Silom Road area, as well as being the main business district of Bangkok, contains probably the most well-known red light district in the world as well as being about the most well known area of Thai Nightlife: Patpong. Many terms could be used to describe Patpong. A t-shirt used recently to promote a conference on world sex workers sported a logo, "Patpong - more than just a street". This phrase is not only very apt, but makes us think a little more about this street (actually 3 streets) in Bangkok.
Despite never having been promoted officially, Patpong has become one of the worlds most famous (or if you prefer, infamous) tourist attractions. Almost everyone you speak to about Thailand conjures up at least one image of this most famous of streets.
In recent times, the image many people have had of Patpong is the one propagated by TV documentaries and travel programs, an image that would have us believe Patpong in Bangkok is nothing more than a seedy rundown red light area run by pimps and gangsters. This is an image created by TV producers to make their programs more appealing to a mass audience of gossip and scandal hungry TV viewers. Despite this image, Patpong remains one of the major tourist attractions in Thailand.
Today Patpong, with its night markets, has become an area frequented by all types of visiting tourists, including families. The go-go bars and beer bars still survive and still operate as they always have done. In fact, today they are as busy as they always have been, and if you really want to see the prettiest girls working in a go-go then Patpong is where you must go.
Patpong attracts males, and some females, from all over the world into what many describe as a fantasy world full of exotic girls and bright lights. Every night you can see the madness on the streets of people braving the touts and crowds of the night market to find their own little piece of magic in this 'field of dreams'.
Patpong to the many that work there has come to represent a distinct area separate from the rest of Bangkok. To many girls working here, it's a sort of home from home where they can relax and feel comfortable amongst friends. Where else in the world would you find employees arriving at their place of work 4 hours before they start just so they can talk, eat and relax together before the day begins? Many tourist and expatriates find themselves drawn to Patpong with no other reason than they to feel at home here.
Patpong, a continual favourite night time haunt to many, is once again recapturing some of its former glory as the number one nightlife area in Thailand. There have been a few contenders to this crown. Still, Patpong reigns supreme despite the competition and the image portrayed by the world's TV.
More than just a street it surely is. To some it's life itself, for others a playground. To many it's a place of employment, but most of all it's a place like no other.
To get into a bit more detail, the main two areas are Patpong 1 and 2, two roads running adjacent to each other. Patpong 1 is home to the night market. The crowds that the night market attracts are the main reason that a lot of long time residents stopped coming into the area. If, however, you just ignore the throng of people and get yourself into a bar you will find the highest concentration of beautiful girls in any of the farang orientated nightlife areas. Two of the bars in particular, King's Castle 1 and King's Castle 2, always have a great selection of girls.
The next road over is Patpong 2, home to the famous Rififi, the Rififi bar is as famous as any bar in Bangkok, the bar stools could tell thousands of stories, this is one of Bangkok's legendary bars. There is no night market here and you can also find some 24-hour beer bars. Another go-go located here that cannot go without a mention is Pink Panther which seems to attract a steady flow of good looking girls, certainly as many as most of the better known go-go bars.
Soi Thaniya truly is Bangkok's "Little Tokyo", mainly catering to Japanese clientele. It really helps if your Thai's in good shape to explore any of these bars. A lot of people seem to think that a farang speaking Japanese would be preferable but as these girls are Thai you can soon lose them if your Japanese is really up to scratch.
If business is quiet, then it's possible for a farang to enter one of the hostess bars along this soi quite easily. Prices vary but most of the establishments that are not KTV bars are the usual hostess type arrangements. You pay for a girl - and there are some beautiful girls here - to sit with you and drink. What you will be charged for is "lady drinks" but that's not what you are being charged for. A lady drink is usually a block of time anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes depending on the bar. Expect to pay between 300 - 750 baht depending on the bar and your language ability for each of these time increments.
As far as barfines go, if the girl is willing to go out the barfines are in the region of 2000 - 2500 baht and some of the bars have short time rooms on the premises. What you pay the girl is between you and her in some bars and an all-in price with an optional tip in others.
Basically, Soi Thaniya is not recommended unless you really know the scene well or are accompanied by someone who does. You could really run up an astronomical bill without trying here.
View more photos of patpong