Bangkok-based writer and night owl Debbie Oakes has been boogieing in Bangkok’s best clubs far longer than she will admit (even after tequila). Here’s her pick of the best clubs in the Thai capital.
A few important things to note about clubbing in Bangkok: the legal drinking age in Thailand is 20, wine is subject to a “luxury tax” that makes it much more expensive than other drinks and most of the clubs on this list have a smart-casual dress code – so make sure you’re not wearing shorts and sandals.
The venues that have made the cut have been chosen for their divine drinks, delectable food and world-class DJs. Without further ado, here are the best clubs in Bangkok.
Housed in an unassuming shopping mall, Flamenco is a Latin club decked out in neon lights, floral installations and brightly coloured murals. A live band fills the room with the rhythms of jazz swing and, as the night progresses, energetic dancers lead the glamorous crowd through salsa dance moves. The open-air terrace is a great place to have a breather and enjoy the Spanish-Latin cuisine (seafood paella, tuna tartare sliders on cornbread and ceviche, to name a few). A huge cocktail list features everything from aperitifs to premium spirits and, of course, tequila and pisco cocktails.
Located in the basement of the Grand Hyatt Erawan is one of Bangkok’s original party spaces. The people-watching is almost as much fun as the live music – even expats who have been occupying the same sofa since 1998 get up and boogie. It’s hard to take it seriously as a restaurant, but Spasso has a mean à la carte Italian menu that is available seven days a week.
Judging by the queues, the Aloft Hotel’s Levels has sustained the interest of the often fickle Sukhumvit Soi 11 party crowd. A regular high-energy band belts out party anthems and hip-hop as an enormous chandelier rains an LED light show down upon revellers. Feisty dancers and live DJs keep the crowd pumping. VIP booths can be had for the price of a top-shelf bottle, which is not a bad idea as the bar can be crowded. In the second, darker room (through a tunnel), you’ll find EDM, dance and nu-soul tunes.
Located on the cool Soi Convent in the Silom neighbourhood, Kika stretches across two floors with a street-side area for people-watching. The cocktails all have tongue-in-cheek names – Bubble Butt, anyone? – and are as delicious as they are amusing. The menu consists of a mix of Asian and European dishes, with the tempura, risotto and caprese salad particularly good. The week holds a regular rotation of fun events, including Buy 1 Get 1 Boys’ Night and Boys“R”Us, but the real showpiece is Sunday Gay Tea Dance. Expect a lot of singalongs to cheesy ’90s pop songs.
Maggie Choo’s was created by Australian bar designer Ashley Sutton. The decor is a burlesque speakeasy crossed with the set of La Cage aux Folles – the venue is the epitome of saucy glam. Through the darkness, partygoers relax on leather couches, sipping cocktails as ladies in cheongsams languidly rock back and forth on bird swings. The club’s weekly gay event, which takes place every Sunday, is the place to be. During the rest of the week, there is a rotation of shows and events (not gay focussed) that feature DJs, dancers and burlesque performers.
Sing Sing Theater, Bangkok | Courtesy of Sing Sing Theater
Sing Sing is another of Ashley Sutton’s creations. Sensual chinoiserie, silk lanterns, birdcages, black lights and filigree metal screens bedeck the space. Meanwhile, the mezzanine, sunken bar and secret passages add to the creative design. The Bruce Lee cigar bar is for smoking and meetings in hushed tones.
The Club at Koi is located on the 39th floor of the Sathorn Square skyscraper. After a couple of previous incarnations in the same spot, the latest rendition is dark and sophisticated, with large windows that allow views of Bangkok to sweep in and steal the show. Music is provided by an array of DJs. The Californian-Japanese restaurant serves delicious food, but the signature cocktails are what make this place stand out. Try the Zetsumyou, a honey truffle-laced version of a whiskey sour.
The RCA is Bangkok’s official “nightlife zone” and super hub of uber clubs separated into four blocks named A, B, C and D. You’ll find a party here every day of the week. Highlights of this area include: the Live RCA, which has live dance music, an impressive sound and light display, and huge but packed dance floors; Route66, which has long been a rite of passage for Bangkok clubbers; and Onyx Main Stage, a 2,000-capacity mega club that plays host to some of the world’s most renowned EDM and house DJs.
It’s fair to say Mustache Bar has a split personality. Early in the evening the atmosphere is decidedly relaxed, with a range of beers and snacks served in the downstairs bar. But the pace suddenly picks up after midnight, as it transforms into a lively underground house party. Each floor of this old three-storey shophouse is different, with the first retro in design, the second Bollywood glam and the third a large rooftop beer garden. The party gets going at 6pm – but it’s best to head here at around midnight to stand a chance at lasting ’til sunrise.
The newest club on this list, PENTA is one of the few places in Bangkok where you can get down to local hip-hop. The decor is best described as urban chic, with street art throughout the concrete space. Neon lights, large digital screens and laser light shows set the mood for all-night, high-energy dancing.
BEAM is a two-storey venue where warehouse party vibes come with a side of luxury. Each level specialises in a different genre of music: the top-floor plays hip-hop, while downstairs is all about deep house and techno. The club’s most interesting feature, however, is its “body kinetic” dance floor, which vibrates to the rhythm of the music.