Bangkok - Lifestyle & Culture
Bangkok is fast establishing a reputation as Asia's capital of cool, with a vibrant calendar of live music, jazz-and-blues clubs, serious clubs and great restaurants. Not long ago, seedy Patpong was the beginning and the end of a Bangkok night out but, thanks to sterling efforts by the Thai Tourist Authority, the city is now a place to stroll in (relative) safety – even with young members of the family. But don’t worry, if you’re really after a seedy and beer-fuelled romp though lady-boy shows, anything-goes clubs and go-go bars are where you’ll find all of this if you really want to.
Chief hedonistic areas include Patpong (Silom Road), Nana Plaza, Soi Cowboy and several areas off the Sukhumvit Road, with go-go bars and raunchy shows.
Elsewhere in the city there are bars, restaurants and exhilarating cabaret which would rival those found in Paris or Las Vegas. Microbreweries and beer gardens are open-air, relaxed places to enjoy an evening beer, away from the rowdy back-backers and stag parties. Set-ups come and go, but the most popular usually sets up below the World Trade Centre. Jazz, rock and traditional song and dance shows are also worth seeking out in the bigger resorts. Traditional masked dance dramas (khohn) are elaborate and ancient affairs treated with great reverence (make sure you cover up before entering the theatres).
Th Phra Athit
A rickety line of centuries old buildings, once facing demolition, have had a visit by the style police. Now they’re the facades of trendy bars, cool cafes and easy-going hangouts for the city’s hip young things. Many have live music and all are frequented by a good natured crowd.
Brown Sugar (0 2250 1825, Th Sarasin)
Jazzy enclave where a good night is always guaranteed – especially if you like sax and drums with your Singha beer.
Water Bar (0 2642 7699, Th Rangnam )
The best place to sample the city’s drink of choice: a slug of whisky, a slug of coke and a splash of soda. Well, you’ll have to try it at least once.
Patravadi Theatre (0 2412 7287, 69/1 Soi Wat Rakang)
Epic poems and elaborate, long-winded choreographed operas are the stock in trade of this popular theatre troupe. Perfect for sampling traditional Khon - Thai theatre.
Joe Louis Puppet Theatre (0 2252 9683, Suan Lum Night Bazaar, off Wireless Road)
The puppeteers here are integral to the performance. Classically trained dancers imitate the movements of the puppets to literally bring them to life (with three puppeteers to each mannequin), capturing gestures and nuances. A wonderful family friendly spectacle.
Thai Boxing, Ratchadamnoen Stadium (Sanam Muay Rachadamnoen)
For around 800Bt you can experience the spectacle of the best Thai kick-boxers going about their business. It’s not for the faint hearted – not so much because of the athleticism on display, but for the highly charged histrionics of the crowd. Remember to purchase tickets from official vendors, not outside touts.