounge is open
all day for intimate meetings, high tea and late night social gatherings. Excellent Filipino jazz quartet and American guest singers.
• DISTIL: The Dome at State Tower, Silom Road. Tel: 0 2624 9555. On the 63rd floor this is a high-end bar in every sense serving gourmet food and super-premium drinks and a sensational view.
• GLAZ BAR: Hotel Plaza Athenee, Wireless Road. Tel: 0 2650 8800. Smart bar, good band, international jazz singers.
• HU’U BAR: The Ascott, South Sathon Road. Tel: 0 2676 6677. Lofty ceiling, dramatically spacious, this is a place for innovative cocktails, food and music.
• LIVING ROOM: Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit, 250 Sukhumvit Road. Tel: 02649 8888. A spacious, comfortable jazz lounge with great music every night and regular top line guest vocalists.
• Q BAR: Sukhumvit Soi 11. Tel: 0 2252 3274. Sleek, neon-lit lounge divided into sections provides exotic cocktails and late night snacks. Live DJ spins to a different beat nightly.
• SYN BAR: Nai Lert Park Hotel, Wireless Road. Tel: 0 2253 0123. The retro spaceship-style lounge with bar that serves inventive cocktails.
• THE BAR: The Peninsula Bangkok Hotel, Charoen Nakhon Road. Tel: 0 28612888. Intimate, classy spot ideal for a drink or two with atmospheric piano music.
• THREESIXTY: Millennium Hilton, Charoen Nakhon Road, Thon Buri. Tel: 02442 2000. Sophisticated jazz lounge on the 32nd floor with good live music and a panoramic view of city across the river.
• 87 PLUS: Conrad Hotel, Wireless Road. Tel: 0 2690 9999. The nightspot with creative lighting, psychedelic atmosphere and private booths.
There is no one single entertainment district in Bangkok, but many areas offer leisure time activities; so wherever you are, nightlife opportunities are never far away. However, there are some nightlife districts whose names have become well known over the years: Patpong, Soi Cowboy and Nana. Near main hotels and busy streets, they consist of cheerfully raucous bars for socialising. Other night entertainment venues can be found in neighbouring off-Sukhumvit sois, mostly bars serving food and drinks often with full-size pool tables. All along the main Sukhumvit road are restaurants, bars, shops and street stalls selling t-shirts, jeans and trinkets.
Nana (Skytrain station: Nana): The Nana area of Bangkok, from Soi 3 to Soi 19 is known for the cheerfully raucous, fourstorey Nana Entertainment Plaza on Soi 4. The format here is open- air beer bars at street level. Farther down the soi there are a number of restaurants, mainly tourist-oriented.
Asoke (Skytrain station: Asoke): Soi Cowboy, named after one of its original customers, is a small street that looks like a movie set, packed with brightly-lit bars. It connects Sukhumvit Soi 21 (Asoke) with Soi 23, a good street for restaurants.
Emporium (Skytrain station: Phrom Pong): The area around the stylish Emporium department store and Benjasiri Park extends on Sukhumvit Road from Soi 18 to Soi 39. The store itself is a major attraction with its many good restaurants and an excellent cinema complex. Soi 22 is an increasingly busy nightspot area with a growing number of bars and restaurants. Across Sukhumvit Road, Soi 33 is a more discreet version of Soi Cowboy. Most of the outlets here are cocktail lounges named after famous artists — Renoir, Dali, Monet, etc.
Thong Lo (Skytrain station: Thong Lo): Sukhumvit Soi 55, known as Thong Lo, is a long and winding street with many kinds of entertainment venues on both sides. They include restaurants, pubs, karaoke lounges, and at different sections of the soi you can fi nd lively, trendy neighbourhood shopping centres. Thong Lo is linked by back roads to Soi 63 (Ekamai), also noted for its numerous restaurants, nightclubs and pubs. Ratchadaphisek Road from the intersection with Rama IX Road to Sutthisan Road has many interesting entertainment facilities, hotels, restaurants, discotheques, karaoke lounges and massage parlours. Royal City Avenue, known locally as RCA, is between Phetchaburi and Rama IX roads. This curving avenue is beloved by the Bangkok youngsters who regularly pack its myriad bars and discos.
Khao San: Khao San Road, once solely a haven for backpackers, is now a magnet for Bangkok’s young and trendy crowd who happily mingle with foreign tourists on one of the city’s most crowded pedestrian streets. The cheap guesthouses have largely been replaced by upmarket nightclubs, busy music pubs, and some of the best sidewalk restaurants in town. The action on Khao San has also spilled over on to several side roads including Phra Athit Road where many of the old-style shophouses have been transformed into fashionable restaurants and bars frequented by Bangkok’s arty set.