For those who think that Patpong is only a red light district, filled with riffraff and ne’er do wells, and that no self-respecting moralist would dare set foot therein, it will come as a surprise that therein is, in fact, a host of different establishments that cater to a wide variety of tastes, penchants, and desires. The most notable is the night market, which offers everything from shoes and t-shirts to Muay Tai memorabilia and home décor. Then there’s Domino’s Pizza at the end of Soi 1 and the new spa opening next door, not to mention the current gentrification effort that has seen the triumphant introduction of The Steakhouse Co. and Shenanigans Irish Pub. But more on them later. The fact is, there’s always been more than just gogo bars and ping pong shows on The Pong, and it’s only right that we highlight some of them, if only to give the prudes a reason to visit, and do so in an orderly fashion. This will be the first in a series consisting of 4 parts: soi 1 west, soi 1 east, then soi 2 west and soi 2 east. Thusly, the following is a comprehensive list and description of the bars on Patpong Soi 1, going from Silom Road to Surawong, along the west side of the soi. Here we go:
If you were to walk down Soi 1 away from Silom Road, the first bar you’d encounter on the left side of the street would be Queen Bar. Despite the name, it has nothing to do with sexual orientation or ladyboys. It is, in fact, a ping pong show. So I didn’t go it, but I imagine it’s your run-of-the-mill PP.
The next bar after Queen is Madrid. This Patpong staple was around before the road was paved. Stepping inside is like stepping back in time, like so many other bars in the Pong. The walls are adorned with old pictures, Spanish coats of arms, some Art Deco, and soft lighting. It’s a comfy place that serves up food in addition to booze. They have a runner-up position in my original review of burgers near the red-light (Part 1) and I’m told their pizza is quite good. I had a Hoegaarden for 200 baht.
After Madrid comes Radio City. At the time of writing this article, it was closed. But I’ve heard from some gogo dancers that it’s set to reopen soon—possibly in September. I can’t vouch for what it’ll look like when its shingle is rehung—supposedly it’s getting a face-lift—but more than likely things won’t have changed much. There’s one pool table, several sofas and flat screen TVs, and a bar that sort of doubles as a stage. There’s an upstairs area with another pool table great potential, but no one’s done anything with it in 6 years. Not back when it was The Den, or before that when it was Lust.
Further on down the soi is Rose Bar. The door is guarded by an old Thai man. Behind the door is a steep, dark set of stairs leading up into even more darkness. I’m not gonna lie, I was a little bit scared ascending those steps. But they led to a very non-threatening, if dark, box of a bar with Christmas lights, a small empty stage, an even smaller bar, and four middle-aged women pushing bj’s like they were going out of style. I settled for a Leo (150b), drank it quickly while Toni Braxton crooned in the background, and then bailed.
Then comes the brand spanking new Jury Bar, which has already closed for remodeling and will reopen in September after a lackluster first week. Their first thought was to try to convert to a gogo, but someone talked them out of that–thanfully–so who knows what it will emerge as. When I visited, the walls are adorned with blue glass and even bluer ripples running through them, and the bar is spackled with blue tiles. Standing in there feels a bit like being underwater. I half expected the hostesses to be dressed in mermaid costumes. The owner, by the way, is the same guy who owns Kiss and Crown Royal on Soi 2. Apparently he’s renting it out to a couple of friends who want to try their hand in the booze-peddling business. The décor is left over from when that space was one half of Goldfinger. I think I talked the guy into stocking some Belgian beers in the joint, as the current menu is not great. I got a couple Asahi’s (110b each) and stuck around for a while, mainly because they let me choose the music (using a laptop with Youtube hooked to the sound system). There were 3 young hostesses looking very uncomfortable in their roles, but the right kind of punter could probably loosen them up.
Just beyond that bar but before Tip-Top is a small outdoor coffee and beer bar, run by a couple of old Thai ladies. There are a couple tables out front, and bottles of beer in the fridge.
Tip-Top is a Thai-Italian fusion restaurant. You can get beer and other drinks there but it’s a restaurant, so their main fare is food. I’m partial to the calzone.
Next to Tip-Top is Kiss. Adorned with gaudy décor from the 1980s, Kiss is almost a landmark in Patpong. As it’s off the regular beaten path of most gogo punters, it doesn’t see a lot of foot traffic, save for the occasional accidental punter-by or we regulars who attend religiously. It boasts a few of the cuter, more fun, more easy-going girls on the soi, as well as an assortment of Belgian beers, ordered special by the owner—a Thai guy with a soft spot for Americans because he went to high school in Glendale, California. The staff are very friendly and will remember you even after one visit.
Two doors down from Kiss is Kangaroo bar. Or at least, it was yesterday. Today I tried to go in and check it out, but it was boarded up. Closed for good. If something goes in there to replace it, I’ll let you know.
The last establishment on the West side of the soi that serves booze is Mizus Kitchen. It’s a restaurant that, according to Stickman, has existed for over half a century. I’ve never seen anyone inside, and on Tripadvisor’s 5-stage rating system from excellent to awful, the reviews are almost evenly spread. I didn’t go it, and I probably never will, but when I peeked inside I did see a fridge with beers in it.
And that’s it for the bars on Soi 1 west. Stay tuned for the next one, which will either be Patpong bars on Soi 1 east or the ground floor bars of Nana Plaza. And stay up to date with nightly pics from the red-lights by following my Twitter @BangkokSeven or browse the archive on my Facebook page.