BK Magazine scours the city’s most inscrutable sois looking for the best bars, pubs, and clubs.
The bar is hidden inside a tiny sub-soi on Soi Nana, opposite Teens of Thailand (same owners). The limited, narrow space offers scant seating, with stools at the bar providing the perfect spot to watch the bartender in action and chat about the rare local ingredients in the drinks, like different kinds of honey or the tiger’s ear leaf from the north.
35 Soi Maitri Chit, 097-134-4704. Open daily 6-11pm
Neon Chinese letters and a do-nothing approach to shop-house restoration give this haven the requisite classic Hong Kong-cool look, complete with open frontage that spills onto the Yaowarat streets. Also note that the space doubles as a hotel with a few rooms on the third and fourth floors if you’ve got friends passing through the city.
8 Soi Nana, Maitri Chit Rd., 062-464-5468. Open Tue-Sun 5pm-midnight
Bamboo Bar, Bangkok's oldest jazz institution—the original dating back to 1953—has gone through its first renovation in 18 years. Drinks are the typical hotel prices, but you’ll get everything you pay for, from drinking your cocktail from high end Kimura glassware to live jazz every night from 8-10:45pm.
1/F, Mandarin Oriental, 48 Charoen Krung Soi 40 (Oriental Avenue), 02-659-9000. Open Tue-Sat 5-11pm
This bar at Four Seasons Bangkok has been taking the city by storm, having been voted as best bar in Thailand by Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2022 at number 10 in Asia. Led by Berliner bar manager Philip Bischoff—who previously held court at Singapore’s decorated Manhattan Bar—BKK Social Club draws inspiration from antipodean Buenos Aires, a city Bischoff believes is a distant sister of Bangkok.
Four Seasons Bangkok, 300/1 Charoen Krung Rd., 02-032-0888. Tue-Sun 5pm-midnight
Occupying adjacent shophouses, both revamped by Gunn Leelhasuwan, Black King Bar and Tax feature similar stripped-down aesthetics. In Black King, you’ll find raw concrete decorated with contemporary art, including some cheeky calligraphy in the back of the dining room. There’s a selection of easy-drinking cocktails and lots of wine, but if you’re after just drinks, you’re most likely heading upstairs to Tax.
701 Maitri Chit Rd., 096-841-6619. Open daily 5pm-midnight
Originally opened at Liberty Plaza in Thonglor before moving minutes away from Khao San Rd. post lockdown, head over to De Commune for the subculture and underground scene, hosting everything from indie bands to electronic music. The place offers a great sound system and acoustics for the live performance experience and can host up to 200 people with a balcony overlooking the canal.
1-2/F 469 Phra Sumen Rd., 088-419-7380. Open 5pm-2am
Step inside this old shop-house and be transported to a retro Hong Kong diner like something out of In the Mood for Love—think warm lighting, carefully positioned mirrors, and vintage mosaic tiles. Downstairs you'll find a hip bistro serving cold cuts and crepes alongside wine. The bar also hosts live jazz regularly and is one of the coziest spots to catch live jazz in Bangkok.
831 Charoen Krung Soi 31, 061-401-3814. Open Wed-Sun 7pm-midnight
The latest addition (so far) by the Teens of Thailand crew, Independence took over what used to be an old motorcycle repair shop on Maitri Chit Road. The bar gives off a seductive, mysterious vibe resembling NYC's subway with its graffiti-covered walls, fluorescent lights, and raw design. This haunt serves wine without all the formality—so you don’t have to pretend to know what you’re talking about when you swirl your glass.
687 Maitri Chit Rd., 084-005-2298. Open daily 7pm-1am
Hidden behind the Shangri-La hotel you’ll find a drinking den of the old-school variety—flexing plastic chairs, wooden-board floor with gaps where you can drop your phone into the river,, classic Thai stir-fry (including knockout southern dishes beloved of chefs like 80/20’s Napol Jantraget
), and ice-cool, sub-B100 Leos. There’s no air-con and you’ll have to arrive early if you want a rickety riverside perch, but we wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
Soi Wat Suan Plu, Cheroenkrung, 089-138-1922. Open daily 11am-11:30pm
Hidden far from sight in Old Town, this cocktail bar is helmed by Anupas "Kong" Premanuwat, who worked as a mixologist at New York's acclaimed Angel's Share speakeasy. Ku Bar serves drinks that change regularly depending on the seasonal local ingredients. Tip for finding the bar: Spot the spirit house that guards a little brown door and you're at the entrance.
3/F, 469 Phra Sumen Rd., 02-067-6731. Open Wed-Sun 6pm-midnight
This place is plastered with designer Ashley Sutton signatures: metal, grunge, industrial. If you’ve been to Iron Balls, Sing Sing Theater, and Maggie Choo’s you’ll be able to guess what to expect. This new bar is run by the team at Anantara and a home to LGBTQ+ with regular live drag performances.
257 Charoen Nakorn Rd., 02-431-9475. Open Fri-Sat 7pm-midnight
You won’t see the squid in your drink at Mahaniyom Bar. But it’s there. Sitting on the 2nd floor of 100 Mahaseth
, this bar oozes a cozy feel thanks to the classy wood furniture and chic animal-printed upholstery. Head upstairs and you’ll find a neon-lit two-headed tiger welcoming bar-goers. All signature cocktails are B390.
2/F, 100 Mahaseth. 100 Maha Set Rd., 061-664-6588. Open Tue-Sun 5pm-midnight
This is another hidden jade in historic Chinatown. Sitting above chef Pam Utarntam’s Thai-Chinese fine-dining spot, Opium Bar used to be her great-grandfather’s opium den and was renovated with modern charm while keeping its old structure intact. Upscale as it is, though, you’ll find that the drinks are surprisingly affordable—at least cheaper than some of the places in Thonglor and Phrom Phong.
422, Vanich Soi 1, 082-979-3950. Open Wed-Sun 5pm-midnight.
This craft beer bar is part of the hip strip of shop-houses of Bangkok on Soi Nana. All dark woods, vintage signage, and spare lighting, the bar looks remarkably like an old-school Chinese hotel lobby serving five rotating taps with other drink options on the menu. A big glass window at the front lets you survey the street while downing an eclectic range of brews.
16 Soi Nana, Charoen Krung Rd., 095-660-2636. Open Tue-Sun 6pm-midnight
Set in one of those charming wooden houses you pass as you ride the express boat along the Chao Phraya, this restaurant is tucked down a little alley behind Wat Patumkongka—where you can hardly park your car. Samsara feels halfway between a gallery and a friend’s house, brimming with personality; expect to find colorful vintage furnishings, all sorts of cat-related curios, and paintings hanging on the wall.
1612 Songwat Rd., 089-429-5162. Open Tue-Sun 5pm-midnight
Avani Riverside Hotel's 26th-floor rooftop restaurant is also a good spot to grab a drink with its panoramic views and an infinity swimming pool. When the weather is nice, there’s an upper-floor terrace where you can catch the breeze. This is the third location by chef Olivier da Costa after Sao Paulo and Lisbon.
26/F, Avani Riverside, Rd., 02-431-9492. Open daily 11-1am.
Charoenkrung’s blossoming creative neighborhood welcomes a classy cocktail and jazz bar from the ever stylish Siwilai brand. Picture a marriage of a New York City jazz club and a Tokyo-style vinyl bar, but with a Thai twist. Drinks are inspired by Mazu, a sea goddess in Chinese mythology.
18 Charoen Krung Rd., 02-267-0415. Open Tue-Sun 6pm-1am
Walking distance from BKK Social Club at Four Seasons and next door to Capella, you’ll find another luxury cocktail bar: Stella. Inside the big bird in the middle will catch your attention straight away. Drinks here are inspired by the woman warriors of the past from around the world, paired with desserts.
Capella Hotel, 300/2 Charoenkrung Rd., 065-998-4674. Open daily 6pm-midnight
Another bar by the brains behind Teens of Thailand, Asia Today, and more to add to their Soi Nana bar empire, Tax is found on the second floor of Black King bar, serving drinks with a vinegar base combined with ingredients that offer umami, kakumi, and savory notes that will definitely mess with your palate.
695-697 Maitri Chit Rd., 061-917-9719. Open daily 7pm-12:30am
Ever since this small gin bar opened on Soi Nana in 2015, this shop-house filled street has never been the same. The team continued to open several more bars walking distance from each other, providing drinks and a good vibe—but this place will always be a classic.
76 Soi Nana, Charoenkrung Rd., 097-003-1173. Open daily 6pm-11:30pm
This restored shop-house has plenty of raw appeal, emphasized with mood lighting and simple wooden tables. Here, you'll find potent cocktails mixed with Thai fruits, herbs, and spices. There's also a good line of home-infused ya dong (Thai herbal whiskey) as well as a kitchen specializing in Thai tapas, as well as a few classics like pad thai.
69-71 Soi Nana, Charoenาrung Rd., 098-467-2944. Open Mon-Fri 6pm-midnight; Sat-Sun 5pm-1am
When it opened in late 2017, this playful tropical bar kick-started a seismic shift away from Soi Nana deeper into the back alleys of Charoenkrung. Since then, the accolades—BAD’s Bar of the Year 2018; no. 17 in Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2022—do the talking. Drinks here are not limited to tiki, but feature influences from the Caribbean, Bahamas and Southeast Asia.
672/65 Charoenkrung Soi 28, 097-242-2890. Open Tue-Sat 7pm-midnight
You’ll feel like you’re entering the secret garden as you ascend the creaky wooden staircase that leads to this rustic rooftop bar. Through a maze of hanging plants, flower tube chandeliers, exposed brick walls, fairy lights and wooden ladders, you’ll be met with international dishes and Garden of Eden-themed cocktails.
31-33 Soi Nana, Charoenkrung Rd., 094 661 7997. Open Thu-Sun
This new wine bar brings a London vibe to Charoennakorn Soi 10; the name is the postcode for Kensington in London. Offering a comfy, homey drinking space—like going to a friend’s house to open a few bottles to catch up just like we did during the lockdowns—prices start at B210 per glass or B1,100 per bottle. Some bottles will also have the “Owner’s Favorite” tag on them to help you choose.
240 Charoennakorn Soi 10, 098 586 6811. Open Wed-Sun 7:30pm-12:30am