12 Brilliant Bars in Bangkok

Mahanakhon Bangkok SkyBar lies on the 76th and 77th floors of the King Power Mahanakhon building
Mahanakhon Bangkok SkyBar lies on the 76th and 77th floors of the King Power Mahanakhon building | Courtesy of Mahanakhon Bangkok SkyBar
Debbie Oakes

If you’re planning to sample the best of Bangkok’s bar scene, here are 12 drinking holes that are well worth your time.

As Bangkok’s hot tropical sun tiptoes behind the ever-changing skyline, a rich range of venues throw open their doors, ready to welcome the thirsty traveller. Secret speakeasies, luxurious lounges and spectacular sky bars – this city has it all.

Bangkok’s oldest road, Charoen Krung, is fast becoming the city’s hotbed of cutting-edge gourmet cuisine, galleries and boundary-pushing bars. Formerly a neighbourhood for artisans, this creative district has since transformed into a feast of colours, unforgettable flavours and the perfect backdrop to enjoy an aperitif or two. But if it is a speakeasy that whispers your name, there is no shortage of Prohibition-themed cocktail bars in Chinatown and nearby Soi Nana. Also, a slew of five-star hotels has recently opened on and near Sukhumvit Road, Silom Road and along the Chao Phraya River. These luxury hotspots add to an already wide selection of high-end and high-in-the-sky options to enjoy a sundowner – challenging some of the city’s tired, old and overpriced sky bars.

1. Lennon’s at the Rosewood for creative cocktails paired with live jazz

Bar, Beer, Cocktails, Wine

Entering Lennon’s on the 30th floor of the Rosewood Hotel feels like falling into a Haruki Murakami novel. An Art Deco chandelier glimmers overhead, and a spiral staircase leads to a cigar lounge. Thousands of LP records, which you can buy or ask the DJ to play, line the walls. But as stunning as the decor is, the pièce de résistance is the cocktail menu, curated by mixologist Daniele Cervi, who’s meticulous about even the smallest details, including the shape and colour of the glass. Jazz, blues and pop inspire the drinks, which are best enjoyed with Lennon’s live-music performances. Try the Fly Me to the Moon with whiskey, amaro, cacao blanc and Mancino rosso, or rock out on the Purple Haze with gin, butterfly tea, violette and prosecco.

2. Spectrum Lounge and Bar at the Hyatt Regency for something for everyone

Bar, Cocktails, Wine, Beer

Stretching out over three floors, the Spectrum Lounge and Bar offers a range of experiences to suit every mood. Thai art, teal accents and plush furnishings greet you in the first lounge, along with live music, while the spacious al fresco terrace on the 30th floor features intimate alcoves, daybeds and tropical trees. On the very top floor, you’ll find Carrara-marble-topped bars, a neon light show and bass notes pumping in an open-air club. The signature cocktails are custom designed by the bartenders and highlight local ingredients – try the Khun Golf’s Mad Mango, peppered with hints of salt and chilli. It also serves delicious tapas, such as wagyu beef sliders and crispy soft shell crab on taro fritters.

3. The Loft at the Waldorf Astoria for New York glamour with Bangkok views

Bar, Cocktails, Beer, Wine, Snacks

Waldorf Astoria Bangkok
Courtesy of Waldorf Astoria Bangkok

New York glamour meets speakeasy decor on the 56th floor of the swanky Waldorf Astoria Bangkok. With private nooks, plush dusky-rose velvet and bronze Art Nouveau accents, The Loft was inspired by The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book (1934). Artworks are a nod to the artists of SoHo, which are presented alongside vintage paint tools, glass ink pots and tins filled with brushes. Cocktails are accordingly classic with an artistic Thai twist. The Bespoke uses Phraya rum, and the Habanero Whiskey Punch has a tropical twist with chilli and coconut syrup.

4. Find the Photo Booth, a secret speakeasy on Sukhumvit Soi 11, for a romantic rendezvous

Bar, Cocktails, Wine, Beer

The creators of Bangkok’s other secret bar, the Locker Room, strike again with imagination and aplomb. Located on the rapidly changing Sukhumvit Soi 11, Find the Photo Booth is hard to find but worth the search. Enter the doors next to Score Bar, and head upstairs to the second floor. Walk past the foosball and pool tables to find an old-fashioned photo booth. Hit the shutter switch and a whole world opens up like a cocktail-fuelled 1920s Narnia. The devilishly creative cocktail menu features imaginatively monikered drinks such as the Three Dots and a Dash and The Thai Godson of Sidebar. All cocktails come in twos – one classic and one signature with a Thai twist.

5. Tropic City for Cuban beats and rum-filled cocktails

Bar, Beer, Wine, Cocktails

Tropic City is a celebration of all things tropical – from its home town to the rum-filled cocktails that line the menu. Flowers, whitewashed bricks and azulejos (Portuguese tiles) decorate the bar, and a painting of a cool woman smoking a Cuban cigar presides over the space. The baby of Bangkok bar veterans Sebastian De La Cruz and Philip Stefanescu, this groovy venue is the perfect spot to both start your evening with a few tamer tipples and to end your night with dancing and DJ beats. Try the Fino Sherry Rico Suave and Hotline Bling, infused with Bombay Sapphire gin.

6. Libération for culinary cocktails in a hidden bar

Cocktail Bar, Cocktails

Sao Rong Ngarn
Courtesy of Libération

Hidden on the fourth floor of Piman 49, Libération is accessible via a lift by the toilet. While not the most glamorous of entrances, the elevator doors open to reveal a dark and alluring room with light shining from a wall of premium spirits. The focus of the culinary cocktail list is on quality ingredients and the fancy extraction of flavours and essences – names are inspired by propaganda slogans. Silence Means Security has green mango mixed with Tio Pepe and umeshu, while Vegan War is a combination of clarified tomato, sweet red cabbage and vodka.

7. Red Rose Jazz Bar for a time capsule of 1930s Shanghai in Chinatown

Hotel Restaurant, Chinese

Nestled between the hawkers, tuk-tuk drivers and temples of Chinatown, Red Rose Jazz Bar is an oasis of elegance and a time capsule of 1930s Shanghai. Velvet drapes, oversized oil paintings and glistening chandeliers accessorise the drawing room. A live swing jazz band sets the beat every night as you sip classic cocktails. Order the peking duck if you’re hungry.

8. Havana Social for a speakeasy with salsa and cigars

Bar, Cocktails, Beer, Wine

8. Havana Social for a speakeasy with salsa and cigars
Courtesy of Havana Social

If the queues are anything to go by, Havana Social is Bangkok’s worst-kept secret – but still one of its best bars. You’ll find this Cuban-themed bar in a sultry sub-soi off Sukhumvit Soi 11. Try to come on weekends when you can dance o Cuban jazz. Head to the second floor if you get the urge for a cigar – there you will find a smoking room. One rum-based cocktail is included in the entrance fee.

9. Mahanakhon Bangkok SkyBar, Bangkok’s most vertiginous drinking destination

Bar, Cocktails

Mahanakhon Bangkok SkyBar
Courtesy of Mahanakhon Bangkok SkyBar

Towering above the steamy city on the 76th floor, Mahanakhon Bangkok SkyBar is the city’s most vertiginous and stylish drinking destination. The orangery-like bar contains plush leather booths, dark-wood details and floor-to-ceiling windows. Not only is there a menu of classic cocktails but another with exquisite food. The ambience is an al fresco urban terrace with interiors by French architect Tristan Auer that blends French style with Thai elegance. The rooftop has cool vibes and hosts famous DJs.

10. Sala Rattanakosin for sunset views of Wat Arun and the Chao Phraya River

Bar, Cocktails

By the time you make the winding trek to the top floor of the Sala Rattanakosin, you’ll have worked up a mean thirst – but it’s worth it. This al fresco bar has views of Wat Arun and the Chao Phraya River, which turns into the colour of molten gold at sunset. No longer the hidden treasure it once was, it’s best to book a table. The exquisite tuna tartare and oysters are highly recommended. Complete the night with a My Mai Thai with blue curaçao and a Chao Phraya Gin Fizz.

11. No Idea for beer, rugby and pub food

Gastropub, Pizzeria, Pub Grub, Wine, Beer, Fast Food, European

Nestled among its salubrious neighbours on Sukhumvit 22, No Idea is a gastropub offering friendly Kiwi service and flavourful food that punches above its weight. A great wine list accompanies a modest selection of beers on tap. It’s also the place to watch a game of rugby.

12. Hemingway Garden, Bar and Bistro for relaxed drinks on a leafy veranda

Bar, Cocktails

A collective “hurrah!” erupted from Bangkok when Hemingway reopened. The verdant veranda bar-restaurant has been rebuilt into a bigger and better version of its old self. The tropical garden is growing, the beer and wine are flowing, and all is fine in the city once more.

This article is an updated version of a story created by Jessica Dawdy.

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