I’m often asked by newbies or first-timers what the absolute must-see attractions are in Bangkok. And, inevitably, my response is “it depends what you want to do”.
Some people will have more obviously different needs than others. A typical “ooh, dreadlocks!”, “ooh, henna tattoos!”, “ooh, banana pancakes!” backpack-laden Andrea-Dworkin-a-like is unlikely to appreciate the lesbian show at Suzie Wong, just as a typical “ooh, lager!”, “ooh, a fight!”, “ooh, donner kebab, extra chilli, no salad, cheers mate!” neanderthal type is unlikely to appreciate fine dining at Vertigo, at the Banyan Tree in Sathorn (which, incidentally, is expensive but very nice).
In short, whilst Bangkok has something to offer almost everyone, it also has an equally versatile capacity to irritate.
Since I tend to avoid the Khao San Road types if I can help it, I’ll tailor these suggestions to those visitors who aren’t averse to hitting the bars – feel free to offer up a couple of things to do that don’t involve chrome poles or mattresses.
Remember, these are recommendations to a tourist who’s going to be here for a week or two, and doesn’t know his way around. He probably don’t speak Thai either, so I’m sticking to places in the farang ghettos, where the staff are more likely to speak English. In no particular order:
- Nana Disco, Sukhumvit Soi 4 (BTS: Nana): At first glance, it’s as if you’re in a cheesy disco back home, albeit one stuffed wall-to-wall with hot girls in skimpy clothes. And then you come to the glorious realisation that all you really need to do is say “how much?”, and any one (or more) of them is yours for the night.
- Rainbow 4, Nana Plaza, Sukhumvit Soi 4 (BTS: Nana): Quite simply the most impressive gogo bar in Bangkok. Not necessarily the best, and it’s worth noting that there are no shows and no nudity. That said, nowhere else has quite the same jaw-dropping number of gogo girls.
- The Eden Club, Sukhumvit Soi 7/1 (BTS: Nana): I suspect this is going to be a contentious one, but given that a threesome is consistently placed #1 on every list of men’s sexual fantasies, it’s only right to list the easiest place in which to experience one.
- Baccara, Soi Cowboy, Sukhumvit Soi 21-23 (BTS: Asoke): In my opinion (and it’s only an opinion), this is Bangkok’s finest gogo bar. Take a seat upstairs, and watch some of the cutest girls on Soi Cowboy gyrate in (and out of) school uniforms.
- Suzie Wong, Soi Cowboy, Sukhumvit Soi 21-23 (BTS: Asoke): Get there for the nightly show. Four or five girls. Tongues. No clothes. ‘Nuff said. Show usually starts sometime after 10.30pm, but be prepared to wait longer on some nights than others.
- Angelwitch, Nana Plaza, Sukhumvit Soi 4 (BTS: Nana): Whilst old-timers and expats may complain that the shows are a little tame, and that it can get a little dull after you’ve seen the same shows time and time again, I’d suggest that a first trip to Angelwitch is an entertaining must-see for newbies.
- Tulip Sukhumvit Rd, nr corner Soi 38 (BTS: Thong Lo): Best oil massage experience in Thailand.
- Lolita’s, off Sukhumvit Soi 8 (BTS: Nana): Because it’s a BJ bar. And you probably haven’t been to one of those before.
- Gulliver’s, Sukhumvit Soi 5 (BTS: Nana): A relatively chilled-out bar with decent food, reasonably-priced beer and a bevvy of freelancers. Whilst I’ve never had a problem with any girls from here, it’s worth mentioning that if a freelancer misbehaves, there is no bar to complain to. Worst case scenario, she relieves you of your wallet and valuables while you sleep. No comeback. Like I said, it’s never happened to me, but worth bearing in mind. That said, if you’re the type who fancies the idea of “renting a girlfriend” for your whole stay (which I also wouldn’t recommend, but hey), this isn’t a bad place to make that deal.
- Annie’s (or any other soapie), Sukhumvit Soi 4/elsewhere (BTS Nana/elsewhere): If you’ve got any energy left, try a soapie. They don’t have these in Basingstoke. Annie’s is conveniently placed on Sukhumvit, reasonably cheap but unspectacular, and targets Western tourists (so the staff will speak English). Other options are Darling’s, on Sukhumvit soi 12 (BTS: Nana), and for the big-hitters, Poseidon – out on Ratchada, but easily accessible by MRT (Huay Kwang station) and is (by reputation – alarmingly, I haven’t yet been myself) the best soapie massage parlour in Thailand. Expect to pay ฿1,500-2000 at Annie’s or Darling’s, and anything from ฿2,000 to ฿18,000 at Poseidon (that top price range is for Penthouse magazine models. Really).