This month Midnite Hour revisits W District and the Pridi Phanomyong Sois at the top of Sukhumvit Soi 71 (our last visit was in January 2019). Our most urgent concern was - is there 'Life after Covid?'Yes, but not as we could have imagined...
While we noted a slow-but-steady revival of the expat Venues within the W District itself (to include a number of the pre-covid Nitespots), we were surprised at the development in Soi Pridi Phanomyong 3. Since our earlier survey, just over 3 years ago, Pridi 3 has become a Japanese Night Entertainment Area in its own right. We also found a couple of new Japanese Venues on Soi Pridi Phanomyong 1 (see map below).
The lion's share of Nitelife, however, remains in W District, specifically the bars and restaurants clustered around the open-air seating area. Demographically speaking, it's status quo ante, with an equal number of local Thais and Englishmen (who have migrated to the Soi 71 - Onnut area in search of cheaper apartments). We note also that there are a number of unoccupied buildings in the other sois adjacent to W District - and it is not outside the realm of possibility that, all parts combined, these sois - along with the W District could evolve into a primary expat Night Entertainment Area in the near future. A big "Wait And See"...
We have included herein and below a 'pictorial' of 'Night Entertainment Venues to be found in the area. Each can be keyed to the above map for a precise location.
An Important Government Announcement on Covid-19
Bangkok, 01 October 2022
Or... "New Normal same as the Old Normal"
Reprinted from Government Guidelines effective 1 October 2022.
"Bangkok, 23 September, 2022 –
Thailand’s Centre of COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) announced the ending of the nationwide COVID-19 Emergency Decree on 30 September, 2022, as the kingdom reclassifies COVID-19 from ‘a dangerous communicable disease’ to ‘a communicable disease under surveillance’ from 1 October, 2022.
The CCSA also stated that from 1 October, 2022, international travellers to Thailand will no longer be required to show proof of vaccination or ATK test results.
The ending of the COVID-19 Emergency Decree, which has been in place for 19 times since 25 March, 2020, will result to the CCSA be automatically dissolved, and all the regulations, announcements, and orders issued by the Prime Minister and the Cabinet under the decree be revoked.
Since the Pandemic, Thailand has gradually reopened to international tourism starting in July 2021 with the Phuket Sandbox, Samui Plus, and 7+7 Extension programmes. This was followed by a four-phase reopening timeline from October 2021 to January 2022.
The Kingdom entered the stage of fully reopening from 1 July, 2022, with the removal of the Thailand Pass registration scheme, and foreign nationals only be required to show proof of vaccination or a negative ATK test result within 72 hours of travel, this will be lifted from 1 October, 2022, onwards.
In addition, the cabinet approved extending the period of stay to 45 days (from 30 days) for tourists from countries/territories entitled for visa exemption, and to 30 days (from 15 days) for those eligible for a Visa on Arrival (VOA). This will be in effect from 1 October, 2022, until 31 March, 2023. "
Due to the above changes, this will be our FINAL UPDATE on Covid-19 as it affects the Bangkok, and Thailand Night Entertainment Scene. However, Bangkok Eyes notes that the Government can change travel and/orhealth /safety and/or Night Entertainment policy from time to time, so prospective travellers should continue to update on a regular basis, both with the Tourist Organization of Thailand (TOT), and your local Thai Consulate. Links immediately below.
A PARTING SUGGESTION (OR 2).: 1. Although the wearing of masks is not required in virtually all situations, we currently carry a 'courtesy mask' when out and about in the event a consensus might require the temporary wearing of one. (For example, it is still recommended that a mask be worn on the BTS Skytrain.)
2. Whenever travelling abroad, carry proof of vaccination even though your home base and destination do not require such proof at the time of your departure - just in case...
READER : Sir,
Do enjoy your historical flashbacks from a Bangkok not all of us experienced. For us new guys, the last 10-15 years is what we can relate to.
Seriously, living in the epicenter of transformation, how do you view the future of this industry. How about an article outlining different scenarios?
First, thanks your comment on our historical flashbacks (most recently our column). We are surprised at the amount of positive feedback we are receiving on these visits to Bangkok's early years. Should we survive long enough, we will thread together a history from the "Ground Zero" at the end of WWII, when there was no existing Nitelife. We will examine those Night Entertainment Areas that have risen and either survived, or have faded away - as well as the landmark Nitespots that once existed - and those currently in existence. But, like yourself, most readers are interested in Nitespots they remember from their earlier visits, or the current reportage of active Nitespots.
Our view into the 'crystal ball' on the future of Bangkok's Night Entertainment Scene is based on trends over the last 30 years, and current events concerning Bangkok's Nitelife. And while we remain cognizant of the adage, "It behooves a Prophet not to be too specific," here we go...
Our first, and most obvious observation is on bar beer Night Entertainment Areas that are built on property in high-value areas. We have often referred to these Nitespot Areas as 'Opportunistic'. The land they stand on is way too valuable for anything except a major development. They are in danger of disappearing on short notice. The current Bangkok Nitespot Area that fits into this category:
- Soi 7 Plaza
Most likely to disappear in the near future. Opportunistic Bar Areas are at the mercy of the landowners, not the primary lessees. Landowners have used legitimate and illigitimate means to rush close-downs of Opportunistic Night Entertainment Areas in the past. Soi 7 Plaza could disappear anywhere from 6 months to 2 years from now. Previous examples of Opportunistic Night Entertainment Areas that have disappeared - often suddenly, and on occasion, quite acrimoniously :
- Soi Zero,
- Clinton Plaza,
- Asoke Plaza/Corner,
- Easy Square on Soi 22,
- Queen's Park Plaza on Soi 22,
- Sukhumvit Square,
- 13 Night Market,
- Washington Square,
- Sukhumvit 1 Plaza.
Permanent - (Long-Term)
- Soi Cowboy
- Nana Plaza Soi Cowboy and Nana Plaza are likely to be on the Bangkok Scene for the long haul. They are in definable, contiguous areas, not in danger of scrutiny from do-gooders like Khun Purachai in the past. These areas have not been in 'redevelopment' discussions in recent times - and now showing massive resiliency in the post-Covid period.
- Soi Ambassador (Soi 11 Sukhumvit) Soi Ambassador is the fastest growing Expat Night Entertainment Area in Bangkok - taking advantage of the newly popular "Clubbing"climate. It is anticipated that further growth will be observed once the redevelopment on the West side of the Soi is completed.
- Soi 8 Sukhumvit Soi 8, while not currently a Night Entertainment Area of "critical mass", with a few more lounge bars, pubs or clubs, it would become a 'destination' rather than a 'dinner and drinks' soi. Soi 8 has been slowly growing, barely slowing down during the Covid era - we anticipate it has a long future ahead of it.
- Soi Dead Artists - (Soi 33 Sukhumvit)
- Soi 22 Sukhumvit
These two Sois, while hanging by a thread to the true definition of a "Night Entertainment Area", will be around for the long haul. Neither boasts a 'contiguous' centralized entertainent center, both do most of their Nightlife entertaining on the side-sois. They are likely to see minimal growth now that Covid has subsided, but for the most part, they will remain stagnant - bars continuously opening and closing down for the long term.
- Soi Nana - (Soi 4 Sukhumvit)
As with Soi 22 and Soi 33, Soi Nana does not have a single centralized entertainent center (other than the few bars around Nana Plaza / Nana Hotel). The cluster of bars and massage parlors that once existed in the Rajah Hotel (now Maison Hotel) have not come back after the renovations, leaving only Hillary and Angels. Soi Nana, likewise is also likely to see only minimal growth now that Covid has subsided, and for the most part, will remain stagnant - bars continually opening and closing down for the long-term...
Indefinite Duration - (Short - Medium Term)
- Patpong 1
- Patpong 2
- Soi Katoey - (Soi 4 Silom)
These three Night Entertainment Areas have two things in common - they rest on private (family owned) land (for the most part), and the structures are very old. As early as the late 1970's, and every few years since then, there has been talk of redevelopment into commercial structures. And it is only a matter of time before those old structures come down. Some have estimated a remaining lifespan of 5 years. This is a fair, reasoned estimate.
Patpong 1 had long been spiralling downward, the full extent of its collapse was exposed in a most visual manner when the Pandemic hit and the Street Market disappeared. Patpong 1 has been tediously slow in coming back after Covid. During the Pandemic, several of the substantial Nitespots have disappeared and not reopened : Madrid, SuperStar, Lips, Safari. The few bars that have opened since Covid appear as bright lights on an otherwise darkened Soi. Patpong 1 is a long way from returning to a "critical mass", its custom remains the scant overflow from Patpong 2. For Patpong 1 to be 'reborn' it will require a substantial rescue package of big money and people willing to gamble on opening new Venues.
Patpong 2 appears to be holding its own in the post-Covid era, with new and reopening Nitespots. Both the straight bars (Silom side) and the gay half (Surawong side) seem to be doing moderate business during this rainy season. The Patpong Museum provides an 'anchor' of sorts, giving the Soi a much needed aura of permanence.
Soi Katoey (often mistakenly called Patpong 3 in earlier times) is owned by a different family. As recently as 2 1/2 years ago a major Thailand brewery made an offer to buy the land for redevelopment (similar to what went down at Soi Twilight on Surawong Road). So far, nothing has come of it - a wait-and-see item.
- Soi Eden - (Sukhumvit Soi 7/1)
Although Soi Eden has rebounded somewhat from the Pandemic, it is still not up to full speed, and there is no 'motive force' to bring it up to par with Soi 11 just around the corner. This is another bar area existing in now-very-old structures facing Lower Sukhumvit Road where property prices are sky-high. It is next to a very large new commercial redevelopment project on the corner of Soi 7, which some are saying is "the handwriting on the wall". It is most likely this Night Entertainment Area will be gone in another 5 years.
Future Bar Areas
Wherever major redevelopment occurs, only two things are certain - you will find graffiti and at least a few bar beer shacks. Should the space be sufficient, and the redevelopment project has been stalled for whatever reason, we are likely to find an 'Opportunistic' Night Entertainment Areas pop up.
As far as permanent Night Entertainment Areas opening up in the future, there is virtually no chance of this happening. Finding a location suitable for Nightlife that won't disturb either the adjacent residents (or the authorities) in a location not too-out-of-the-way (where zoning permits entertainment licenses), while finding investors with the kind of cash required in today's market, would be next to impossible. The one spot, already in existence (that currently has mostly outdoor restaurants and bar beers in limited quantities), which could evolve into a permanent Night Entertainment Area is W District at the top of Sukhumvit Soi 71 - worth keeping an eye out...
All our 'predictions' are made conversationally, none are based on prior information obtained from owners, land developers or government sources, or from rumors from third parties. "Predictions" are not to be taken any more seriously than a Sunday evening quiz at a local pub ...
Patpong 1 Road continues it's slow recovery. As we have stated earlier - if it is the intention to once again make it a major Night Entertainment Area it will take a large amount of investment to turn Patpong 1 Road around, likely by more than one future bar owner. Too many of the grand, old bars have gone for good, and without a 'critical mass' of attractive bars, Patpong 1 will continue to muddle through with the spin-off from Patpong 2 - until 'The Family' eventually decides to redevelop...
The only bit of new Nitespot activity this last month came by way of a converted van. The travelling bar has named itself Midnight High Time. In this case the 'high' isn't referring to cannabis...
Venues open September 2022 through 1 October 2022 :
*King's Castle 1 - REMAINS OPEN
*King's Castle - REMAINS OPEN
*Emperor Club - REMAINS OPEN - 5th level above Shenanigans.
*Morimoto - NEW - 3rd level above Shenanigans.
*Tip Top - - REMAINS OPEN - as a Pool Bar.
*Wong Barber - REMAINS OPEN
*Derby King - REMAINS OPEN
*Shenanigans - REMAINS OPEN - (On Suriwong Road)
*Unnamed massage parlor - REMAINS OPEN - Upstairs above Thigh Bar.
The Black Pagoda Group (participating Nitespots listed therein) have published an interesting itinerary of events for September. (Our survey was a little early to get the new poster of upcoming October events.) Let the good times roll...
The Dream Boy Bangkok has moved over one slot and now occupies the 2nd level digs formerly occupied by Dream Boy Paradisio. The original Dream Boy Bangkok is now just Dream Boy.
Venues in transition September 2022 through 1 October 2022 - not inclusive of the above :
*Top Less Pool Bar (old Thai Room) and the Tavern Two (Tony & Tooey) - both RENOVATING - Soon to be renamed...
The Covid-closedShark is back in the swim of it. They were quite busy inside - modus operandi status quo ante. Once the rains stop they can repair their iconic Shark neon... In the meantime, let it rock...
Now that the renovations have been completed, (...dare we say it...??)... it's Deja Vu all over again! OK we apologize, it won't happen again... And, yes, 'coyote' is still the name of the game. While you're there, take note of the new dynamic neon...
Don't be holding your breath awaiting the reopening of what was, pre-Covid, the Sahara - Kiss. The premises have been stripped-out as though readying for renovations, but hidden deep in the shadows was this For Lease or Rent sign.
The brand-new Omen has opened in what was (many months ago) the Lan Massage. Located at the deep end of Soi Titanium. Welcome to partytown.
The Ola Ola has replaced the SNCTM Men's Society. As the doors weren't open when we passed by, we don't really know what kind of Venue it is. For that matter, we didn't know what kind of Venue the SNCTM Men's Society was, either. Ahh... the Mysteries of the Orient.... Also located at the back of Soi Titanium.
Biya Salon Massage has replaced the long standing Fah Massage. Rub-a-Dub-Dub. In the photo below, the sign for Rada Warin Massage also can be seen - whose name my typewriter misspelled last month... Ahennnh....
The two-month-old Sup Naree located in Honey Plaza has apparently folded it's hand. Any changes next round, and we'll do the update...
Venues in transition September through 1 October 2022 - not inclusive of the above.
*Yu-Ka - Re-REOPENED
* The bar that was Singha Bar - remains OPEN - (without a sign...)
* The Bistro half of Otto Bar & Bistro - has REOPENED - Now fully open.
Candy Club x Bobo has opened newly in the old Cali-Mex Bar & Grill Soi 11 (plus a couple of other adjacent units). Currently a 'soft opening', with more to come. It will be interesting to see how much is 'Club', and how much is just signage. It will also be interesting to see what, or who, Bobo is... Welcome to the machine...
(Sukhumvit Soi 11)
Venues that transitioned from September through 1 October 2022. -Not inclusive of the above.
*Apoteka - is furiously RENOVATING - Hopefully to open under same name and format...
* "Tewly Cocktail' group of bar beers opposite the Ambassador Hotel has SHRUNK from 6 to 5Venues again.
As Soi 7 Plaza continues to jockey bars around and slowly adapt to their much-reduced area, we note that the number of Venues is continuing, also slowly, to climb. We have updated our map again, as it is infinitely easier to show graphically what is happening, rather than trying to explain it in words. What we are having trouble understanding is they have made the entire Southwest corner into a parking lot (!?) Surely the owners will not be able to generate even a fraction of the money they did from the bar beers... We hope to do a full 'pictorial of Soi 7 Plaza, once the dust settles...
A photo for the Archives of the Happy Party Bar.
SOI 7 PLAZA
SOI 7 PLAZA
Venues that transitioned from September through 1 October 2022. -Not inclusive of the above-mentioned. In the We Don't Make Mistrakes Dept., last month we noted the opening of the Happy Party Bar by calling it Happy Place Bar, and as if that weren't unforgivable enough, we forgot to mention the newly opened Pookie Bar, and then 'mis-locating' the Nordic Bar.. This month's map attempts to correct all of this, as well as add the new bars..
*Long Shots - REOPEN
*Flamingo - NEWLY NAMED - open last month, without signage.
*Stronger - NEWLY NAMED - open last month, without signage.
Cat Bar Sukhumvit has finally, formally, taken over from the old Good Time Massage. (Yes, we're pixelating the guilty in accordance with the new local directives...) Welcome Cat Bar as they step into the line of fire...
Our long-term goal is to create an historical record, an holistic view, of Bangkok'sNight Entertainment Scene. We have arbitrarily chosen "Ground Zero" as the end of WWII, when there were no active entertainment venues (remaining or new). '' serially (or catch-as-catch-can) endeavors to span Bangkok'sNight Scene from 'Ground Zero" through the years up to the present, and on into the future. Over time, we will capture and archive the 'rise and demise' of Night Entertainment Areas and Venues in a comprehensive, cohesive manner.
The then-newly opened Miamimassage was quick to advertise... perhaps a little too quickly... Did they really have the 'biggest masseuses'? (If only we could travel back in time..) They were located on New Petchburi Road which soon would be labelled "The Golden Mile" by Bernard Trink. This Miami not to be confused with the Miami Hotel on Sukhumvit Road or the Miami Nightclub in the New Road Night Entertainment Area, both coming onto the Night Entertainment Scene in that era.
Many 'old-timers' will remember Les Paul as one half of the duo 'Les Paul & Mary Ford' who had a string of hit popular records in the 1950's. However, professional musicians will remember him for much more : a double-music hall of famer, he pioneered (created) the solid-body electric guitar, and was first to use multiple-track overlays in the music industry.
Both Mario Maya and Carmen Mora were flamenco dancing sensations in their own right. They were eventually married and toured internationally. Between them, they contributed star performances in more than seven films. Although there is no such term as 'Spanish Ballet' there is Flamenco Ballet and even Flamenco Opera (Opera Y Flamenco).
The brand-new Bar Mi Ka Do on New Road appeared to be inappropriately skimming-off customers from the super-popularSani Chateau (Gaysorn Night Entertainment Area). However, as reported in the fledglingNite Owl column, the Sani Chateau recently had been almost completely destroyed by fire.
Narcing Aguilar continued with his long-running gig at the Keynote with his backup group The Naturals. Patpong 1 Road.
The C'est Si Bon, as with virtually all BangkokNight Enttertainment Venues, advertised heavily during the Christmas / New Year season.
The We-Don't-Make-Mistrakes Dept. Last issue we noted the then-new C'est Si Bon was located on Patpong 1 Road, however it was located around the corner from Patpong on Silom Road.
Helena'sRestaurant & Cocktail Lounge was yet another popular 'off-broadway" (near Patpong) Nitespot, this time on Surawong Road. Having a Filipino entertainer was almost mandatory in the early-to-mid '60's, in this instance, Tony Mijares.
As early as the mid-1960's the lower end of Sukhumvit Road was seeing a number of new Expat-orientedNitespots open for business. The Chitra Bar at the top of Soi 16 preceded the Rosemary and Three-Roses. Chitra would later move to Soi 23, and then again into what would become Soi Cowboy - one of the 'pioneer bars' on that now-famous Soi. The Chamada Bar on Soi 22 - across from Villa Club - is brand new to us - this is the first mention we've seen of this bar. This goes for Villa Club, as well. Readers?
Bangkok Eyes goes back in time to see
Who was New - And Who was Through
in the Expat Night Entertainment World
This month Bangkok Eyes discontinues this sub-column as it is duplicated in our Archives. In this and future issues we will provide herein the link to the relevant month of 20 years ago - (which will provide greater in-depth coverage to historians and long-time visitors & residents.)
Bear Scotland, the leading road maintenance firm in Scotland, thought it would be 'the right thing to do" to paint over a graffito from the 1970s reading,"Dell (heart) Kelly" on the A835 leading into the township of Ullapool. They thought wrong.
Excerpt photo copyright "The Beeb"
It wasn't long before the message had been repainted.... but then removed again by Bear Scotland. That paint-over was followed up by more than 270 locals (and counting) signing a petition asking that Bear Scotland 'show some heart', and noted that they, Bear Scotland, would be better serving the community by fixing real problems, such as potholes.... Bear Scotland doubled down, saying if the graffito reappears it will be painted over yet again. But that is not the end of the story - as it now stands, should it reappear, it has been decided that it would be allowed to remain. ..."More on this as we hear of it...."
Bangkok Eyes is an historically based news outlet, and as such, all graphic excerpts herein are considered, under current legal precedents and prevailing interpretations, 'Fair Use' under Copyright Law. Copyright of any original photographs or artwork resides exclusively with the creators.
Bangkok Eyes is an historically based news outlet, and as such, all graphic excerpts herein are considered, under current legal precedents and
prevailing interpretations, 'Fair Use' under Copyright Law. Copyright of any original artwork resides exclusively with the creators.
Bangkok's original site !
The MIDNITE HOUR Graffiti Page is prepared by Staff Contributor "Boge" Hartman.
(Boge's photo, above, is not a graffitiper-se, although there are those who have insinuated....