Bangkok

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. Beam

    Thong Lor

    Beam is home to Asia's first "body kinetic" dance floor, shaking vibrations into dancer's feet during live techno and deep house gigs. The futuristic decor...Read More

  • 2. Havana Social

    Sukhumvit

    The entrance to this secret salsa lair is a fake telephone booth in a dark unsuspecting alley across from the Frasier Suites Sukhumvit. Inside you'll...Read More

  • 3. Moon Bar

    Sathorn

    The views are staggering at the Banyan Tree Bangkok's 61st-floor alfresco bar, and the cost of cocktails is up there, too, but for the vistas...Read More

  • 4. Octave

    Thong Lor

    This downtown rooftop bar atop the Bangkok Marriott Hotel Sukhumvit is known for its 360-degree panoramas and for reasonable drink prices compared to other rooftop...Read More

  • 5. Sky Bar

    Bang Rak

    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 eerie blue...Read More

  • 6. Smalls

    Sathorn

    The New York--born impresario behind the late Q Bar opened this unique establishment in a funky three-story corner building with spiral staircases that feels more...Read More

  • 7. St. Regis Bar

    Pathumwan

    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 version...Read More

  • 8. Teens of Thailand

    Bang Rak

    Hidden behind an old-fashioned Indian-style door in Chinatown, the gin bar Teens of Thailand has helped kick off a renaissance of trendy cocktail bars and...Read More

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