I started writing this series of posts in response to a friend’s question of what he should do and see on his inaugural trip to Bangkok. Mistakenly, he’d turned to Google first, had a list of the Top Ten Bangkok Experiences, and wanted my opinion on the suggestions made by others. That Jim Thompson’s house was on his list told me he was in for a world of boredom. That the Damnoen Saduak floating market made it to his list too told me he’d be exhausted by the time his trip was over. Holidays are supposed to be about relaxation. You are not supposed to return in need of a holiday thanks to your holiday.
There is a lot to see and do in Bangkok. And even more to experience. Cramming your days and nights full of activities and places to be, while tempting, does not do the city justice. But with the right approach you can experience much of what Bangkok has to offer and still have energy to see and do more. I tend to hone in on the experience part of the equation, and then fill it in with places to visit. Doing, even when it means doing nothing, is preferable to seeing in my book. Seeing you can do just as easily at home by thumbing through a bunch of postcards.
My problem with my friend’s Googled list, besides too many sites that shouldn’t appear until you are doing a Top 50 list, is it failed to address the needs, or at last the interests of a gay man. Now believe it or not but not all gay touri to Bangkok have sex on their brain. Beyond the thoughts of sex that we always have on our brains. But despite that not being a touri’s primary interest, the fact is that Bangkok and sex go hand in hand. And preferably one of those hands will belong to someone else. Gay watering holes are numerous and conveniently located in Bangkok. And the city’s commercial sex scene is omnipresent. Whether you indulge to the point of a happy ending or not, it has to be a part of your holiday experience. The only danger for a first time visitor is that it can easily become your entire holiday experience.
Before you blow your wad in anticipation of what is to cum, a night out visiting the seamier side of Bangkok is my suggestion for your #2 Bangkok experience, and for a first timer it’s best to get this one under your belt on the night of your first full day in the city. Go get laid, of course, is the shortened version. My suggestion however provides a fuller experience and leaves it up to you whether or not you see your night through to fruition. Your evening starts with dinner. Pick any place by your hotel that looks enticing; I’ll have restaurant recommendations for you in later posts, but for this night what is important is filling your belly with food before you begin filling it with booze. It’s gonna be a late night and you are going to need sustenance to make it through to the early hours of the morning.
After your meal, head to Silom Soi 4. This narrow lane off the main drag is home to an ever-growing handful of gay pubs and shops that have been added to the original two establishments, the Balcony Bar and Telephone Pub. Some of the smaller bars can be fun too, but the main action is always at these two joints. Which sit directly across the street from each other. Grab an open seat at either, where you can sit and watch the parade of guys pass by. Both, btw, offer food on their menu. But I don’t suggest dining at either, at least not on your first full night in town. It’ll just get in the way of where you focus should be: on all the hotties parading about.
Order a drink, kick back, and if you are a gregarious type, you’ll quickly make new friends with other visitors sitting at tables around you. If you are by yourself, there’s a good chance you’ll also draw the attention of some young local stud. No matter how young or attractive you are, he’s a moneyboy. Which is Thai for prostitute. Ignore him. Politely. If you are following my advice your evening will be filled with prostitutes anyway. And you can always come back tomorrow night – he’ll be sitting there trying to land a customer again then. But do flirt with the waitstaff. Even if none of them are your type. Thailand is known as the land of smiles, and it’s time you get comfortable with hot young men beaming gloriously in your direction.
Next, head back out to Silom, hang a right, and walk down to the main entrance of the Patpong Night Market. But don’t buy anything. There will be better things to spend your money on this night. In amongst all the knock-off goods for sale and families of touri living life dangerously by visiting Bangkok’s red light district, there are still a few establishments left from the area’s heyday. They are for straight clientele, or lesbians, so you won’t be going into any of them. But the barkers out front will shove little white cards in your face listing all of the things that can be done with a vagina that straight guys think are sexy. On another night you may want to return to visit one of the bars just to see what that ping pong ball scene in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert was really all about. Unless you are a member of PETA.
Patpong’s Night market is an experience in itself, but one that you can fully experience in about 15 minutes. Your destination tonight is its far end, Suriwong, where you’ll turn left and walk about two blocks down to Soi Thantawan, a small dark soi that opens on your left across from the Tawana Bangkok Hotel. The first bright lights you’ll see will be Tawan, one of Bangkok’s most famous gogo bars catering to gay guys. Especially to gay guys who like muscles. And you are going inside. Even if you don’t like the bodybuilder set.
If you are a fan of well-built guys, you’ll be in heaven. If not, it’s just as well. This is your first gogo bar experience and you’ll do better if the guys are not those of your dreams. A side benefit is that you, like many before you, may become a Thai aficionado and may eventually start participating on the gay Thailand message boards. When you do, you’ll actually have had experience at Tawan and can voice an informed opinion instead of just repeating rumors you’ve heard from others.
Tawan’s first show nightly starts around ten. You want to be there a bit before to get comfortable. And then enjoy the show. Whether you like muscle guys or not, Tawan still puts on one of the better shows in town. You’ll see lots of flesh. And lots of hard dick. Welcome to Bangkok baby! The guys who work there occasionally approach customers, but they are not pushy about it. So it’s a great gogo for first timers to wet their appetite at. Feel free to chat with them, feel them, and tip them accordingly. When the show is over, like with 90% of the other customers, it’s time for you to leave. Leave alone. If muscle studs are your thing, you can return after checking out the action on Soi Twilight. Which is your next destination.
To get to Twilight, walk back the way you came, past the Patpong Night Market, and look for the Family Mart on the opposite side of the street. Soi Twilight, well lit with neon, extends down off Suriwong at this corner. There are beer bars, open to the soi, and two restaurants where you can sit, grab a beer, and watch the action. Despite what the barkers will tell you, none of the bars have a show happening again until midnight.
You’ve got about an hour to kill. And there are plenty of bois to kill it with without entering any of the clubs. As the midnight hour approaches, pick a gogo bar and get ready for your second show of the night. The difference from what you experienced at Tawan is that the guys will not be as muscular, there will be fem boys on stage too. And this time you’re buying.
Yeah, yeah, you don’t do prostitution. I’ve heard that before. But just like with escort services back home, you are not buying sex, you are buying companionship. And that is the point of tonight’s purchase. Even if it does end in sex. Which will be up to you. Pick out a boy who attracts you and who speaks passable English. You can refer to the First Timers Guide To Bangkok Gogo Bar posts in this blog to learn how to off a gogo boy and what that pleasure will cost you. But where those articles assume you will be immediately headed back to your hotel for some fun, for tonight you’re headed back over toward Silom Soi 4 for some dancing instead. With your new friend.
The reason I suggest hiring a companion for the final part of your evening is twofold. First, depending on when the two of you leave the bar he’ll know which club, DJ Station or G.O.D., you should be headed to and he’ll lead the way keeping you from getting lost. Second, though there are plenty of moneyboys and even the occasional freebee filling the clubs, walking in with a partner is always more fun. Even if you haven’t been in a disco or on a dance floor in decades, you’re in Bangkok and it’s time to party.
Don’t worry that you don’t know the latest moves, the beat is the same as it was back when John Travolta was still a hottie, and you are probably white so no one expects you to not look ridiculous on the dance floor. Not that Asians fare any better. Gangnam Style is to dancing what William Hung was to singing. An added bonus to bringing a bar boy to the club with you is that he probably knows half the guys there, and you may quickly find yourself in the middle of a party.
Before you known it the lights in the bar will come up and your evening will be over. Even if most of the inhabitants of the city consider it now morning. If you decide to part ways with your new friend at the club, his tip should be the same as for any short-time off. Or you may decide to invite him back to your hotel for the sunrise, though it’ll probably be a moon that your eyes focus on instead. Either way you’ll have had an experience that you’ll remember for years to come. You can also consider waking up sometime in the early afternoon with the mother of all hangovers part of your experience too. But it’s all good. You’re in Bangkok baby! And tomorrow night you can do it all over again.
The third of the Top Ten Bangkok experiences, which I’ll cover in the next post in this series, starts the next day, late enough for your head to have made its way back onto your shoulders. It will be much more gentle on your wallet, since you probably blew about $150 on this one (not counting dinner or transportation, but including a long-time off tip, and assuming you were not stupid enough to play pool for money with a local boy while visiting Soi Twilight). Unless you still haven’t sent the boy you offed from the bar back home yet.
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