Thailand is renowned throughout the world for its rich and varied nightlife and visitors to the Land of Smiles are presented with a wide range of options when it comes to deciding what to do in the evening. From dancing the night away in the local bar or nightclub or singing your heart out in a karaoke bar to watching the latest international movie or checking out a traditional Muay Thai boxing match, the possibilities are endless.
Generally speaking it is the tourist hotspots of places such as Bangkok, Pattaya and indeed, Koh Samui that have built a more than justified reputation for having the liveliest and in some quarters, the raunchiest party scene in the country. However, plenty of smaller towns and less popular destinations still boast a wealth of evening attractions, with equally as vibrant atmospheres and night time entertainment scenes.
Bars, Nightclubs and Go-Go Girls
Bangkok, Thailand’s capital, is home to many world class nightclubs or ‘super clubs’ as they are known, that attract some of the world’s leading DJ’s and performers. There are literally thousands of bars in Bangkok that include just about everything from upmarket and trendy venues that attract a varied mix of local Thais and international tourists and clientele. Outside of Bangkok, popular destinations such as Koh Samui, Phuket and Chaing Mai have their fair share of exclusive bars and nightclubs. Many of which have almost sprung up from nowhere in the last five to ten years and are often a direct result of the ever increasing number of international tourists to these destinations.
Then there are Thailand’s infamous Go-Go bars or ‘girlie bars’, as they are also known. A magnet for male (and a few female!) foreign tourists, who are more than a little bit curious to see what all the fuss is about! These types of bars can also be regular haunts for many male expats that have chosen to live in Thailand.
For the local men, usually located away from the main tourist hotspots are the less raunchy, karaoke style bars. There are also massage parlours/bars that are located throughout Thailand with their offerings of ‘cheeky’ or ‘special’ massage that are generally frequented by for Thai nationals and foreign tourists.
Understandably, these sorts of bars or clubs will not be to everyone’s liking. However, generally they are very safe and can make for an entertaining evening, where both male and female customers will be made to feel very welcome. No matter if you decide to take advantage of the full range of services that are on offer to customers in these sorts of places, they can be a perfectly good place sit and relax of an evening, whilst having a beer or three! After all, they are a long standing and unavoidable part of Thai culture.
In certain areas of Thailand the legendary ping-pong and sex shows are still as popular now as ever, which is surprising when you consider that drinks can be incredibly expensive and touts can give you nothing but hassle as you walk past these kinds of establishments, whether it be in the day or at night. This is most definitely another part of Thai nightlife that is mainly aimed at foreign tourists.
Pattaya is particularly infamous for its nightlife, where literally anything goes. Some people even go as far to say that the city is all about sex and it has long be considered to be at the centre of Thailand’s ‘naughty’ night time scene. Pattaya’s Walking Street is home to untamed bars and a raucous atmosphere and whilst it is possible to have an enjoyable night there, it is not without its fair share of undesirable characters.
Pattaya’s reputation as a destination for sex tourism is one that the Thai authorities are eager to shed. As recently as August 2011, the Thai government said that they were actively trying to project Pattaya, along with other parts of Thailand, as a family orientated tourist destination. However, sceptics claim that the sex industry in Pattaya is too powerful and generates too much money for the local and national economy. Therefore, any considerable change to the area, in terms of making it a destination which is suitable for families, is unlikely anytime soon.
Other areas of Thailand which have a prominent red light/Go-Go scene are Bangkok’s Nana, Soi Cowboy and Patpong, as well as Phuket’s Bangla Road, which is located in Patong.
Almost every destination in Thailand that tourists will visit in some capacity will have its selection of girlie or Go-Go bars. Sometimes these bars are very prominent, as in the places mentioned above and other times, less so. Either way, bars of this kind will be pretty difficult to avoid completely during your stay in Thailand. After all, for some people, these bars are the main reason why they travel here in the first place.
Thai Karaoke Bars
For a long time karaoke bars have been very popular in Thailand, mainly with the locals. However, as the number of foreign visitors to the country continues to grow, a host of karaoke bars can be found in all of the country’s popular tourist destinations, which cater for both Thai nationals and foreigners. Visiting a karaoke bar in Thailand can an entertaining experience and after downing several beers, belting out a few dubious renditions of your favourite song might suddenly seem like a good idea! If you are feeling super confident, you might want to try your hand at singing one of the many famous Thai pop songs, which will surely leave the locals in absolute hysterics! Some karaoke bars stay open as late as 4 or 5am, which will give you plenty of time to work your way through a bottle whisky and is very much the order of the day (or night, as it were!).
Parties on the Beach
Thailand’s wild party scene isn’t just found in the girl bars and nightclubs of Bangkok and Pattaya. On many islands such as Koh Samui, Koh Phi Phi and Koh Tao you will find a variety of different beach parties, bars and clubs, which are very popular amongst backpackers and other young travellers to Thailand.
Nowhere is the beach party scene more prominent than on Koh Phangan at the famous Full Moon Party. Each month, tens of thousands of revellers make their way to Haad Rin beach to party until the next morning against a back drop of fire shows, thumping music and drinks consisting of Thai rum, whisky and Thai Red Bull, which are consumed by the bucket load, quite literally! Due to the popularity of the Full Moon Party, there are now other moon inspired parties that happen in other areas of Thailand, such as the Half Moon Party and Black Moon Party, which are basically just another excuse for a party!
As well as the large organised events, there are also plenty of beach bars that can be found on every island in Thailand. Many of these beachside bars can provide a great location to watch the sun go down in the evening before the more serious partying begins later on at night. Expect loud music, plenty of beers and fire shows.
For more information on the Full Moon Party, click here. (LINK HERE)
An Evening of Culture
Don’t be fooled into thinking that a night out in Thailand is all about drinking, loud music and staying up until the early hours. No matter where you happen to be staying in Thailand you will be sure to find a wide range of cultural experiences or activities that will be able to keep you entertained of an evening.
As well as sampling some delicious Thai food, you might want to spend your time walking around one of Thailand’s many night bazaars or markets, as this will give you a genuine insight into Thai culture and can also be a great place to pick up some bargain souvenirs.
You might want to go and watch a live cabaret show, which are also very popular in Thailand, or take in a traditional Thai dance performance. Throughout Thailand there are hundreds of live music venues ranging from small bars to large arenas and specialist music clubs. These venues include just about every act from unsigned local bands and artists to world famous international performers.
If sport, in particular mixed martial arts are more your thing, then you must go and watch a traditional Muay Thai boxing fight. Most towns and cities will have a either a stadium or local boxing arena where organised fights are normally held. Prices of tickets for events of this kind can cost anything in the region of a couple of hundred Baht, right up to 2 or 3 thousand Baht in some of the popular tourist areas.
If you happen to be on a budget, then visiting the cinema in Thailand can be a cheap option for an enjoyable evening. Many Thai cinemas, particularly in Bangkok are very modern and show all the latest international releases in both Thai and English. Large multiplexes are found all over the country, particularly in the large shopping malls.
Whatever it is you decide to do in the evenings during your stay in Thailand, there are certainly plenty of options open to you that will ensure you have a fun and truly memorable experience.