Bangkok nightlife: 9 best new bars
Though fans of Bangkok nightlife have favorite pubs and clubs that have stood the test of time, the city's drinking scene continues to evolve.
Seemingly every month a quality Bangkok bar opens, promising world-class mixologists, top chefs and innovative spaces. All serving to remind us why it's worth braving Bangkok's evening traffic to get out and have a drink.
To help ease the pains of keeping up with the latest and greatest Bangkok bars, here's a look at nine of the top new venues to open in the last year.
This apothecary-themed joint is a relatively recent addition to Sukhumvit Soi 11’s ever-changing scene and it's already opened a second location on the city’s other nightlife thoroughfare, Soi Thong Lor.
The wrought iron railings, glass bottle displays and French doors that open to the street are vaguely reminiscent of New Orleans (at least the NOLA in your mind).
Unlike the other chic clubs, dives and bars on the same street, Apoteka keeps a focus on live music, local DJs and other live acts, notably some pretty good blues from Danny California Blues All Stars.
The drinks list at this Bangkok bar has concoctions with apothecary-esque potency, as well as imported craft beer.
The bar has recently launched a weekend rarity in Bangkok: a Sunday backyard grill event with live music, beer and artisanal hot dogs.
Apoteka, Sukhumvit Soi 11; BTS: Nana station; +66 (0)83 720 5586
More on CNN: World's best nightlife cities
Picture a super-contemporary, all-white art installation inspired by the derelict buildings of Bangkok and you have Badmotel in a nutshell.
Only it really is in a once-derelict, three-story building, now restored and freshly painted, but with many of its original flaws highlighted and preserved.
This Bangkok nightlife space has many zones. There's the front room, with a bar and dining tables, where Thai hipster youth eat high-end versions of Thai food and drink, like vodka infused with Thai herbs and fruits.
The tiled, leafy outdoor space in the back is a gem. An external staircase leads to a modest rooftop with its own small bar, so you don’t have to go back down for top-ups.
The bar has hosted edgy art openings, product launch parties and sets by visiting DJs. On a typical night, local DJs spin funk, electronica and some eclectic stuff.
Bad Motel, Soi Thong Lor between sub-sois 15 and 17; BTS: Thong L
If Ernest Hemingway weren’t perpetually broke during his Paris years, perhaps he’d have spent time at places like Le Derriere.
Located behind the popular Q Bar (you have to walk through it to get in), this lounge feels a lot like 1920s Paris, with a beautiful zinc bar, red velvet furniture, frilly hanging lamps, mirrors and beveled wall panels.
There’s a semi-outdoor space with decaying white walls for smokers (cigars available).
Booze-wise, the main attractions here are the champagne and absinthe -- when we last checked, the bar carried 17 varieties of the latter -- and the small food menu does French things like oysters by the dozen and cheese and cold cuts.
Le Derriere, Behind Q Bar, 34 Sukhumvit Soi 11; BTS: Nana; +66 (0)2 252 3274
The location of this new nightclub is a bit unusual -- a residential neighborhood near Samitivej Hospital.
But thanks to owner and publishing heir Dan Hetrakul’s network and know-how, Grease is seeing a steady flow of well-heeled and savvy young Thais and expats who come for frequent DJ sets -- spinning everything from funk and hip hop to dubsteb and electro.
The multi-level shophouse offers a slightly different vibe on every floor.
The dancing happens on the third level, a low-ceilinged room covered in LED lights. To grab dinner and pre-game beforehand, there's the brightly lit, modular bar on the first floor, called Any Winehouse.
There’s a smaller bar on the rooftop.
Grease, 46/12 Sukhumvit 49 Road; BTS: Thonglor or Promphong; +66 (0)2 662 6120
Levels is a nightclub similar to Sukhumvit Soi 11 mainstays Bed Supperclub and Q Bar.
Peripherally attached to Aloft Hotel, this high-end club is accessible by a separate set of elevators that lead to the sixth floor and an enormous, high-ceilinged room whose centerpiece is a circular, glowing bar with a jazzy LED chandelier overhead.
There are house-heavy DJs every night, with the occasional visiting big deal international act coming in. (For those shows, there's a cover charge.)
If you don’t like to dance, you can get a table at the mezzanine and look down on the crowds.
There’s a smaller club room for a tighter squeeze, as well as an outdoor terrace bar for a more laid-back evening and decent city views.
Levels, 6/F, Aloft Hotel, 35 Sukhumvit Soi 11; BTS: Nana; +66 (0)82 308 3246
It may be located in the basement of a hotel (accessed via a separate, dark entrance), but this speakeasy-esque bar with a Shanghai opium den vibe comes with the solid pedigree of nightlife mogul Ashley Sutton.
At Maggie Choo’s, you get live jazz, leather armchairs, bank vaults and Queen Victoria busts juxtaposed with cocktails, tile work, latticework and heavy wooden doors. Beautiful women clad in cheongsams hang from swings and drape themselves across the bar.
Allegedly, there are secret passageways, too.
If you’re hungry, you can sit on stools at a round wooden table in a restaurant attached to the bar and gorge on decent Chinese egg noodles with duck. Maggie Choo's itself serves a selection of hors-d'oeuvres.
Maggie Choo's, Hotel Novotel Bangkok Fenix Silom, 320 Silom Road; +66 (0)2 635 6055
From the people who do Bangkok’s beloved Sonic and Cosmic Café, Moose is the latest stronghold of the local hipster scene.
The tastefully ramshackle space is tucked away at the end of Soi Ekamai, not far from another local favorite, Tuba, The decor is a mix of industrial touches, lots of wooden furniture and lovely hanging plants.
And yes, there’s a moosehead -- well, skull -- mounted over an exposed brick wall.
It’s not a dancey type of place, but there are regular live bands and DJ sets pretty much every night of the week. The daily happy hour, and a full-on Thai drinking food menu of spicy salads and shellfish omelets, mean that you can make a night of it.
Moose, 24 Ekamai Soi 21; BTS: Ekamai; +66 (0)2 108 9550
Opposite Mess Hall
While not officially open until May 25, Opposite Mess Hall (OMH) is one of the most talked-about and anticipated new venues in a long while, thanks to the cred lent by its previous iteration, Opposite, and the people behind it.
Though the pair is transitioning from Opposite to OMH, they've promised to keep the poetry, storytelling, art and music events that have made the former space so renowned -- except with a steady drinks list and a rustic but exciting bar menu courtesy of the beloved chef.
Neither menu is finalized for the moment, but at a recent event, Barnes served steamed rice buns with pulled pork, homemade pickled vegetables and crostini topped with tuna tartar.
Oh, and we’re told that the kitchen will stay open till past midnight.
Opposite Mess Hall, 27/1 Sukhumvit Soi 51; BTS: Thonglor; +66 (0)2 662 6330
More on CNN: The rise of Bangkok's indie dining scene
Sonic is owned by the same people who do Moose and live music hot spot Cosmic Café.
With a giant white statue of a mustachioed hipster out front, Sonic positions itself as a dancing venue.
They've already hosted a number of local party series, such as the well attended Paradise Bangkok gigs and collectives like Trasher and Dudesweet.
Sonic has also hosted acts such as Skrillex and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. That doesn’t leave much room for a regular night, but on that rare occasion, you can buy an unpretentious drink and grab a table at the outdoor space, where resident DJs spins indie rock.
Frequent local bands perform, both on the main stage and in small party rooms.
Sonic, 90 Ekamai 63, between subsois 8 and 10; +66 (0)2 382 3397