Bangkok’s bar and nightlife scene took a hard hit in 2016, with old favorites like Moose, Bangkok Betty, Hemingway’s, Check Inn 99 and Cheap Charlies all shutting up shop. Expired leases, an unstable tourist market and the likes of Sansiri and co. doing their best turn our city into one giant housing block haven’t helped, while the death of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadejhad had an understandable impact on all aspects life throughout both Bangkok and Thailand.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. Heading into 2017, BKK ME raises a glass to these 8 actually fun bars in Bangkok where you can do much more than just drink, although that is encouraged too.
1. SKATE CAFE – RATCHATHEWI
Long time students’ favorite hangout Coco Walk is always good for some budget bar-hopping near Siam (as long as you don’t mind rank toilets). With half-a-dozen bars to choose from, the standout venue has to be Skate Cafe, which features its very on skate ramp. Bring your own board and they might let you have a go if you ask nicely enough.
ACTIVITIES: Skateboarding + pool
2. BEER BELLY – THONGLOR
A newcomer in Thonglor’s ever-expanding nightlife scene, Beer Belly at 72 Courtyard is starting to make a name for itself thanks to their regular beer pong competitions and other frat party games. On the menu is a tasty selection of premium craft ales, but we suggest you stick to plain old Singha while trying to drunkenly shoot ping pong balls across the table.
ACTIVITIES: Beer pong, actual ping pong, darts, Jenga and pool
3. THE FRIESE-GREENE CLUB – ASOKE
Offering a way cooler alternative to Major and SF, this downtown Bangkok venue is more of a film museum than a bar – although a decent range of drinks is served on the ground floor. Upstairs you’ll find a tiny 9-seat screening room that shows classic and cult films.
ACTIVITIES: Film screenings + related workshops
4. PAINTBAR BANGKOK – THONGLOR
Paintbar does exactly what is says on the tin… of paint: Provide a space to get drunk and paint at the same time! For 799 THB a session you get given a blank canvas and a brush to do whatever you want with, although instructors are on hand to make sure things don’t go too pear-shaped. No creative experience is necessary, just a few stiff drinks from the bar and a bit European flair and you’ll be the next Picasso in no time.
ACTIVITIES: Painting + drinking
5. GAME OVER LOUNGE – THONGLOR
Of course Game Over makes our list of ‘fun’ bars in Bangkok; in fact, this Thonglor spot pretty much started the city’s whole games cafe/bar movement when they first opened a few years back, rolling out a pool table, PS4and Xbox consoles, giant Jenga, private desktop gaming rooms, beer pong and a feast of board games that you only normally play on Christmas Day. The geek-chic venue at the top of Sukhumvit 55 has all imaginable bases covered, with a small but quality selection of craft beers, wine and a meat-centric menu to keep you going all day long.
ACTIVITIES: Games consoles (including freakin’ FIFA), puzzles, pool, beer pong, PC gaming, life-sized Jenga and our all-time favorite: Scrabble.
6. SHADES OF RETRO – THONGLOR
Bangkok hipster institution Shades of Retro is an undeniably cool place to drink, as long as you don’t take the oh-so-alternative vibe too seriously. As you walk in, you’ll notice everything around you is pretty retro, including the mismatching and well-worn out sofas, vinyl turntables, 80s Top Of The Pops-style light fixtures dangling from the ceiling and classic billboard posters. The reason it’s made our list of bars in Bangkok is simple: You can actually take all of the bar’s junk home, as everything you see is for sale.
7. AMBAR (FOUR POINTS BY SHERATON) – SUKHUMVIT
Rooftop bars in Bangkok aren’t normally much fun, especially when the bill arrives at the end of a three-course meal for two. But Sheraton’s amBar may just be one exception. And that’s not because it is particularly cheap. Nope. AmBar is one of the only places in Bangkok you can go to swim and drink – day or night – and not have to be booked into a room down below. That’s right, you can turn up to amBar any day between 4pm and midnight and take full advantage of their facilities for free (unless they are hosting a special event). Why aren’t more hotels in Bangkok doing this?
ACTIVITIES: Swimming + sunbathing
8. WOODBALL – SUKHUMVIT/SILOM
As a somebody who detests karaoke in all shapes, forms and levels of drunkenness, it somewhat pains me to include Sukhumvit’s infamous Woodball bar on this list. But for those seeking a late night sing-a-long and don’t mind the 200 THB cover charge just to get served, this long-standing Japanese-run spot is about as good as it gets in Bangkok. There are various locations spread across the city, including one off Silom and a small spot on the corner of Sukhumvit 53. They are open until 2am, and bookings are advisable if you want a VIP room.
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