08 January 2021
It’s 6:00pm, and the sun is tipping low on the horizon. You’re sitting at the quiet bar attached to your hotel in Bangkok. It’s just you, an older couple, probably from Europe, and the bartender. You’re sipping on the local Chang beer, your first of the night. You’re only in town for a week and want to make sure you sample as much good food, drinks, and carnal pleasures as you can.
You’re also a bit nervous. It’s your first time in Bangkok and you’ve heard that if you’re not careful, you could get ripped off. You want to have a fun time, yes, but also a safe and fair time.
So how do you get started? We’ll cover some nightlife do’s and don’ts and also some common scams to watch out for. The first thing you should do is research, and that can start with this article. That said, make sure you think of your own preferences and needs, and conduct some extra research as well.
The first thing you need to do is figure out where you want to go. There’s Thonglor off of Sukhumvit Road, which is home to the well-known Iron Fairies bar and other nightlife hotspots. BEAM nightclub is one of the best for people who want to cut the rug.
You can also head to Khaosan Road to enjoy a variety of pubs and clubs. Or hit up the quieter Soi Rambuttri nearby.
If you’re looking for a lot of excitement, there’s the Patpong red-light district. There’s also Soi Cowboy (named after an American who opened a bar there in the 1970s and who liked to wear cowboy hats) or the infamous Nana Plaza. If you’re looking for a lot of excitement, these places have plenty and more to offer.
If you’re looking for something more restrained, consider one of the upscale rooftop bars scattered around Bangkok, such as Vertigo on the 61st floor of Banyan Tree Bangkok. You could also opt for a peaceful dinner cruise on the Chao Phraya River.
Know where you’re going? Great! Now it’s time to get there.
Bangkok’s streets can suffer a lot of congestion, even at night. There’s simply not enough space and too many cars. It’s smart to book a hotel near public transportation, including the BTS Skytrain or MRT railway lines. Bangkok’s public transportation is pretty good, and many of the best sites and districts are located near a public transit line.
That said, you’ll probably have to use a cab or tut-tut at some point in Bangkok. Be warned, some cab drivers will try to rip you off. Don’t jump in a cab without negotiating prices. Set prices first. Your best bet is to find a driver who will use the meter. Failing that, make sure you set any flat rate before you get in the cab. You want to avoid any surprises and arguments when you get to your destination.
There are also rideshare apps, such as Grab. Many of these apps have long existed in a sort of legal gray zone, but the government is taking steps to legalize and regulate ride share apps. That said, it can be hard to catch a ride at times through rideshare apps.
Sadly, some unscrupulous people will try to swindle you of your hard-earned money. Often, the scams are pretty simple in nature and if you keep an eye out, you can avoid getting scammed. First, a lot of guys and gals calling to you from the street will promise that there’s no cover at the bar, or that they can get you in for free. Often, there is, in fact, a cover charge.
Generally, you’re better off finding a bar or pub that charges no cover to anyone. Or find out what the cover is up front and simply pay for it. A lot of honest nightlife spots charge a modest, legitimate cover charge.
Another common scam involves the drinks for the ladies entertaining you. You’re sipping on your beer, enjoying a good time, chatting with a local girl. You offer to buy her a drink, she waves over a waitress and orders a drink that’s often nothing more than diluted (yes, diluted) Coke. When you get the bill, however, her drink ends up costing hundreds of baht.
Whatever you’re paying for, it’s wise to ask for the price up front. Doing so may feel a bit rude or brusque, but it’ll protect your wallet.
Many people head to Thailand with the intent of meeting a woman. You’ll find many bar girls working in bars spread across Bangkok and other cities. You can also find women on apps, walking along the street, and through escort booking agencies.
Escorts you find on the street typically charge 4,000-5,000 baht for 2 hours or so of service. Some charge less, but remember, you get what you pay for. More affordable escorts may not undergo regular STD testing and may underperform in bed.
Bar girls may charge a similar rate to go home with you. However, you may also be on the hook for a “bar fee,” make sure you find out how much that fee is.
Escorts booked through agencies are safer and it is the best option when seeking a companion for the night but they do cost a bit more than a bar or street escort, to cover STD testing, advertising and other overhead expenses but the best escort agencies make finding amazing escorts so much easier. The best Bangkok escort agencies also ensure that their escorts, both girls and ladyboys (transexuals), undergo regular STD checks and fully screened before employment, and you are able to talk to the management in advance, making sure your escort is the best choice that meets your needs and expectations.
Some truly talented women may charge rates well above those described above. However, they may also offer the same looks and services you’ll find anywhere else in Bangkok. So, make sure you do some research if prices seem abnormally high.
While you might spend most of your time in Bangkok enjoying the nightlife, there’s a good chance you’ll stop by popular tourist sites and the like. Thailand has plenty to offer and you should treat yourself to some cultural exploration. Sadly, as you explore, you may put yourself at risk of some common scams.
First, some unscrupulous tuk-tuk drivers will claim that popular sites, such as the Royal Palace, are closed for the day for a special royal event or whatever. These sites are rarely closed, however, and if they are, you can probably find the info online.
Anyway, the tuk-tuk driver will offer to take you to see other sites around town for a reasonable price, often just 40 or 50 baht. From here, you’re taken to various sites around town. Some of them might actually be good sites to see. However, you could be played for more scams, and more expensive ones at that.
At one of the temples, the tuk-tuk driver might introduce you to a friend, or perhaps someone approaches you seemingly randomly. Suddenly, you’re given the opportunity to buy valuable gemstones duty-free. There’s a catch though: you must buy the gems now but they’ll be shipped directly to your house in your home country. You may indeed receive the gems (or perhaps not) but even if you do, they’ll be essentially worthless.
Generally speaking, if someone approaches you to offer unsolicited help, be very careful. There’s a good chance they’re scamming you or at least offering an unfair deal. That said, don’t be afraid to ask people for help. Thais are a very friendly people.
There’s been a common message so far and you may have picked up on it: always ask the price of things up front. This is important enough that we want to highlight it specifically. Whatever you’re doing, arranging a girlfriend experience, heading to a venue for a Ladyboy show, getting a massage, ordering a beer, eating dinner, whatever, make sure you ask for prices up front.
The easiest way to scam people is to simply overcharge them. Generally speaking, a beer should typically run for around 80 baht or less at your average pub or bar. If beer prices show 150 baht for a beer, you already know you’re getting overcharged. And if the beer is expensive, there’s a good bet everything else is overpriced as well.
This article might make Bangkok seem unsafe. However, we focused only on the scams and other issues that you might suffer. Fact is, most people go to Bangkok, have a great time, and avoid most of the worst scams. Maybe they’ll overpay for a beer here and there even if they’re vigilant but often they’re out a small sum at most.
Just remember to be vigilant and to use a healthy dose of skepticism. A bit of precaution can go a long way in protecting you. It’s also smart to do research before heading to Bangkok to learn about market rates. Generally, how much should a room at a hotel go for? How much should an escort charge? Drink prices?
With a bit of time and effort, you can develop a general feel for prices before you even set foot in Thailand. Knowledge is power, and understanding the local market may protect you from scams and rip-offs.