After a rather boring stroll around Soi Cowboy some friends suggested hitting the Thai go-go bars on Sutthisan Road. We jumped in a cab and made the 15 minute ride out past Saphan Kwai. Unfortunately I don’t remember which bar was which but I thought I would give my thoughts as an overall impression of the Thai go-go scene.
My first impression was that I was expecting a lot less. I was picturing the go-gos to be sort of like larger versions of those karaoke joints with the Christmas lights year-round you see out in the Bangkok suburbs. They were all pretty nice. In fact, some are nicer than the dives on Cowboy and in Nana.
As expected, everything is Thai-style. That means that rather than a gallery where all of the seats face the stage they tended to go with booths more like a restaurant. When they brought out your drinks they brought them on a cart with a bucket of ice (which you are charged for – along with the cool wipes if you take one). They filled you up and from time to time would grab your glass chuck some more ice cubes in it and top off your beer. Pretty much the same type of service you would expect in a Thai bar or restaurant.
I don’t know about other drinks but a large bottle of Heineken averaged about 120 baht at each bar. Yes, that’s about what you would pay for a regular sized beer in Cowboy and Nana. As you’ll see the prices tend to all move in that direction out there.
The girls were not Baccara or Rainbow 4 quality in terms of looks but they weren’t bad either. There were plenty of cute girls dancing at all the places we went to. Speaking of dancing, the girls actually dance in these go-gos. There’s no Bangkok Shuffle going on. They get up there and work it.
I noticed that at every bar went that the first time the mamasan came by the table with a girl (or several girls) they were the worst picks in the place. I guess that happens in a lot of Cowboy and Nana bars but being the only farangs in the place it sort of seemed even more insulting that normal. No worries though. You just decline if you’re not interested and everything is sabai sabai.
The mama/papasans can be a little pushy at times. Nothing like Cowboy or Nana but still a bit of an annoyance. It’s all cool though. No major hassles.
Another nice change is that though girls did come by our table from time to time to see if there was some interest it was certainly none of the pushy stuff you get in Nana and Cowboy. They would walk over and politely stand there while you finished your conversation and then she would ask if she can sit down. I don’t think I heard a girl ask for a drink until we had been sitting with them for at least 5 or 10 minutes. I was told that there is a drink per every 30 minutes charge if you sit with a girl but if you’re chatting up a girl for 30 minutes or an hour a drink or two doesn’t seem too much to ask.
I’ve heard some people say that you should probably speak some Thai before hanging out in these places but my Thai isn’t very good and I got by fine. One of my friends speaks it very well and of course he helped the sanook vibe by being able to joke around in Thai with the girls but even the girls who didn’t speak English very well spoke enough that I don’t think anyone would actually have a huge problem if they didn’t speak Thai.
Most of the places had the dancers in their bikinis or some other outfit. One we stopped off in was fully nude dancing. After they finished the current set a group of about five or six gals took the stage and started soaping themselves up. The stage was covered in suds by the end of the act and staff ran out and squeegeed it clean for the next set.
We did hit one bar that didn’t seem very farang friendly. Nothing was said or anything but the girls wouldn’t even come near our table and seemed to do everything they could not to make eye contact while dancing. After our beers we felt it better to move on than try to figure out whether something was up or not. It was a shame because it was a nice bar and the girls were very cute.
Near 2am we asked about the bar fine policy and costs and where told it was 1500 for short-time (3 hours) or 2000 long-time. Those fees are all-inclusive. That’s the cost of the girl and the bar fine. The mamasan asked me where I lived and when I told her I lived way on the other side of town she asked if I would agree to paying a little extra to the girl in the morning for taxi.
All in all, if you’re looking for something out of the ordinary to do one night, I say give it a go. I’m not sure I would go hang out down there alone since it might get a little boring not having anybody who speaks decent English to talk to but if you have a few friends and are tired of the scams, hassles, and “my friend too” crap that goes on in the Cowboy and Nana go-gos it’s worth checking out. We had a great time and I would definitely go back though it is a bit of a hassle getting out there which is the only real drawback.