Category Archives: nightlife

Review of Onyx

Onyx is one of the best nightclubs in Bangkok. For those not interested in cover bands or DJs playing pop anthems Onyx has become the club of choice for bass heads.

Modern Club in Bangkok

Onyx is a large club. It has the biggest single dance space in Bangkok that can hold 2,500 people. The floor is orientated to face the large DJ booth with a large LED screen behind. It is very much like a club in London or Tokyo.

A Place To Dance

There are some impressive embellishments as well: laser shows, CO2 bombs and confetti drops. This is a club not for the high society folk to sip cocktails and nod to DJ music, rather this is a place for electronic music lovers to thump and pump their way through happy hours listening to big name DJs.

The club is located between Phetchaburi Road and the Sirat Expressway, a short taxi ride from the Sukhumvit Road. See the location map below.

Location of the Onyx Club

  • Address: Royal City Avenue (RCA), Soi Soonvijai, Rama IX Road Bangkapi, Huaykwang, Bangkok 10130
  • Telephone: +66 (0)81 645 1166

Club Information

The club opens at 21.00 and stays open late. Entrance costs 500 Thai Baht with a couple of free drinks. It is not cheap entry and the drinks aren’t cheap, but this is a serious club, not a place for working girls to get a John.

The headline DJs are booked in advance – they get in plenty of local talent as well as international DJs. You can find out who is playing on their website – http://www.onyxbangkok.com/- I note as writing this that Australian duo Slice and Dice are up next. They do a brand of mash up electronica with a theatrical element. They are new and relevant.

As you would expect, the sound system is excellent. Plenty of bass as well as treble clarity. Along with the high ceiling the sound system does justice to the music.

Reviews

Trip Advisor at the time of writing rated Onyx as the fifty-fourth best night spot in the city. So far nobody has rated the club as ‘poor’ or ‘terrible’. Over time it is certain that the more positive reviews will follow.

Next read about Glow Nightclub on Sukhumvit Soi 23

Cool Bars in Bangkok

Bangkok has an amazing number of bars. Thailand, although a Buddhist country, has a cheap and plentiful supply of cold beer. Thai people love going out to eat and drink. It is therefore not surprising that Bangkok has lots of really cool bars. It would be impossible to list all the great bars and pubs in Bangkok. Instead I will limit my list to a view of the stand-out places.

Sky Bar

It is a bit of a cliché, but still a great bar. The movie Hangover 3 featured this uber chic roof top bar. While the movie will soon be forgotten this bar stays in the memory. The island bar changes colour every 90 seconds.

Sky Bar at the Lebua Tower

Sky Bar at the Lebua State Tower

The bar is on top of one of Bangkok’s tallest buildings, the Lebua State Tower. As a consequence the view is amazing. It is also just next to the award winning Sirocco Restaurant.

  • Location of the Sky Bar:

Moon Bar

This bar is 61 floors off the ground. It is credited as the bar that made roof top bars so in vogue. Moon Bar is on the Banyan Tree Hotel roof.

Moon Bar at the Banyan Tree Hotel

Moon Bar at the Banyan Tree Hotel

This is a sophisticated bar with less of a show-off feel to it than Sky Bar. It is at the end of the roof. It is just a pity that most of the roof space is given over to dining space. This makes Moon Bar better for a sunset drink rather than a place to settle for the night.

  • Location of the Moon Bar:

Nest Rooftop Lounge

This is perhaps the bar with the best design in Bangkok. It is beach loungers and stools with low tables. Only it’s not the beach but at the top of Le Fenix Hotel in Sukhumvit.

Nest Rooftop Bar at Le Fenix Hotel

Nest Rooftop Bar at Le Fenix Hotel

This is a cool bar and a bit of a place to be seen. They have DJs and sometimes live music to keep the cool quotidian high.

  • Location of the Nest Rooftop Lounge:

Hippie De Bar

Hippie de Bar puts the lie to all those ex-pats that prefer Silom and Sukhumvit and who wouldn’t dream of going out for drinks in Khao San. Hippie de Bar is one of the funkiest bars in the capital and it is in backpacker central.

Hippie de Bar on the Khao San Road

Hippie de Bar on the Khao San Road

The furniture and wall decorations are an eclectic assortment. It is big bar spread over 2 levels with outdoor areas as well. It is interesting to just wander around when the place is not busy to just admire the quirky retro make-over.

There are pool tables. The cocktails are nicely strong and the music is not so loud you can’t talk.

  • Location of Hippie de Bar

Cheap Charlie’s

Cool bars don’t have to be on a rooftop of a hotel and sell expensive drinks. Cheap Charlie’s is a Bangkok institution. It is just a small shack in the heart of the red light area of Sukhumvit. You sit out on the street, drink cheap beer and soak up the lively and colourful atmosphere.

Cheap Charlie's off the Sukhumvit Road

Cheap Charlie’s off the Sukhumvit Road

You can find Cheap Charlie’s on Soi 11 off the Sukhumvit Road No reservations required. No dress code.

  • Location of the Cheap Charlie’s:

Telephone

Telephone is the most famous gay bar in Bangkok. It’s on Soi 4, just off Silom Road.

Telephone is Bangkok's Most Famous Gay Bar

Telephone is Bangkok’s Most Famous Gay Bar

Each table has an old fashioned telephone. This allows clients the chance to flirt with the other patrons without having to get off their bar stool. As you can see in the photo, they throw parties that are very ‘gay’ that pulls in an up-for-it crowd.

  • Location of Telephone:

Raintree Pub

Raintree Pub keeps it old skool. It is a pub lovingly decorated with odd artefacts, driftwood and buffalo heads.

Inside Raintree Pub

Inside Raintree Pub

The pub is located at 116/63-64 Soi Rangnam, off Phahon Yothin Road. They have live bands. It attracts a good mixed crowd of tourists, ex-pats and young Thais.

  • Location of Raintree Pub

Next read about the Best Go Go Bar in Bangkok

Goodnight but not Goodbye to Bed Supperclub

Bed Supperclub ran for over 11 years from its location on soi 11. Its futuristic white tube shape became an iconic reminder of the advances the Sukhumvit area has made in recent years from go go bar enclave to the centre of modernity in Bangkok.

The concept of Bed Supperclub was to provide a boutique nightlife experience that combined sophisticated cuisine with the best international DJs. The lower floor provided beds and the upper floor a viewing walkway. The theme was complimented by encouraging customers to wear white. The result was a nightclub that started off laid back and developed over the night to a lively nightspot with the best dance and hip hop beats. DJs such as Calvin Harris, Brodinski, Chuckie and Laidback Luke have frequently supplied the tunes for the club.


People might have scoffed at the bizarre idea of bed-dining 10 years ago, but not anymore. The concept has been franchised and has become popular in Germany, the UK and the USA. Of all the supperclubs the one on soi 11, Sukhumvit was one of the best.

Sadly, the lease ran out and the club was forced to have its final party on August 31st, 2013. The party was not an event for sadness but for celebration for all the good times the club has provided for Bangkokers and tourists over the years.

The current situation is that the management of Bed Supperclub intends to re-open at another location in Bangkok. At the moment they are researching other possible venues to hold the club.

Since much of the success of Bed Supperclub was down to its ultra chic interior it is not a simple matter to move to another building. Rather a new spot has to be found and designers brought in to create another special space. No doubt they will stick with the modern, sleek look but seek to create something original rather than derivative.

We wish Bed Supperclub a quick revival. Sukhumvit misses you.

The video above is taken at the last party of Bed Supperclub on Soi 11.

Siam Niramit Show

Siam Niramit is one of the world’s largest stage shows with a cast of over 100 performers. This award winning show ranks as one of Bangkok’s major attractions. The 2,000 seater theater is filled nightly.

The Theater is is located to the north of the Sukhumvit Road. The closest public transport station is the Thailand Cultural Centre MRT (Metro) Station. It is about a 20 minute walk from the Metro station to Tiamruammit Road where the Theater is located.

Shows start daily at 8pm and run for approximately 80 minutes with no intermission. The cost is 2,000 Thai Baht ($66.7) for ‘Golden Seats’ and 1,500 Thai Baht ($50) for ‘Standard Seats’. For an extra 350 Thai Baht ($11.7) you have a buffet meal of Thai and Western food before the show. Guest reviews suggest the buffet is actually quite good, and beer and wine is on sale.

The doors open at 5.30pm and there are other attractions in the grounds of the theater that are worth visiting. The big attraction is the ‘Village of the Four Regions’ which has examples of wooden homes from the four regions of Thailand. There are performers demonstrating traditional crafts. There are also small shows put on outside, such as dance performances. The children will really enjoy the elephant shows which are put on every night. Elephants rides are available for a small additional cost.

The show itself is split into three distinct acts, each featuring several set changes and numerous special effects. The idea, which they have achieved pretty successfully, is to give an overview of Thai History, culture and spiritualism and demonstrate how beliefs and superstitions play a central role in Thai life – a big task in 80 minutes, and this is how they achieve it:

Act I: Journey Back into History -Depiction of life in Ancient times in each of the four regions of Thailand

Act II: Journey Beyond Imagination – Depictions of the three spiritual realms of ‘Fiery Hell’, ‘Mystical Forest of Himapaan’ and ‘Blissful Heaven’.

Act III: Journey Through Joyous Festivals – Examples of Merit Making festivals re-enacted such as the Loy-Krathong celebration.

If you prefer you can go with a tour to see Siam Niramit. Isango have tours at competitive prices. They pick you up at your hotel at 6pm and bring you back after the show. The tour costs $74. To book or find out more click on the button below.

book tour of Siam Niramit

Go Go Bars


This article doesn’t promote or condemn Go-Go bars, or prostitution more  in Thailand or elsewhere. Our readers are smart enough to make their own minds up. All we want to do is to explain the facts.

Go-go bars in Bangkok and other big cities are generally bars with a stage in the middle and seating around the sides, with booths at the back of the room. Drinks come at a slight premium and they rarely charge an entry fee. The girls dance in skimpy clothing to loud music.

For these bars the economics work like this. The girls get no salary but free food and board. For this basic package a girl has sales targets to achieve. Generally what happens is they are required to sell a certain number of ‘lady drinks’ each month. A lady drink is an overpriced drink which the patron must buy the girl if they want to engage them in a prolonged conversation. The girls generally must also make a certain number of ‘bar fines’ in a month (2 or 3 is a normal sales target).  A bar fine is the money a customer must pay to the bar to take the girl back to their hotel. The girl then gets paid by the customer directly for whatever ‘service’ she then goes on to provide.

The big issue is one of exploitation. Exploiting people is wrong. The answer to the question of whether the girls are exploited isn’t obvious though. Bear with us, we explain why by running through different types of exploitation:

Exploitation of a minor – Definitely goes on, not that frequently in Go-Go bars. The girls tend to be over 18.

Economic exploitation – Difficult question to answer. On the one hand most of the girls involved in this kind of business come from the poor North-East of Thailand and are in Bangkok to earn money to send back to their hard up families. The other side of the coin is that for a healthy young Thai woman it is not difficult to find work in Bangkok, or indeed in most other parts of Thailand. The girls aren’t driven into the industry because they have no other opportunity to earn money. There is a big difference in potential earnings between working in a restaurant (around $300 a month, maybe less), and working in a Go-Go bar (perhaps an average of $900 a month). $300 isn’t much, and the girl in the restaurant is probably working very hard for 8 to 10 hours a day, but they can live on it – most of Thai people live on a comparable wage.

Exploitation by drugs – big drug problem, much more so than outside the industry. The favored drug is ‘yaba’ (methamphetamine and caffeine) that helps the girls stay awake, and distanced from what is happening to them.

Exploitation by family – the girls don’t come to Bangkok with the intention of doing this kind of work. The families know how the money they receive is come by; but in our opinion it isn’t normal for the girls to be sent away by their families with the express intention to work in a Go Go bar.

The damage to the girls themselves is obvious. Many suffer from the drug use and alcohol. Many have mental health issues. Not pleasant. But is it immoral? This is a big part of Thailand. It is not just foreign influence either. The biggest market is Thai men. But can something be called ‘right’ just because it is part of someone else’s culture?

Anyway, food for thought we hope. Sorry, if you came to the site searching for nude photographs.

RCA in Bangkok

Royal City Avenue, or the RCA as it is known locally, is THE place in Bangkok for young hip Thais to go clubbing. The RCA is located on a Soi called Royal City Avenue which is between the Rama 9 and Ratchadapisek Roads (both of which run parallel to the north of the Sukhumvit Road). It is a collection of bars, clubs, art house cinemas, a bowling club and even a golf driving range, many of which are housed in a single sprawling building. This area has grown in recent years to other nearby buildings.

Mainly popular with Thai university students and young office workers, the RCA is an officially designated ‘nightlife zone’ which means it has later opening hours than many other venues in the city. The downside of this appellation is that it is also highly regulated. You need to bring your passport as there are ID checks for most venues, and if drugs are your thing be careful as the police have being doing raids recently and conducting drug tests on the people on the club. This doesn’t happen frequently, but it does happen.

Places open and close quickly. It is hard to keep track of the venues. This is our list of what is currently there. Apologies if it has changed by the time you get there:

Old Leng: Chinese themed bar with a 1980s cover band (2am closing)

Route 66: Massive four-dance-floor club with a Hip Hop focus (2am closing)

Flix: Electro/House club (2am closing)

Slim: Hip-Hop and RnB club (2am closing)

HOBB: Stands for ‘House Bar of Bangkok’. This is a cool bar with live bands (2am closing)

Ezze: Techno club (2am closing)

The Overtone Music Club: Mini concert hall attracting big name Thai bands (2am closing)

No Space: Avant garde club with Indie Rock bands and art exhibitions at the weekend (open only when events or exhibitions are on).

808: Busiest nightclub in the RCA with electro and house music (3am closing)

Inch: 2,500 person capacity club with 2 dance floors: one for live music, one for Hip-Hop (1am closing)

Jazzit: Thai/Italian nightclub with deep house music (2am closing)

Baroque Club: 3 live bands nightly (2am closing)

Cosmic cafe: Live Indie bands (2am)

This list isn’t exhaustive. It is well worth exploring RCA as you are sure to find something to suit your style of venue and taste in music . The RCA is also home to Bangkok’s only 2 lesbian bars and a go-kart track as well as numerous places to eat. Fun fun fun.

One Night Out in Bangkok

Arriving for the first time in a new city can be intimidating and confusing. For visitors from North America and Europe in Asia for the first time, Bangkok can be traumatic. Many people come away from Bangkok never wanting to go back. All they see is traffic and frenetic streets, with an unsavoury sprinkling of dirty backpackers and dirtier old white men with emaciated Thai girls. We think this a mistake and we want to suggest what you should do on your first night in Bangkok to convince you that Bangkok is a safe, vibrant and exciting destination.

What to Do On a Night Out in Bangkok

Our recommended night out starts on Soi 5, on the Sukhumvit Road. If you are staying in a nice pre-booked hotel most likely it will be in the area Sukhumvit, so you won’t have to travel far to get to the starting point for your first night. For the uninitiated, Soi means street, and the way addresses are organised in Thailand by referring to the number of a Soi branching off a major road, such as the Sukhumvit Road.

Pre-Dinner drinks at Gulliver’s Tavern

When you get to Soi 5 go about a 100 metres up the street and on the right hand side you will see a bar called Gulliver’s Tavern Take a seat outside, they have smoking and non-smoking areas, and wait for the waitress service. They serve a full range of food and drinks, however, hold back on the food as we have a restaurant recommendation for you. What we love about the outside seating area of this bar is that it is one of the few places you can sit outside in Bangkok and watch the world go by without being hassled or overcome by car fumes.

Gulliver's Tavern

Outdoor seating at Gulliver’s Tavern

  • For more information see Thailand Life’s Guide to Gulliver’s Tavern
  • Location of Gulliver’s Tavern:

Dinner at Cabbages and Condoms

When you have finished your drinks walk back along the street and negotiate yourself a Tuk-Tuk to take you to Soi 12 on the Sukhumvit Road. A Tuk-Tuk is a three wheeled taxi made out of a converted motorbike. Tuk-Tuks don’t use fixed fares and you will need to haggle. Expect to pay between 100 and 150 Baht. Don’t pay more, just keep on asking until you find one that will take you. Where we are sending you is the Cabbages and Condoms restaurant. If you want the best seats, which are in the garden, you will need to ring in advance and book. The telephone number is 0066 (0)2 2655 5340 and they speak good English. This is my favourite restaurant in Bangkok. I first went there in 1999. The restaurant is a commercial venture of a family planning charity, hence the unusual name. The food here is Thai and absolutely great. My Thai friends really rate the cooking. Starters cost around 100 Baht a dish and main courses are around 200 to 300 Baht. If there are 5 or more of you can order set menus for around 600 to 700 Baht per person and it represents great value for money.

Cabbages and Condoms

Outside dining area at Cabbages and Condoms

  • For more information see Thailand Life’s Guide to Cabbages and Condoms
  • Location of Cabbages and Condoms:

Shopping at Patpong Night Market

Ask the restaurant to call you a meter taxi. You are going next to Patpong Night Market. Meter taxis in Thailand are cheap, and you pay for the length of journey as measured by the meter. Expect to pay 80 to 100 Baht on the meter. Fixed prices negotiated with the driver represent poor value. Patpong Night Market is a lot of fun. There are hundreds of stalls selling tourist souvenirs and a full range of fake watches, handbags, and designer clothing items. The market is open from 6pm to midnight. You need to haggle with the stall holders. The initial prices they will offer you are sometimes 5 to 10 times the actual price you will end up paying with some persistence. As a guide pay 1,000 Baht for a good replica watch and 200 baht for a T-Shirt.

Patpong Night Market

Patpong Night Market

  • For more information see Silom Guide’s post about Patpong Night Market
  • Location of Patpong Night Market:

Fianlly live music at Muzzik Cafe

When you tire of the shopping there are plenty of places to go for a drink. Don’t bother with the go-go bars and head towards the Muzzik Cafe which is about a third of the way up the main market street, on the corner of a small side street between Soi Patpong 1 and Soi Patpong 2. The Muzzik Cafe is a lively corner bar with live Thai bands nightly. They have waitress service.

When you feel like heading back to your hotel either take a taxi, or go to Sala Daeng skytrain station and get the train back for 30 to 40 Baht a person. If you are heading back to Sukhumvit you will need to change trains at Siam Square. There are several stops on the Sukhumvit Road, if you get off at Nana station you will be about 20 metres from Soi 5 where you started the night.

Next read about Train Travel from Bangkok to Chiang Mai