So, I went out in Bangkok last night…

First the good news — I still have all my teeth, and I didn’t wake up with a pet tiger. That’s half the battle, right? Good, cause it’s also where the good news ends.

I wasn’t going to blog about this, but in a way blogging is like therapy. Since I don’t have the ability to “unsee” things, sharing them here is the next best thing I can do.

I don’t really “go out.” Ever. Well, unless you consider dinner at the Cracker Barrel or Outback Steakhouse “going out.” But I’ve never really experienced life in Bangkok after 8PM, and I’m told that I’ve been missing out.

So last night I decided to go to Patpong Night Market with a couple of friends purely for entertainment. I’ll keep this brief — I saw things done with ping pong balls, goldfish, eels, and razors, that I can never eliminate from my memory. And I saw horns and whistles blown with body parts that I didn’t even know existed. In a way it was like watching the ultimate train wreck — you just couldn’t look, but you also couldn’t look away. I’ve showered three times since last night, and still feel like I might have caught something through my eyes. Bleh!

To prevent everyone else from being as miserable as I am after last night, I’ll stop sharing there. There are two other things worth mentioning, though. First of all, the toughest part about walking around Patpong is that you don’t have any time to make decisions. The second you stop to look you’re swarmed by dozens of people, all of whom ask if you want “special massage” or “sexy lady.”

We went to several places, though had one common issue. As soon as we sat down we’d ask how much drinks were or if there was a cover charge — “100 baht per drink.” That’s a bit over $3USD, which is perfectly reasonable for the “entertainment,” and I’d even pay more. But then after a round of Diet Cokes you get the bill from someone else, and it’s 1,800 Baht (~$60). At one place yesterday it went something like this (mind you, this “waitress” was a lady in her mid-60s that was smoking as she “served” us):

Lady: “You pay now. 1,800 Baht.”
Us: “When we ordered we were told it was 100 Baht per drink, so 300 Baht total.”
Lady: “No, 600 Baht per person entertainment charge, see it say it right there.”
Us: “But we were told it was 100 Baht per person per drink with no entertainment charge when we sat down.”
Lady: “You talk to someone else, now you talk to me, and I right. 600 Baht is charge, it say right here.”

Mind you, she’s pointing to a handwritten piece of paper that’s not visible anywhere…

Us: “We’re paying 300 Baht and leaving.”
Lady: “I don’t like you…”


Filed Under: Travel
  1. Lucky, you should go to Pattaya, once you are there go to the discos in Walking street, Lucifer and i-bar are the best ones there

  2. For the most part I found people in Bangkok to not be overly pushy, although the taxi cab drivers are somewhat corrupt. Insist on using the meter or get out. And the tuktuks, ha!

  3. You ain’t seen nothing yet! 🙂

    As the song goes, “one night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble”…

  4. Once upon a time, I went out to see some nightlife in Beijing (!) with a friend of mine. I also got the “massage” and “sexy lady” stuff from everyone trying to pull us into bars, until my friend blurted out in Chinese “We’re underage”, and all of a sudden nobody bothered us anymore!

    What you really need after an evening on the streets in Bangkok is a full detox at a spa.

  5. I spend six months every year in Bangkok and Patpong is not the real Bangkok. Because you chose to visit “trash city”, it does not mean the city does not have nice shows, bars, restaurants and places to visit. You probably noticed that most of the people in your bars were not Thai but gullible or horny foreigners or farangs as Thai call them.

  6. Patpong is well known for inflating the bill. I find Soi Cowboy much more reasonable for the sort of entertainment you were looking for. Of course, when i go there, my Thai wife insists on tagging along 🙂

  7. Yep, that’s what you get when you go to a know red-light and tourist area… Choose more wisely next time, or not :-).

  8. Hey, you are lucky, Lucky, when I was there in the ’90s my boss, female, seemed willing to go but got sick (or claimed to be) so I had to go by myself. Better with friends, I suspect, although I am happy to file the experience away with other things to be done once in one’s life.
    Did any of them write your name for you? Nice keepsake, that. 😉

  9. I can do without places like those. Things don’t offend me but I won’t put up with people trying to rip you off (kind of like hotel resort fees).

    Enjoy your trip.

  10. There’s also the riverfront night market which has nicer restaurants as well as more legit (less likely to be a knockoff) goods.

  11. Let’s put things in perspective for a moment. Ben went to the red light district that has the well earned and long held reputation as having the pushiest, most disgusting, and most dishonest bars anywhere in the city.

    Ben’s experience in Patpong is in no way indicative of Bangkok or Thailand as a whole.

    Going to Patpong and complaining about the pushy touts, skanky shows, and inflated bills is a bit like going into a landfill and complaining about the lousy view, nasty smell, and lack of proper landscaping.

    In other words it makes no logical sense.

    Lucky, you found exactly what any educated traveler would expect to find in Patong. Complaining about it now as though you were a clueless first time traveler on his first big trip may feel cathartic to you but it’s rather confusing to me.

    Maybe you should have gone to Soi Cowboy or Nana Entertainment Plaza or whatever like someone else suggested, or maybe you should just remain holed up in your hotel far away from where the sausage is made. 😉

  12. Of course there are other sorts of entertainment available in Bangkok. You chose to go to the red light district. So you saw the red lights.

    Maybe you should have gone to Soi Twilight instead. 🙂 Drinks a little more expensive but no “extra entertainment” charges.

    Or you could have gone somewhere like RCA to see all the trendy Thai kids out for the evening. Or Bed Supperclub on Sukhumvit 11. Or one of the many live music venues around town.

  13. Welcome to Bangkok!!!! Well, as someone said Patpong is the “trash city” and not real Bangkok. You should experience that once but after that Bangkok has way more to offer. Try the Vertigo and Moon Bar at the top of the Banyan Tree next time.

  14. Donkey show? Oh dear lord. Please tell me it doesn’t also involve ping-pong balls.

    I have to agree with the other posters – please do NOT take Ben’s experience as typical of Thailand as a whole. It’s a beautiful country with beautiful people, but it does have an underside that is easily avoidable if it’s not your thing.

    Ben chose not to avoid it on this trip. And he’s not complaining about the underside itself (more like exclaiming about it), other than to complain about the fact that someone tried to rip him off – and that’s a perfectly legitimate complaint whether it happened in a red light district or in some luxury resort.

  15. Something else I thought should be added to this discussion is that many of these bars originally sprang up to cater to GI’s on leave from war operations being waged elsewhere in Southeast Asia. So in an odd twist of forgotten history Ben is actually complaining about a cultural phenomenon his fellow first world countrymen helped create through tens-of-thousands of donations straight from their government issued paychecks. I don’t have any particular problem with Patpong, but neither do I spend any time there. If it dies and withers away I couldn’t care less. I just thought a little more history could help clear up some potential misconceptions.

  16. If you are into Thai cultural stuff, Siam Niramit on Rachada has a great day and night show. You could even go watch Thai boxing or visit several cool night markets in Bangkok or take a barge dinner by Chao Praya river.

  17. Like it or not, Patpong is a big tourist attraction. And I’m sure few travelers, and especially Ben, think it is typical of Thailand in any way.

  18. OK, so you have all your teeth and didn’t wake up with a pet tiger. However, you make no mention of NOT having acquired a facial tattoo . . . 😉

  19. That is why while I was there I sticked with the regular tourism places. And at night the most we went out was to a night market that was recommend by the concierge, it was nice no crazy stuff or people harassing us. But I’m told that market is now gone 🙁
    Still Thailand has great things to see and do just need to inform yourself better about the places you can to visit there either on the internet or by telling the concierge what you are looking for or not looking for in this case.

  20. Serves you right. If you don’t do your research you get ripped off. That was very sloppy of you. Would you be that sloppy in researching a milage run? I hope not. Clueless tourists go to Patpong and the inevitable happens. And so it should. You should have asked your readers to recommend some areas of Bangkok where you can have a good time and not get ripped off. A couple of Bangkok regulars have already suggested places. I’ll put my word in for Soi 22 and some of the little bars in sois off Sukhumvit as far down as 22, or some off the mobile bars that pop up along Sukhumvit after about 1 am. Bangkok is a great place. Naifs like you don’t take the time to research Bangkok nightlife areas, bar and bargirl/boy protocols, and end up getting ripped off — rightly in my view — in tourist traps like Patpong and then have the gall to complain. Don’t give a place a bum review unless you know it well and know what you are talking about.

  21. Lucky: I love your blog, but this post is alarming! It does prove that you need to actually “experience” a bit more the local culture and life (and not just enjoy hotels and flight). You travel more than 99% of the people yet this post could have been written by someone from south Dakota (no offense) whom left the uS for the first time.
    Life is short Lucky, live a little!

  22. Lucky, I love your blog as well, but I have to agree with some of the other comments in terms of doing research and also living a little bit more by exploring local cultures on EVERY trip whenever possible. 🙂

    That being said, I went to Bangkok this past May and had a blast. I also went to the same night market you went to, as well as everywhere else in Bangkok. Some parts were a little bit shadier than the others, but Bangkok still without a doubt ranks as one of my favorite cities in the world simply because of the ridiculously cheap food. Pad thai for $1.50 USD and REAL, fresh fruit smoothies for $1 USD… it’s pretty hard to argue with prices like those. (And of course you have to go to street vendors to get those prices. If you stay indoors in the malls, hotels, or tourist traps–you’ll get suckered into $10 USD+ for a single meal…and $10 USD in Bangkok, is often more than the daily cost of living for most locals.)

    It’s a shame that you didn’t visit the Chatuchak Weekend Market–which is known as the world’s LARGEST flea market. Literally hundreds to thousands of little shops selling just about everything you could dream of.

    Bangkok is a crazy and vivacious city. Thai people in Bangkok love ripping off foreigners. (Not a secret.) But if you do your research, it’s easy to make sure you aren’t scammed.

    The city itself is always an adventure, if you’re willing to let yourself live a little. A little bit of risk is a necessary part of any adventure. I hope that in some of your future travels, you will take a risk and eat at local favorites–away from the tourist traps. Be more open minded and live a little bit more… we’re all really only young once in our lives.

  23. Did you not do any research before going!? These things are notorious and well documented more or less everywhere you look!

  24. Respectfully I think some of you are missing the point. Thailand is one of my favorite countries in the world. The people on the whole are among the friendliest anywhere. Obviously the more touristy of an area you go to, the more scam artists there are.

    My goal in going out in Bangkok wasn’t to have a clear plan, to go somewhere “classy” and sip drinks with my pinky finger up.

    I’ve been to Bangkok many times and have had that experience (though a bit earlier in the night than this one). My goal this time was to be horrified by all the things that Bangkok is stereotypically famous for at night on the tourist/scam front. To get as close to the “Hangover” experience as I could, while still only sipping Diet Coke. To be clear, the post isn’t actually a complaint. I saw exactly what I wanted, was entertained/horrified as could be, and went home in one piece. Mission accomplished.

    @ Mitty — I actually *did* go to the Chatuchak Weekend Market, and quite enjoyed it.

  25. @ Mikey thanks so much for posting that link. It’s really sad there are so many scams pulled in BKK.

    In Lucky’s defense, with his hectic schedule he can’t possibly have time to deeply research each of the cities, let alone neighborhoods he visits. This scam could have ended violently; sounds like he got off easy.

  26. lucky said,

    “Respectfully I think some of you are missing the point. Thailand is one of my favorite countries in the world. The people on the whole are among the friendliest anywhere.”

    I think you’re right that some of us are missing the point. I’m just not sure you’ve correctly identified who that includes.

    “Obviously the more touristy of an area you go to, the more scam artists there are.”

    I’ve been to dozens of touristy places in Thailand. Did I pay the cheapest Thai rate? No. Did I get “scammed” just for being a tourist? Only if I was dumb enough to pay more than I felt an item or service was worth to me. If you want to be ripped off try Singapore. No scam necessary.

    “My goal in going out in Bangkok wasn’t to have a clear plan, to go somewhere ‘classy’ and sip drinks with my pinky finger up.”

    I don’t think anyone who has ever been to Thailand is actually criticizing your choice of venues. What we’re criticizing is how you worded your sloppy unplanned REPORT. Thailand already gets enough bad publicity as it is. No need for educated world travelers to add to the problem.

    MS said,

    “In Lucky’s defense, with his hectic schedule he can’t possibly have time to deeply research each of the cities, let alone neighborhoods he visits. This scam could have ended violently; sounds like he got off easy.”
    ^ Apparently folks are still missing the point Lucky. If you needed any more proof here it is. Nobody is looking for travel advice in a Hangover movie, but your blog has hundreds if not thousands of folks who use it as a practical tool to help determine where, when, and how to travel. You might want to keep that in mind the next time you’re “exposing” a scam you went out of your way to find.

  27. @ Dax — Fair enough, though I hope most readers can recognize the post was meant for entertainment purposes. It wasn’t meant as a serious travel guide, but a lighthearted reflection of an evening that had me seeing things I could’ve lived without.

  28. Been I like you and your blog, but you’re a wuss! I need to take you how and show you how things are done at night time. Get rid of that shelterness that has stuck in you. You need to be purified.

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