Many a song-writer has waxed lyrical about Bangkok’s nightlife (well at least one!) and although the city is often regarded as the world’s original Sin City, all who eventually make it here soon realize that this incredible destination offers so much more than just guilty pleasures. They will all inevitably start singing the city’s praises shortly after arriving.
Everything about Bangkok is intense and the insane choice of night-time exploits is no exception. In a city where anything and everything is possible, finding diverse ways of spending nights out and about is infinitely easy; although deciding where to start is likely to bring on a headache even before you take a first sip of your Singha.
A plan of action is needed! Treat the city’s nightlife scene like you do its tourist attractions and shopping quests and you’ll likely have a much more productive and totally fun time.
Here are the best activities to be had after the sun sets…according to us!
The chaotic and fun night out
Not only can you shop till you drop and discover the extensive talents of local dancers when out in Bangkok, but if you head to Patpong you can actually enjoy both pursuits simultaneously. Sort of. Well it’s not like you can enjoy an ‘enlightening’ girly show in the middle of the street, but considering Patpong is home to a wicked night market and equally wicked sexy clubs; killing two birds with one ping-pong-ball is super easy.
Some travelers will advise you to come and have a fun night out in one of the many clubs, whilst trying to ignore the haggling stall holders, while others will tell you that getting some serious shopping done may be a challenge considering the annoying presence of an obviously overbearing sex industry.
The lack of multi-tasking ability of some travelers is rather astounding! Nights out in Bangkok are notoriously long…take full advantage of this, put some effort into it and do it all in Patpong.
Word of caution: the Patpong Market is great for souvenir shopping, but do keep in mind that prices here always start higher than anywhere else. Apparently, stall-owners have caught on that drunken foreigners can’t really convert exchange-rates efficiently. Shop before you drink and you won’t wake up with any more regrets than strictly necessary. Yes it’s true; some tourists head to Patpong to buy shoes and end up paying for sex instead; this is a surprising but rather common occurrence down this neck of the woods.
The classy night out
It is often said that Bangkok suffers from multiple-split-personality syndrome and it is incredibly awe-inspiring to be able to catch a glimpse of all of her eclectic sides. Head to one of the city’s best rooftop bars and be amazed at just how stunning the city can look; especially when you don’t have to dodge stray dogs, cats and rubbish piles like you do at street level.
It does help that crowd faves like Skybar, the world’s highest open-air bar, are strikingly elegant and incredibly enticing. The atmosphere is classy and romantic, the in-crowd staggering (especially when word got out of it having hosted the Hangover II cast during filming), the cocktails refreshing and the views blissful. If you think Bangkok is just one huge noisy, messy, filthy hub…view it from the safe distance of a rooftop bar and restore your spirits!
The city center (especially Silom) is brimming with fantastic rooftop bars, most housed in luxury hotels. For a sanitized night out without hassle or sleaze, dress up to the nines and rooftop your way through Bangkok.
The cultural night out
Aside the astonishing ping-pong parlors, Bangkok is also the renowned birthplace of the ladyboy show, yet another cultural experience not to be missed. As far as freedom of sexuality goes, there’s no other place on earth which embraces the concept as warmly and enthusiastically as the Thai capital. Transsexuals are not only accepted here, but they are revered; families even going as far as believing that they are a blessing from the Gods.
Katoeys (as ladyboys are known in Thailand) live their lives as women, while still having their male bits and bobs very much intact. The moment a transsexual becomes transgender (snip snip) they will no longer be considered katoeys and will actually be banned from most cabaret shows.
Spending a night of hysterical fun, watching a colorful and entertaining ladyboy show in Bangkok is considered the epitome night-culture experience and certainly not something to be missed. Calypso is one of the most famous ladyboy shows in town and by far the most frequented by tourists. The opulent extravaganza complete with sparkling costumes and oodles of flirtation, is as much a family show as anything else and makes for an incredibly enjoyable night out.
Be amazed at the talent, dexterity and femininity of Bangkok’s ladyboys and go home with a new-found respect for the country’s enviably tolerant culture.
The relaxing dinner cruise
If you want to enjoy a great night out, but shudder at the thought of dealing with raucous crowds, take to the water and enjoy an unforgettable dinner cruise along the splendid Chao Phraya River.
Considering the fact you’ll no doubt be prowling the river on overcrowded boats during the day, in an effort to reach riverside attractions; we would actually advise you splurge on this activity, and make it as relaxing and enjoyable an evening as possible.
The Loy Nava is one of the best cruise boats in Bangkok and the one with the biggest cult following. The century old former rice barge is beautifully maintained, gorgeously fitted and offers by far the best value for money in town.
Sail past glistening landmarks while enjoying an authentic local dinner and complete your Bangkok escapade in refreshing style.The six-course set menu is surprisingly delicious (cruise fare doesn’t normally deserve praise!), the music and dance performance delightful and the whole experience a relaxing world away from the chaos of the city’s streets.
Bangkok by night via Wiki
Patpong Night Market via Wiki
Skybar, Steven Yurvetson via Flickr
Calypso Sketch by Calypso Cabaret
Bangkok’s Loy Nava Cruise