Cowboy, A Snapshot, March 2008
Stepping back and taking in the overall perspective of soi Cowboy and why it does so well.
Snapshot March 2008
First and one of the most important things that is invisible to the average person is the bars work together collectively. The owners and managers talk to each other and share ideas. Also each bar has its own personality, so having a varied menu is always a good thing. Being smoke free inside is also a big plus as the vast majority of people don’t smoke adding to the positive experience.
Walking down Soi Cowboy today was very different than it was just two years ago. Many of the bars have taken the time to put on new creative facades. They range from the Broadway marquee to ones with LED animations. Also all but a few bars have added outside bars and seating. For the moment the outside bar areas are filled with people who seem to prefer smoking and not the sexy women inside. Plasma TVs outside often are tuned to sporting events to add another element of variety. All and all there are between 100 and 200 seats outside.
The bars that are consistently full every night in no particular order and why.
Starting off with Baccara, the bar itself is very pleasing to the eye and well laid out. There are cozy corners with sofa type seating tucked away upstairs that many Japanese as well as western customers enjoy. The bar is also designed to satisfy the up skirt fetish the Japanese seem to have. The fetish is well satisfied with glass ceiling and bar top mirrors that are seemingly cleaned and polished with every drink that is ordered to insure the best view. The layout could be described more of a club than a bar and the huge volume of attractive women dressed in school girl type uniforms also feeds a fetish of the Japanese. The music played is the type of music you would find at a dance club, however that seems to be the general trend in many bars across Thailand. Baccara also has some shows but they still falls short of the top notch choreographed shows at the Angelwitch bars of Nana and Pattaya. All together the higher drink prices at Baccara are well compensated for by filling the desire for the people who enjoy that type of entertainment. If that type of fetish does not fit your fancy or price range there certainly are several other bars to select from.
Shark bar has proved itself to be enduring. The bar itself is of simple design but hosts a huge harem of beautiful women. Not every bar girl is comfortable showing off everything, and the selection of what they wear is a good compromise for the voyeur and the girls. Reasonable drink prices both during and after happy hour also contribute. The only fault at the moment is the sound system is well past shelf life and in need of major attention. The dancers there certainly must be doing well as seemingly every time you go in another girl has found the money to have her front end enhanced.
Tilac bar has recently come into the top contender list with a complete refit and injection of new girls. The best way to describe the bar is futuristic. The new design offers plenty of front row seats of bar and table top dancing. Again reasonable drink prices with an up skirt view all add to the formula. The music is more top 40 type here but nevertheless a well rounded bar.
Rawhide seems to provide standing room only not long after 9:45 pm. The features here are dozens of attractive women who lack the shyness of Shark bar. The entire bar becomes the entertainment and not just on stage. The girls branch out and interact with the customers in semi choreographed events like the parade of girls who come around toasting customers and find their way to the top of your table with some shows. The drink prices are reasonable and the bar frequently is the initiation point for may young new up country girls entering this type of entertainment. The Rawhide shows are nothing fancy but with extremely attractive women in every direction, it is hard to find fault with this bar. The fun interactive atmosphere with the girls is the draw here.
Long Gun also fills every night. This bar gets an early start with dancers on stage around 6:30 most nights. Long gun is the type of place that people go just to say I went to Long Gun. It’s long lasting reputation endures as does the very uncomfortable seats. All and all the formula there of girls, reasonable drink prices and shows many find to their liking keeps the bar full regularly.
Both Sheba's and Suzy Wong do good however the bars do not get up to full speed until after 10 pm. The happy hour prices are very good however the regular prices can put a big dent in your wallet if you are not paying attention. The shows are the big draw here being much closer if not exactly to what you may find behind closed doors.
The next group of bars don’t do as well but still worth a mention.
Dollhouse has a lot of hot girls but lacks atmosphere. It is hard to be completely disappointed there and Dollhouse still offers good value. What the girls wear on the bottom ranges from camel shorts to very short skirts that leave little to the imagination. What they wear on the top varies from either what their mother gave them or their plastic surgeon gave them.
Coyote is a small mostly undiscovered gold mine. The music is great, the prices very reasonable, and the girls are very playful. Did I mention playful yet? Every now and then the bar manages to find a bottle of Thai whisky or Tequila for the girls to enjoy between them. Lets just say on those nights Coyote is exceptional. However because the bar is not as physically big as the bars mentioned above they lack a crucial element to make it a great bar. Double the size of the bar and number of girls and without doubt Coyote would be in the top bar list. A extremely reasonable happy hour that lasts until 9 pm and great music with a well tuned sound system make it all worth your while to visit. On the second floor private table top dancing is available in booths that are curtained off for privacy. To sit there all it takes is to bar fine the girl(s) of your choice and let the private entertainment begin. Drink service is provided at the touch of a button in the private booths.
Cactus is a small bar that does well for it’s size. The bar is full of regulars where everyone seems to know the names or at least the faces of everyone else. The American bar manager frequently indulges his culinary skills and provides some good down to earth home cooked meals for free. The music there ranges from Blues to the Beatles and the selection of girls varies. Cactus also provides a bigger than average selection of choice import beers and ales for a price. The girls at Cactus also offer on demand extreme close up table top dancing that may leave your nose bruised. Simply tuck a 20 baht note in your shirt and see what happens. It beats the pants off throwing 20 baht ping pong balls in other bars. It is advised that you should hold on to the girls while they are dancing for you. The tables are very small and you would not want the girl to fall and hurt herself before you hand her the money after her dance.
Five star also seems to have a gathering of it’s own. It offers live music with several girls who range from cute to not so cute. Mixed drinks are reasonable and they make a killer Long Island ice tea.
Dropping down another notch there are some bigger bars that seem to have missed the mark for one reason or another.
Cowboy 2 seems to have not evolved yet from what was the standard several years ago. It is hard to say anything negative about the bar except it needs to adapt to today’s customer and not yesterday’s. Drink prices are reasonable and offers attractive girls.
Deja vu, Midnight, Our place, Spice girl all owned by the same person has done a good job of making the bars the standard for appearance with thousands of Baht being invested in refits. It was not that long ago that they were doing very well, but due to self inflicted wounds found in check bins the popularity has fallen way off. As a result the bars have just recently modified their happy hour menu to include bottle beer. The prices are still very high and pushing the envelop of what could be called happy hour prices. Additional adjustments in the check bins need to be made to move these bars back up the list.
Black and White does OK and offers good prices. The selection of girl quality is hit or miss being mostly miss. The atmosphere is a little more laid back but you may need to chase away an uninvited bar girl from time to time. The service staff is a bit pushy to buy lady drinks for them and anyone else they can point at, and that can be annoying at times. This is one of the very few bars in soi Cowboy that is Thai managed.
Dundee is a small bar that can vary from week to week and day to day. Many of the girls don’t work everyday. As with Black and White it is hit or miss on the quality of girls. Not too infrequently a top shelf girl can be found at Dundee who has figured out where to go and not just be another face in the crowd insuring an easy bar fine.
Other venue types
The remainder of the bars offer different venues that cater to different needs. Some bars are better than others but it all depends on what you are looking for. They range from sports bars to stress management bars. The quality of girls in these bars is pot luck, but undiscovered treasures are not unheard of. Many of the girls that work in these bars have decided that their day jobs were not paying as well as they like.
Soi Cowboy also offers a Varity of food. From the Thai and non Thai street vendors to Old Dutch, to several other quality restaurants on soi 23 less than 1 minute walk away.
The negative parts about soi Cowboy can be easily fixed. The biggest problem is traffic. Some action should be made to block off the soi from traffic after 8 pm. Pattaya’s walking street has shown it can be done. Other than that soi Cowboy is the place your future happy memories will come from.
That's a decent Cowboy round up.