Hey everyone, I’m Seven. Over the past couple of months, I’ve turned out reviews for most of the bars in Patpong, starting with the west side of Soi 1, followed by the east side of Soi 1, followed by the west side of Soi 2, and most recently, the east side of Soi 2. But some of the bars have been left out. Specifically, those darker, seedier, older, less-conspicuous bars that line the hidden walkway behind the west side bars, as well as those sinister looking ones on the second level, above the soi.
When I was a kid, my favorite ride at Disneyland was Pirates of the Caribbean. Drifting in that boat along the edge of fake Tortugan towns with robotic pirates and their hapless victims, I was completely enchanted. I wished I could get out of the boat and walk around in their world. I wanted to see what was behind the window facades. I wanted to see what those pirates were getting up to just out of sight of our prying eyes.
Today, I don’t have to wonder. I imagine it’s something very close to what goes on in that hidden second row of bars on the west side of Soi 2. Where only the bravest dare to venture. There are a couple of benign exceptions, but for the most part, that scene ain’t for the squeamish. So let’s talk about them, in sequential order, starting from the south end.
Star of Light. This Patpong staple has been around a long, long time. It’s the last of the true Patpong bj bars. Not much else goes on there. I mean, you can get a beer with your bj if you want, but if you’re in the joint, beer is usually an afterthought. I don’t know any prices as I didn’t go in, but you can find that info on the interweb.
Thai Room. Next is a quiet, unassuming pool hall with 3 tables and cold beer, most of which (Leo, Chang) are 100 baht. A game is 40 baht. It’s one of only two indoor pool halls in Patpong (for now), so if you want to play some stick and also need air-con, you can do it here. The other joints are open-air bars. I have great memories of this place. In fact, I think it was my first Patpong bar because many years back I had a hi-so Thai girlfriend who loved to come to Patpong. We always started the night in Thai Room with a few beers and a few games of pool before heading to French Kiss and then on to a gogo. She was a wild one, that girlfriend. I miss her, come to think of it.
Tavern 3. This bar had an eclectic collection (eclection, copyright Bangkok Seven) of ladyboys and bar girls. I didn’t go in.
Top Light. No ladyboys here, as far as I could tell. There was just one employee—a female bartender. It’s dimly lit, and has a flat screen TV.
Le Bouchon. If there ever was a time to use the term “hidden gem” it’s in reference to this place. French food in the heart of Patpong. Who’da thunk it? Well, it’s true. Go on Tripadvisor for first-person accounts of this great restaurant. People can’t stop singing its praises. A friend of mine who goes there once a week told me, “The food makes you feel like you’re in Paris. Have you been to Paris? It feels like that.”
The Old Other Office. Another iconic Patpong bar. Walking in to this place is like stepping back in time. I know that’s a cliché, but it’s true. I’m not sure anyone’s redecorated in the last 20 years. It’s decked out with old western style décor, plus some random movie posters, knick-knacks, odd memorabilia, oh! And a fish tank. In a previous review, I’d foolishly stated that Safari Bar on Soi 1 was the only gogo with a fish tank. I was wrong. This bar also has a pool table, and more importantly, the staff offer the customers the chance to choose the music. On the night I visited, there was a crowd of people sitting in the corner—three Thais and one farang—who’d requested the entire Cure discography, to my absolute delight. I’d planned to down one beer (140b if memory serves) and leave but wound up staying for the atmosphere and the tunes.
Tavern 2. Another ladyboy bar. Or possibly a mix. I’m not sure. I didn’t go in.
Pinocchio’s Club. This is a ladyboy joint, so I didn’t go in. I’ve heard that every LB bar keeps one token biological female on hand in case some weirdo wants a regular gal but I can’t confirm it.
Sixty-nine Bar. Another LB bar. Everyone’s very, very friendly. I didn’t go in.
Screw Boy. One of three gay bars in Patpong. If that’s your thing, Screw Boys is a must-see. If it ain’t, then move on. Which is what I did.
Pink Panther. A mac-daddy of gogo bars. If you’re a red-light regular, then Panther doesn’t need an introduction. This joint is a pillar of gogo goodness. It’s iconic. It’s also very popular with Japanese tourists, though that doesn’t mean they shun foreigners (like some other places do). The staff are terrific, the girls are fun, friendly, and super sexy, and the DJ’s pretty great as well. 150b for gin and tonic, 160b for vodka soda. I guess soda water is 10 baht more expensive than tonic water…? And to add awesome to excellence, Pink Panther also offers a nightly Muay Thai exhibition. They move the gogo poles out of the way and strap up a make-shift ring. Then two dudes punch each other for 30 minutes. If you want to see some boxing in the middle of gogo bar hopping, head over to the Panther. It’s epic.
Now for the upstairs bars, again going from south to north:
Royal Salute. The first bar at the top of the stairs, above Star of Light, is this little “karaoke” joint. Can you karaoke if you wanna? Sure, but that’s not the main service at this bar. You should be able to use your imagination here (it is Patpong, after all). It’s dark, and staffed with a handful of older Thai ladies.
Matador. This is the 2nd most popular upstairs bar. People don’t generally go here to drink, though you can if you want to. It’s dark, and staffed with a handful of older Thai ladies.
Spanish Eyes. Like Matador, people don’t come here to drink. This place is dark, and staffed with a handful of older Thai ladies.
Swing Club. Like Matador and Spanish Eyes, the main menu item here is not beer. One other thing to say about this place is, the décor is old fashioned and—surprisingly—quaint. But it’s dark, and staffed with a handful of older Thai ladies.
Rig 1. This is another “karaoke” joint, though dudes generally don’t come here to sing. This place is dark, and staffed with a handful of older Thai ladies.
Meet the World. The most popular upstairs bar. Why, you might ask? Well because even though this place is dark, and staffed with a handful of older Thai ladies, there are also a few younger, cuter girls. When I visited, the women were very confused. “You not want girl? You only drink beer? Why?” While there, the door swung open and a sketchy looking dude stepped inside. He took one look at me, turned and left. After I finished off my Leo and exited, I saw him waiting pensively outside. He darted in as I walked on. It’s not a bar where people go to drink.
Three Lad(ys). Another dark joint staffed with a handful of older Thai ladies. The sign was supposed to read “Three Ladys” but the “ys” has broken off…..actually to be honest, I didn’t take a very good look inside. It’s possible that they swapped out the ladies for lads, and broke the sign on purpose to more accurately advertise. I honestly don’t remember (I was quite drunk by then).
Fresh Boys. The last bar on the upper level is the 2nd of 3 gay bars in Patpong. I didn’t go in.
From street level, the 2nd floor looks ominous. But when you’re up there, it’s quiet, nearly empty, and actually quite soothing. So if you need a break from the noise and bustle of Patpong, you can have a quiet beer upstairs. But be prepared for confused looks from women who can’t understand why you’re not taking your pants off.
And that covers it for the “dark side” of Patpong’s Soi 2. As the red light district slowly gentrifies, it will be interesting to see what becomes of these classic bars. Will they survive the RLD’s inevitable transformation? Personally, I believe they will. Maybe the whole area will be turned into a museum of sorts. Maybe they’ll place a fence around it and install some animatronic whoremongers and bar girls up there, like a red-light version of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. In the meantime, if you haven’t checked it out, you should. It’s a unique experience.
Until next time, keep your balls clean, your glass full, and cheers to another week above ground in the greatest country in the world: Thailand.