Stickman's Weekly Column May 28th, 2023

Stick Returns Part 3: Thoughts From 48 Hours In Pattaya



It has been 3½ years between trips to Thailand, but it’s even longer since I was last in Pattaya. In fact it’s so long that I can’t even remember when I was last in Thailand’s infamous Sin City. I spent a couple of days in Pattaya this week and quickly discovered that it has changed a good deal since I was last in town, to the extent that the Sin City moniker hardly seems fitting. Pattaya feels like it is growing up fast. What follows are thoughts and images from a couple of very enjoyable days in Pattaya.



Another lovely day in Pattaya.

The first thing you notice after being away from Pattaya for so long is the change in the mix of visitors. They tell me that it ebbs and flows with the months of the year. When it’s cold in Europe, Russians flock to Pattaya (and Jomtien). When things warm up in their homeland, Russians are less likely to visit. Brits and Germans, for so long the two most visible groups visit in smaller numbers these days, especially Germans who you hardly come across at all. There aren’t many Aussies about (I hear they prefer Phuket) while Indians visit year round in increasing numbers, as evidenced by Indian eateries everywhere. The traditional Pattaya visitor – the middle-aged, single, white guy – very much this column’s readership demographic – makes up ever small numbers. Visitors to Pattaya are more diverse than ever and are almost as likely to be female as male, and much more likely to be Indian or Chinese than Caucasian.

He Clinic Bangkok




Soi LK Metro is the hot spot for naughty boys these days.

I have heard it estimated that 75% of tourist businesses in Pattaya ceased trading over Covid. Many have reopened. Some are rebuilding or renovating and plan to reopen. Plenty of businesses have closed and will not reopen. There are lots of new businesses and while locals tell me trade is down markedly from how it was for the first few months of the year, for what is traditionally the quietest month of the year, business seemed ok to me. I’ve certainly seen Pattaya much quieter than it was this week. It was quiet, but far from dead.




Pattaya Beach looks better than ever.

Amongst the changes in Pattaya since my last visit, is the state of the beach. Every few years they replenish the beach, bringing in truckloads of sand. What was once in parts a miserable-looking beach actually looks like an inviting spot for a swim.




The Pattaya Beach promenade walkway is a mess again.

The same cannot be said for the Beach Road walkway which is being torn up and relaid again. How many times has the promenade been relaid? I know I am an outsider and don’t live in Pattaya – or even visit frequently – but it feels like it’s never-ending!

CBD bangkok




Pattaya Beach.

Pattaya could once reasonably be described as a citywide brothel. It was, for Westerners at least, the world’s biggest sex tourism destination. Many Pattaya neighbourhoods were full of bars and money-minded ladies. Pattaya has evolved and if you haven’t visited for a few years, you might be surprised at how many bars, and by definition how much of the sex industry has simply disappeared. Blocks of bars have been erased and some areas such as North Pattaya which once had a thriving bar scene, have very few bars left. Many bars are gone – and they aren’t ever coming back.

The legions of working girls who used to linger on Beach Road by day now number but a dozen or two. This is not just a Pattaya thing. Myself and a friend perched at the railings of a beer bar on Soi Nana in Bangkok this week and there wasn’t a single working girl out front of the Nana Hotel. Not one! It’s not just Pattaya that’s changing, but I digress. On Beach Road by day, there were a few girls about – but nothing like the armies of years gone by.

At night, Beach Road comes alive and is buzzing. But I don’t think there were anywhere near as many ladies lingering in the shadows as there used to be.




Still Pattaya’s longest running gogo bar. Not sure if it’s still the best though!

While Pattaya looks much the same on the surface, the vibe felt a little different. Remember when you used to look at a lady and she would beam back a huge smile? Smile at a lady today and she might look the other way.

wonderland clinic

While some of the classic, long-running Pattaya bars remain, many have disappeared.

The photo above of Tahitian Queen, often referred to as just “TQ”, could have been taken 5 years ago or 15 years ago or 25 years ago. Pattaya’s longest running gogo bar closed for Covid, then announced it was closing permanently. And then some time later it made a comeback and reopened. It remains open today.

The bar’s odd location on the Beach Road well away from other bars has not counted against it. Sticking my head inside revealed that it is very much the crowd of yesteryear – middle-aged and older white guys, some looking rather worse for wear. Now that is a story for another column. So many expats these days look like shit. It’s not going to be a popular column opener but that is a topic that has to be covered. But for this week, let’s stick to Pattaya.




XS A Gogo, currently one of the very best gogo bars in the country.

For much of the last year, friends on the ground and readers have told me that Bangkok is the place for the best bars. I may have only been back a couple of weeks but I am not convinced. Based on what I have seen so far – and I have now done the rounds of all the bar areas and stopped by all the best bars – there’s an argument that the best bars on Walking Street compare favourably with the best of Bangkok.

Walking Street gogo bars XS A Gogo, Pin Up and Fahrenheit all have a great line-up of sexy ladies. I wouldn’t stick my neck out and say that any one of these three was significantly better than the others. XS and Fahrenheit had a better vibe while Pin Up had the best line-up, closely followed by XS. If you’re a gogo bar fan, any of these bars is a good choice.

Pattaya bar industry figures rant about Pin Up which has sucked up some of the hottest dancers in Pattaya with its industry-leading day rate. Some ladies in Pin Up are said to be on a day-rate of 2000 baht – and can earn considerably more if they are open-minded to offers. If you want to see the most attractive ladies in Pattaya, head straight to Pin Up.




Walking Street, early evening.

Pattaya at night is still a lot of fun but the vibe on Walking Street is different from how it used to be.

One of my pet peeves is the over-zealous and aggressive security guards employed at some bars. There’s tension outside some bars and you get the sense that some security guards are spoiling for a fight. The other half and I both felt the vibe was off on Walking Street. It’s just not the same old sanuk it used to be, or at least that’s how we felt.




Walking Street is a place for tourists, not so much for naughty boys these days.

Hotel breakfasts tell you a lot about where things are in Pattaya today. In our hotel, no more than 15% of hotel guests were Westerners. Last time I stayed in this hotel, it was probably 90% Western guests. Thailand’s tourism industry today is dominated by Asians – and Pattaya is no exception. Over the course of our stay, we did not see one Western guy / Thai working lady couple in the hotel. None in the lobby. None at the pool. And, amazingly, no Western guy + Thai working girl couples at the breakfast buffet.




The latest iteration of the Walking Street sign.

Remember the days when there was the odd Indian club or Russian bar way down the far end of Walking Street? Today, there is a giant Indian club along with smaller Indian-themed bars, many Russian bars, Korean bars and eateries etc. Walking Street is no longer the domain of the white man. In fact, the white man is very much in a minority.




A Japanese YouTuber?

So many of the younger crowd in Pattaya walk around taking video clips of, well, just about everything. Walking Street by night appears to be their favourite spot. But they don’t confine themselves to Walking Street. They’ve done their homework and mid-afternoon you see young guys (and girls) walking up and down soi 6 recording the street from top to bottom on their mobile phone. An hour later they’ll be monitoring how many views the video is getting on YouTube.

One Japanese guy walked the entire length of Beach Road, filming and commentating the whole way.

The groups of young Western guys once a common sight on Walking Street and at the likes of soi 7 and soi 8 were few and far between. Maybe they’re ahead of the game and have found new places in Pattaya to party? Or maybe it’s the time of year and come the northern hemisphere summer holidays they’ll be back?

Soi 8 was doing reasonable trade with most bars open and many new massage shops. Soi 7, on the other hand, feels stale. The bars on soi 7 had few girls and even fewer – sometimes zero – customers.




Larry, enjoying life!

I managed to catch up with Larry, the former manager of Secrets and Baby Dolls. We enjoyed a great gossip session about the bar business and mutual friends. There are so many stories of bar bosses whose life has fallen apart in Thailand. Money problems, a toxic relationship, health issues, or all of the above. Larry is not one of them.

Larry has got his shit together. He made the decision years ago to drop anchor in Pattaya and bought a condo. He doesn’t drink and has adequate funds to not just enjoy Pattaya but travel when he feels the desire. It’s so nice to see someone who was so popular for many years and who brought much happiness to many is now enjoying the fruits of his labour.

This trip, I have really come to realise how plenty of retired expats in Thailand lead a lifestyle that is not the one they dreamed of. Some forever complain about so-called bad exchange rates and pensions that have not increased in years. It’s nice to see one of the truly good guys so positive about everything in Thailand and enjoying life.




Pattaya by night.

I wouldn’t consider living in Pattaya but I can see the appeal. It has pretty much everything you need with most places conveniently located in a small area that is easy to get around if you’re happy to walk or take songtaews or a motorbike. I wouldn’t want to rely on a car as traffic can be surprisingly bad in Pattaya at certain times.




A new dawn for Pattaya, as the sex industry takes something of a back seat.

The pandemic has been transformative in Pattaya. Where Bangkok feels much the same to me, Pattaya feels rather different since my last visit. Quite simply, Pattaya feels like it is no longer dependent on the sex industry. Where once it was the main driver of the city’s tourism industry, today it is a much smaller part of what makes the city tick. Even the “Sin City” moniker doesn’t seem all that appropriate anymore. Pattaya isn’t quite the quintessential family holiday destination and perhaps it won’t ever be. But its reputation for the sex industry is now rather overblown.

The Pattaya that tens of thousands of naughty boys knew and loved is changing. That’s not to say that naughty boys can’t still have heaps of fun, but things are changing fast. Today, the naughty stuff is a much smaller part of the city.

Pattaya has grown up and while it is still some way from the high-end beach resort it strives to be, it has well and truly shaken itself free of its sex tourism roots. Things had been trending in this direction for some time and then along came Covid which pushed the fast-forward button. How long will it be before the sex industry in Pattaya is largely a thing of the past?




Mystery Photo

Where is it?

Last week’s photo was taken in the Asoke underground train station of an advertisement for the TV series, The Last Of Us. Less than a handful of you got it right so I’ve included a much easier shot this week.



Stick’s Inbox – The Best Emails From The Past Week

Bangkok’s black hole.

Patpong is a black hole. Everything is condensing into a singularity. Its disappearance may well impact its surroundings, just as a black hole sucks up everything within reach. Restaurants and shops see less traffic because the former magnet no longer draws visitors. Maybe office towers are its future, as the Sala Daeng BTS makes it easily accessible.

Enjoying the experience.

I admit to enjoying the a-gogo experience. It relaxes me, though I’m naturally pretty low-key and unstressed. I know full well the concept is to deliver a fantasy, but I continue simply to enjoy the places that deliver an overall upbeat experience. I salve any embarrassment for my guilty pleasure by remembering that men from novelist Graham Greene to Nobel Prize Laureate and physicist Richard Feynman were fans of such entertainment. To me there is something fascinating about women who choose that work. I know most of the reasons they choose it, and I empathize, but I am also drawn to their inherent toughness and their ability to act upbeat and carefree, when more often than not they are under intense pressure. I have an admiration for many of them, because I do not know if under similar life circumstances I could have done as well or maintained the outward positivity so many have.

When a few extra kg makes you waddle.

I do think I’ve finally figured out the answer to the perennial argument about whether or not Thai girls used to be better looking “back in the day”. I’ve been watching those Facebook street scene feeds from YouTube that are taken on the sly in the bar areas of Bangkok, Phuket and Pattaya. People can argue all day long about something that is in “the eye of the beholder” like beauty but one thing that I don’t think can be argued is the fact that there are a LOT more ladies who are clearly much heavier than Thai women used to be. My jaw sometimes drops while watching those videos because so many of the girls being filmed are carrying 10 – 15 kg more than Thai women / girls did back in the day. Face it, if you’re a slender-framed, 152-centimetre tall Thai girl, even 5 – 7 extra kg can put a beer gut on a body like that. Many don’t walk anymore; they waddle. If fitness is part of the beauty equation (it is for me and, I would think, most men) then the argument has been settled. Add an overabundance of poorly wrought tattoos to that equation and it’s time to close the book. Just my two satang.

The tourist-dollar-needed fallacy.

I’m told that luxury imported foods like NZ salmon are taxed highly, so that’s probably part of the reason for the high prices. Gourmet Market is a brand leader here and has branches at Terminal 21 and EmQuartier that are always busy. I went to a branch in Nonthaburi that dwarfed those – I was out in the suburbs, zero farang anywhere, and the selection was massive. Really puts into perspective the proclamations of barstool-experts: “Thais need our tourist dollars to survive!”



Meet her at Billboard, Nana Plaza.


More Readers’ Emails

Happy about soi 11 bar closures.

You have repeatedly been writing about the makeshift bars on Sukhumvit Soi 11 closing. I am happy about this due to the incredible noise they made in the evening. The bar owners follow the Thai marketing concept that noise attracts customers. I gave up visiting my favourite restaurant opposite these places because the noise was dreadful.

The internet is written in ink.

I was thinking about why younger visitors to Thailand are much less interested in the dirty side of it compared to how it was 20 or 30 years ago. Most of my friends my age are extremely cautious about the topic and don’t like to open dialogue about it; they’re curious, and given the opportunity will get really, really excited about it, but they need to be pushed into opening up. Even people my age I meet at, say, Big Dogs, who at first turn up their nose and question my moral standing followed by my personal hygiene, will message me on Line an hour after I walked through Nana security asking which gogo bar I went to. It’s that caution and fear of being judged that I think is the root of the issue. I think guys in their 20s and 30s would still love to take trips here – sex is appealing to most men, even if it’s just for a show – but they’re terrified. The problem is the use of phones and video. Sitting at Oasis on Soi Cowboy, every 5 minutes someone limps along, holding their phone like a torch, dialled into the screen (I guess they just have a burning desire to record this as if it’s never been recorded before) and completely unaware of what’s happening around them. European 20-something girls will have their friend take an Instagram photo in front of Shadow Bar as the ladyboys cover their face, screeching and recoiling. In Nana, there are fewer cameras, but I still spot Chinese guys covertly recording on the balconies. Younger people know exactly how fast they can be cancelled for just being seen near a red-light area. One recording now and it could end their way of life 30 or 40 years from now. Their future wives, their future bosses, could spot them in some small corner in one frame of a video and that would be it. What if they become an overnight internet celebrity as so many “influencers” do? Being noticed in a red-light district on camera would destroy that! It’s definitely not a realistic perspective to have, and it’s very unlikely to actually happen even in 2023, but this is the mindset of the terminally online: the internet is written in ink. Younger visitors know it more than ever. At their age, with a future as long as they have – they don’t want to be caught.

How to avoid gogo bar bill padding.

With regard to your comments about bill padding in Spice Girls and Deja Vu, you warn people to keep an eye on their bills in those two bars, something that should be done in every bar, in my view. But it’s so simple to avoid bill padding: simply pay for each drink or lady drink or barfine that you purchase at the time. If you were in a pub in London and I’m sure many other countries, you would go to the bar, order a drink and pay for it, then drink it and repeat the process if you wanted another one. In a Bangkok gogo bar you don’t even have to leave your seat when you want to order another beer. Ordering and paying drink by drink is something I can’t understand why more people don’t do. It may be a (very slight) inconvenience, but not as inconvenient as getting ripped off I wouldn’t have thought.



Meet her at Billboard, Nana Plaza.


This Week’s News, Views & Gossip

The first major sports match I saw was a New Zealand vs India one-day international cricket match at Eden Park in 1981. What struck me as I entered was the noise of the crowd bouncing around the stadium and the atmosphere it generated. This week, I visited Nana Plaza for the first time since 2019 and that same feeling hit me as I had at that cricket match some 42 years ago. The noise of girls and customers having a great time bounces around the complex and hits you immediately. The plaza looks good with all bars operating and many sporting new neon, but it’s the sound that really hits you. The atmosphere in Nana Plaza is unlike any other Bangkok bar area. It’s not the cacophony of distorted sounds from broken speakers you get on Walking Street. And it’s not the shirt-pulling you get from PR girls on Soi Cowboy. The atmosphere on entering Nana Plaza is just wow!

I deliberately left the best for last and it wasn’t until this week that I stopped by Nana Plaza. Accompanied by my old friend Lecherous Lee, himself a former resident of Soi Nana, we were amazed at how busy the plaza was mid-week. We arrived a little after 8:00 PM this past Wednesday – early to hit the gogo bars – but already the plaza was buzzing. By design or not I have no idea, like I say the first thing that hits you is the noise as the roof traps sounds inside the plaza. It’s not an echo, more like a constant roar.

We wasted no time and headed for the bar that many agree is the best in the industry, Billboard. It was barely 8:15 PM and already 2/3 of the seating was taken. Billboard has undergone extensive renovations since I last visited. Large, bright video screens inside the bar cycle through photos of the current crop of ladies. The sound system is the best in the business and said to be on a par with high-end discos. Everything feels new and the bar is kept spotlessly clean with cleaners working in the bar through the night. But it’s not the premises that make a bar, it’s the staff. I suspect Billboard actually trains staff. In the time we were there, not one lady was playing on her mobile phone and I suspect there is a rule against that (which is something many bars should adopt). Not once did service staff bother us to order another drink – as happens in so many gogo bars – before we had finished our current drink. Billboard is the Swiss watch of gogo bars. It’s a finely tuned operation that runs seamlessly.

The line-up of girls in Billboard is good, but I’d say this year’s vintage is not the best the bar has seen. There are many pretty ladies, just not quite the stunning line-up that was a feature of Billboard between 2017 and 2019. There weren’t a lot of interactions between customers and girls when we were there. It was very noticeable to someone who has not stepped inside the bar in 3½ years. And the mix of customers has changed from when I was last there. About half the customers were Asians and there were a couple of groups of young Asian (my best guess would be Chinese) females. Billboard was very good and I can see why so many people say it’s the best in the business….but with that said, it was not my favourite bar in the plaza,.


Meet her at Butterflies, Nana Plaza.


Next stop was Butterflies, the largest gogo bar in Nana Plaza. Billboard’s sister bar is known for being more laid-back. We’d barely been in Butterflies a minute when Lee and I looked at each other and said at almost the same time, “This is better than Billboard!” It’s personal preference, but there is something about Butterflies that I could not put my finger on, something that just made it feel more welcoming.

Part of it might be the attitude of the girls. In Billboard, the ladies weren’t standoffish per se, but there wasn’t much interaction with customers. It was very different in Butterflies. Beaming smiles all around and many ladies were very keen to engage. Maybe we struck it lucky with some ladies making an effort to be genuinely engaging. None of this where you flom, what you name, you buy Cola nonsense. Some ladies approached us with opening gambits that actually made us laugh. Attitudes were great and the girls felt, for want of a better word, fresh. Not fresh as in new to the industry, but fresh as in bright-eyed, energetic and ready for a big night. Perhaps the Butterflies crew had less miles on the clock compared to their sisters in Billboard?

Lady #429 in Butterflies was the pick of the bunch in Butterflies looks-wise, in our respective opinions. Lady #90 had a great attitude and would be a lot of fun. Many ladies in Butterflies had a great attitude and just seemed to be genuinely happy. I could have happily stayed all night in Butterflies but there were more bars to check out.


Meet her at Butterflies, Nana Plaza.


As for which of the two top-floor bars had a better line-up, I wouldn’t like to call it. Much the same, I thought. Two solid line-ups without perhaps the superstars from pre-Covid. Looking at old photos, my feeling is that Billboard’s current line-up is not as good as it was a few years back. There are many pretty girls, for sure, but perhaps we have to acknowledge that the line-up Billboard had between 2017 and 2019 was exceptional, quite possibly the best I have seen in 25 years of visiting Thai gogo bars. Of course, this is all very subjective and others might disagree.

Billboard and Butterflies are generally considered the two best bars in Nana, and for that matter all of Bangkok. The better bar? For me that would be Butterflies. Again, this is entirely subjective. The spaciousness of Butterflies appeals, but what struck me was the attitudes of the ladies. In Butterflies, many ladies seemed to be genuinely cheerful and that makes all the difference. You can have an unbelievable line-up of beauties like Pin Up in Pattaya currently has, but if the ladies are not smiling, not engaging and don’t seem to be enjoying themselves then it doesn’t really matter how good they look. The Butterflies music play-list and the vibe were also more to my taste.

You can’t comment on Billboard and Butterflies without commenting on the toilets which would not be out of place in a 5-star hotel. There is a cleaner in the toilets of each of the bars all night long. This might sound like a small thing but I think it’s a big deal. Drink enough and you’ll be in and out of bar toilets over and over again. And many gogo bars have toilets that you really don’t want to step inside. It’s an industry-wide issue and something more attention should be paid to. Some bars have truly filthy toilets – and we’re talking some big-name, highly successful bars. The beautiful clean toilets in Billboard and Butterflies raise the bar and are just another indicator of how far ahead of the competition these two bars are.


Meet her at Red Dragon, Nana Plaza.


Next stop in the plaza would be Spanky’s. We stuck our head inside and it was busy. All the seats were taken and the bar was humming. It looked much the same as it always has – full with everyone having a good time. Spanky’s is a machine, busy night after night after night. We decided to head elsewhere and planned to return to Spanky’s but in the end we never made it back.

A relatively new bar getting rave reviews that I had to check out was Red Dragon. It’s on the middle floor, tucked below Mandarin. First impressions were positive – what a beautifully decorated bar! The owners have taken great pride in a thoughtful bar design that works well. Red Dragon has a traditional Chinese theme with the colour red everywhere, Chinese lanterns hanging throughout the bar along with various Chinese-style features. I like the low stage and stage-side tables where customers can sit right next to dancers and interact with them. It’s not unique, but neither is it something you see in many bars these days. And it works because the Red Dragon girls have a great attitude and love to engage with customers sitting next to the stage. The beautiful red dragon above the area where drinks are served is a lovely feature and the general layout of Red Dragon along with a line-up featuring several very sexy ladies with great attitudes has seen Red Dragon catapult itself to the top tier of bars where it’s regularly compared with Billboard and Butterflies. The latter two might have superior line-ups but the vibe in Red Dragon is every bit as good as Butterflies. In fact my pal thought Red Dragon had the best atmosphere of all the bars we visited. Certainly, the Red Dragon girls were friendlier than those in any other bar we stopped by.


Meet them at Red Dragon, Nana Plaza.


I can’t reiterate enough what a great job the owners of Red Dragon, Billboard and Butterflies do by keeping the bar clean. Red Dragon’s toilet is also very nice, if not quite at the same level as the 2 bars upstairs. Again, it might be a little thing but it really makes for a much better experience than being in bars with filthy toilets.

There are frequent skirmishes on the Chinese / Indian border and I wonder if the Chinese-themed Red Dragon has sided with the Sinos? About half the customers in Red Dragon appeared to be Chinese. Are they drawn by the Chinese theme? As we were leaving, two Indians – who were well-dressed and looked very respectable to my eyes – were denied entry. Was it due to their nationality? There was no other obvious reason. I am reluctant to mention this sort of thing but in this instance I saw it happen right in front of me with my very own eyes – two respectable-looking Indians were denied entry in to Red Dragon for no apparent reason other than the fact that they were Indian. It’s 2023 and this BS should have been left in the past.

I have to diverge for a moment from my report on Nana Plaza and relay something Larry said to me in Pattaya earlier this week. We were talking about the change in the mix of visitors to Pattaya and Larry commented on the reports of Indians entering a bar and ordering a drink with 3 or 4 straws so they could share it and only pay for one drink. In all his time working in the bars, Larry confirmed to me that he never saw this happen with his own eyes. Not once.


Meet them at Red Dragon, Nana Plaza.


Signs at the entrance of Nana Plaza and throughout the plaza clearly say no photos or video can be taken on the premises. It’s the same inside bars. Signs in Red Dragon say no use of any communication device is allowed – and is punishable with a 10,000 baht fine. My phone was in and out of my pocket all night as I made notes about what I was seeing. No-one hassled me, nor seemed to care. These signs which mention hefty fines are daft. “No photos or video” would suffice. It’s not like the fine is enforceable. As a keen photographer, I don’t like this rule. But Nana Plaza management has its reasons. One of the main complaints of genuine punters in recent years concerns the number of people taking photos and video in the nightlife areas. Some are quite rightly concerned that they might appear in these photos or videos if they are posted online. For those of you for whom this is a concern, Nana Plaza has heard your concerns and is doing all it can to make the complex a safe zone. You can enjoy yourself and party with the ladies away from digital recording devices.

On this topic, one does wonder what the future holds with regards to video and photos in other bar areas. Nana Plaza outlaws it and some Walking Street gogo bar guards are very, very protective of the bar, even if you so much as point a camera at the neon sign above the bar. Could Cowboy and Patpong implement a no photo / video policy in the future?

If you haven’t been to Nana Plaza any time recently, there is a security checkpoint at the entry with three “lanes”. One lane is for ladies entering, one for customers and the last lane is for exiting the plaza. Security is a big deal these days. Bags are checked when you enter. I don’t like it, but I understand why they do it. I have to wonder if Nana Plaza has an invisible set of scales at the lane which girls have to pass through? I ask this because this week, Nana Plaza was a fatty-free zone. OK, so we only stopped by 4 bars – arguably the 4 best / busiest bars – and there was not one fatty to be seen.

I really enjoyed Nana Plaza. It is streets ahead of the other bar areas, so much so that you can’t really even compare it to Patpong, or Cowboy. It would be like the All Blacks playing Thailand at rugby – it isn’t an even contest.


Meet her at Butterflies, Nana Plaza.


There might just be light at the end of the tunnel for the bars on Patpong soi 2 closed due to their connection with Velvet in Phuket. Word is that Patpong soi 2 fetish house Bar Bar will reopen on Thursday. It will no longer be known as Bar Bar and is expected to be rebranded as Octopus. What isn’t known is who is behind the reopening and who will run it. The main guy behind Bar Bar remains locked up in Phuket Remand Prison.

For the past month or two, the cops have allowed bars in Soi Cowboy to stay open until 3:00 AM, essentially giving them an extra hour’s trade. That ended this week with the police telling bars they have to close by 2:00 AM.

I take back what I said in a previous column about not smelling weed anywhere. This past Friday night, Soi Cowboy reeked of weed with the smell strong at the Asoke end of the soi. We hit Dollhouse which was good, Suzie Wong which was disappointing and Rainbow which was outstanding.

The newest bar on Soi Cowboy, Rainbow, is booming. As I said to the doctor when we visited, Rainbow felt like Nana quality in Soi Cowboy. There were heaps of pretty girls – there must have been 80 or more dancers jammed in the bar on Friday night. There was a real party vibe and the music was good. Rainbow has a dance floor upstairs with a glass floor so those downstairs can see what is happening upstairs. I gather the upstairs section doesn’t open every night and I suspect it might be a Friday-only thing. A couple of small criticisms about Rainbow which as good as it is, has room for improvement. The bar is a bit cramped, especially with so many girls. Smoking is allowed and the extraction system didn’t work well. Those sensitive to smoke might like to avoid it.


Meet her at Red Dragon, Nana Plaza.


Suzie Wong was underwhelming and something of a disappointment. The Soi Cowboy bar had been talked up by many but when we visited at prime time on Friday, it was flat. Friday night featured a very average line-up highlighted by some God-awful boob jobs and what seemed like a higher percentage of tattooed girls than other bars. The DJ must have an extensive music collection and love the random button – every song followed one from a different genre and different era. It was funky, with the music playlist all over the place. Enough people I know and trust have talked Suzie Wong up that we probably stopped by on a quiet night.

Good news on soi 7 where owners of bars in the Centrepoint complex have been informed that the lease for the complex has just been extended to 2026 which should kill the rumours about whether the bar area will end this year or next. The owner of CentrePoint is behind the planned redevelopment of the Biergarten.

Speaking of the soi 7 Biergarten, the ratio of females to males was roughly 2 : 1 on Friday afternoon. But there weren’t many people in the bar – just 15 girls and 7 punters.

Following on from last week’s column opener where I panned Patpong after spending a night in Bangkok’s oldest bar area, I received a few emails from readers who were most displeased with my comments. They appeared to have one thing in common – they were either gay or bisexual. They felt I was overly harsh and pointed out that the gay bars in Patpong are doing very well. Some said I should have pointed this out. Sorry, guys, gay bars is not something I cover and 99% of this column’s readers aren’t interested in that at all. But in the interest of balance, I relay from customers of those bars that the gay bars in Patpong are doing well and they abhor my notion that Patpong should be leveled.


Patpong left me terribly unimpressed.


With bars closed this coming Saturday, June 3rd for Visakha Bucha Day, Red Dragon’s Full Moon Party won’t be taking place, again, on the night of the full moon. Last month’s party was relocated due to May’s full moon falling on Election Eve. The Red Dragon party will take place the following night, Sunday, June 4th. Expect high energy levels with the Red Dragon team rested after a day off.

Low season has traditionally been a time for bars to renovate and upgrade and the folks behind Billboard and Butterflies are determined to make the best even better. In the past week Billboard installed a new stage behind the Jacuzzi, white and lined in pink LED lights. It’s a marked change from the dark, faux-wood platform that was so scratched and pitted that, when Billboard did photos in April, the owner threw pink and purple plush blankets over it to hide the damage (you can see some of those photos in this column). Across the way, Butterflies has finally reupholstered and replaced the sofas and armchairs. The upholsterer also redid the coverings for the Jacuzzi chairs and barstools. It’s these little touches that make bars that bit more comfortable. The days of dirty, decrepit “character” bars can stay in the past.

In its early days, Butterflies experimented with special pole-dancing shows by an accomplished fitness dancer. While bargirls spend their lives shuffling around chrome poles, what they do cannot be considered pole-dancing. On Thursday, the ladies, and an exuberant crowd, got a marquee demonstration of what pole-dancing really is. The dancer, in this case, came up from Pattaya where she is known for her high-flying acrobatics, climbing and twirling far above the already-elevated stage. She admitted afterward that she couldn’t show off all her tricks because Butterflies’ chrome poles are old (now 7+ years) and are a bit unstable, particularly at the top. Perhaps that will be the bar’s next upgrade?


Real pole-dancing in Butterflies.


Technically a floor down, Mandarin in Nana Plaza has reopened its upper floor which, if there were a door on it, would open up right next to Butterflies. Last summer, Mandarin reopened the upper floor, which has only a glass floor as a stage, but shut it again after its owners opened Red Dragon and moved girls there. But now not only does Red Dragon have a packed stage, Mandarin has enough ladies to fill two floors again. Smokers will enjoy the upstairs lounge, as well as those who prefer their dancers in less clothing.

After Whiskey & Go-Go’s male Thai manager fired more than a half dozen of the bar’s longest-serving and most popular girls in an embarrassingly public manner, they all moved for a few days to Tycoon upstairs. But the ladies quickly scattered, some moving to other bars in Nana, as well as to Cowboy and some even made it to Patpong. But it seems the band is back together now at Tycoon after they found the pickings at Suzie Wong, Geisha, Pink Panther and other spots less appealing. So if you’re fond of some of the Whiskey girls that have been featured in this column over the past year, you can find many of them in Tycoon – which is an oddly hard-to-find bar on the stairs headed up to Nana’s top floor.


What was Angelwitch, Pattaya.


Down in Pattaya, the best-sounding and arguably best-looking bar ever in that city was Angelwitch Pattaya. Purpose-built to Western standards to be a show-bar amphitheatre, it really was an unparalleled experience and the sound system was amazing. It closed the best part of a decade ago and has stood empty, with those who remembered it hoping another bar owner would take it over. Alas, that won’t happen. No word on what the plan is for the space, but as per the photo above Angelwitch Pattaya is now just rubble.

Meanwhile in Sin City, the closings (and reopenings) keep coming. Bliss, which I noted a few weeks ago looked like it was done, has reopened after a refit with all its talent returning from Pascha. And now Pascha has closed again.

Stunners, a coyote club on Soi LK Metro, also reopened after being closed for several months.

Soi LK Metro also saw the reopening of the oddly named “As Friends” disco & nightclub. It closed around the time Las Vegas opened and looked done, but has the lights on again and is advertising for gogo girls.

Off the beaten track, Cockpit Club off Third Road closed after only opening in January.

On June 1, Buzzin Lounge will open on Soi Chaiyapoon, opposite Maggie May’s. It is connected with Trevor from the Buzzin Pattaya website and YouTube channel.


A cutey in Mandarin, Nana Plaza, is captured by Stick, my first gogo bar photo since 2019.


Reflecting on my time in Pattaya this week along with the time I spent in bars in Cowboy and Nana, it is my observation that the best bars on Walking Street have a superior line-up of attractive and sexy ladies compared to the best bars in Bangkok. Pin Up on Walking Street has many genuinely attractive ladies. It’s in a class of its own and stands out even against the best Bangkok gogo bars. Billboard’s line-up doesn’t compare. Nor does Butterflies, Red Dragon, Rainbow in Soi Cowboy or King’s Castle 1. You want to see the best looking ladies in a gogo bar in Thailand? Head to Pattaya and make a beeline for Pin Up on Walking Street.

Away from Pattaya’s bar scene, the Central Festival shopping centre has a rarity you don’t see in downtown Bangkok any more, a branch of Asia Books. Once the most popular retailer of English language books in Thailand, Asia Books stores have disappeared from Bangkok, with the pandemic fast-tracking their demise. It’s not that long ago that there were several branches of Asia Books between Nana and Emporium. Is the Asia Books store in Pattaya the last remaining Asia Books branch?

There is a homeless white woman living rough on Pattaya Beach, opposite soi 6. She looks to be about 50 or so years old, appears to be European and looks, for want of a better term, spaced out. She has a pile of belongings, is caked in dirt and it looks like it has been weeks since she last showered. In the old days I would have photographed her and included it in the column. These days, I’m not so sure that’s such a nice thing to do. Hopefully she gets help.


Work is to begin on the vacant space next to the Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit.


Back in Bangkok, what is going up in the empty plot next to the Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit? A condo? An office tower? A shopping mall? None of the above. Word is that the space is going to be a hospital, or at least a medical facility of some description. I never would have guessed that. Given the location, will it be a facility that targets tourists?

And word is that things have stalled at the large construction site at the start of Sukhumvit soi 10 that was previously Chuwit Garden. Lots of rumours are doing the rounds with some saying there have been orders to dig out the foundations that had been poured. Whatever happens, here’s hoping that the area is developed one way or the other. Large construction sites downtown are a dreadful eyesore and no-one wants to see it remain a vacant site, walled off for years to come.

A walk through Sukhumvit soi 22 revealed many of the soi’s massage shops aren’t doing great at this time. Some have downsized following the disruption of business due to Covid, and some have disappeared altogether. There has been a downturn in trade and this week the massage house girls were desperate for customers. Prices don’t seem to have moved, and seem to be the same they have been for years with a standard massage around 300 baht and an oil massage 100 baht more.

Last week’s column included a snap of a beauty where I wrote, “Would you? (If yes, let me know and I’ll tell you where to find her.)She was, of course, a ladyboy – and for those of you who are interested in meeting her, she can be found at Obsession on the ground floor of Nana Plaza.


Meet her at Geisha, Nana Plaza.


Thailand-Related News Article Links

Interesting YouTube video about Chinese buying property in Thailand.

The influx of Russian visitors has made Phuket feel less like Thailand, some say.

Another arrest is made in the Velvet bar underage case in Phuket.

There’s no update on the 300 baht tourist fee that has been talked about for some time.

Is the future of Thailand’s cannabis industry uncertain following the election result?

Bangkok taxi drivers were charging outrageous fares to foreign visitors at an exhibition in the outskirts of Bangkok this week.

The wild ride for the runaway Brit teenager who fled to Pattaya comes to an end.


Meet them at Mandarin, Nana Plaza.


Closing Comments

The column is easier to write when I am on the ground in Thailand. Sometimes when I publish from New Zealand I feel it would have been so much better if I was on the ground in Bangkok. I am happy with this week’s edition. I covered a lot of ground this past week, and am happy with the end result. I hope you enjoy this week’s edition.


Your Bangkok commentator,



Stick can be contacted at :

nana plaza