Bangkok Spices Up The Night With Sass And Class

Photo: © Solnechnaja |

- December 18, 2013

In just a few decades, Bangkok’s nightlife scene, once synonymous with debauchery, transformed. A strong economy and a burgeoning class of urban professionals created a demand for more classy establishments. These days, the city’s after-dark scene draws well-heeled tourists and trendy Thais to rooftop bars, gay-friendly pubs and Michelin-starred restaurants.

Catch the tail end of a Bangkok tradition, the Mandarin Oriental’s afternoon tea, which wraps up at 5 p.m. Though Thailand was never colonized, the hotel’s English-style tea has been an institution since 1879. Take yours amid the potted palms and wicker furniture of the sunny Authors’ Lounge, where the likes of Joseph Conrad and Somerset Maugham once sat and sipped.

Arrive early to snag a table at Sky Bar, an outdoor turret suspended on the side of one of the city’s tallest skyscrapers. The 63rd-floor bar offers vertiginous views of downtown Bangkok from 6 p.m. until 1 a.m. Just don’t show up in shorts or flip-flops: A “smart casual” dress code keeps the clientele as cool as the setting.

Bangkok’s LGBT nightlife has long centered on Soi 4 in the Silom neighborhood; among the venerable gay bars on the street are pub-style Telephone and the laid-back, terraced Balcony. For information on the latest LGBT nightlife spots throughout the city, visit the Utopia website or the Lesbian Guide to Bangkok.

From food carts to fine dining, there’s no lack of choices during dinnertime. Among the eateries earning accolades is the city’s first Michelin-starred restaurant, Nahm, at the Metropolitan by COMO hotel. Under the helm of Chef David Thompson, the five-alarm spicy Thai cuisine and calm interiors draw a steady crowd. Likewise, Chon Thai Restaurant at The Siam Hotel is reviving home-cooked Thai cuisine within a cluster of century-old teak houses set beside the Chao Phraya River.

After dinner, catch a few bouts of Thailand’s national sport, muay thai, at either Lumpini Boxing Stadium (Tuesday, Friday and Saturday) or Ratchadamnoen Boxing Stadium (Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday). A good alternative to blood sport is the family-friendly puppet performance, which incorporates stories from the Thai epic Ramakien, showing nightly at the Aksra Theatre. For something a little sassier, try the Calypso Cabaret, a choreographed musical revue starring Thailand’s famous ladyboys.

Straight-laced or saucy, there’s always something happening in Bangkok after sunset.