Aside from its infamous Red Light District and out-takes from The Hangover II, Bangkok has a plethora of high-end to casual nightlight offerings. Lose yourself in winding alley go-go bars or get sky-high atop shimmering roof-top bars. It’s no secret the Thai aren’t prudish, however, there are plenty of entertainment options for all tastes including hole-in-the-wall music venues, wine bars, cocktail bars, supper clubs and trendy dance venues. Avoid the clichés and check some of this effervescent city’s best nightlife hotspots - where the beers are cold and the cocktails don’t necessarily come served in a neon bucket.
Top 5 rooftop bars
Moon Bar at the Banyan Tree
When it comes to ‘getting away from it all’ nothing offers respite from the chaos below better than a trip to Moon Bar aloft Banyan Tree hotel. While the view is enough to take your breath away, the premium cocktails on offer will send you floating to the next level. Strike a pose and get your picture taken looking out at the city below as the sun sets over bustling Bangkok. Be sure to observe the smart casual dress code – long trousers and closed shoes for gents.
Sirocco Sky Bar, Lebua at State Tower
Ultimate escapism is found 64 floors up atop the Lebua Hotel’s Sky Bar. The highest 360-degree bar in the city, you’ll be greeted by an iconic gold dome and a sweeping staircase from which to make your entrance. The atmosphere and attention to detail here is spot-on – admire the multi-hued island bar which changes colour every 90 seconds while you sip on a ‘Hangovertini’ cocktail – yes, the Sky Bar is another location from The Hangover movie franchise. Thankfully, the cocktail is a little classier – a blend of green tea liquor, apple juice, Martini Rosso and rosemary honey. Smart casual dress code applies.
SpeakEasy at Hotel Muse
Cocktails in jam jars, cool jazz music lingering the background and an AstroTurf lined terrace – sounds like the making for an idyllic roof top bar. SpeakEasy puts a twist on its rooftop experience with its retro prohibition theme, bringing the roaring 1920s to life with its plush decor and clandestine scotch and cigar lounge. The 15-page long cocktail menu reads like a newspaper – but you’ve got plenty of time to peruse in between lounging under the stars, swing dancing and ordering Wagyu beef and truffle oil sliders for supper.
Want to hang out with the locals? Far from the crowded backpackers bars in Patong? Cloud 47 has got you covered. The largest rooftop bar in Bangkok, you’ll be treated to impressive views in a modern Thai setting – this is where Bangkok’s young, cool things like to come and kick up their heels. Located 47 floors up, the bar spans the roof of the United Centre Building on Silom Road, decked out in an all-white theme, LED-lightening illuminates the decor masterfully.
Eywa at Grease
Slow things down in downtown Bangkok and catch the cool breeze blowing off the top of Grease Bar’s private alfresco rooftop, Eywa. Nestle into a beanbag under a man-made fibre optic lighted tree with friends and put some coals on your shisha and smoke it. Eywa is an oasis – a great place to wind down after a long day or the perfect place to ease into a night of clubbing in downtown Bangkok.
Q Bar is well known for its high calibre of international DJ acts and musicians – over the years Mick Jagger, Jackie Chan and the Black Eyed Peas have all made appearances. The bar staff are the best in their field, with an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of spirits and cocktails. Q Bar has been a Bangkok stalwart for over 10 years and it’s no surprise why – its shelves hold the biggest selection of spirits in Southeast Asia, including 14 brands of tequila, dozens of single malt whiskies and 90 types of vodka.
Ready to dance to strident pop and house beats? The dance floor at Levels awaits. Sweat it out under the disco lights, chill in the indoor lounge or get some air on the outdoor terrace – there are plenty of places to find your groove here! It helps that entry is free and Bangkok’s best DJs play here every night until 3am. For the ultimate experience - reserve one of the exclusive VIP booths located on either side of the dance floor.
You don’t have to go all the way across America to say you’ve been to Route 66, just stroll down to Royal City Avenue and look out for the biggest club on the block. Packed to the rafters and pumping out smooth R&B and hip-hop tunes, Route 66 is frequented by Thai twenty-somethings and university students. You might even be lucky enough to catch an up and coming Thai rock band perform a live set. When heading to the bar, best order a few rounds as the bar tends to get rather crowded.
Smaller than some of its dance-oriented nightclub counterparts, Glow is still Bangkok’s best nightclub for underground dance music. A favourite among locals and expats alike, the club’s deep bass sound system will work out any knots left in your body after the Thai massage you had earlier that day. The boutique dance venue hosts a reputable line-up of local and international DJs – the same names you’d see on the bill in cities like Berlin, Amsterdam or Manhattan. Entry fee covers your first drink.
Opposite Mess Hall
Like to head out for a nightcap but are more interested in what’s for dinner first? Opposite Mess Hall accounts for Bangkok’s modern ‘food tourist’ with its eclectic, unpretentious food menu and drinks list – fancy a Honey Apricot Ale, a Heartbeat Punch or a chilli infused Pomelo Cooler? Share plates are the aim of the game here, slowly work your way through the menu from the rustic pork terrine to the bone marrow dumplings, whilst chatting to locals and gathering tips for tomorrow’s next [food] adventure.
Khao San Road
The road that never sleeps, bars along Khao San Road’s neon lights flicker to life after dark when backpackers with a multitude of different accents can be found drinking away until the early morning. Aside from the cheap beers and the top-40 soundtrack, Khao San Road has something for the lipstick-hippie and the dreadlock hippie alike with every bar having a unique style of its own from high and low range haunts on offer.
There’s no avoiding Bangkok’s red-light district – it’s a tourist attraction is its own right. Aside from Patpong’s more raunchy offerings, there is a great night market for bargain hunters looking for knock-off sunglasses and DVDs. Thailand’s go-go culture was born here in Patpong and it isn’t growing-old anytime soon.
Royal City Avenue
Commonly known as ‘RCA’, this party strip is Bangkok’s official clubbing zone, seven nights a week. Separated into four blocks, filled A to D with clubs and bars – there are endless options for a good night out – many tourists head straight for clubbing institutions Route 66 and Slim &Fix. For lovers of live music, Mello Yellow is a funky place to rock out. For the curiously minded, you won’t have to stray too far from the RCA to find an infamous ladyboy cabaret show, a cultural experience like no other, in the Ratchada district.
The longest road in Thailand, Sukhumvit is the main artery connecting lively, winding sois (side-streets) filled with cool and quirky bars and clubs. Stumble upon fashionable restaurants, boutique shopping and hip cocktail bars. Many expats find their scene here in either a luxury hotel lobby bar or at Cheap Charlie’s – the smallest, cheapest and most eccentric bar on the strip – ramshackle to say the least, this gem takes the cake as the most jovial bar in the area.