Nitespots of a temporary or semipermanent nature built on lands destined for redevelopment have been a significant - if lesser feature of the Night Entertainment landscape since the 1980's. Knowing the land they stand on will be redeveloped sooner or later, these 'opportunistic' Nitespot Venues are usually 'beer bars' but can include restaurants, massage parlors and even the occasional A Go-Go or karaoke. Follows is a brief history of Bangkok's opportunistic Night Entertainment Areas.
SOI ZERO ~1988-2006 (Or Soi Rot Fai, Tobacco Road, Soi Machim, or Buckskin Joe Village)
In 1987, Tobacco Road was a dirt path following the railroad track through the slum and past the Tobacco monopoly, reaching from Sukhumvit to Rama IV roads. A year later, there were a few clapboard noodles & beer-type shacks wedged between the dirt trail and the railroad tracks at the Sukhumvit Rd end - and somehow, they began attracting farang custom. By the end of 1988 there were more than a dozen of these clapboard bar beers; reaching a unique, dusty, noisy “critical mass”. As the shacks were on State Railway property, and literally within arm's reach of passing trains, the Night Entertainment Area moved a few meters to the West, under the Motorway overpass, and into semipermanent allotments (see map). It was during that period the 'dirt path' was paved, becoming Duang Pitak Rd. By mid-1990 there were 24 Nitespot Venues open for business. The land was eventually reclaimed by the City in 2006, many Venues seeking other temporary lands within the city.
QUEEN'S PARK PLAZA~1998-2020
In 1997, Queen's Park Plaza was yet another vacant property, a victim of the economic crash. However a year later, temporary beer bar shacks started appearing, A couple of years later, the landowner decided to upgrade the compound, constructing semipermanent structures for use by bar owners. Queen's Park Plaza was reclaimed by the landowner just prior to the Covid pandemic, many of the bars relocating to the newly opening 7 Center Point bar area at Soi 7.
CLINTON PLAZA - 1998 - 2003
In 1998, an abandoned bank stood between the old Thermae massage parlor and Ruamchit Mansions (hotel). Behind the bank was a large unused warehouse which became an ad-hoc parking lot. Those using the parking lot observed that a number of shack-style bar beers began appearing between the derelict bank and the warehouse. The area quickly became a Night Entertainment Area, to include several A Go-Go bars. As is the case with many of the opportunistic Nitespot Areas, there was much squabbling and legal jockeying when it came time for the landowner to reclaim the land for redevelopment. The last bar finally abandoned the premises in June of 2003. Many of the bars relocated across the street to the new Sukhumvit Square Night Entertainment Area - yet another opportunistic Entertainment Area.
SUKHUMVIT SQUARE - 1999 - 2003
The large unused piece of land on Sukhumvit Road at Soi 10 proved to be too tempting. -At the end of 1999 entrepreneurs began putting up lean-to shops - calling the area "Thai Help Thai" (a reference to the push for economic recovery after the 1997 crash). One of those lean-to shacks was the Sweet Home Bar - and little did they know what they had started... Two years later the compound had approximately 100 small to medium sized venues of many sorts, to include a few permanent structures - and 60 of those venues were Night Entertainment Venues. By that time the area had been officially named Sukhumvit Square. In the middle of the night, 26 January 2003, a raiding party of men in paramilitary uniforms ushered in heavy construction equipment to level the area, destroying all the bars and other shops. Behind the assault was the owner of the land, Chuwit Kamolwisit, the military mafia and some elements of the National Police. The outrageous gestapo tactics made world news and the legal fallout lasted years (and is still ongoing).
COWBOY ANNEX - 1998 - 2005
Prior to the 1997 crash, the existing buildings at the corner of Sukhumvit Road and Soi Asoke 21 (continuing through to Soi 23) were torn down in preparation for a redevelopment project. The project was halted by the 1997 crash, leaving a huge area of undeveloped land. By 1998, the area accessible from Soi 23 became an ad-hoc parking lot, and the area at the Sukhumvit-Asoke intersection saw the erection of a few temporary bars and outdoor restaurants. Later dubbed Cowboy Annex (see map), the area went 'viral' - new bar beers appearing every month. By 2003, the Night Entertainment Area had over 40 Nitespots. However, the land being prime Sukhumvit Road property, the land owner revived development plans at the end of 2004. -And the owner, carrying an armload of legal documents and accompanied by police, forced the opportunistic bar owners out at the beginning of 2005.
EASY SQUARE - 2003 - 2005
Located deep in Sukhumvit Soi 22, it was originally called Nam Thip Square due to the restaurant of that name which sat adjacent to the square. The land was scheduled for redevelopment, the deep piling already completed, when they went broke. Not surprisingly, entrepreneurial beer bars began popping up. The Easy Square Night Entertainment Area lasted only two years, due to the planned restart of the development project. Once all the bars were destroyed and the rubble cleared out (2005), the redevelopment project went broke again - and the land went unused for several years.
SUKHUMVIT 1 PLAZA - 2004 - 2007
Sukhumvit 1 Plaza Night Entertainment Area was actually a multi-storey building across the street from Soi Zero Night Entertainment Area at the top of Sukhumvit Soi 1. The bars that opened there were a mix of new Venues and old - having come in from other Nitespot Areas that had closed down. In mid-2006 rumors began circulating that the building owner was going to close down the Night Entertainment Area, remodel and re-purpose the building. And this he did in December 2007.
13 NIGHT MARKET - 1998 - 2005
Built atop the rubble of the former Thermae Coffee Shop, the 13 Night Market originally opened in 1998, but 'went cold' while the next door Clinton Plaza see-sawed through it's ups and downs on its way to close down for good. The 13 Night Market re-launched in 2003, quickly reaching 'Critical Mass' as a stand-alone Night Entertainment Area. Several of the bars moved in from the next door (then defunct) Clinton Plaza. The owner / developer closed down operations at the end of February 2005 (one bar stayed open until 1 March to give away all the beer not already imbibed). The closing of the Nitespot Area sent bar beer operators scurrying to find new / inexpensive Nitespot areas.
It has come to our attention that David Walls, friend and longtime neighbor recently passed away. Many knew him as owner/ operator of the several 'David Bars' in Nana Entertainment Plaza, his most popular bar being Voodoo. His last rites were held at Wat That Thong. God speed, Old Son...
READER :Thanks for an interesting retrospective & update on Khao San Road. Having done more than one stopover in my earlier years, I doubt such a complete history exists anywhere. But on your otherwise great map, I noticed a couple of duplications. I see two 'Roccos' and two 'Empires'. Just thought you might want to correct your map for future references. .... ....
MIDNITE HOUR:Thanks (to you and a couple others) for writing in on this, however, there are actually two Rocco's (Rocco & Rocco Bar) as shown on the map and the photos above. The 'Empire' story is even more unusual, there are a number of shophouses mid-road with 'Empire' signs of various home-made construction. Due to space considerations, we did not publish the EmpireVenue photos.
READER :I hv not seen a historical coverage of Khao San Road before, much of interest. However you only glazed over a couple of the shadier areas in its history, the first and most obvious was Khao San Road was the place to go to seek out marijuana, back when it was still illegal of course. It was also notorious for backpackers who, having run out of money, would go to sell their passports, then go to their embassy claiming it was stolen. And similar scams, although you did mention about being able to buy military ID cards, and whatnot. Keep up yr good works.
MIDNITE HOUR:We indeed should have included both items you mention. Thailand and Laos had always been a source of cannabis, and from the 1960's onward Bangkok became an ever more popular cannabis destination (our earlier reference to the 'Hippy Trail'). By the time Khao San Road had gotten into full swing in the 1980's, it was arguably as well known for cannabis as Marrakech, Goa and/ or Kathmandu. Also, Khao San Road was, as you have stated, a 'Grand Central Station' for scammers (and the scammed). One of the more popular games (still going on today) was the, "Could you help me out? I lost my passport (or travellers' checks, etc). "
SOI NGAM DUPLI BUNGALOW
The 'Ngam Dupli 27 Bungalow' - Soi Ngam Dupli / Soi Sri Bumphen area - 1974
A regular contributor to this site forwarded the above out-take from a 1974 clip - reminding us that in the pre-Khao San Road backpacker days many of the 'guesthouses" were called 'Bungalows' (as would be found on Koh Samui, etc). It wasn't until the Khao San Road era in the 80's that the term "guesthouse" became the ubiquitous label, very few still using the term 'bungalow'..
What’s the best way (specific) to find a holiday girlfriend in Bangkok?
Bangkok Eyes has found out the hard way that making such specific recommendations does not work out. In the past we have made recommendations to visiting friends - many of whom we had known for several years.. On occasion, they were disappointed with their experiences, and were quick to criticize. So, of course, we have ceased offering recommendations.
To our personal friends we now say (off the record), "We'll show you where you can enjoy yourself, but we can't enjoy it for you." Best of luck on your holiday.
It appears that the crackdown on the "Black Pagoda" group of bars has gone from bad to worse since our initial report last month. Our current end-of-month survey reveals that the Patpong Museum and Delaney's have also been closed. This is of particular interest in that both of these Venues were only tangentially involved with the Black Pagoda group through a second company. These two venues, as well as others in the Black Pagoda group now have notices taped to their front doors forbidding the unlocking (or opening) of the Venues. The complete listing of Venues currently closed by the crackdown on Patpong 2 Road is as follows : *Black Pagoda *Club Black *Triple XXX Lounge *Bar Bar Fetish *Patpong Museum annex -3rd Level above Bar Bar.
*The Strip Bangkok *Patpong Museum *Delaney's
Visitors to the Patpong Museum are greeted with the above, announcing a 'temporary' closure.
This notice on Delaney's was identical to the notices taped to the doors of several of the closed-down Venues. The translation reads, "Do not unlock (or open) before obtaining permission. Please contact (the numbers shown)."
The Cozy bar opened newly this last month in single-shophouse slot next to Delaney's. Welcome to the nightfollies...
The New Screw Boy opened in the previous Screw Boy digs, which closed December 2020 due to the Covid pandemic. We wish them constancy...
The Success Bar is the latest to open in the Swan group complex at the Soi 6 cut-out. Swan has had a difficult time getting a viable Nitespot up in running at this location. Let's just see what the fates have in store...
Panacea is the newest Club to open on Soi Ambassador. Located deep in the Soi, on the left as you're going in, the first Nitespot to occupy that real estate.. May that candle continue to burn...
(Sukhumvit Soi 11)
The Wanwilai Massage & Spa opened newly in the previous Niraon Massage (closed 2 months ago). Located at the back of Soi 11/1. Rub-a-dub-dub.
(Sukhumvit Soi 11)
Finch has opened at the tail end of Soi 11/1 as it exits onto Soi 11. Welcome to partytown...
(Sukhumvit Soi 11)
Tewley Cocktail and other temporary structures across from the Ambassador Hotel / Wine Connection have all but been demolished. By the time you read this, there will be nothing standing - it will be a barren field. The perplexing part of this land-clearance exercise is they also removed the two-storey corrugated iron construction laborer's dormitories(?) Below is the "Tewley Cocktail Group" in happier times...
Although we saw no closures or new openings this month at 7 Center Point Night Entertainment Area, we note that the Drop In Bar has done some sprucing-up, to include some new neon. May they keep on keeping on...
The Club Gems Lounge Bar & Karaoke has opened up between the Aurora Nuru Gel Massage and the Pho Massage deep in the Soi. Welcome to those big city nights...
SOI DEAD ARTIST (Sukhumvit Soi 33)
A "For-The-Acrhives" photo update on the Nippon-oriented Jasmine Club Snack Bar Karaoke, located in Subsoi Pan Pan. We took note of the "Only Drink and Karaoke" sign - it seems they "get their kicks above the waistline, Sunshine"...
Bangkok Eyes goes back to August of 1966 for an overview of ExpatNight Entertainment in Bangkok. We note a more rapid ramping up (more new Venues) in Petchburi Road due to the R&R program associated with the conflict in Viet Nam and Southeast Asia.
August 1966 saw the Salem Bar open newly on New Petchburi Road near the Thai Heavenclub. It was a combo Restaurant and Hostess Bar (more than 100 hostesses). Their 'Salem' sign boosted directly from the cigarette of that name - their motto, "Play It Cool".
Mickey Curtis was Japanese-English, born in Japan. He was a renown actor, singer and TV celebrity - which accounts for his great popularity with the Japanese tourists and residents in Bangkok. He toured internationally with his rock band 'The Samurai' (changed to Vanguards for Thailand) for 5 years, eventually returning to Japan to produce music. In 1966Rama Hotel changed their Entertainment Venue name from Tropicana to Ramayana, as above.
The directions "for taxi" say the L'amour was located kitty-corner to Channel 7. We place this (tentatively) on Pahonyothin Road near Suan Jatujak Sunday Market. August 1966
New Petchburi Road (Petchburi Extension) was rapidly becoming the primary Entertainment destination for the U.S. military on R&R from Viet Nam. The New San Suk Service was one of the several 'fishbowl' massage parlors to open there at that time. August 1966
Of all the "stars" performing above, only Rie Tanauchi continues to shine. She is known more for her stage and film performances, in both Japanese and American productions (usually having a dancing part). It would have been a treat to see her perform at the Sani Chateau (Gaysorn Night Entertainment Area).
It is said that 'Timing is Everything' - and by way of confirmation, the opening of the Tuck Bar & Coffee Shop in the recently refurbished New Nana Hotel couldn't have been more timely. The Ra Jah Hotel was taking in R&R arrivals, so the first Nitespot the G.I.'s would come to of any merit would have been the Tuck Bar & Coffee Shop. And if that weren't enough, in another two months, both the Grace Hotel Coffee Shop and the Thermae Coffee Shop would open - both within walking distance of Tuck. All three Coffee Shops were, during those years, the most active, most popular of the 24 hour "meat markets".
Soi 4 Sukhumvit - August 1966
The Florida Turkish Bath & Massage was yet another 'steam & cream' fishbowl massage parlor to open on what would soon be called the "Golden Mile" of the Petchburi Extension. (-An Entertainment Area stretching roughly from Soi 3 to Soi Ekamai). August 1966
The Sunya Onsen Turkish Bath was a combination Barber Shop and Turkish bath (a common combo in the 60's and 70's). It was located near the Sipraya Road intersection with New Road.
The Hi Brows were a Maori group out of Aukland, and were popular in the 1960's. Their routine was singing, comedy and a little tap dancing.
Northridge, California, April 27, 2023 -
The Los Angeles Police Department revealed that four men were shot while removing gangland graffiti from an icecream shop on Vanalden Ave in Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley. One person died, two were seriously injured and a fourth was released with minor injuries.
According to the Northridge Ice Cream shop owner, two of the men entered his shop volunteering to paint over the gangland style graffiti on the exterior walls. The owner gave them some paint, only to hear gunshots outside a short time later.
Some CCTV footage was made available, identifying a white sedan. To date no arrests have been made, and police are requesting witnesses come forward to assist in their investigation.
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....