The Red-Light Districts of Bangkok
Thailand is among the most famous destinations for sex tourism, and thousands of people visit it every year for its exotic nightlife and adult entertainment. Bangkok, the capital, is at the heart of it all, and its red-light districts are full of go-go bars, massage parlors, and hotels. It’s home to the world’s largest adult playground and other legendary venues with attractive dancers and even wild ping-pong shows!
But what do you need to know before visiting the red-light districts in Bangkok? Check out our guide to find out!
The Patpong red-light district became popular in the late 1960s due to hundreds of soldiers visiting its go-go bars on breaks from the Vietnam War. It later turned into one of the wildest districts for sex tourism in Bangkok thanks to its rich bar and club scene. The area consists of two alleys, Patpong Soi 1 and Soi 2. You can find them in the Wall Street-esque Silom neighborhood.
Overall, Patpong is packed with go-go bars, including some of the most visited establishments in the city, like Thigh Bar, Safari Bar, and BarBar Fetish Club. Yet, the most famous venues are King’s Castle 1 and 2. Usually, all kinds of tourists and local workers will visit some of these bars very late, after around 1 or 2 a.m.
While Patpong offers a versatile mix of wild erotic shows and energetic nightlife, it’s also famous for its naughty “Menu” scam. It’s a 20-year-old scheme involving a man who approaches you in the street and shows you a menu of naughty acrobatics (including ping pong shows). The man asks you to follow him “upstairs” and pick a show from the erotic menu. Then, he tells you that you won’t have to pay if you don’t like what you see. However, the staff will find some kind of way to take money from you through tips or angry looks. So it’s best to avoid talking to anyone who approaches you and only visit venues that are at ground level.
This small street contains over 30 bars, and it is among the best destinations for nightlife and sex tourism. The short 500-ft alley is also full of alluring neon lights, making it one of the brightest and most unusual areas in Bangkok. Many tourists will describe it as euphoric, exciting, loud, and glamorous.
Furthermore, the Soi Cowboy red-light district got its name from T.G. “Cowboy” Edwards. He was a cowboy-hat-wearing, African-American pilot who started the trend in the area in the 1970s.
Currently, the street contains go-go bars like Susie Wong, Deja Vu, Crazy Horse, Baccara, and Tilac. Inside, you’ll usually find UV-lit, multilevel stages, red sofas, attractive girls, and mixed clientele. In venues like Tilac, it’s possible to have over 15 or 20 dancers on stage at the same time. Soi Cowboy will undoubtedly give you an unforgettable time thanks to its music, dancing girls, and lots of drinks. However, don’t expect to see a kinky show with pole tricks and naughty moves since most of the dancers in this district are quite conservative.
The Nana Plaza red-light district is a famous night market. It’s dubbed the largest “adult playground” in the world. You can find this exotic playground in a U-shaped building with three floors in the district of Khlong Toei. The building is open every day from 7 to around 3 a.m. Once inside, you’ll find over 30 dancing bars with relaxing atmospheres and lots of attractive pole dancers. Also, Nana Plaza is famous for having one of the largest selections of Kathoey or “ladyboy” bars.
Some of the best venues in Nana Plaza are Rainbow 4, Angelwitch, Bangkok Bunnies, Spanky’s Agogo, and Lollipop. They mostly attract tourists from Japan and the West. The building even has short-time hotels on the top floor. They charge hourly rates for room rentals. It’s quite easy to arrange a “compensated erotic rendezvous” with a Nana Plaza bar girl or dancer. What’s more, it’s the reason why some refer to Nana Plaza as a “sex mall.”
Additionally, the building is on Sukhumvit Road, which is full of street vendors and exotic food like kai tod or som tum. Outside the plaza, you’ll also find a selection of bars and open-air pubs.
Soi Pratuchai or Soy Twilight is a street found nearby Patpong Night Market. It’s a small neon-lit walkway famous for catering exclusively to the gay community. The Soi Twilight red-light district is mainly visited by tourists, and locals prefer other areas. Unfortunately, the district was shut down in 2019.
Currently, the area is being renovated, although some bars have closed down for good. Nevertheless, Soi Twilight featured some of the wildest gay bars and salons in Thailand. That includes X-men Bar, X-size Bar, Hot Male Bar, Boys of Bangkok, and more. Some venues even held synchronized swimming shows with underwater mermen, and many of them were blowjob bars or “massage” parlors. It was also common to see drag comedy nights and even illegal sex shows like bathing shows.
Additionally, this district was notorious for common scams involving extortion or even threats to tourists who didn’t pay their inflated or fake bills. Luckily, it wasn’t the only gay-focused area in town. If you’re looking to explore the gay scene in Bangkok, there are plenty of other areas to visit, including Sukhumvit Road, Silom (Soi 4 and 2), and more. Simply keep an eye out for “Hot Male” signs, and you’ll definitely find some relaxing venues with massages, dancers, and even gay karaoke nights.
Scams You Should Avoid in the Red-Light Districts
We’ve already pointed out some scams to avoid in the Bangkok red-light districts, but there are plenty more since prostitution is illegal, and the industry is unregulated.
As mentioned, the first thing to avoid would be random men approaching you with offers and promises of sexy shows and low prices. But, that doesn’t only happen on the streets. You may get a recommendation from a taxi driver. They could give you “insider tips” on obscure establishments. Moreover, watch out for taxi drivers who work without a meter. And if you want to pay for naughty extracurricular activities, it’s best to only do it at popular venues that will not scam you.
In most cases, the venues will provide some form of free entertainment. But, they will take your money through “hidden fees” and extortion. It’s not uncommon for bouncers to threaten people or even beat them up. That is particularly true for ping-pong and similar live sex shows. The easiest way to avoid such scams is to visit respected establishments. In many cases, you’ll usually be able to tell if the place is legit if the servers keep your bill on the table.
And aside from the mentioned sexy “Menu” scam, there are many others to watch out for. You should keep an eye on rogue tuk-tuk drivers who want to “show you around.” They could take you to unknown rural areas or even show you some lesser-known destinations. That could seem normal at first, but they might take you to a shop or fake tourism agency and try to scam you into spending your money.
Bangkok is full of sexy districts like Soi Cowboy, Nana Plaza, Patpong, and more. Each of them is unique and full of naughty fun and glamorous nightlife. So if you want to visit some of them, don’t hesitate — you’ll be in for the adventure of a lifetime!