We bet you don’t know these bars. And that’s the whole point: they are meant to be underground or hidden.
by Alexander Eeckhout
There are too many bars in Bangkok, there’s too much choice. Too much choice leads to indecision and you end up in the same place over and over again. Perhaps it’s time to go for a trek into more unknown areas of this urban jungle. I’m not saying you should ditch that great cocktail on your favorite rooftop, but here are seven bars in Bangkok that are hidden, weird and sometimes even a bit dirty, but a lot of fun.
The American Bar
(084 600 9521)
This bar is located on Sathorn in a U.S. military base. As the bar is technically on U.S. territory, there is no alcohol tax on the drinks, thus making them cheap. American craft beers go for THB 100 and American wines are around THB 500 a bottle. To get there, go to Lumpini MRT station exit 2, then, with your back to the MRT, exit, walk down the street. After a while, on your left hand side you’ll see a dark gray gate with a door of the same color. Ring the bell, wait for the buzzer, and you’re in. It’s advisable to bring a passport or a valid ID. Open weekdays from 2 p.m. till 9.30 p.m.
(02 714 3766; 08 4914 5499; email@example.com)
Toot Yung, or the Mosquito’s Ass, is an art gallery and café on Ekkamai Soi 2. The gallery and shop lead to a lovely garden with an old padauk tree in the middle. They serve coffee and tea (around THB 80), cocktails (THB 200), and crepes and quiches (THB 120 to 180). They hold a couple of events every month and their schedule can be found on their Facebook page (www.facebook.com/TootYungArtCenter). Apart from the peaceful garden, the Thai art on display is always interesting and worth taking a look at. Open Tuesday to Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. On Friday and Saturday they’re open till midnight.
The Old Other Office
The Old Other Office is the oldest bar in Patpong and the only one that has no strippers, bargirls, sexpats, and all the other unthinkable stuff that is going on there. Make your way to Patpong Soi 2 and look for a sign saying Pink Panther. Close to the Pink Panther, there’s a doorway without a door and a sign saying “Old Other Office.” This Vietnam War–era bar is for hiding and playing pool. They don’t sell any fancy beers or pour exclusive scotch, but the vibe is incredible. Beers are THB 100 and mixed drinks THB 120. Open from 2 p.m. till 2 a.m.
(081 901 0235; 083 823 7065; firstname.lastname@example.org)
Wong’s is for the night. For the party after the party. It looks like a place where Indiana Jones buys ancient relics from French prostitutes and watches nineties music videos. If it’s late, you’re drunk, and don’t have many expectations or wishes except for a shot or a cold beer, then go to Wong’s. The bar is located on Sathorn Soi 1 and can be recognized by a small oval sign saying “Wong’s.” Beers are around THB 100 and liquors are around THB 150. Open daily from 10 p.m. till late.
(888/23–24, Ploenchit Road, 2nd Floor, Lumpini, Bangkok)
Although a whisky and cigar bar seems like something for men over 50, I assure you Whisgars is not. All ages, genders, and nationalities can be found there. They have live music four days a week, and girls’ night out every Wednesday (free-flow wine and Prosecco, and 2 for 1 in cocktails). They claim to have the largest selection of whisky in Southeast Asia and they have an impressive range of cigars as well (from THB 450 to THB 1,300 per cigar). Although they’re a bit geeky about their cigars and whisky, they’ll gladly advise you if you’re not. The bar is located above El Osito restaurant, at Mahatun Plaza. Open Monday to Saturday from 2 p.m. till 2 a.m.
The Skytrain Jazz Club
(089 895 4299) The Skytrain Jazz Club is one rooftop bar in Bangkok that doesn’t have escalators or elevators. It’s a steep climb up to a small rooftop terrace that is cozy and eclectic. Rather than a bar, it feels more like an art student rooftop terrace. Surprisingly, the Skytrain rattling past you combines rather well with jazz. Get off at exit 2 at Victory Monument BTS station and look for the sign that leads to the stairway. Beers start at THB 100, wine at THB 250 per glass, and cocktails range from THB 100 to THB 400. Open daily from 5 p.m. till 2 a.m.
(080 264 4471) Bar 23, on Sukhumvit Soi 16, is hard to miss except if you know what to look for. It’s halfway down the soi on your right hand side, and it looks like a closed shop or warehouse (look for the glowing “23” sign). I urge you to try the door, and you’ll see it opens up to a Williamsburg, Brooklyn type of bar. On weekend nights the grungy bar is usually at full capacity, and you’ll find people from all walks of life dancing to rock tunes. Beers are THB 100 and cocktails THB 200. Open from 7 p.m. till 2 a.m.; closed Sunday and Monday.