Monday, 13 September 2010

Sukhumvit Bangkok nightlife - Sukhumvit Rd Soi 33's renaissance

Don't you hate it when old timers reminisce and say things like, when I was a lad, all this here was just open fields?

Well, I'm going to do exactly that!

On my first visit to Bangkok in 1987, a friend of mine suggested we get out of the busy downtown Sukhumvit area, and go for a quiet drink in far-flung rural Sukhumvit Soi 33.

After what seemed like days in a taxi we pulled into this soi, and trawled through low-rise darkened shophouses until we came across a couple that had lights on. Monet and Manet, I think their signs declared them to be. Oh, my friend's brought me to an impressionist art gallery I naively thought.

Wrong! They were Bangkok bars, but cut from a distinctly better cloth than the Bkk average, where barmaids in long flowing dresses plied us with beer and banter. A very pleasant memory ...

Fast forward to 2010 and so much has changed, but there again not really.

Monet and Manet are still here. But joined by other impressionists and surrealists. Such as Degas, Renoir and Dali.

But the latest entrant is 'The Horse Says Moooooooooo.' Jing jing! Can you imagine going to your bank manager and asking for a loan to start a new business called The Horse Says Mooooooooooo?

Near Phrom Pong BTS station, the street is initially dominated by the Lotus Hotel (formerly Novotel), and the cavernous Londoner Brew Pub, and then there's travel agents, restaurants, massage places, live music bars (Music Station has good vibes), and other bars -- but not of the go-go variety. If you want Coyote dancing, check out Mojo's.

The Office Bar & Grill is a great place to watch sports and get a great meal, as is Tenderloins Bar and Steakhouse (burgers only about 200 baht). The Office Bar is equipped with full-service secretarial support whereas Tenderloins is more of a restaurant but has a pool table too.

Livingstone's is another surreal site: giant elephant tusks herald this African hunting lodge-style hotel (moderately priced around 2000 baht per night) daubed in gaudy ndebele design. A drink around their pool is most pleasant and other-worldly. A little slice of Africa right here in Bangkok.

Basilico Pizzeria have some of the best Italian food in Bangkok, and about 10,000 choices of pizza, straight from their giant open ovens.

Further up and on the right is Bistro 33, pleasantly tucked away in a gracious old house. They often advertise attractive meal-and-wine buffet specials.

Soi 33 is now a busy, lively, and colourful hive, and very popular with the farang expats living in Bangkok, more so than with tourists. As such, it's a little more pricey than other areas of Bangkok, but it's nicely decked out, friendly, fun.

Some would say a real masterpiece of entertainment. That's my impression anyway.

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