Bangkok NightlifeWednesday, February 22, 2017 by admin
Though Bangkok can keep you busy from dawn until dusk, it’s after sundown that the city truly heats up. Make the most of your time in this Venice of the East by carrying on long after dark, no matter what your entertainment preference. From backpacker-packed streetside drink carts to exclusive riverboat quartets, there is no shortage of ways to experience the darker side of Bangkok culture.
Bangkok Bars & Clubs
Anyone who’s seen The Hangover II can argue that Bangkok can seriously party. The moniker City of Angels doesn’t necessarily extend to the bucket-slinging corners of Khao San Road or the EDM epicentre of RCA (Royal City Avenue.) No matter what your poison, Bangkok’s got you served.
Khao San Road
The opening location to the thriller classic The Beach, the grungy, seedy Khao San Road of days past has been replaced by a dizzying whirlwind of beer towers, scorpion food carts and endless massage parlours. Described as “the centre of the backpacking universe,” it serves as the base of travel to Bangkok, coaches arriving and departing at all hours. With a relaxed market atmosphere by daytime, by nightfall, the happy hour specials spill out onto the streets to get the party started.
After a dinner of all the street food you can eat, venture off the main strip and you’ll find unusual and quirky bars tucked away. Complete with the carefree vibe of Khao San Road itself, bars like The Brick Bar or Adhere the 13th offer some respite from the street-turned-club atmosphere of the main drag.
Khao San is unfortunately not easily accessible from much of the city, but every taxi driver on the road will know where you’re going. Make sure to ask for a metered taxi to avoid artificially high fares. If you’d rather public transit, we recommend:
BTS Skytrain: Closest stations are Siam, Ratchatewi, or National Stadium. From the station, 5km or 60 THB taxi ride.
Saen Saep Canal: Go to the last station of the boat service, pier number 4 (Phanfa Leelard). From here about 20-minute walk or 40 THB taxi.
Iconic for its mounted tuk-tuk above its entrance, Gullivers is the first stop for many venturing into Khao San. Escape the craziness outside its doors by entering the inviting Euro-sports-bar atmosphere, complete with pool tables and hit music.
Superflow City Beach Club Bangkok
Craving the beach bar vibe of Bali? This “day and night club” will serve your thirst from noon onwards, attracting tourists with its sand-covered floor, day beds and palm tree DJ booth.
If you’ve had your fill of street-side gin buckets, dance the night away in the raised ceilings dance hall at The Club. The disco balls, light beam visuals and complimentary glow-sticks make for a trippy experience the beaches of Ibiza would be proud of.
Famed as the street in Sukhumvit with the best variety of bars, Soi 11 is one of Bangkok-after-dark’s trendiest areas. Guaranteed to be pumping into the early hours of the morning, make sure you dress your best to rub elbows with Bangkok’s socialites. If the top-rated clubs like Levels or Beam aren’t your style, wander through the infamous Red Light District like Soi Cowboy or Nana Plaza or grab a cold draft beer at one of the street’s ex-pat pubs.
Take the BTS Skytrain to the Nana stop.
Although a conduit to Bangkok’s darker side, Soi Cowboy presents itself as a more carnival-like atmosphere drenched in hot pink neon lighting. With loud music and scantily clad girls pouring out of nearly 40 street side bars, the fantasy land is somehow extra-terrestrial. The area usually doesn’t open up before 20:00.
Escape the street-side chaos by taking to the skies – 32 floors above, to be exact. A Central Park-themed rooftop bar is arranged thoughtfully across three floors. Offering an 180-degree panorama view, it’s a perfect place to catch the sunset and watch as the city slowly starts to glow.
This unpretentious watering hole is the de-facto ex-pat pub. The 60 THB beers will draw you in, but the easygoing charm will keep you all night long.
Royal City Avenue
The headquarters of Bangkok’s clubbing scene, RCA guarantees world-renowned parties into the early hours of morning seven nights a week. International DJs and live concerts are commonplace, venues often hitting capacity on the weekends when the Thai 20-somethings venture out for some fun. Make sure you have a form of ID for entry!
Although one of the city’s government-designated nightlife zones, these days you can go-kart race, bowl, and even train your swing at a driving range.
The closest MRT station is Pharam 9, and the nearest BTS station is Asok or Phrom Phong. From there take a taxi the rest of the way for 60 THB.
While RCA clubs seem to come and go as quickly as the tourists, few have staying power quite like Route 66. Its patronage is a mixed crowd of locals and foreigners, and the venue features four different zones, or “wings”, for various tastes. Choose from Thai Pop and Rock, Hip Hop/Top 40, EDM room, and an open-air outside space.
Mansion 7 Cocktail Bar
Before the major clubs open their doors, enjoy a quirky cocktail by award-winning mixologists. Arrive early to take advantage of their “buy two get 1 free” special until 22:00, and grab a seat in this spooky-themed haunt.
A bit less chic than its glitzy neighbours, the cluster of pubs is ideal for bar-hopping late into the night. Far less touristy than much of RCA, it’s considered a best-kept-secret for locals sipping whisky among friends. There’s also Ratchada Cabaret which offers a popular ladyboy show.
Bangkok’s version of Wall Street by day, Silom’s nightlife has evolved from the once sleazy nest of go-go bars. Today, you can check out Soi Patpong, the area’s red-light district, in a passive, innocuous way. Check out one of its go-go bars and entertain the dancers at your table – they’ll ask you for a “lady drink”, usually 200 THB and they get a commission. Of course, there are other things to “buy” off-menu. If that’s not your thing, Silmon is home to nightlife ranging from charming dives to ultra-chic sky bars (with strict dress codes enforced!) Silom is also the epicentre of gay nightlife in the city.
The street boasts its own BTS Skytrain line, with station Sala Daeng right in the centre and close to all of the nightlife venues.
Skybar at Lebua State Tower
Arguably the best bird’s eye view of the city, Lebua’s 63rd-story bar sits over the Chao Phraya River offering breathtaking panoramas (and the accompanying photos). Although busy nightly with tourists vying for photos with the iconic golden dome, its worth a visit for its impressive cocktails alone. The signature Hangovertini is a crowd favourite – a blend of green tea liquor, apple juice, Martini Rosso and rosemary honey.
This Cantonese-inspired venue is one-of-a-kind on the Bangkok bar circuit. Formerly an outpost of the East India Trading Company, today it’s artfully designed with plush sofas and models lounged across pianos. The dim lighting and live jazz music (after 22:00) creates a speakeasy atmosphere. Drinks don’t come cheap but are deliciously unique.
Silom Soi 4 and Soi 2 (Gay Streets)
A traditional accepting culture in regards to sexuality, Bangkok delivers with its prime gay destination. Club-goers flock to Soi 2, while Soi 4 offers more relaxed pub-like atmospheres. For a big night out, check out Freeman or DJ Station, or head to Balcony Bar or Sphinx for a more laid back vibe.
Known to offer a more “local” urban vibe apart from the touristy zones, the Thonglor area is host to hundreds of upscale bars and restaurants. The proper club area is all located near Thonglor Soi 10 (Ekkamai Soi 5).
Accessible via the Thonglor BTS Station.
A swanky club complete with a “roof hideaway”, Muse provides a popular venue for Thai indie bands and pop singers with dance music DJ-ed between sets. Tends to attract the affluent side of young Thailand.
Nestled on Thonglor 13, Seen Space is a nightlife enclave where you can grab a table and get multiple orders from its namesake bars like Brew and Clouds. Brew has the largest stock of beers, ciders and ales in Bangkok, an amazing respite from yet another Chang beer. Meanwhile, Clouds features a futuristic décor and international list of cocktails.
Through a maze of wrought iron staircases and secret doors, the bar was conceived as a fairytale book come to life. Dark and pensive, nightly jazz and blues performances complement their signature cocktail menu delightfully.
Thailand exports some of the world’s most popular culinary items. From Pad Thai to green curry to tom yum or massaman, there is a dish for every palate. So it’s no surprise that Bangkok itself has the most decadent Thai dishes possible – from $1 street cart noodles to five-star fusion. Or after a week’s worth of Thai food, you’re craving a burger? Bangkok has top-quality eats for every cuisine imaginable.
Thai food in Bangkok
For ultra-traditional dishes with a bit of flare, look no further than this local haunt. Crafted from recipes handed down by the chef’s own childhood, everything from the quaint ambience to its thoughtful interior aims to preserve the essence of Thai culture. With almost 80 options to choose from, it’s hard to go wrong at The Local.
A ten-minute walk from the BTS Asoke station.
What to order:
Try the Gaeng Run Juan (thinly sliced beef in a garlicky, lemongrass-infused noodle curry), or the Gaeng Kua Gai Bai Som Pan Kee Maa (a coconut cream curry.)
Soul Food Mahanakorn
With its homey vibe and a menu based around the freshest market ingredients, the Pennsylvanian-born chef at Soul Food aims to reinvent some of Thailand’s most popular dishes. The kitchen stocks only fresh meats and produce and all-organic grains sourced from farmers in the Northeast of Thailand. Come thirsty as well, however. The restaurant features cocktails inspired by Thai cuisine. Consider flavours like basil, chillies, lemongrass and ginger, crafted with double-pours to complement your order.
A short walk from the Thong Lo BTS line.
What to order:
Burmese-style hang lay curry (pork belly with tamarind, ginger and garlic) and finish with an ambrosia rice pudding.
Located on the ground floor of the Metropolitan Hotel, Nahm is a swanky yet traditional offering in the heart of Sathon. Its flexible set menu features options for canapés, appetiser, salad, soup, curry, stirfry and one dessert per person. Meals are served family-style, with portions determined by the number of people at the table.
Take the BTS Silom Line to Sala Daeng.
What to order:
Skewered Southern grilled mussels, grilled pork cheek, and the lhon gung pla som (minced pork and prawn with chillies).
Western Cuisine in Bangkok
One of Bangkok’s trendiest eateries, this art-gallery-turned-restaurant serves up global ingredients and influences. Its creative menu and modern setting make it popular among the local Thai socialites and urban internationals alike.
Exit at the BTS Sala Daeng station.
What to order:
Alaskan scallops with avocado, yuzu and pancetta or crispy skin duck confit with yellow beetroot, fennel and banyuls gastrique.
There is nothing quite like a pizza craving when it hits. Bangkok has an excellent Italian scene, with Il Bolognese at its summit. With charm and a traditional Italian ambience, if smoky wood-fired pizza doesn’t hit the spot, dig into the eatery’s decadent antipasti, carne and pasta menu. All ingredients are imported from Italy.
Exit the BTS Silom line at Chong Nonsi.
What to order:
Speck Gorgonzola Noci Niele (mozzarella, blue cheese, smoked meats, walnuts and honey,) or a Salsiccia e Zafferano (risotto with Italian sausage and saffron.)
New York Style Steak & Burger
Its no-frills name speaks nothing to the unique quality of the chain’s food. Using exclusively USDA-certified Angus beef, char-grilled to perfection, the kitschy NYC-themed burger joint features a menu and cocktail list paying homage to the city. All ingredients are fresh daily – even the house-baked burger buns.
Exit the BTS Skytrain at Phrom Phong Station.
What to Order:
The signature Manhattan Monster (220g ground-beef, bacon, cheddar, fried egg, chilli con carne and onion rings) or the 250g ribeye steak.
Mezzaluna at Lebua Hotel
Another nod to the Lebua, before your cocktail at the Skybar, luxuriate in the fine dining just a few floors down. The service is impeccable from start to finish, from the tables strategically positioned for privacy to the romantic string quartet. The tasting menus frequently change with creative and innovative options, inspired by the seasons.
Exit the BTS at Ratchathewi station.
What to order:
While the tasting menus change, options have included delicacies like soy glazed snapper served with foie gras in smoke consommé and Nagasaki Wagyu beef ribeye grilled over white charcoal with Perigord truffle.
Elements at Okura Prestige Hotel
Fusion French cuisine with a Japanese flair, the cosmopolitan menu is served in front of an open kitchen setting overlooking the Bangkok skyline.
Exit the BTS at Phloen Chit.
What to order:
Cod steamed with nori, pearl barley braised with macha, tomatoes and shaved mushrooms.
A high-end international chain with a zen charm and Japanese flair, Zuma Bangkok is designed as a garden atmosphere with a natural stone open kitchen. Its menu is thoughtful, and dishes arranged beautifully, and the giant space is famous for its attentive service.
Exit the BTS Ratchadamri station.
What to order:
Hamachi kama no shioyaki (salt grilled yellowtail cheek with pickled daikon), or the sushi and sashimi selection.
Cheap Street Eats
Thip Samai Pad Thai
Also known as Ghost Gate (Pratu Pee), this unpretentious eatery is rumoured to have the best Pad Thai in Thailand since 1966 – and few step forward to dispute that claim. Using a charcoal-fueled wok technique, the chefs combine fried shrimp, tofu, leeks, bean sprouts and other impeccably fresh ingredients gift-wrapped in a thin eggy encasing.
Located in the old district of Phra Nakorn, near the Golden Mount and Chinatown.
What to order:
Pad Thai Haw Kai Goong Sot
Khao Soy Silom Soi 3
One of the few vendors to offer Northern Thailand’s most famous dish, this stall mixed Chinese-style noodles, coconut milk curry and braised beef or chicken in a bowl with flat egg noodles.
Getting there: Take the BTS Silom Line to Chong Nonsi.
What to order:
Boat Noodles at Victory Monument
Thailand’s response to dollar pizza slices, boat noodles (or kway teow rua) were originally sold from floating vendors from the canals in this “Venice of the East.” Now hawked from land, stalls line the area around Victory Monument selling bowls of light broth or spicy flavour. Simple in stature, you combine your choice of noodles with pork or beef, pork balls and crispy wonton.
Exit the Victory Monument BTS Station.
What to order:
Noodles, noodles, and more noodles. (Some stalls offer a free bottle of soda for every 10 bowls finished!)
Bangkok Night Tours
If a few too many ritzy cocktails or street stall Changs kept you lounging by your hotel pool all day, you haven’t missed your opportunity to experience the culture the city has to offer. In fact, some of the best sites are best seen under the glow of the city’s lights. This is truly a city that never sleeps.
Bangkok Nightlife By Tuk-Tuk
Also known as “sam lor” (three-wheeled), travelling by tuk tuk is certainly the most storybook way to explore the city. Originally fashioned from old rickshaws during WWII, haggling is the name of the game when it comes to organising your trip. Drivers will often offer sightseeing route options but beware of scams. These trips usually include a pitstop at unsolicited “secret” shopping spots – which are basically just stores owned by their friends.
Start your night at Klongsan Market to load up on trinkets and treats to fuel you for temple-hopping starting with the incredibly glowing Wat Pho. Notably more peaceful than queuing for admission by day, you’ve got the grounds more or less to yourself to gaze across the Chao Phraya River toward the Grand Palace. Pagoda-spired Wat Prayoon is another popular temple to visit by night, glowing a radiant white against the night sky. Pak Khlong Talat, or the Bangkok flower market, is a must-see by night. Though open 24-hours, it’s after dark when the action begins. If you can manage a dawn visit, that’s when the vendors all arrive in stock their supplies for the upcoming day.
Night Bike Tour
Bangkok is a city forever pulsating, pumping 24-hour energy – and traffic – through its circulatory system. The best way to free from the labyrinth of chaos while still catching all of the must-see spots is by joining a bicycle tour.
Meander through the historic centre of the city and see the nightlife of the city unfold in a unique way. Get lost in the backstreets of Chinatown, emerging to pedal along the Chao Phraya River through the majestic backdrops of Wat Arun and Wat Pho. Exploring with the freedom of cycling also allows for frequent pit-stops any time a food cart wafts a particularly tasty aroma!
As an ancient city interwoven with countless cultures, Bangkok is the perfect setting for some seriously haunted spots. Start with Mansion 7, a theme mall haunted by its late owner’s daughter. The story goes that after she met an untimely death, her father conducted all sorts of creepy experiments to bring her back to life.
There aren’t many things spookier than a deserted temple under the cover of darkness. Prasar temple is Nonthaburi’s oldest temple with some experts suggesting it’s been standing for more than 300 years. It’s said that any actions of disrespect are met with a response from angry spirits. Mahachai Correctional Facility offers a dark look into Bangkok’s past. Built in 1890 as the country’s first maximum security prison, today it is a museum preserving the macabre history of Thailand’s prison system – where an untold number of inmates were brutally tortured or executed.
Tram City Night Tour
Explore the “Old Town Quarter” by tram, including sights like Anata Samakhom Throne Hall, Wat Rachanaddaram, and the Golden Mount. Tram-travel was the de-facto mode of transport for decades in the late 19th century, and Thailand was the first country in Asia to adopt this innovative “steam car” technology.
For a truly exceptional view over dinner, take to the Chao Phraya River and the glistening cityscape that encompasses it. Complete with cool river breezes and candlelit ambience indulge on 5-star Thai food and on-board entertainment.
Bangkok Theater & Entertainment
No Thai experience is complete without indulging in a ladyboy show. The transgender community is famously well accepted in the highly tolerant society of Thailand. Some families even believe that a ladyboy – or katoey – family member brings the family good luck.
Shows border on the uber-extravagant and avant-garde. Many even strive to get audience members involved. Top shows include Broadway-style Calypso Cabaret and family-friendly Playhouse Theatre.
Calypso Cabaret: Exit at Sapham Taksin BTS station
Playhouse Theatre: Exit at Lat Phrao MRT station
Price: 500 – 1,200 THB
Discover the country’s national sport at a championship level at arenas like Lumpinee or Ratchadamnoen stadiums. Fights are usually held nightly and vary in weight class and ages. Arrive early to witness the pre-fight rituals like “Wai Khru”, a display of respect to a fighter’s trainer, and “Ram Muay”, a performance of a fighter’s range of skills and techniques.
If you leave a match extra inspired, there are dozens of gyms and camps throughout the capital that offer training packages for newbies. Try out a single session or commit to an immersive, longer-term experience.
Lumpinee Boxing Stadium: taxi from Mo Chit BTS station. (Tuesday, Friday, Saturday from 18:30)
Ratchadamnoen Stadium: Take the Khlong Saen Saeb boat service to the Phanfa Bridge Pier (Monday, Wednesday, Thursday from 18:30)
Price: 220 – 2,000 THB
Take to the theatre and uncover the history of Thailand in three separate acts: a journey back into history, journey beyond imagination: the three realms, and journey through joyous festivals. Aesthetically pleasing and boasting creative depth, the “Most Spectacular Show in Bangkok” features more than 150 performers. Arrive early and you can walk through a recreation of an ancient Thai village.
Getting there: Exit the MRT at the Thailand Cultural Center station.
Showtime: 20:00, gate opens at 17:30
Price: 1,500 – 2,250 THB
Want a little slice of the West with an Eastern flair? Catch a film in style at one of Bangkok’s high-class cinemas. Cosy up on a couple’s couch at the Bangkok Airways Blue Ribbon Screen and enjoy free drinks, wines and beers with a free 15-minute foot massage prior to the show. Or opt for the ultra-exclusive Enigma Theater. For a steep 3,000 THB, you’re privy to a plus sofa, free food and exclusive lobby before the show. Ever wish that your cinema had a private wine cellar? Look no further than the Embassy Diplomat Screen, where you’ll enjoy the truly high-end hospitality.
IMAX, 4D-Plex and “Normal” films are all available as well – and at prices a fraction of what you’d pay on a typical Friday night out.
Siam Paragon: Exit the BTS at Siam Station
Central Embassy: Exit the BTS at Phloen Chit Station
Price: 800 – 3,500 THB
A boring night in Bangkok is only a threat to the uninspired. From 5-star eateries to haunted historical sights, the City of Angels will watch over you all night as you explore this city that never sleeps. You can always catch some sleep tomorrow!