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Bangkok's Night Scene In Review


Khao San Road

01 May 2012
William R.  Morledge

May's Nightlife News
Bangkok's Bars - 10 Years Ago  
A Smile in the Land of Smiles.
Ask Us ! - Remembering Dino's
Graffiti  -BKK's Midnite Vandals - #79

         Midnight Hour returns this month to an old haunt.   Khao San Road.   We expected change, but we didn't expect what we found.   Frank Herbert said, "Without change, something sleeps inside us," and we can tell you with certainty Khao San Road has not been asleep.

Decades back, Khao San Road came up on the international radar as a backpacker haven - the 'essential ingredient' was the "guest house", which provided adequate rooming at prices all could afford.   Attendant to the guest houses were the local mom-n-pop restaurants which catered to the farang hippy and neo-hippy tastes: pancakes and crepes and smoothies and banana fritters and faux-club-sandwiches and fake lightweight Chinese pastries.   Those eating 'local' would have a chicken khao phat or a khai jeaw omelette or a mystery-meat shish-kebab.   

But Khao San became more than just the cheap place for backpackers to stay - it became the nexus.   It was rumor-central, and it was where you met new friends, some of whom you would travel with for a time.   Khao San was where you heard where the best off-the-beaten-track places were north of Chieng Mai, and you told the other guy where the best wats in Vientiane were, down by the Mekhong where the monks would let you crash on the floor of the sala.   
Door Art Of The Month

          The Silk Bar has done it all correctly - smart design, colorful, eye-catching, and prominently displayed.   The best "Door Art" we've seen this month....


And it inevitably became a place, for better or for worse, where grass-smokers never went without.   And, long before the Internet, every two or three shops, you would see a hand-written sign in the window, "Call Home", or "Cheapest Air Fare", or "Change Money -Travellers Checks Best Rate".

Today, there is hardly a single guest house on Khao San, although you can still find a few in the connecting lanes going to Trok Mayom and Rambutri Road.   However there are a number of larger, newer hotels - but don't expect anything except uptown prices if you are planning to stay in a "better" hotel that area.   If you want to get back into the thick of it for guest houses and local restaurants catering to the "West", you would do well to cross over from Rambutri Road to the other side of Jakrapong Road (on Soi Rambutri).   

As far as Khao San itself is concerned, today can only be best described as, "not yesterday".   The initial surge of silver jewelry shops and travel agents of ten years ago has been dimmed (although they are still there), but today there is a whole new paradigm shift : to that of "the night bazaar".   And as busy as Khao San is during the day, it, and 'they', all come out at night.


In the evening the police barricade both ends of Khao San, and man the barricades throughout the night; after dark Khao San is a 'walking street'.   As can be seen from the number of venues on the map, Khao San is becoming a significant Night Entertainment Scene.   There are pubs, cocktail bars and entertainment multiplexes, and discos and clubs and 'cafes' and beergardens and massage parlors (traditional to full-service).   

You're never too old, but...

      There is a very good reason Golf Bar doesn't check I.D. cards, by the way.   Not more than three meters away, out on the street, you can buy an I.D card, or for that matter, a Diploma to or for just about anywhere or anything, which says whatever you want it to.


Khao San is now unfortunately, and we suppose, unavoidably the home to a plethora of touts - steam-n-cream massage parlor touts with their tattered Kodacolor girlie-leaflets, ping-pong show touts (oh, yes...), Indian tailor touts wandering the street with their hand-outs and business cards, door touts in the street in front of their bars urging customers to come in for "very strong cocktails", and even downtown promo-girls from the major beer companies in their tight fitting 'tiger dresses' urging you to stop in at their indoor-outdoor beergardens for a yeuok or two.   And then there are the 'unassigned' touts, where if you actually decide to make a purchase in the street, they are there beside you striking up unnecessary conversations - watch out for pickpockets.   And we should provide equal time to the increasing number of freelancers and streetwalkers, although not as numerous, yet, as in other districts of Bangkok.

And that is only for starters.   In the street itself, there are clothing vendors with their racks of wares jutting out into the roadway.   Brick-a-brack stalls, belt stalls, cigarette lighter & knife stalls, shoe and hat stalls.   Pushcarts selling deep-fried grasshoppers along with seven other insects you've never seen or heard of before.   If you can imagine a local food that can fit onto a push-cart, then you will find it on Khao San, the cart itself usually just being pushed into your path.   And, in case you're wondering, there are several excellent restaurants geared to international tastes if you can't quite yet get used to eating food from a push-cart.   

Yes We Have No !
- AND 24/7, YET....

      The real question here is, if Macaroni Club can stay open around the clock, why can't the Thermae Coffee Shop?


Old women with blackened teeth and character-wrinkled faces, in full Meo hill tribe garb selling wooden noisemaker frogs and lucky charms.   Crones coursing the street selling lottery numbers - their tickets stapled to a piece of plywood for your perusal.   Street shops on wheels selling university diplomas to Monash University (or any other university you can think of).   Or you can get a variety of official and 'military' ID cards - should you think you may need one.   Tattoo parlors pushing their colorful, if strange signage out onto the sidewalks.   Body-piercing, anyone?


Then there are the farang and Japanese and Chinese and Southeast Asian and South Asian and Middle Eastern and African tourists who come to Khao San.   You can walk 6 meters and hear six different languages spoken, from Arabic to Afrikaans to Armenian, to Persian to Polish to Portuguese.   These people no longer come to Khao San because it is (or was) the Thailand nexus for travellers-on-the-cheap, these people come because it is becoming, with the help of Hollywood movies and Lonely Planet, Bangkok's ''Latin Quarter'', Bangkok's 'Bourbon Street', Bangkok's 'King's Cross' and, or, Bangkok's 'Sunset Strip'.   Khao San is now 'an item', it is one of those "must-do's while in Bangkok".   Even on week nights, the thronging international gaggle runs into the thousands, and just walking from one end of Khao San to the other is a true running of the gauntlet.

But wait, I get paid by the word - I'm not finished yet.   The Night Entertainment explosion on Khao San has not stayed on Khao San - it has overflowed into the adjoining Trok Mayom, the connecting lanes going to Rambutri Road, as well as Rambutri Road itself.   While the bars on Trok Mayom tend to be smallish rasta venues, the Rambutri Road venues are quite often major, thriving Nitespots in their own right.   Even Soi Rambutri (not shown) across Jakrapong Road has several large Night Entertainment complexes.

Our interest is, of course, in the Night Entertainment Scene as it affects the expat community in Bangkok.    Our recent visits to Khao San and environs indicate the entertainment currently available there is still predominantly for middle-class Thais, but that there is always a significant farang contingent - and that contingent seems to be growing.   With this relatively new surge in the Nightlife Scene, we at Midnight Hour will have to be paying much more attention, much more regularly, to the goings-on.   And it goes without saying - we recommend to anyone a visit to that bizarre street bazaar.

         Below are a few more photos of Khao San Road Nitespots for your perusal.



- Excerpt Flickr Photo share - with thanks to copyright holder gongzstudio.   Copyright 'fair use' restrictions / allowances apply.   
We would be remiss if we didn't mention the 13 - 15 April Songkran Festival machinations at Khao San Road every year.   Everyone gets wet - no one goes home dry - Thai or foreigner.   Have your wallet in a Baggie, have a waterproof camera and watch good to 200 meters.   And have your playful attitude on - you'll need it.   The buying of space-age water guns is optional, you can use anything you like: garden hoses, buckets, water balloons (frowned upon), or just scooping water with your hands.   Anything, almost, goes....


          A great Thai Smile - and it belongs to a young lady visiting Khao San Road.....

? Old

Any old PHOTOS of
Bangkok's Nightlife ?

Please CLICK HERE and send to us for publication.   

Many Thanks,
William R Morledge

 Historical Minutiae Dept.

Spraycan Quandary

Hello Richard,

From seeing on this site, it seems like you are into Bangkok's Graffityscene.   I'm coming over next month and I'm looking for a store to buy spraycans, as I hadn't expect it to be so difficult to find.   Can you help me out?   Do you know a store on which to buy (professional) spraycans?

Any help is highly appreciated!

Greetings from Europe.

Greetings, Paulo,

On our site, we have a link to BKKGRAFF.COM.   Go to their "Shop" link at the following url:

-and you should find all you are looking for.

Good luck,


  • Email and "ASK" - -   Click Here
  •           We can answer virtually any (reasonable) question on the Expat Night Entertainment Scene in Bangkok - be it Historical or very recent.   Send us an e-mail and we will do our best to answer you soonest.
    'Boge' Hartman
    Historical Research
    * Zootramp Publications

    Let the May 2012 Follies  begin...
    BANKOK EYES' Expat Night Scene.

      PATPONG  I  

                Patpong I seems to be busy - unfortunately, it is not the bars that are busy.   The Night Entertainment Scene doesn't seem to be getting any better....

    - File photo        
      PATPONG  I  

      PATPONG  II  
                The King's Garden is not only closed for business, it is undergoing major renovations.   Look for it to reopen in June or July.   A name change is unlikely.
      PATPONG  II  

      SOI  COWBOY  

    Twelve Large...
    - BUT FOR WHOM ?

          The sign on Soi Cowboy reads:

    Club Insomnia - Giving away free:

    12,000,000 baht

    Receive 20,000 baht every day - except Friday and Saturday.

    Insomnia is a posh Disco / Entertainment Venue at the top of Soi 12, Sukhumvit Road with connections to other Expat owned/run bars.   So, have you figured out yet why the sign is not in English?

      SOI  COWBOY  

     NANA  PLAZA  
                The Las Vegas A Go-Go and Showclub continues to upgrade it's neon.   A well-run bar.   May they persevere....
      NANA   PLAZA  

                The doorgirls from the third floor bars have their work cut out for them - that floor, by definition, having less walk-by custom.   Who can blame them if they take a moment's break on a parked motorcycle?
      NANA   PLAZA  

      SOI  KATOEY  
                The One Night Only has just thrown open it's doors and rolled out the red carpet.   The night we passed by they were having a "Madonna" night.   Don't ask, we don't know.....   Let's hope Fate deals them all aces and faces.   They occupy the digs formerly held down by the B.B. House Pub & Restaurant.

    SOI  KATOEY  - (SILOM  SOI  4)

                Welcome yet another brand new Nitespot to Soi Katoey.   For lack of any other neon, it shall, for the time being, be known as Eat. Drink. Man. Women.   It is located on the corner of Silom, where a well-known (to us old-timers) roast duck restaurant stood for the last 40, or so, years.   No, they no longer serve duck.   Welcome them to the machine.
    SOI  KATOEY  - (SILOM  SOI  4)


                Springing to life in the old Beavers digs is the Cheers Pub (on Soi Wall Street).   Well appointed, inside and out.   Very friendly staff.   You may want to stick your nose in and have a look around....   May the nightwinds blow kindly....

                Speaking of the Wall Street, have a look at their latest renovations - they have created a front 'verandah' (perhaps for smokers?)   At any rate, looking good....   May they continue to rock 'n roll....

                The Gauguin has, it seems, gone into lockdown.   Judging by the notices on the front glass about urgent hiring of personnel, it looks as though they may (we emphasize 'may') reopen soon.   We'll keep our ear to the ground, and get back atcha.

                Washington Square has been slowly closing down as a Night Entertainment Area for the last several months.   Most of the Nitespots have already either closed or relocated; the Area has dropped below the "critical mass" required to sustain customer interest.   This will exacerbate the problems of the remaining bars to an even greater extent than at present.   Midnight Hour will no longer report on this Night Entertainment Area on a monthly basis.   However we will continue to track that area and report any additional closures of existing bars - as they occur.

      -  March 2012  

                The AS Massage has closed it's doors again - and this time it looks like it's for keeps.   The interior of Washington Square, to include in front of the AS Massage, is beginning to look like a junk yard as scavengers are stripping and salvaging the empty units.
    - File photo        

                We note the closure of two Thai-style all-night pubs in Washington Square.   The two pubs were strictly for late night Thai custom and did not have any neon designating a name for their venues.

                The Superior Bar has opened quietly in the old Corner Bar (which closed last month).   Modus operandi unchanged - a pool bar.   Welcome them to the nightcircus.

      SOI  EDEN  
                The Golden Massage (upstairs from the Night Flight) looks darker than a poisoned well.   Perhaps too much downstairs competetion....   Darwin is a harsh master.
    - File photo        
    SOI  EDEN  -  Soi  7/1 Sukhumvit

    Dog Day Afternoons
    - AND EVENINGS....

    The sign on the now-defunct Siam Smile reads:

    Premises available for rental.
    Special low price.    We can talk.
    (Phone number)

    SOI  EDEN  -  Soi  7/1 Sukhumvit

                The Scorpion and the Bangkok Boy bar beers have merged - all is now 'Scorpion'.   Keep on keeping on....
    - File photo     



    Bangkok Eyes jumps back in time to have a look at who was new - and who was through.   We'll be willing to bet that many of you "Old Bangkok Hands" will be reminded of some bars you'd almost forgotten.   (We also will be willing to bet you WON'T EVEN REMEMBER an even greater number....)

    10 YEARS AGO  :
          Ten years ago, the Thai Lady Massage (2nd floor) near today's Thigh Bar reopened after a one-month shut-down.   Those premises are now home to a rip-off bar/massage.
    PATPONG   1 -  May 2002

          A decade ago, the Bua Luang TARGET Pool & Restaurant opened after a brief delay caused by the renovation of their Bua Luang Bar & Restaurant.   More a 'name-change' than anything else....   They were located where today's The Strip is now holding court.
    PATPONG   2 -  May 2002

          Ten years back, the Dome Juniority Club opened it's doors for the first time, taking over the reins of The Rock.   The Rock would eventually return to this location, however no Nitespot currently occupies this spot.
    PATPONG   2 -  May 2002

          Ten years ago, the Juke's New A Go Go Duck reopened its doors after a two-month renovation.   Shark is in those digs today.
    SOI   COWBOY -  May 2002

          Ten years ago, the Hollywood Rock reopened after a one-month closure.   It is still there today.
    NANA   PLAZA -  May 2002

          Ten years back, the Mandarin opened up at the top of the escalator on the 2nd floor (occupying the 2nd, 3rd, 4th floors).   It was the first to occupy those digs.   It is still there today - I wonder if they are having an anniversary party tonight?
    NANA   PLAZA -  May 2002

          Ten years ago, the Akasuri Korea Style Massage closed after being in operation one month, however they would reopen soon after that.   No Nitespot occupies that real estate currently.
    WASHINGTON   SQUARE -  May 2002

          A decade ago, the Blue Marine Pub & Restaurant closed it's doors.   Today's Bistro 33 now occupies those digs deep inside Soi 5.
    SOI   SOI  DEAD  ARTISTS  -  May 2002

          Ten years ago, 33 Center Pub closed temporarily - it would reopen.   However, today those digs are occupied by Akane Fashion Massage.
    SOI   SOI  DEAD  ARTISTS  -  May 2002

          A decade back, Suika - having just relocated to those digs, started renovating - they would open soon after that.
    SOI   SOI  DEAD  ARTISTS  -  May 2002

          Ten years ago, For You pool bar opened it's doors for the first time it was the first to occupy those premises.   It is no longer there, those digs are now occupied by Lucky Bar bar beer.
    SOI   QUEEN'S   PARK   PLAZA  -  May 2002

          Ten years ago, Diwa - soon to be "Diva" - opened it's doors for the first time.   It was located where the Cockwell Inn has set up shop.
    SOI   QUEEN'S   PARK   PLAZA  -  May 2002

          A decade ago, Queen's Arms S.B. closed down - it was located near today's I.Q Karaoke.
    SOI   QUEEN'S   PARK   PLAZA  -  May 2002

    ASOKE  PLAZA  /  ASOKE  CORNER - (previously Cowboy Annex) - 2002

    Asoke Corner / Asoke Plaza
    Night Entertainment Area
    ( March 2000 - February 2005 )

                 Ten years ago, Luc's Bar closed down.   It was located along the back fence in the Asoke Plaza side.

                 A decade ago, the V.R Bar bar beer closed in the 'Lolita Corner 6-Pak' in the Asoke Corner half.

                 Ten years back, Nok Merry opened on the left in the Soi 23 side.

                 Also ten years ago, the Boom Bar bar beer closed down in the 8-Pak along Soi 23 on the Asoke Corner side.   

                 A decade back, and also on the Soi 23 side, the Isisdur and another mini pool bar (unnamed) opened for business in the "4-Pak".

                 Ten years ago, the Dinosaur closed down - located on the right side of the "Asoke Corner" half.

    ASOKE  PLAZA  /  ASOKE  CORNER - (previously "COWBOY ANNEX") - May 2002

    CLINTON  PLAZA   - 2002

    Clinton Plaza
    Night Entertainment Area
    ( November 1998 - 7 June 2003 )

          A decade ago, the White House A Go Go closed it's doors - for good, this time.   It was located outside, at the back of the main building.

    CLINTON  PLAZA   - May 2002

    SUKHUMVIT  SQUARE   - 2002

    Sukhumvit Square
    Night Entertainment Area
    ( January 2002 - 26 January 2003 )

             The Country Road opened another branch here ten years ago.

             Ten years back, the Artistic Bar opened its doors for the first time.

             Likewise, ten years back, The Retreat Bar opened in the rear.

             Ten years back, the Walker Bar Pool &Dart opened on the east side of the compound.

             Ten years ago, the Montika opened facing Sukhumvit Road.

             A decade back, the Rushour Pub opened - also facing Sukhumvit.

             Ten years ago, the Welcome Rolls Royce Bar opened - and then closed again - it was facing out on Soi 10.

             A decade ago, along the east side, four bars opened:
                *  Lucky Cat Bar
                *  Hello Bar
                *  Say Hi
                *  The Vibration (The Bar In)

    SUKHUMVIT  SQUARE   - May 2002

    TOBACCO  ROAD   -  2002

    Tobacco Road (Soi Zero)
    Night Entertainment Area
    ( ~ December 1988 - 9 June 2006 )

                Ten years ago, this month, the Species bar beer reopened after a month's down time.   It was located about half way back on the left as you walked in.

                Ten years back, the Mad Dogs Bar bar beer closed down.   It was located near the front on the left as you walked in.

    TOBACCO  ROAD  - May 2002



    (An "Introduction" to Graffiti for those interested
    in the "Art" and the "Controversy".)

             Perhaps one of the most extraneous and arcane forms of Night Entertainment is that of graffiti.   Often illegal, frequently artistic, occasionally humorous, and most of the time controversial.   Graffiti is not a form of 'entertainment' that all will enjoy.   Many see it as vandalism - plain and simple, while others see it as an art form, or 'art brut' - a street sub-set of Modern Art.      (....Continued....)

    (New to this page?    Click HERE  for our full "Intro to Graffiti")

    [ Check out Bangkok's dedicated Graffiti page at " BKK"  <link>. ]


    Civil War Graff

    - Copyright 'fair use' allowances and restrictions apply.         

    Just outside of today's Culpepper, Virginia (USA) a long-ago train stop called Brandy Station straddled the tracks of the now defunct Orange & Alexandria line (now part of the Norfolk Southern) and was strategically located near the antebellum Culpepper Court House.   Another nameless building to appear at about that time was also built near the railroad tracks, and because of it's location and the peculiarities of it's architecture, it is speculated that it was originally a commercial-cum-residential building.   However at the time of it's construction (circa 1858) no one could have predicted it's immense historical value.

    - Copyright 'fair use' allowances and restrictions apply.         

    In addition to Brandy Station being the site of the largest cavalry engagement ever fought on American soil, history buffs will recall that it changed hands more than once during the War Between The States.   Historians now believe that shortly after the outbreak of the war, the above-mentioned unnamed building near the railroad tracks was used variously as a hospital and military headquarters, administering at various times to both Confederate and Union soldiers.   Based on the graffiti content it is apparent that it was during this period both Union and Confederate soldiers, using available materials, including pencils, chimney-soot and charcoal from the fire place, began to cover the walls with graffiti.

    - Copyright 'fair use' allowances and restrictions apply.         

    After the war, the succession of owners of that relatively small building proceeded to whitewash over the graffiti, usually without bothering to wash off the graffiti, or the layer of dirt that had settled on it over the ensuing years.   In retrospect, that was a blessing - at least for historians.   It seems that the layer of dirt that settled on the charcoaled and pencilled graff tended to preserve rather than harm them - at least to the extent that the said layer of dirt made it easier for restoration teams to remove old whitewash without damaging the original graffiti.

    - Copyright 'fair use' allowances and restrictions apply.         

    Possibly the best known (and so far the most valuable) Civil War artifact at Graffiti House is the Maryland Scroll (so named for the graffiti content), which was for a long time in the hands of a private collector.   The Brandy Station Foundation acquired the graffiti artifact and returned it to Graffiti House.   The scroll is currently encased behind glass, and sits in the "South Room".

    Currently under the aegis of the Brandy Station Foundation, this otherwise unprepossessing building, through it's copious and often historically relevant graffiti, has found itself "on the circuit" of those touring America's historic sites.   No longer nameless, that Civil War era building is listed in the 'List of Registered Historic Places in Virginia', as well as the 'National Register of Historic Places', under the most appropriate of names; Graffiti House (Google it...! ).   

    - Excerpted Associated Press. Copyright 'fair use' allowances and restrictions apply.         

    Christopher Mills, an Archeological Conservator for the Brandy Station Foundation stabilizes a wall in the Graffiti House by injecting synthetic resin into the cracks - a necessary preliminary step before attempting to remove paint, whitewash and/or dirt from the Civil War era graffiti beneath.

    But for all the Civil War history that Graffiti House has revealed to date, it's contributions are far from over.   Restoration experts, to this day, remain continuously at work, using cotton swabs and water and "whatever works", to slowly, painstakingly expose even more historical memorabilia; the tags, the caricatures, messages and conversations, private jokes, rants, scrolls, doodlings and just plain old autographs.   But that is only the half of what these dedicated historians have needed to do to preserve these treasures - once they get down to below the old wallpaper, the old paint and whitewash and the dirt, they often find it necessary to first preserve the walls themselves - usually by injecting synthetic resin into cracks and crevices and pinning them until such time as the resin has hardened.   Then they can get down to the real work.

    - Copyright 'fair use' allowances and restrictions apply.         

    While no one would contend that these conservation works were undertaken just to preserve 'graffiti', and while all acknowledge that 'history' is the motivating force, it remains undeniable that without the graffiti, a significant, and highly interesting part of the history of the Civil War would have been lost to us.

    - And now to Midnight Hour's own brand of Bangkok Graffiti ....

    Graffiti #547
    8 ft. high x 13 ft.

    Graffiti #548
    Roll Her
    7 ft. high x 16 ft.

    Graffiti #549
    Civit Cats
    7 ft. high x 12 ft.

    Graffiti #550
    3 ft. high x 3ft.

    Graffiti #551
    Air Cans
    8 ft. high x 14 ft.

    Graffiti #552
    10 ft. high x 18 ft.

    Graffiti #553
    Yard Birds
    8 ft. high x 17 ft.

    Graffiti, Graffiti , and more Graffiti - Bangkok's original graffiti Site !

       The MIDNITE HOUR Graffiti Page is prepared by Staff Contributor "Boge" Hartman.

    (Boge's photo, above, is not a graffiti per-se, although there are those who have insinuated....   - Ed)

     --- Datzit Fernow

    William R. Morledge

    Copyright 2002 - 2012,   BANGKOK EYES /

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