A quick stroll down this legendary street confirms that the majority of Patpong’s go-go bars remain closed despite the lifting of the city-wide curfew. Many have said they may never reopen. Right now, only Super Star, King’s Corner, Madrid and the Thai Bar of the area’s best known bars are operating.
Meanwhile, the main building on Soi Thaniya, also known as Bangkok’s Ginza because of its Japanese-style bars and cocktail lounges, is currently undergoing an extensive facelift. The huge temporary wall outside the entrance and blocks half the road, preventing many of Thaniya’s ‘hostesses’ and ‘pretties’ from assembling outside their establishments to lure customers inside.
Patpong itself has been a popular nightlife area for more than 50 years, peaking in the late 1980s. Since then its popularity has been in decline, thanks in part to changing tastes and preferences, but also because of the night market held there nightly. Ever-increasing rents are also blamed for the slowdown. Tenants complain that the owners of the area, and major leaseholders, refuse to compromise on rents.
Although the advent of the virus has caused a serious downturn in business, Patpong’s future was already in some doubt last year. One of the highest profile casualties, Cosmos - a popular hangout for expats - recently closed for good, though its owner K Vinai has opened a small outdoor venue near Foodland supermarket.
Veteran expats and locals believe the Silom area of Bangkok is actually undergoing a long-term gentrification, with several huge upmarket developments changing the mood here, and signaling the end of Patpong’s go-go era.
Bangkok pub lovers will have even more venues to choose from with the opening of two new traditional British-style outlets and another to be launched shortly. All are located along Sukhumvit Road, the city’s expat heartland. They are:
• The Red Lion, Soi 13 in the Trendy Building.
• P.J.O’Brien’s, opposite Soi 71.
• Royal Oak, Soi 107 (opening this month).
All three will offer some of the cheapest drink prices in town, with pints of draft beer starting at 79 baht a pint and a large Guinness at 169 baht.
The company behind these new pubs also operates O’Shea’s (Soi 33), Royal Oak (Soi 33), Shenanigans (Patpong/Suriwongse), and Paddy Fields (Patpong 2). It also has a pub in Ban Chang called Finnegan’s.