Patpong in Bangkok
Bangkok Go Go Bars
One of the world's most famous red-light districts, Patpong is where it all started (Thailand's Go-Go culture). It has even been immortalised in a James Bond chase-sequence. Its two parallel side-streets, found between Silom and Surawongse Roads, house around 100 neon-lit strip bars offering naughty shows and the famous pole-dancing entertainment.
Patpong has long since been usurped as the 'king of the scene' by Soi Cowboy, its counterpart around Sukhumvit. However, its reputation means it's still a huge attraction, mainly for sightseers more interested in ogling at - rather than indulging in - the carnal delights on offer. But while for men Patpong is likely to mean 'adult', for women Patpong definitely means 'night market'. At night this teems with hawkers and humble stalls selling what is mostly tourist tat.
The Go-Go Bars of Patpong
When it comes to go-go bars, favoured establishments on Soi 1 include King's Castle I and II, Sphinx and the Safari Bar, while King's Corner has the largest collection of post-operative transsexuals in Bangkok. Patpong II, or 'Soi Quality' as some like to call it, also has many interesting sights along the same lines. Apart from a short run of rather run-down watering holes peopled by girls and men playing Connect 4, the most well-known venue is perhaps Electric Blue and, definitely the most intriguing, Patpong's only fetish club, BarBar.
Here are the few gogo bars found on each side on the Patong area. Some are quite hard to miss and some others are just behind a discreet door. In the bars at street level, prices are usually fixed and bill is brought to you at your table, so no bad surprise with the usual 120 to 150 baht for a beer.
- The High Bar
- Silver Star
- King Castle (Ladyboys)
- King Castle II and even III (50% Ladyboys)
- King's Corner
- Pussy Collection (says it all)
- Gold Fingers
Soi Patong 2
How Not To Get Ripped Off in Patpong!
Go-Go bars located on ground level along the two streets of Patpong are free to get in as long as you order a drink, which costs around 120 baht… but be aware that there are tricky places that will cost you a lot more without actually delivering anything better – and they may even be worse.
How to recognize the trick:
- Someone will approach you with a nice list of fun entertaining features such as a 'ping pong show' and other well-known activities with ‘colourful’ names. So far, nothing really unusual.
- He will say "It's free to see for five minutes"… which means it won't be free after the five minutes are up and as the guy seems trustworthy and speaks really fast, you somehow forget this fact.
- The place not even be on Patpong itself but if the bar is upstairs and the bar has no sign and no name, get ready to be ripped off (nicely but effectively).
- Once you are in, the show will have only one act and you will be asked for a tip, and anothether tip, and another... Basically you will have to tip for each ‘trick’ performed. And believe me, these girls have mastered the art of making you feel really cheap if you don't tip them.
- The girls will ask you for a lady drink, whether she sits next to you or even stands across the room… each drink costs at least 200 baht.
- You will not see the bill until the last minute. In most normal A Go-Go Bars or beer bars, your bill is placed in a small box in front of you, which allows you to check the damage as you drink and let you decide if you want to offer another round or not. Usually a drink is around 100 to 120 baht. In the dodgy ones the bill never comes until the last moment
- If you ask a girl how much her drink will cost you, she only knows once answer: 'same as yours', so naturally you think 100 to 120 baht… wrong, it's 200 to 300 baht.
- When the bill comes, it’ll be about 1,000 baht and don't even waste your time arguing; you won't win… just pay up and smile, realizing you’ve got a nice story to tell your friends – just like I’m telling you now!
Go-Go shopping after dark
In fact, because of the Patpong Night Market the area's seedy edge has been softened considerably. At night the area teems with tourists and backpackers shopping for that illusive bargain. Some pretend to look interested in the fake Gucci handbags before temptation gets the better of them and they venture inside to witness one of the famous shows they've heard so much about. If you go for this it pays to be careful; while now rare, there have been reports of tourists being ripped off (especially when buying a drink for one of the 'hostesses') and clobbered with hefty bills after heading upstairs into one of the bars.
Also, if you plan to hijack one of the girls for a raunchy rendevous, it's advisable too to take good care of personal belongings once you've paid the 'bar fine'. However, whatever your take is on the Go-Go Bar scene, there's no denying that Patpong is still far safer than your average Western city centre. It's very well policed - there's a tourist police office at the end of the road, and CCTV cameras - and you'll find entire families nonchalantly walking around during market hours.
Food, fun and games
For those not interested in the girly scene or shopping, Patpong is also not short on other pursuits. Aside from the shopping, there's a lot of quality bistros, such as the tiny French restaurant Le Bouchon and the incredibly good value Thai eatery Salasawan, both of which are on Soi 2. Mizu's Kitchen on Soi 1, which a former Japanese soldier started in 1954, comes highly recommended for its steak.
For a quiet game of pool and a beer or two there's the Red Parrot and the Vietnam war era bar, The Old Other Office. Finally, for audio stimulation there's Soi 1's Radio City (home to some great live music and Elvis impersonators), Lucifer's and the stylish late-night dance bar Twilight, which is typically heaving come midnight. Whatever you're into, Patpong is certainly worth a peek.
- Location: Located between Silom and Surawong Roads, it's within easy walking distance from the Skytrain station (Sala Daeng) or the MRT station (Silom).