The best of Bangkok kitsch

The best of Bangkok kitsch

Giant phalluses, transsexual cabarets and pink bulldogs. We explore them all
Calypso Cabaret's campy show "girls" are spectacularly over the top.

From tacky furniture to flamboyant fashions, Bangkok is a kitsch lover's paradise. And while there’s no shortage of fascinatingly offbeat attractions throughout city, these five rise above the pack in terms of sheer tack value.


Pink bulldogs "guarding" the gardens, sushi set among the starlight twinkle of a thousand fairy lights, bright recycled plastic trash decor and bedrooms more likely to induce hallucinogenic panic-attacks than a good night’s sleep -- welcome to Reflections, where camp comes to procreate and party.

ReflectionsThe designer of Reflections hotel room "My Boo S*!t", calls the room "an exercise in bad taste". We have to agree.

In true diva fashion this notoriously kitsch hotel, bar/restaurant, shop and all-round style magazine favorite in Bangkok’s Ari neighborhood is forever reinventing itself.

The “rooms” were recently relocated to create more space for their extra-loud personalities. Each is designed by a guest artist. Particularly enjoyable is the recycled color-clash of Room 212, titled “My Boo S*!t -- an exercise in bad taste”.

224/2-18 Pradipat Road, Samsennai, BTS: Ari, tel +66 (0)2 270 3344

Calypso Cabaret

“The curtains are red, the legs are long -- and yes there are feathers on top,” so goes the fantastically restrained intro to the rather magnificent Calypso Cabaret. And here ends any hint of restraint.

The costumes are exquisite, the choreography is spectacular, the miming is powerfully impassioned, the show “girls” are charismatic and when they sing “I am who I am” you will weep.

Carmen Miranda, Marilyn, Michael Jackson, Tina Turner, Kylie, Josephine Baker, Shirley Bassey, a geisha show, a gypsy show, a Chinese ballad, an ostrich parade … the list goes on and on. You even get to meet the stars of the show afterwards.

Asia Hotel, 296 Phayatai Road BTS: Ratchatewi, tel +66 (0)2 653 3960

The Singing Chef at Jatujak Market

Like anything tucked away in the JJ Weekend Market this place might take some effort to find, but at least you’ll hear it before you get there. Almost smack-bang opposite the Kamphaeng Phet MRT station (between section 24 and 25) is a small, nameless street style eatery where the chef sings country classics for you as he prepares your favorite Issarn dish.

Bit of “Green, green, grass of home” with your som tam and fried chicken? No problem. Populated by mostly young and fashionable folk, the host is the super-chic, larger than life Rachel, whilst your singing chef sports a natty combo of shades and white gloves. Oh and the food’s pretty hot too.

Phra Mae Tubtim Shrine

Not to be disrespectful, but you’d have to be impressively mature or spiritually developed to stifle a handful of giggles while in a garden full of humongous phalluses.

Bangkok kitschOnly the supremely mature won't feel the urge to giggle when they visit this garden full of humongous phalluses at Nai Lert Park.

Those of a more spiritual bent head here to dangle floral garlands off the garden's massive members in return for a successful procreation session. But since most of us are still pre-teens at heart, we just see it as a fantastic photo opportunity and hilarious place to hang out.

Nailert Park Hotel, 2 Wireless Road, BTS: Phloenchit/Chidlom, tel +66 (0)2 253 0123

Club Whatever!

Meet Gene Kasidit -- he is your host for all things camp and beautiful in Bangkok this evening, so expect to whoop it right up.

The former lead singer of one of Bangkok’s kitschier beat combos, Futon -- RIP -- Gene now flies solo while upholding a ridiculously glamorous lifestyle on the social circuit and running his own cult cabaret: Club Whatever! Unashamedly pop and effortlessly fabulous, expect Madonna on a loop, oodles of camp “air-kissing” and clothing that out-sparkles the disco ball.

Usually at Club Culture, Sri Ayutthaya Road, BTS: Phya Thai, tel +66 (0)2 653 7216