This strip of neon and flesh is Bangkok’s third go-go bar area and is probably most pleasing to the eye. On the outside, Soi Cowboy is more respectable looking than Nana, and less crowded than Patpong, and on the inside the girls are far less dressed. Although farther out than the others, it is fairly close to the Asok Skytrain station on Sukhumvit Road and is nonetheless popular.
About 40 bars line this 100-metre long pedestrian street between Sukhumvit Soi 21 and Soi 23; most of them go-go bars where you enter a dark interior with a few dozen bikini-clad girls dancing on a stage.
Many are topless, and some are bottomless as well – it is more permissive than Nana, since it’s out of town more and sits in a different police district. Some of the bars have an upstairs level where you’ll find fully naked women, though Cowboy doesn’t have the ‘ping pong’ shows that Patpong is famed for.
Soi Cowboy has, in fact, been going since the late ‘70s; so named after American TG ‘Cowboy’ Edwards, who established the first bar here. It’s been featured in several novels and even starred in the hit movie Bridget Jones’s: Edge of Reason. If you’re new to Bangkok and looking for a sexy girl and a good time, this is your best choice.
The go-go bars in Soi Cowboy are similar to those found in other tourist areas of Thailand, where sexy girls gyrate with a bored look on a central catwalk, while punters sit around on bar stools and ‘ringside’ seating. Waitresses make sure you’re never without a drink, which cost about 150 baht (US$5) each. Outside the bars you’ll find some of the ladies enticing you, as well as a more casual bar to sit and have a quieter drink.
The pedestrianised street gives Soi Cowboy a much better atmosphere; it’s not crowded with vendors and shoppers. You can feel more comfortable blending in with the crowd as you wander from one bar to the next, popping your head through the curtains at the door to see which pone tickles your fancy.
The many bars lining the street offer a mixed bag. Step into one and you may find it dead with just a few bored girls on stage, but next door could be pumping with several stages packed with sexy numbers. Tilac is famously abundant, Long Gun has a reliable selection, and Baccara is well stocked and popular. They do vary, however.
In Bangkok, Soi Cowboy bars generally have an excellent selection of Thai girls, mostly from the Isaan region. Unlike the beer bars, you get to see exactly what you’re taking home. They are, of course, more expensive and the standard bar fine is 600 baht, while the girls will want a minimum 2,000 baht just for a short time.
If it’s busy and your sweetheart is popular she might want twice that. As always, we suggest you sit and chat with your girl first to see if she’s good company, and perhaps buy her a few lady drinks to help her loosen up.
At each end of Soi Cowboy are regular bars serving food, should you need a break from the intense sexual atmosphere. Along soi 23 is a number of trendy cocktail lounges and regular bars. It’s a short tuk-tuk ride to the various pickup joints of Sukhumvit Road or Nana Plaza.