The Gay Scene in BangkokBangkok is generally considered to be a top rated travel destination and residence for Western gay men. This is due in large part to the friendliness, tolerance and respect for privacy characteristic of the Thai people, and for agreeable and pleasant weather.A thoroughly modern city, Bangkok offers visitors and residents all modern conveniences –although traffic is sometimes a problem - and an active gay nightlife and culture have developed here over the years.
Gay life tends to be concentrated in certain areas of the city, so those seeking the gay experience can find it easily.
While businesses serving gay people, such as bars, saunas and restaurants are found in many locations in Bangkok, there are three major areas of where gay activity and community is concentrated: One is the Saladaeng area, which includes the Patpong entertainment district.
It is located in Silom, the major commercial and banking center of Bangkok. The second location is called Ramkhamhaeng and is located near the large Ramkhamhaeng University and Assumption University campuses in the Huamark area of Bangkok The third location is the Or Tor Kor area, known mainly for its fresh fruit market, which is on Kamphaeng Phet Road, close to the Chatuchuk Weekend Market in north Bangkok.
The Saladaeng-Silom area is the area most Western gays experience while in Bangkok. It has a full range of entertainment destinations: bars, A Go-Go clubs, saunas and massage places, restaurants and coffee houses, and some “gay friendly” hotels. It is convenient to the Skyline and to the Underground, and is served by many buses. The gay friendly businesses in this area depend on the Western tourist and resident, and do their best to serve and please them. Below are some of the major attractions in this area.
DJ Station at 8/6-8 Silom Soi 2, is considered the number one large scale gay destination in Bangkok. It has nightly cabaret and light shows, and is generally very crowded. There is a great deal of semi-nudity and it is said that everyone is “very friendly.” There is a steep cover charge of 200 baht…but it includes two drinks. Across the street from DJ Station, is Expresso, a lounge which becomes a noisy disco on the weekends.
Babylon is a sauna, steam room, dark room complex offering patrons many opportunity for relaxing massage and “fun.” It also contains a restaurant, shop, swimming pool, weight room, barbershop, internet shop, reading room, bar and “barracks.” Admission is usually 220 baht but goes up to 250 baht on weekends and holidays. It is located in the Silom area at Soi Nantha off of Soi 1, Sathorn Road.
Soi Twilight or Soi Pratuchai, between Surawong Road and Rama IV, has several bar and A Go-Go clubs, including the Hot Male Bar, Banana Bar, X-Boys Bar, X-Men Bar, Maximus Bar, Boys of Bangkok Bar, Fresh Beach Boyz Bar, X Size Bar, Dick’s Café, Balls Sports Bar, and Classic Boys Club, which has a “wet and wild swimming show.”
Silom Soi 4, directly opposite Convent Road and right below the Saladaeng BTS station, is 100 meters long and contains numerous gay venues, the most notable of which are Telephone, Sphinx, and the Balcony, all of which are restaurant-bars, and recommended as great places to begin an evening.
California Wow is a group of fitness studios found across Bangkok with the largest located on Silom Road. It’s not an exclusively gay gym but it is popular with gays who enjoy building their bodies, watching others as they workout and making friends with those who share this interest.
Tawan A Go-Go Bar: located at 2/2 Soi Thantawan, Surawong Road in the Silom area, is famous for its “beef cake” or muscular dancers, with about 20 to 30 performing nightly. It is alternately classified as a disco, an A Go-Go or a simple club or bar. Some customers have complained about inadequate air-conditioning and that the male dancers are too aggressive.
More massage: [The rumors are that almost anything goes in these places…] Adonis Massage: 44/11 Convent Road; Men Factory Sauna, Silom Soi 2/1 (opposite Silom Complex) next to G.O.D. club a popular gay venue; Sauna Mania, Soi Pipat 2, Convent Road.
The second area of Bangkok where gay activity and community is concentrated is Ramkamhaeng. Inasmuch as it is located near two large universities, it is not surprising that it serves a young clientele, many of whom are students. It contains many entertainment places, some said to be larger than those in Silom, but is more difficult to access.
There is an Airport Rail Link station in the area and some underground stations are within walking distance. The area is served by buses.
The area is also more distinctively Thai – for example, the music is louder and more heavily amplified - as Thai people are the main customer base. Westerns that come here are treated correctly but often feel that the Thais are not friendly.
Foreign visitors must consider that the Thais who come here are generally interested in meeting other young Thais and being with their friends. Many if not most are not really interested in meeting older, foreign men.
The most prominent gay venue in Ramkamhaeng is the ICK Bar, at Soi 89/2, which is located in what is called the Lamsalee gay zone. It is always crowded and is known for its loud music, passionate dancing, A Go-Go dancers and lots of young and attractive boys. Nearby are the popular and large Club Love Remix, Crazy Dance Party House, Finalle and Zee’s Zone. A new club, Triple Club X, is proving to be very popular. It schedules regular weekend “orgies.” There are also some smaller bars in the area such as Shake and MTV Remix. There are at least two sauna nearby: The Door and Boy Massage. Both are small by Silom standards. There is one large disco in the area, Maa See Kaa II, at 2 Ramkamhaeng Soi 18, near Ramkamhaeng University.
The third location of concentrated gay activity and community is the Or Tor Kor area. It contains a large area of bars, both gay and straight, which cater primarily to younger Thais. It is best accessed from the Morchit BTS station. One should approach this area with caution. There is reason to think that many of the Thai customers there are underage. There do not seem to be any effective controls by the bars to keep them out.
There are two “super” locations in Or Tor Kor. One is the Fake Club, which is alternately classified as a disco, bar and restaurant. It is always crowded, and is said to have both a distinctive style or architecture and music – it has live music after 23:00 - which patrons find attractive. Next door, is the El Ninio Club and nearby, is another club which is highly recommended, the Obama Club.
The second “super” location is the ICY Bar. It has a lengthy history and is a popular hangout for young Thais. It has been voted one of Metro Magazines “Top Three” gay bars and is loud and raucous.
Other places of interest around Bangkok are:Chakran sauna , whichis considered Babylon’s main competitor. It is similar in its amenities, including a “crusing corridor”, karaoke area and mini-theatre. It is located at 32 Soi Ari 4 Phaholyothin Road and can be accessed easily by the Ari BTS stop. Admission is usually 230 baht, but rises to 250 baht Friday and Saturday.
Calypso Cabaret is a “Broadway style drag review” held twice nightly at the Asia Hotel. Another cabaret show – three shows nightly - is held at the Golden Dome, at 252/5 Soi 18 Ratchadapisek Road.
Jet Set, a “classy” karaoke club, frequented primarily by professional Thais in their 20’s and 30’s, is located at 32/19 Sukhumvit Soi 21. Rumor is that it was established by employees of Thai Airways.
18 Pub and Karaoke, which is located on Radjamgnoen Soi, behind the Ratankosin Hotel, off of Radjamgnoen Avenue.
Sa-ke is a disco located at Tanao and Ratchadamneon Road at the Kok Wau intersection. It is frequented almost exclusinvely by young Thaisl.
Words of Caution: Visitors to Bangkok should bear in mind that many men involved in the meeting and serving of gay visitors are not gay themselves. While most of them do their best to please the gay foreigner and might enjoy many of their shared activities, they view their activities as “business.”
One should also bear in mind that the amount of criminal activity and scams among and on gays is at least roughly similar to the amount experienced among straight people, and possibly more.
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