On May 17, the world stands together for IDAHOT—The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. Here's why Bangkok is Southeast Asia's gay party hub.
How it looks: On weekends, tables are removed to create an open, disco light-filled dancefloor, flanked by a DJ booth and a bar crowned by crystal chandeliers.
What will get you drunk: The B400 entry fee gets you two drink coupons to use on the soi. After that, go for basic spirit mixers (B150), buckets (B450) and whiskey bottles (from B1,000).
What you’ll be dancing to: Energizing mainstream Western, K-pop and Thai pop hits.
Who you’ll end up in bed with: Slightly older twink Thais or beach bod-ready holidaymakers.
Silom Soi 2, opposite DJ Station. Open daily 10pm-2am. BTS Sala Daeng
How it looks: The definitive grand dame of gay clubbing conceals her barebones setup with disco balls and laser beams, while a grand stage beckons shirtless revelers prior to the midnight drag show. The upper two floors are noticeably more cruise-y and boozy.
What will get you drunk: Your drink coupons will be valid here, while prices match that of The Expresso.
What you’ll be dancing to: Mostly electro-dance music, if you’re lucky enough to find space amid the weekend crowds.
Who you’ll end up in bed with: Hyped-up Asian and Western party-goers who’ve had a few too many while waiting for the drag show to begin.
Silom Soi 2, 02-266-4029. Open daily 10pm-2am. BTS Sala Daeng
How it looks: This 30-year-old bar adopts a classic New York look. People watch from the front terrace, head to the first floor for Thai and Western cuisine, or up one more for karaoke.
What will get you drunk: Happy hour (6-8pm and midnight-late) bargains—house spirit mixers (B69), beer (B90) and cocktails (B120).
What you’ll be dancing to: Mainly electro-dance and house music, though you’re more likely to spend your time drinking and checking out guys.
Who you’ll end up in bed with: Older Europeans or Americans who prefer to drink and chat, maybe hitting the dance floor after they get a little tipsy.
Silom Soi 4, 02-234-3279. Open daily 6pm-2am. BTS Sala Daeng
How it looks: A towering, neon-lit entrance makes way for opulent decor, tacky disco balls and a huge dance floor cut down the middle by a catwalk, surrounded by elevated cylindrical stages for male model shows.
What will get you drunk: Bell’s (B800-900), Johnny Walker Red (B1,800) or Black Label (B2,000).
What you’ll be dancing to: K-pop, trance, EDM, house and live music on world-class audio equipment.
Who you’ll end up in bed with: Thai/Asian twinks who seem to know all the moves to Blackpink’s “Kill This Love,” or that cute boy who brought his one best girl friend.
222/32 Ratchadaphisek Rd., 081-390-8888. Open daily 9pm-3am. MRT Phra Ram 9
How it looks: This tiny madhouse of drag hosts feisty shows that see queens sliding the bannister from the glittery mezzanine to the packed seating area below (from around 11pm each night). It’s no library, but the drag queens will read you to filth.
What will get you drunk: Cheeky themed cocktails (B280) and shots (B120) like Golden Shower or Sperm.
What you’ll be dancing to: Though it’s more of a sit-down bar, classic chart tunes and epic lip syncs will bring you to your feet.
Who you’ll end up in bed with: A modern, younger gay man or someone looking for holiday romance.
Silom Soi 4, 02-632-9425. Open daily 5:30pm-2am. BTS Sala Daeng
How it looks: A brightly-lit street swarming with promoters trying to persuade you to enter their bars with drink specials, along with seductively-dressed men sitting at the front to lure you in. Approach with mindfulness.
What will get you drunk: Play the various drink specials in your favor, else it can get pricey.
What you’ll be dancing to: Depends on the bar, but you’re more likely to have someone dancing for you than be dancing yourself.
Who you’ll end up in bed with: A guy who you think is attractive enough to “take out” for the rest of the night (remember: safety first).
Between Surawong and Rama 4 Rd., bars usually open at 7:30 pm. BTS Sala Daeng
Bangkok’s Best Gay Nights
Sukhumvit’s home of Hollywood-esque Chinoiserie has recently launched “Born This Way,” a Sunday LGBT night that forgoes gender and judgement. The theme changes fortnightly, ranging from cabaret to Disney.
Sukhumvit Soi 45, 063-225-1331. Open Tues-Sun 9pm-2am
On Fridays, this gin-focused shop-house gets a splash of color with their new gay night, “Somewhere over the Rainbow (Maybe).” Throw on your finest smart-casual garb and arrive before 9pm to take advantage of their special two-for-one drink offers.
44/3 Thonglor Soi 1, 065-991-5725. Open daily 5:30pm-1:30am
With its decadent colonial opium den theme, this club is filled with steamy exoticism every day of the week, but head there for their Sunday Gay Night to really see the week out with a bang. The B500 entry fee will get you two drinks and a night of raucous drag shows, including lip syncs, competitions and audience participation, led by local drag sensation Pangina Heals. We advise arriving after 9pm.
U/F, Novotel Silom, 320 Silom Rd., 091-772-2144. Open 7:30pm-2am
What’s your craziest gay nightlife experience in Bangkok? And where do you go to eat once the party’s over?
Tae, Freelance Filmmake/Photographer/Videographer, 26
“Once, I was at a bar and this one guy was dancing wildly and taking up all the space. I got irritated and started dancing back in retaliation. Things got a bit out of hand and I almost got into a fight.”
“KFC and the rice noodle shop across the street from Silom Soi 4.”
Few, Private Business Owner, 32
“It was Songkran eight years ago, me and my friends went to OrTorKor and the atmosphere was crazy. Suddenly I heard a loud horn from the right and I saw the mother-of-all-gays dancing on a firetruck while splashing bystanders with a fire hose. After that, she took off her clothes revealing a bikini as her gang began to perform acrobatic cheerleading.”
“Across the street from Fake Club, you can eat Hainanese chicken rice at Ratchada Soi 3—they’re open 24 hours. Or go a little further to Huai Khwang Market for various night food; I like Angie Kao Gaeng Pak Tai (southern thai curry-rice).”
Herman Wu, co-founder of Just A Drink (Maybe), 34
“Around 10 years ago, we used to party like there was no tomorrow, always starting from Silom Soi 4 then moving to Soi 2, and maybe G.O.D for the end game.”
"I would always eat the street food on Silom, cause I couldn’t travel far after those crazy nights.”