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Where to party: The complete guide to Bangkok nightlife
Because there's so much more to the city's after-dark action than sleaze and bad karaoke
Anyone who thinks Bangkok nightlife is all about sleaze and bad karaoke either hasn't bothered to look beyond the clichés or actually seeks out such places.
In reality, this is one of the most diverse and happening cities in Asia when the sun goes down.
Whether you want to see and be seen, chill with friends to retro beats, catch a kicking live band or hit the dance floor crumping, Bangkok's bars, pubs and clubs are a colorful tribute to relentless revelry.
When it comes to choosing the right style and atmosphere for your evening, the range of designs and diversions on offer is as eclectic as the clientele that frequents them.
Where the pretty people play
The Bed Supperclub mini-complex consists of a restaurant-cum-lounge and an adjoining nightclub with a cover charge of 600-800 baht inclusive of two drinks.
The venue has themed music and dinner nights, and regularly hosts touring acts, with 2011 seeing performances ranging from indie group Klaxons to drum 'n' bass celeb Goldie and even pop icon Boy George.
Also down Sukhumvit Soi 11 just steps away is the 12-year mainstay Q Bar. Its skilled DJs and diverse spirit selection have attracted high-profile globetrotters including the likes of Mick Jagger and Colin Farrell.
Being undoubtedly "Concierge Select", both Q and Bed attract their fair share of tourist traffic.
Proof that the beautiful do eat, Roof by Muse on Thonglor (BTS: Thonglor) offers clubbers a chance to fill up before they hit the dance floor at the club below.
Over on Soi Ruamrudee on the ground floor of Athenee Residence (BTS: Ploenchit), Hyde & Seek styles itself as a "gastro bar," popular with the young professional crowd seeking ferocious drinks concocted by expert mixologists paired with beautifully presented munchies prepared by big name chefs.
Bed Supperclub: www.bedsupperclub.com, +66 (0) 2651 3537
Q Bar: www.qbarbangkok.com, +66 (0) 2252 327
Roof by Muse: www.musebkk.com, +66 (0)8 9988 5995
Hyde & Seek: www.hydeandseek.com, +66 (0) 2168 5152
Where to jump around
The numerous clubs and pubs that line Royal City Avenue (taxi drivers all know it as RCA) provide a congregation point for youngsters looking to expend their pent-up energy.
Akin to the historic American highway, multi-winged Route 66 is the mother of all clubs here, where the ghetto riche and the urban fab descend in throngs to boogie to a variety of music.
Similarly, different rooms at Flix offer a range of hip-hop, house and trance, as well as live bands belting out crowd favorites.
The new(er) kid on the block, LED nightclub, takes up the spot on RCA which used to be occupied by 808.
Backed by the team behind the annual EditionBangkok electronic festivals -- LED, which for now only opens on Friday and Saturday, is likely to follow in its predecessor's footsteps in attracting name-drop worthy DJs.
In addition to Bed Supperclub and Q Bar, another popular Sukhumvit nightclub is Narz. In the back sois behind Sukhumvit soi 23, it throws a wide musical net, albeit with a slightly most sophisticated clientele than RCA.
Eight bars are spread over the four floors at the Narz complex, with massive speakers thumping out hip-hop, house and trance.
Elsewhere in the city, Tapas on Silom Soi 4 (BTS: Saladaeng) features a resident DJ with live percussion, while the international crowd throws its conservative caution to the wind at Mixx Discotheque in the basement of the InterContinental.
Brick Bar on Khao San Road sees an enthusiastic crowd moshing to the most infectious live ska and reggae music in town, while Club Culture, on nearby Ratchadamnoen Road, is also a happening place -- particularly on event nights.
Route 66: www.route66club.com, +66 (0) 2203 0936
Flix: www.facebook.com/flixrca, +66 (0)8 7038 0386
LED: www.facebook.com/LEDclub, +66 (0)8 6860 0808
Narz: www.narzclubbangkok.net, +66 (0) 2258 4805
Demo: www.facebook.com/demobangkok, +66 (0)8 2502 0000
Funky Villa: www.facebook.com/pages/funky-villa, +66 (0) 2711 6970
Tapas: www.tapasroom.net, +66 (0) 2234 4737
Mixx Discotheque: www.mixx-discotheque.com, +66 (0) 2656 0382
Brick Bar: www.brickbarkhaosan.com, +66 (0) 2629 4477
Club Culture: www.club-culture-bkk.com, +66 (0)8 9497 8422
Where to grab a beer
The moot alcohol sales-ban between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. and after midnight may have beer drinkers twitching in withdrawal, but fortunately there are plenty of places in Bangkok to enjoy an icy glass of the amber nectar.
It's flagship outlet is in Thonglor -- you can't miss it, it's the one that always fills up first in Penny's Balcony arcade, every single day of the week -- and claims the biggest selection of Belgian beers in town, all served in their special glasses.
Deciding 22 types of Belgian beer are insufficient to sate thirsty Bangkokians, the team behind HOBS went one up on itself and opened Brew earlier this year in SeenSpace Thonglor 13. With over 140 types of bottled beer and cider, overwhelmed boozers can consult the ale-ducational wall chart to choose the best for them.
While Brew's industrial interiors may mimic a brewery, Est.33 by Singha is an actual working micro-brewery. The two shops at The Nine and Crystal Design Center (CDC) are similar in their beer garden atmosphere, complete with Thai style pub grub crowded around towers of golden suds holding court on tables.
Also at the CDC is Beerology, which has more than 50 varieties of beer, from standard imported brands like Guinness and Stella Artois to less common offerings like Leffe Brown from Belgium, Victoria Bitter from Australia and Franziskaner Hefe-Weisse Dunkel from Germany.
If you happen to be on Ratchada Road around beer o'clock, Beer Mansion, located within the haunted house-themed Mansion 7 mall is worth dropping by, with the usual suspects of Leffe, Erdinger and Guinness on tap.
The Londoner: www.the-londoner.com, +66 (0) 2261 0238
Durty Nelly's: www.durtynellysasia.com, +66 (0) 2714 2692
The Dubliner: www.thedublinerbangkok.com, +66 (0) 2204 1841
HOBS: +66 (0) 2392 3513 (Thonglor), +66 (0) 2617 1600 (Ari)
Brew: www.facebook.com/brewbkk, +66 (0) 2185 2366
Est.33 by Singha: www.facebook.com/EST.33By.SINGHA, +66 (0) 2102 2096 (CDC), +66 (0) 2716 7933 (The Nine)
Beer Mansion: www.facebook.com/BeerMansion, +66 (0)8 4022 7222
Where to chill
If knocking back pints like there's no tomorrow is not your style, there are plenty of top spots for a night hanging out with friends and perhaps even a bit of furniture shopping.
Tuba, on the corner of Ekamai Soi 21 (BTS: Ekamai), is a retro furniture store by day and a restaurant/bar by night, with a dimly lit living room ambiance, pool table, and comfy sofa seats forming cozy corners.
A similar venue, also with buyable furnishings, is Shades of Retro, a nondescript townhouse down the quiet Soi Thararom 2 with vintage t-shirts, vinyls and sunnies with price tags. Although they don't serve food here and the drink selection is humble, popcorn is on the house, the indie music is kept at a low enough decibel to hold a conversation, and it's unpretentiously mod.
Acronymic jokes aside, WTF on Sukhumvit Soi 51 (BTS: Thonglor) lives up to its multi faceted concept of food-drink-art-friendship, attracting the city's intellectual creative types.
There are mini expos on rotation in the upstairs gallery space covering a wide range of the arts, and WTF regularly hosts DJs and bands to expand one's musical horizon. WTF's chocolate tart with olive oil and sea salt alone warrants a visit.
Taking its cue from the band from which the bar borrows its name, Happy Mondays on Ekkamai is a great place to have a beer and listen to indie gold such as The Cure, The Smiths and some of those unforgettable 1970s and 1980s bop-alongs.
Over in Thonglor, much like the David Lynch cult film, the decor of Blue Velvet is the noir departure from the contemporary norm of its nightlife counterparts -- think medieval drawbridge, dungeon-low ceilings, wrought iron doors, uneven concrete and exposed brick walls.
The roomy two-story stand-alone castle can seem spookily sparse during weekdays and early nights, but gets packed on weekends when the bar features guest DJs.
The masterminds behind Hyde & Seek have also set up the pirate-themed bar and café Viva & Aviv, with a coveted riverside location and a drinks menu that leans heavy on rum, with cleverly named signature cocktails including "Cuban Smuggler" and "Young Guns & Old Grenades."
Tuba: www.design-athome.com, +66 (0) 2711 5500
Shades of Retro: +66 (0)8 1824 8011
WTF: www.wtfbangkok.com, +66 (0) 2662 6246
Happy Mondays: www.facebook.com, +66 (0) 2714 3935
Blue Velvet: www.facebook.com/pages/Blue-Velvet, +66 (0) 2392 1769.
Viva & Aviv: www.vivaaviv.com, +66 (0) 2639 6305
Where to sip wine
Originally a purveyor of wine at wholesale prices, Wine Connection has since expanded into by-the-glass territory, and also offers a healthy selection of cold cuts and cheeses.
With a convenient location at K-Village, up-tempo music that gives it a nightlife vibe, a good selection of reasonably priced wine and delicious bistro fare that come in generous serving sizes, Wine Connection is packed practically every night.
Further afield from downtown, the team behind Route 66 and Gulliver's Tavern opened up Wine I Love You at the Crystal Design Center in December last year.
Wine Connection: www.wineconnection.co.th, +66 (0) 2661 3942 (K-Village), +66 (0) 2907 1806 (Nawamin)
Club 99: www.facebook.com/Club99.Thenine, +66 (0) 2716 7801
Wine Bistro: www.facebook.com/WineBistro, +66 (0) 2716 7906
Wine I Love You: www.wineiloveyou.com, +66 (0)8 9141 7000
Enotica: www.enotecabangkok.com, +66 (0)2 258 4386
L'Opera: www.lopera-bangkok.com, +66 (0)2 258 5606
Opus: www.wbopus.com, +66 (0)2 637 9896
More on CNNGo: Wine bars of Bangkok
Where to hear live music
Much has been written about Thonglor's Iron Fairies, with its underground industrial mining decor, fairy figurine workshop facilities, juicy burgers, and overall quirky uniqueness, but their final jewel in the crown is the live music every night.
By 9 p.m., band members find corners in this narrow two-storied townhouse to place their instruments -- mainly jazz but with Sunday nights appropriately reserved for the blues.
Al Majlis on Ekkamai positions itself as a "Moroccan inspired tearoom", but also serves wine and a mix of Mediterranean, Moroccan, and Italian cuisine.
Every night from 10 p.m. onwards, acoustic music serenades patrons lounging al fresco under white tents on the edge of the manicured lawn, making the date-worthy venue reminiscent of a debonair garden wine bar, intimately lit with a smattering of oil lanterns.
For live music that incites more movement of the head, the bands at Cosmic Café on RCA provide a reprieve from the hip hop and electronic beats elsewhere on the thoroughfare.
Despite its location under most tourists' radar on Kaset-Navamin Road, the nightly bands at Parking Toys play anything from ska to rock and pop, making it well worth the schlep over to see them in action.
The much-loved Brown Sugar has moved from Sarasin Road, where its been jazzing it up since 1985, to Prasumen Road; plans are to reopen by New Year's Eve.
Within the same vicinity on Phra Athit Road is Jazz Happens!, a collaboration with Silapakorn University's Faculty of Jazz, with up and coming musicians out to show the more established artistes that age ain't nothing but a number.
Near Victory Monument, Saxophone remains one of the obvious choices in Bangkok for a night of jazz and blues, as does Adhere 13th Blues Bar on Samsen Road, the latter with a down and dirty vibe and some of the best Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf covers you'll get in the city bouncing off the narrow walls.
After a dreaded hiatus, Tokyo Joe's on Sukhumvit Soi 26 is back in business to the delight of blues aficionados citywide, with live music playing Thursdays to Saturdays, and open jams on Sunday nights if you think you can keep up with the pros.
Though not a live music venue per se, nor a classy nightlife joint at that, popular local haunt Wong's off Rama 4 Road plays live music (videos) and is worth a mention for its non-establishment feel.
Iron Fairies: www.theironfairies.com, +66 (0) 2714 8875
Al Majlis: www.al-majlis.com, +66 (0) 2392 2345
Cosmic Café: www.facebook.com/cosmiccafe.bkk, +66 (0)8 1304 6907
Parking Toys: www.facebook.com, +66 29072228
Brown Sugar: www.brownsugarbangkok.com, +66 (0)8 1805 7759
Jazz Happens!: www.facebook.com/JazzHappens, +66 (0) 2282 9934
Saxophone: www.saxophonepub.com, +66 (0) 2246 5472
Adhere 13th Blues Bar: www.facebook.com, +66 (0)8 9769 4613
Tokyo Joe's: www.myspace.com/tokyojoesbangkok, 25/9 Sukhumvit Soi 26; 2-300 meters down on the left when coming from the main Sukhumvit Rd
Wong's: 27/3 Soi Sribamphen, Rama 4 Road, +66 (0)8 1901 0235