The city that was once notorious for its raunchy sex trade is now entertaining a burgeoning class of professionals hungry for thumping discos, trendy cocktail lounges, and swanky rooftop bars. There are also stricter rules that limit the sale of alcohol (11 pm from stores). Most bars and clubs close around 2 am, though nighthawks can probably find a place or two open until 5 or 6.

There are a few notable nightlife sections: the area off Sukhumvit Soi 55 (also called Soi Thonglor) is full of bars and nightclubs; Sukhumvit Soi 11 has evolved into a hot-and-heavy bar and club hangout, and trendy and happening new places are springing up around Sathorn Road and the adjoining Suan Phlu.

If you want to take a walk on the wild side, Bangkok still has three thriving red-light districts: Patpong, Nana Plaza, and Soi Cowboy. Patpong, the largest and most touristy, includes three streets that run between Surawong and Silom roads. Nana Plaza, at Sukhumvit Soi 4, is packed with three floors of hostess bars, go-go clubs, and ladyboy clubs. Soi Cowboy, off Sukhumvit Road at Soi 21 (the Asok intersection), is where many expats go, finding it slightly more relaxed and less of a tourist trap than Patpong or Nana.

Even though it may not seem like it, live sex shows are officially banned and prostitution is illegal. The government doesn't always turn a blind eye, so exercise caution and common sense.

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  • 1. Moon Bar

    Sathorn | Bars/Pubs

    The views are staggering at the Banyan Tree Bangkok's 61st-floor alfresco bar. The cocktails cost an equally staggering B550, but for the vistas...Read More

  • 2. Sky Bar

    Bang Rak | Bars/Pubs

    There's nothing else quite like this bar on the 63rd floor of one of Bangkok's tallest buildings. Head toward the pyramidlike structure emitting...Read More

  • 3. Bacchus Wine Bar

    Pathumwan | Bars/Pubs

    You'll find four laid-back floors and a long list of worthy wines here. ...Read More

  • 4. Balcony

    Bang Rak | Bars/Pubs

    Sometimes the party spills out onto the street at this bar that overlooks the crowds along Soi 4. Balcony has a friendly staff and one of the...Read More

  • 5. Diplomat Bar

    Pathumwan | Bars/Pubs

    Come here for smooth music, a sophisticated crowd, and a splendid selection of Scotch and cigars. Cigar makers are sometimes brought in from...Read More

  • 6. Distil

    Bang Rak | Bars/Pubs

    Thai A-listers have made Distil, on the 64th floor of one of Bangkok's tallest buildings, their stomping ground. It's done up in chic black...Read More

  • 7. DJ Station

    Silom | Bars/Pubs

    A young crowd packs this snappy-looking bar to bask in the "fun, lust, and joy" (or so the website says). The B200 cover charge includes a drink. ...Read More

  • 8. Face Bar

    Phra Khanong | Bars/Pubs

    A strong South Asian theme—the bar shares the space with an Indian restaurant called Hazara—makes this a comfortable spot to enjoy a couple...Read More

  • 9. Flann O'Brien's Irish Pub

    Bang Rak | Bars/Pubs

    A convenient location near the gateway to Patpong means that this place is always jumping. If you're a Beatles fan, check out the Betters on...Read More

  • 10. G.O.D.

    Silom | Bars/Pubs

    This place, whose name is short for Guys on Display, is famous for its drag show every night at midnight and its balcony where you can watch...Read More

  • 11. Longtail Bar

    Thonburi | Bars/Pubs

    Though not particularly authentic, this bar distinguishes itself with a tropical feel that is elusive in Bangkok—it will make you crave a mai...Read More

  • 12. Manhattan Bar

    Sukhumvit | Bars/Pubs

    Sexy and stylish, this lounge is adorned with velvet chairs, low tables, and black-and-white photos of New York City. This is the place to enjoy...Read More

  • 13. Met Bar

    Sathorn | Bars/Pubs

    Decked out in red and black, this place is filled with people chilling out on comfortable couches. It used to be the place to go out in Bangkok...Read More

  • 14. Park Society

    Sathorn | Bars/Pubs

    The sophisticated rooftop bar adjoining the same-named restaurant has marvelous skyline views and the finest perspective on vast Lumphini Park...Read More

  • 15. Regis Bar

    Pathumwan | Bars/Pubs

    From this 12th-floor bar that overlooks the Royal Bangkok Sports Club, you can watch the horse races while sipping a Siam Mary, the Bangkok...Read More

  • 16. Roof Top Bar

    Pathumwan | Bars/Pubs

    On the 83rd floor of Thailand's tallest building, this glass-enclosed bar is one of the highest drinking spots in the city. With lounge singers...Read More

  • 17. Royal Oak Pub

    Sukhumvit | Bars/Pubs

    With many different brews on tap and in bottles, this very British pub is a place for serious beer drinkers. Activities to keep you entertained...Read More

  • 18. Saxophone

    Victory Monument | Bars/Pubs

    Popular with locals and expats, Saxophone hosts rhythm and blues, jazz, blues, rock, reggae, and sometimes ska bands. ...Read More

  • 19. SF Strike Bowl

    Pathumwan | Bars/Pubs

    One of the city's hottest nightspots, this futuristic bowling alley, lounge, and bar has a sleek style that rivals most nightclubs. A DJ spins...Read More

  • 20. Syn Bar

    Sukhumvit | Bars/Pubs

    Creative design elements at this bar decorated in cool grays and reds include floating seating. DJs start spinning on most nights at 9 pm for...Read More

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