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. 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

  • 2. Adhere The 13th Blues Bar

    Banglamphu

    This small, narrow shophouse bar has been hosting top-shelf blues and R&B bands for two decades. ...Read More

  • 3. Bamboo Bar

    Bang Rak

    This legendary watering hole hosts international musicians playing easy-on-the-ears jazz. Expensive-looking animal print–upholstered furniture and dark wood create an upscale yet cozy space for listening...Read More

  • 4. Brick Bar

    Banglamphu

    Behind Buddy Lodge on Khao San itself, Brick Bar is a longtime venue known for nightly live music, often ska or reggae. It can fit...Read More

  • 5. Brown Sugar

    Banglamphu

    A good place to check out live jazz and the occasional blues band, the smoky Brown Sugar has been in business for over three decades....Read More

  • 6. Maggie Choo's

    Bang Rak

    Hidden below street level next to the Novotel Bangkok Silom, Maggie Choo's is a Bangkok institution with nightly live performances of jazz and other smooth...Read More

  • 7. Saxophone Pub

    Victory Monument

    Popular with locals and expats for over 30 years, the spacious Saxophone hosts some of Thailand's best rhythm and blues, jazz, blues, rock, reggae, and...Read More

  • 8. Witch's Tavern

    Thong Lor

    This place serves up live music on Friday and weekends, and good drinks and hearty English fare all week long. With ladies' drinks free from...Read More

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