Bangkok’s infamous reputation for sex and go-go bars all began in Patpong in the early sixties and remains as busy as ever. Located off Silom Road, these two short, parallel lanes have become a tourist attraction. Punters might find a more genuine go-go experience elsewhere in the city, but anyone coming to Bangkok for the girls should pay homage to this heartbeat of the city’s naughty nightlife.
Patpong attracts all types, from curious tourists browsing the night market here to first-timers who don’t know where to start. This crowded area has dozens of go-go bars full of sexy women, pole dancers and sex shows. The ‘ping pong’ shows are particularly infamous for their girls performing all sorts of unimaginable acts with their pussy, and sitting through the vulgar, tiresome experience massaging your overpriced beer is a rite of passage for anyone new to the Bangkok sex scene.
Within a few minutes’ walk of Sala Daeng Skytrain station are these two pedestrianised lanes, each 100m long and packed with bars, people and pavement vendors who take up every square inch of the street.
This can make it all a rather chaotic and unpleasant experience, although the atmosphere can be fun. Many people here aren’t interested in the sex, apart from a passing ‘peep’, and the bars and girls are quite touristy and jaded. All the same it can be a fun few hours.
Inside the go-go bars of Patpong you’ll find a stage of pole-dancers in bikinis, and you can sit and enjoy a drink while deciding if you fancy any of the girls. If so, ask to have her come and sit with you, buy her a lady drink (more expensive) and arrange to take her home. You’ll have to pay a 500 baht ‘bar fine’ and the girls here will expect 2,000 baht (US$60) minimum. There are, however, other similar go-go areas on Sukhumvit Road where you’re likely find a more authentic experience. All the same, some of the sexiest girls are on display at Patpong, along with some attractive ladyboys.
Patpong sex shows
Upstairs from the go-go bars are the sex shows, which have been going for years. They should be approached with caution as they’re notorious for their bizarre acts and rip-offs. Often touts will trawl the street trying to persuade you to enter, but if you do, be on your guard. It’s common for the bar to present you with an enormous bill afterwards, for all sorts of ‘extras’, and get heavy when you refuse to pay. If you order a beer and pay for it immediately and check with the waitress you should be okay, though.
All the same, you’ll soon get bored of these unimaginative and unsexy shows. Some are better than others, but usually you find yourself leaving after 15 minutes. Soi Cowboy – a 15-minute taxi ride away – has better ‘upstairs’ shows where the girls are permitted to dance naked. Angelwitch in Nana Plaza (another hotspot) is famous for its creative and entertaining show put on nightly.
Patpong 4 is yet another lane nearby, given over to gay bars. They are not go-go bars, but full of male company. There are some trendy lounge bars here, too, where straight men can relax and perhaps party with local Thai girls. Further down Silom Road is the broad, neon-clad Soi Thaniya, which is the Japanese Patpong of Bangkok and exclusively for them.
There are also a few bars on Patpong where you can party to live music or a DJ, with pretty hostesses or freelancing prostitutes. You’ll find quieter bars in the area if you wander around a bit, too, and they might have some hostesses who you can take home for the evening. Plenty of places to eat can be found around Patpong; while the market itself is noted for its fake goods.
Bet you didn’t know that! The two lanes of girlie bars known as Patpong was the first go go area in Bangkok. The land was bought for US$3,000 by the Patpongsiri family in 1946 – today it’s worth in excess of $100 million. A small price to pay for having your name associated with ping pong shows and ladyboy prostitutes.