Stickman's Weekly Column June 18th, 2023

Making Sense Of Bangkok Gogo Bars Today

Some say the bars are booming. Others say they’re dead. Some say the bar industry is experiencing a renaissance. Others still say it’s in its death throes. After 4 weeks in Bangkok and plenty of roaming up and down the neon-lit sois, I will try to make sense of where things are at in Bangkok’s gogo bar industry today.

After so many people telling me how much things had changed, I was wondering what would await me. But I found myself scratching my head at all those emails because the major bar areas felt much the same as when I was last in town. While some bars have changed names and others have new owners, Bangkok’s 2 major gogo bar areas still look much the same today as they did pre-Covid. Nana felt like it was doing better than I remember and had as good a vibe as it’s ever had. Cowboy felt much the same as it used to, if somewhat quieter early evening than it used to be. Patpong, as I have said a number of times, is not its old self. It has seen better days.

He Clinic Bangkok

So while the bar areas look much the same on the surface as they always have, how are things inside?

Again, while some people will tell you that things are different, I don’t see it. Sure, some bars have been spruced up with a new sign and reupholstered seats etc. Others, like Billboard, have undergone extensive renovations and taken the premises to a whole new level. But, the odd bar aside, most look much the same as they always did.

What about the ladies inside the bars?

CBD bangkok

The service staff in many bars today strike me as a little older than they used to be which is purely anecdotal. Given that service staff often stick around the industry for years, if not decades, it’s not a great surprise.

As for the dancers, the one thing that is immediately noticeable is that there are more tattooed ladies and more really heavily-tattooed ladies. Suzie Wong and Shark in Soi Cowboy both stood out in this regard.

Are the ladies working in the bars less attractive these days? That’s a tough question to answer. My feeling is that they’re not less attractive, but there are fewer genuinely attractive ladies and a lot of plain Janes. The number of “stunners” was way down and I’d say I only saw 2 or 3 ladies who really made me look twice. Plenty of lovely, sexy ladies but those who really stop you in your tracks? Hardly any these days.

Even in the best bars in Nana – where the atmosphere was great and anyone with the right attitude should have a great time – I felt there were very few genuinely attractive ladies, especially compared with pre-Covid. Your mileage may vary.

wonderland clinic

While you can’t help but notice that Thais are, generally, getting bigger, I didn’t notice more big girls in the bars. But like I say, overall I felt there were few genuinely hot girls. Do factor in, however, that I find tattoos a huge turn-off.

The biggest grievance readers seem to have in the bars these days is not so much the ladies themselves, it’s the prices. In some ways I agree and in others, I strongly disagree. Let’s break it down.

In Bangkok gogo bars today, a standard drink (a bottle of local beer or a top-shelf mixed drink like Jack + Coke) typically runs 150 – 200 baht. 170 / 180 baht is where most gogo bars price their standard drinks. Of course, there are happy hours and draft beer specials and promotion nights and whatnot but let’s keep it simple and talk about standard drinks prices.

I think this is a fair price, in fact I am of the strong opinion that anyone who complains about the price of customer drinks in a Bangkok gogo bar is being ridiculous. To me, when you consider what you get for the money, the price of customer drinks is a bargain.

For around $US 5, you get to sit in an air-conditioned bar and watch anywhere from a handful to 40+ girls on stage dancing in various states of undress. How can you call that expensive? Tell me anywhere in the world where you can enjoy such a spectacle in a bar where there is no entry charge, where you will not be hassled, where you can relax and enjoy music in a pleasant environment and watch sexy girls dance? Anyone complaining about the price of customer drinks is either cheap or a serial complainer. For those who do as I do and just like to sit back, watch the show and enjoy the ambience – what I like to term “spectators” – it’s truly a bargain.

The equation changes somewhat when you go from “spectator” to “partaker”.

If you wish to have a lady to sit with you and enjoy her company, you need to buy her a lady drink. In Bangkok gogo bars today, lady drinks run a wide range from 150 – 260 baht. Most bars today charge around 180 – 200 baht but prices vary and can be steeper in some bars.

What do you get for that? The truth is it’s a lottery. Most likely, you get 10 – 15 minutes of a lady’s time. Best case scenario, she sits with you and engages with you for an extended period of time. Worst case scenario – and this is, sadly, becoming somewhat more common – she downs the drink in 15 seconds, asks for another and if you refuse she is gone.

Unfortunately, in some bars it gets worse. Some readers have complained about bars which impose a double lady drink so “a” lady drink might cost you 400 baht. Many bars which impose a double lady drink don’t tell customers about this which many customers consider unreasonable. I agree.

This carry on has generated a lot of complaints from readers and even some gogo bar bosses admitted to me this past trip that customers complain to them about this all the time. Sadly, this seems to be a blind spot and few bar bosses take these complaints seriously. Bar bosses do care about customers being happy and don’t want disappointed or unhappy customers but ultimately they are more concerned about their girls. Ladies make a double commission on a double lady drink – 100 baht x 2 – and ultimately bar owners are much more concerned about keeping the girls happy, and keeping them employed in the bar. The girls have all the power in the employee / employer relationship and there is no reason to think that will change any time soon.

In Bangkok gogo bars, buying lady drinks is like buying a lottery ticket. It wasn’t always this way. Things got worse when bars increased the commission on lady drinks. Pre-Covid, most bars paid ladies 50 or 60 baht commission on every lady drink. Today, many bars pay ladies a 100 baht commission for every lady drink.

With higher commissions, the ladies have changed their personal business model. Not that long ago, ladies tried to persuade a customer to take her to a short-time hotel where she would make perhaps 2,000 baht. Today, many ladies make enough money from lady drink commissions that they have no need to go to a hotel with a stranger. As such, some ladies milk customers for as many lady drinks as they can. The end result sees them spending minimal time with a customer unless he buys more and more lady drinks. When he refuses to buy another, she moves on to a new victim customer.

The lady drink system is broken and complaints about ladies spending less than a minute with a guy who buys her a drink, or being slugged with 2 drinks and a 400 baht bill, or both (!) are entirely legitimate. It was never this cut-throat in the past.

Moving on to barfines, if you wish to invite a lady to join you outside the bar for adult fun, barfines today range from 600 baht to well over 1,000 baht (for showgirls / coyote dancers / models etc). The typical range for a barfine in most Bangkok gogo bars is 600 – 1,000 baht. The average is around 800 baht. For that, the lady will leave the bar with you. This is about twice what it cost 25 years ago. Given inflation, that’s probably fair.

The days of taking a lady out of a Bangkok gogo bar, going for a meal followed by clubbing & dancing and then back to your hotel room with her staying until the next morning are largely a thing of the past. Most ladies who are barfineable want the deed to be done as quickly as possible so they can return to the bar to repeat the process with another customer. The girlfriend experience has largely gone the way of public telephones and typewriters. They’re still out there but you don’t know when you’ll come across one.

Many ladies working today have never been long-time with a customer, and some won’t even go short-time. Like all of us, they are keen to maximise their earnings and many have discovered they can make as much, or even more in some cases, from lady drinks alone than from accompanying a customer back to his hotel / condo. This has seen many ladies become quite aggressive in hounding customers for lady drinks which has coined the unfortunate but entirely appropriate phrase, “lady drink whores”.

Given that salaries for gogo dancers are quite generous and lady drink commissions are typically 100 baht per drink, ladies can meet their financial needs without the need to open their legs. As such, if she agrees to a liaison with you, the cost of doing so won’t be the bargain it once was.

The standard short-time fee quoted by ladies in better Bangkok gogo bars is 3,000 baht. Some ladies, particularly those in smaller bars, will go for less. Others will insist on – and have no trouble – getting more. But 3,000 baht seems to be about the going rate today. And many ladies will insist on going to the closest short-time hotel so she can get back to the bar and repeat the process and find customer #2 (or #3) for the evening. Just like in employee / employer relationships, in customer / service provider relationships the ladies now have all the power.

So if you wish to take a lady out of a bar, you’re likely to have a drinks bill of at least 1,000 baht if not more (3 drinks for you, 2 lady drinks + tip). A barfine is, on average, around 800 baht. The lady’s fee is typically 3,000 baht and a short-time hotel room for an hour is around 500 baht. That gives you a total of 5,300 baht, or in excess of $US 150. Is it worth it?

That is a question that only you can answer. If the chemistry is good, and you click with the lady and have a nice time in a short-time hotel and look at it not as the cost of sex, but the cost of a few hours’ entertainment then, yes, I think it is almost certainly worth it. This is why today I think gogo bars should be looked at as places of entertainment.

If, however, she develops an attitude in the short-time room as plenty of ladies do – and you suddenly realise that everything up until that point was an act, it probably won’t feel like money well spent at all. It really comes down to the connection between the two of you.

If you’re only looking for sex and don’t really care for what happens in the gogo bar, it’s probably not such a good deal. If you’re only or primarily after sex, much better deals can be had elsewhere with more attractive ladies offering better service at a fraction of this price.

Some who used to be – and perhaps still are – frequent visitors to the bars don’t like the way prices have gone and don’t like the fact that many ladies aren’t available, or are unwilling to go long-time. Yes, prices in the past were lower and yes, there was a time when pretty much every lady dancing in a gogo bar was a sure thing.

Let’s briefly compare the bar industry today with the bar industry I first knew in the late ‘90s. Customer drinks were 70 – 90 baht. Lady drinks cost about the same as customer drinks. Many ladies would not ask for more than one drink, and often they would not ask you for a drink for 15 or 20 minutes or more. Barfines were 400 baht. Short-time was 1,000 – 1,500 baht and long-time 1,000 or 2,000 baht. (Yes, some people paid less and others paid more. And, yes, if you go back to the ‘80s or even the ‘70s it cost much less, but let’s stick to the last 25 years because that’s the period I know.)

The bar scene was exceptional in the past. Ladies attitudes were generally great. Prices were ridiculously low. It was magic. But the world has changed and there is no rewind button.

There’s still heaps of fun to be had in the bars today. It may not be the bargain it once was – but at the same time the industry has come a long way. The revamped Nana Plaza with the likes of Butterflies, Billboard and Red Dragon offers modern, clean bars with professionally tuned sound systems, industrial strength air purifiers, comfortable restrooms and service levels that exceed most bars from the past. The days when many bars had the odd ladyboy or two secretly mingling in with the real girls are a thing of the past and the likelihood of being beaten up by bar security for some infraction, perceived or real, are very unlikely in Bangkok today. 20 years ago, it was not uncommon for security to set upon customers who had misbehaved and sometimes things got messy. Photos of Nana Plaza back in the day show a decaying complex over-run with feral cats which were scared of the monster-sized rats. There were piles of garbage strewn around and the place was filthy. Compare that with Nana Plaza today. It’s night and day.

Prices have moved up but there is still lots of fun to be had. Most price rises have largely been in line with general inflation, and don’t forget that these price rises have come off a very low base, hence prices for the most part are still reasonable today.

There are two areas where I think Bangkok’s gogo bars let themselves down today – the flawed lady drinks system and customers being in the dark about who is available and who is not.

Customers get annoyed when it’s not clear who is available and who is not – and it’s made worse by ladies leading them on, getting them to buy her lady drinks and then when he proposes paying her barfine, she says she is not available. He feels cheated and feels resentful towards the bar. Bar owners ought to consider a system like Secrets in Pattaya had where ladies who were available wore a green lanyard and ladies who weren’t wore red. Simple and effective.

The lady drink system is broken. It is completely reasonable to feel cheated if you offer a lady a drink and she downs it in 15 seconds and scampers away. Offering her a drink and seeing two come back with a 400 baht bill is even more unreasonable.

In the past, lady drinks cost about the same as customer drinks. Today, lady drinks often cost more than customer drinks. I put this to long-time Nana Plaza bar manager Dave The Rave for context. “The old school theory is that lady drinks should never cost more than customer drinks. This theory has been around for decades. The same price seems a fair deal to both the bar and customers.”

Lady drinks and the uncertainty of whether a lady can be barfined aside, it seems to me that the bar scene is much the same as it used to be. Sure, the ladies might be a little older, have more tattoos and most are unwilling to stay the night. The unvarnished truth is that 20+ years ago, many ladies were desperate and did things they’d prefer not to. They had children to feed, family members to support and had few options to make enough money to provide for their family financially. Thailand’s economy is so much more developed today and ladies have more options to find a job that pays enough to live on without having to sell their body. That’s a good thing.

The one big change in Bangkok’s gogo bar areas is that today they are places of entertainment whereas in the past, many saw them as places to find a partner for sex. As places of entertainment, the gogo bars are great. As places to find a sex partner? There are better options.

Bar names have changed, prices have crept up, and customers are a much more diverse bunch, but underneath it all the bar industry really isn’t all that much different. In the period that I have known the bar industry – from the late ‘90s until today – the changes for the most part are not that significant. There’s still plenty of fun to be had if you go out looking for a good time but these days, it’s not all about sex. There might be fewer characters around and the girlfriend experience might be hard to come by, but this is offset by a better environment with nicer bars that are professionally run.

That awful proverb you hear rather too often in Thailand does, for once, seem fitting. The more things change, the more they stay the same. There is no argument that some things have changed, but are the changes really all that significant? I guess it all depends on what you’re looking for.




Mystery Photo

Where is it?

Last week’s photo was taken of the tunnel-like entrance in to Emporium from the skytrain station level. Only two of you got it right and an awful lot of you got it wrong! This week’s photo was taken 3 weeks ago. I mention that because the appearance of places like this can change. The last few mystery photos and every photo I feature for the next couple of months was taken by me. Time in country allowed me to stock up on photos for this section of the column.



Meet her at Red Dragon, Nana Plaza.



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

Low season blues misplaced.

This low season not busy thing has been a feature of bargirl interactions for almost as long as I’ve been going to Thailand. I wonder if they are actually commenting on how much they are making personally.

The state of the loo.

Saw the comments about the state of toilets in bars / restaurants too and I fully agree. Even in high-end restaurants and the best bars, the toilets are not seldom downright shitty (sometimes literally….), old, dirty, smelly etc. I’ve always wondered why after, for example, a new gogo bar opened and got heaps of praise about the design, they had spent so little money on the toilets. Installing nice toilets wouldn’t break the bank. And I’ve noticed the state of the toilets is even worse in Thai-owned bars / restaurants. I sometimes joke to friends that you can send me on a gogo bar hopping tour, and by looking at the toilets I can tell if the owner is Thai or farang. There was one mega exception to the rule though. Tim’s Bar had the cleanest and most beautiful toilets I have ever seen in Thailand. Spacious, beautifully designed and decorated and kept spotlessly clean by a toilet lady who took her job seriously. I’ve been in the toilets of high-end hotels and restaurants that didn’t come even close to Tim’s toilets. I can remember that Tim’s son, after taking over the empire, once told me that while it was very pleasant to hear all the compliments about the toilets, he wished he would get the same compliments about the quality of the ladies in the bar!

No more Connect 4.

I meet a nice girl in Baccara and we went out to eat. She didn’t speak a lot of English but had one of those translation apps on her iPhone. Never encountered one before and I was stunned at how well it worked. Bit of a game-changer. I guess the days of playing Connect 4 are well behind us.


Meet her at Suzie Wong, Soi Cowboy.


More Readers’ Emails

Airfares I.

About fares getting crazy, last November the Emirates fare went up (I changed the date twice in the past leaving it open as Thailand was making it difficult with vaccines, etc.). Eventually the flight had went up from £700 to over £1,000. I was going to switch to EVA but called Emirates just in case and a friendly person found me a flight with a £700 fare. Lucky me. I am going back to the UK in 2 weeks and plan to be back in Thailand in November again. Hopefully, fares will have come down then.

Airfares II.

Due to Covid I haven’t had a chance to return to the Land Of Smiles since 2018 / 2019. I am planning on heading back in September and ticket prices from Florida to Bangkok are around $1,700 – $2,500. Also due to Covid, many airlines almost collapsed with most operating in the red for a long time. These same airlines, post-Covid restrictions, are finally returning to profit again but the lack of pilots, an increase in jet fuel costs, and limited flights are all contributors to the hike in ticket prices as well as the increase in demand as people are traveling again. Domestic ticket prices in the USA are insane right now and most experts say that flying international is cheaper. So, until the airlines hires more pilots, increase the number of flights, and the price of fuel starts declining, I think we are going to experience high price tickets for the next 12 – 18 months.

Changing Sukhumvit.

Sukhumvit soi 11 is constantly changing. I watched a short video today and 2 restaurants I visited last November had gone. One has gone completely and is being rebuilt and the other has changed hands and is totally different!



The Shark crew, this past Friday night.


This Week’s News, Views & Gossip

Shark Club on Soi Cowboy has grabbed the headlines for the second week in a row as it continues its supersonic turnaround. Friday night saw a recent-record 43 ladies in the house. Sure, that’s less than some other bars, but it’s a massive improvement in a short space of time. Things will get even better next week when Shark extends its happy hour through until 9:30 PM. Happy hour starts on the patio at 5:00 PM and moves inside when the gogo bar proper gets going at 7:00 PM. All drinks (barring the usual exceptions) are 95 baht from 5:00 – 9:30 PM with large draft beers just 95 baht all night. This coming Friday, June 23, Shark will throw a birthday bash for new manager Greg. Plans haven’t been finalized, but figure a pig will be sacrificed and put on a spit for the occasion.

Soi Cowboy on Friday night was described as busy with one friend saying it did not feel like low season. You could not walk in a straight line along the soi and had to zig-zag to avoid people coming the other way or just standing around gawking. All the popular bars were doing well.

Still on Soi Cowboy, Midnite is open. I have no idea why it was closed when I was on Cowboy a couple of Fridays back but it looks like that “closure” was very temporary.

From Patpong comes a little good news for a change. Early reports are that Octopus (the new name for the fetish bar previously called Bar Bar) is doing well. When asked about the new name and the new operators, staff did not want to talk about it.


Foot worshippers, make your way to Sukhumvit soi 33!


Speaking of fetish bars, Bangkok’s other fetish house, Demonia on Sukhumvit soi 33, will host a special night dedicated to foot fetish, in addition to their usual free flow drinks promotion. The owner tells me that foot fetish is very popular at this time amongst fetishists.

Back on Soi Cowboy, Jungle Jim’s is one of a handful of long-running, small, single-shophouse pokey gogo bars on the soi you seldom hear much about. Unfortunately, Jungle Jim’s gets mentioned this week for the wrong reasons. Opportunistic ladies in Jungle Jim’s are perpetrating the double lady drink scam. Offering a lady drink to one of the bar’s maidens this past Friday, an expat friend scratched his head as the lady returned with two glasses – Coke in one glass and the whiskey in the other. She then emptied the contents of one glass in to the other and started drinking. He checked the bill and saw he had been charged for two drinks. This long-term expat refused to play the game – and the girls quickly backed down and the bill was amended to one lady drink. The mood was lost and he left, vowing to never return to Jungle Jim’s again. It is of course a positive that the bar caved in and rectified things after being called out on this nonsense but the fact that it happened in the first place is still disappointing.

For so long a hot-spot for freelancers day and night, these days there are long stretches throughout the day when there are no girls milling outside the Nana Hotel at all. A friend and I spent time chatting one afternoon at one of the beer bars opposite the Nana Hotel and the freelancers were conspicuous by their absence. It’s yet another indicator that parts of the bar / sex industry are changing.


Nana Plaza, early June 2023.


Lumpini police and Watthana District officials again decided Thursday, one of the busier nights of the week, was the best time to launch a disruptive inspection of Nana Plaza bars. Fire-protection measures, including escape routes, emergency lighting, extinguishers and other equipment were all found to be up to spec. They also checked whether noise-control measures were in place to prevent nearby residents – where?! – from being disturbed by loud noise. And, of course, they looked for drugs and found none. Why these PR farces aren’t carried out on Mondays is anyone’s guess.

On June 8, 2012, Bangkok got itself another sports bar. Ho hum. They come, they go. But The Game, under the Nana BTS, has done what countless others haven’t: They not only have survived 11 years, they have thrived. On June 29, The Game will celebrate its 11th anniversary with a huge party with drink and food specials plus all the great hospitality The Game has become known for. Want to take a trip back in time?

Lek’s Last Stand and O’Neill’s Irish Pub, two venues slap on the main Sukhumvit Road between sois 11 and 13, were closed for a brief time earlier this week in what was said to be punishment for staying open late without permission the night of the Champions League Final. But the punishment didn’t last long and by mid-week both bars had reopened.

One of the best gogo bars is about to get even better as Spanky’s in Nana Plaza undergoes remodeling. Things got underway this past week and it is hoped that all work on the revamped bar should be completed in 4 – 6 weeks. It’s going to be a challenge to keep the popular bar open every night while remodeling takes place but that is the plan. The owner is really positive about the renovations and hopes it will transform the already popular bar. Expect photos of the upgraded venue in a month or so.

And still in Spanky’s, Mathieu will celebrate his birthday in the bar tomorrow night, that is Monday, June 19th. All are welcome.


Party time at Spanky’s.


Down in Pattaya, the much-hyped new Soi LK Metro gogo bar Las Vegas has failed to gain traction. The good-looking bar promised a lot but has yet to deliver. In fairness to the bar, it’s still relatively early days so perhaps stop by again in a month or two for another look.

While Soi LK Metro is generally regarded as the preferred bar area for naughty white boys in Pattaya these days, if you want to see the very best looking women in Pattaya then Walking Street is said to still be the place.

Not far away from Soi LK Metro in Soi Honey, Ricky’s new bar Lip Lounge has taken on several new girls so far this month, one of whom is featured below. Word is that a more appropriate name for the bar would be Smut Lounge.

Captain Hornbag is now working at Heaven Above in Soi Boomerang. The venue has 50 girls and there’s a show performed every 20 minutes. Heaven Above is open from 5:00 PM until 2:30 AM and is described as a gentleman’s club. Best of all, there are no agency girls.

Jason, the manager of popular Pattaya gogo bar Sapphire, died unexpectedly this past week. He was early 50s and it came as an awful shock to those close to him. May he rest in peace.

Over the border in Cambodia, word from a long-term local is that the bars are very slow at this time. Figure it to be the lull before the northern hemisphere summer as soon travellers will flock to South-East Asia for their summer break.


Find her at Lips Lounge, Soi Honey.


High airfares have been a common theme in emails from readers in recent times. The airfares are high because flights are full, right? I’m not so sure about that. When I flew up to Bangkok last month, the main leg from Auckland to Hong Kong was about 2/3 full. Flying home last week, the flight from Hong Kong to Auckland was only 1/3 full and I had 3 seats all to myself. One of the air hostesses joked that we had more space in economy than they had in business class. So high airfares cannot be blamed entirely on supply and demand because my experience, at least, is that flights are not full at all.

On the topic of prices generally, I have been asked how I found the price of eating out in Thailand this time around. Yes, prices have moved up but honestly, I really did not think they had gone up by all that much. Take the old el cheapo Sukhumvit expat favourite, Took Lae Dee. Yes, prices have gone up but are you really concerned when your favourite put-see-ew went up by 10 baht over a period of 3.5 years? If you find yourself worrying about such small price increases, it’s time to get a new job (or if you’re retired, resume working)!

Chinese visitors don’t spend money, right? They pay for all-inclusive packages in their homeland and when they’re in Thailand they hardly spend anything, right? Just like the stories of Indian men entering a bar and ordering one drink and half a dozen straws so they can share and only have to pay for one drink, low-spending Chinese appears to be an old wives tale. Multiple restaurateurs told me this trip that the best spenders, by a long way, are the Chinese. Second are the Thais. Everyone else is way behind.


Meet them at Mandarin, Nana Plaza.


Sometimes it’s the small things you miss from Thailand. I miss some market vendors, the local curry soup stand and also a Pad Thai vendor amongst others. But two things I really miss are fresh coconuts – I would drink the water of one or two fresh coconuts every day, and cha yen (iced Thai-style tea) which, unlike coconut water, is not very good for you even if you ask for it unsweetened without any sugar added. At least in the case of coconut water I can buy 1-litre cartons of Thai coconut water in the supermarket here in New Zealand. And amazingly, it’s the same price here as it is in Thailand.

Like onion rings? Like free stuff? You can get both at any of the Buddy’s Bar & Grill locations this coming Thursday, June 22, which happens to be National Onion Rings Day. That’s right, Buddy’s is giving away orders of their tasty deep-fried onion rings (one order per person) all day, no strings attached. Of course, they go great with the Carlsberg, Stella Artois, Guinness and other beers they have on tap at Buddy’s in Sukhumvit sois 8, 20, 22, 89 and in Silom.

One of the best meals I had this trip was at Benares which is developing a reputation as Bangkok’s best Indian restaurant. They offer a deal where you can order unlimited items off the menu over 2 hours for between 1,150 and 1,550 baht. There are different packages, some including mocktails as well as “premium menu items”. The quality of the food is superb and the format is like the old buffet at Indus where you order items and they are cooked fresh and brought to you. It’s not the conventional style buffet where you help yourself from pre-cooked dishes. Admittedly it’s not cheap, but the quality is excellent. Service can be a bit slow – which is saying something given that we were the only people there. But for sure, if you want to pig out on Indian food, Benares is worth stopping by. Benares can be found on Sukhumvit soi 13, and is nestled in behind another Indian eatery, Chowpati Street Food.


Wonderful Indian food at Benares.


Everyone knows the Big Mac index but I wonder if Thailand should have a “krapow index” as a guide to food inflation in the country. Krapow moo and krapow gai are every bit as much the national dish as Pad Thai or Tom Yum Gong – in fact, I’d suggest these dishes are better candidates for the national dish as they are more commonly consumed by Thais than the aforementioned. When I first moved to Thailand in 1998, a plate of krapow gai or krapow moo made fresh from a street vendor or in a food court typically ran about 25 baht, and a fried egg was another 5 baht. The same dish today typically sets you back around 50 baht and it’s 10 baht for a fried egg. By this measure, food prices in Thailand have roughly doubled over 25 years – which sounds about right to me.

What happened to all of the second-hand book shops in Bangkok? There used to be many, although in fairness I am going back 20 / 25 years. Khao San Road had a heap of second-hand book shops with many Thailand and / or travel-related books. These stores were not like second-hand bookshops you get in the West with a wide range of titles including interesting, rare and hard-to-find books. I don’t remember seeing even one second-hand book store in Bangkok this past trip. A quick search online shows that Dasa, near Emporium, is still in business. It was probably the best of the bunch. But whatever happened to the many other second-hand book stores like Elite? Their number has been in decline for some time. Did Covid kill the remaining second-hand bookstores off?

On this note, I reckon over the next few years – yes, years – we will notice more places we remember prior to Covid in Bangkok have disappeared. So many places we just forget about and it’s not until your memory is jolted that you wonder what happened to them and realise that they have in fact been gone a long time already.


Meet her at Suzie Wong, Soi Cowboy.


Thousands of hospitality staff lost their jobs after cafes, restaurants and bars closed due to Covid, and many of these people had to scramble to find a new source of income. For a time there weren’t a lot of job openings and people had to get creative. Some discovered the likes of Lazada and Shopee and moved in to a new career: working for themselves and selling stuff online. Some would discover that there was good money to be made, and it was a whole lot easier than working all day in a restaurant. One sale might result in a few hundred baht profit, roughly the same amount earned by many per day in hospitality. Some now have no intention of ever returning to work for someone else when they can earn the same amount or more working from home, without the hassles of travelling to and from work, and taking shit from a boss they may not like. One hospitality industry insider said to me this week that a number of his former staff are now selling stuff online and are very unlikely to ever return to the hospitality industry. Many businesses in the hospitality industry have struggled to find staff.

If there was one (very minor) downside to my recent trip to Thailand, it was that service levels in businesses in tourist areas were not as good as they used to be. This applied to both Bangkok and Pattaya. But in businesses in local neighbourhoods where the customer base was basically all Thai, service was much better.

Speaking of the hospitality industry, are there more Indian restaurants in Pattaya than restaurants of any other country, even Thai restaurants? It sure felt that way.

Coffee shops are everywhere these days with more Starbucks branches than ever. True or not I don’t know, but one friend claimed there are seven branches of Starbucks in Central World. I used to like Starbucks in Bangkok when they had really comfortable seats with plush sofas making them a good place to relax and kill time. But that was the past and all of the comfortable seating has gone by the wayside. As such, I prefer to grab a coffee at Café Amazon. The Thai chain of coffee shops has also expanded hugely and I found it to be preferable to Starbucks for the simple reason that it is around half the price with no discernible difference in quality. If you’re in the Sukhumvit area, there are Café Amazon branches in soi 1, soi 22 and soi 39….and probably more coming soon.


Meet her at Red Dragon, Nana Plaza.


Thailand-Related News Article Links

A British expat walked from Pattaya to Phuket to raise money for charity.

A New Zealander in custody in Thailand is unhappy about the lack of his assistance from his embassy.

Within 3 or 4 years there could be a highway from Bangkok all the way to Kolkata, India.

A martial artist who choked a Brit to death in Phuket is back home living in Norway after 4 years on the run.

A 52-year-old overstaying Belgian shot himself in the head in Phuket.


Meet her at Suzie Wong, Soi Cowboy.


Closing Comments

I think I am officially suffering from a case of the Bangkok blues. I miss the place more than I ever thought I would. It has been a lot of fun working on the column this week. The past week has been cold and wet here as winter bites, but working on the column made me feel that much closer to Bangkok which is nice. For all of you readers outside Bangkok, I hope it makes you feel a little closer to Bangkok too!


Your Bangkok commentator,



Stick can be contacted at :

nana plaza