Stickman's Weekly Column January 14th, 2024

Stickman Weekly, January 14, 2024



Mystery Photo

Where is it?

Last week’s photo was taken on Patpong soi 1 from the corner of the short-lane which runs through to Patpong 2. While this week’s photo may appear obscure, it is somewhere in central Bangkok and a neighbourhood popular with many readers of this column.



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

Pink Panther reply to comments about the 10,000 baht budget for a night out.

He Clinic Bangkok

Thank you for sharing your insights on our recent Instagram post. I’d like to provide more context regarding the 10,000 THB matter. Pink, with its 40-year legacy, has been a favorite among many since the 1980s, including our loyal Japanese customers. Their enduring patronage inspired us to launch our first Japanese-language Instagram and Twitter accounts as a gesture of gratitude. Initially, our Instagram was solely for a Japanese audience. However, we soon noticed its growing popularity among other Asian demographics, evidenced by the increasing direct messages we received. This led us to transition to a bilingual (English and Japanese) platform. One of our pivotal posts, “Gogo Bar for Dummies,” particularly resonated with our audience. Many queries we receive are from small groups (3-4 people) inquiring about the budget for an enjoyable night in Bangkok. We typically suggest that 10,000 THB is sufficient. This budget accommodates a dinner, perhaps at Jodd Fairs for authentic Thai cuisine, followed by a visit to Nana Plaza and Patpong for drinks and entertainment. For a group of four, this amount is a realistic estimate for a fulfilling evening. It’s important to understand that our Asian customers’ perspectives often differ from Westerners’. For them, purchasing ten lady drinks for a group they admire is part of the night’s enjoyment, not a scam. Regarding your latest column, there’s been a shift in bar strategies post-Covid. The focus has moved from attracting middle-class travelers to targeting ‘whales’ – affluent visitors from places like Dubai, Singapore, and India. The era of Japanese salarymen spending 20,000 THB in a single night has waned due to the weaker yen. Meanwhile, Korean customers show a preference for massages. Chinese clients, often affluent, tend to avoid gogo bars, likely due to the lack of WeChat payment options and Chinese-speaking staff. I hope this information provides a clearer picture of our current landscape.

Pink Panther

Easy to spend 10K or more on a night out.

Regarding the suggestion from Pink Panther to carry 10K, that’s actually pretty close to what I spend in a night out. If one were planning on two barfines for the evening (commonplace for me when I was younger), then you would need to have 6K to cover the lady fees at 3K each, 2K to cover their barfines at 1K each, and 2K to cover drinks (yours and the ladies) at 1K each. That’s 10K right there. If you’re not close to your hotel, then add in more cash to cover two visits to a short-time hotel. I don’t even drink alcohol, so if one does, you’d also need to budget more for drinks. And don’t forget transportation. It adds up fast!

A good night isn’t cheap.

CBD bangkok

Regarding a night out in Bangkok, I’d say 10,000 baht is spot on if I am planning on taking a lady back to my room, and 5,000 baht if I am only having dinner and a few drinks. My breakdown would look something like this: Transport: 500 baht. Dinner & drinks: 2,000 baht. Drinks / lady drinks: 2,500 baht, this would be around 3 hours’ worth of entertainment in Nana or Cowboy gogo bars. If I am partaking, add barfine, lady, taxi for lady = 4,000 baht. Then there’s 300 baht for condoms, mouthwash and 1,000 baht for extra lady drinks, tips for DJ, food, mamasan, servers etc. A good night out in Bangkok isn’t cheap these days. Corners can be cut but it’s normally at the expense of quality and convenience.

Expensive nights not always the most fun.

Shopping, taxis and legit massage runs about 2K – 3K baht / day. Partying runs 5K – 20K baht / night. It isn’t a given that the expensive nights are the most fun. In fact, it’s rather the reverse – finding a small bar off the beaten track with motivated staff can be very rewarding.

A big night out can run 20,000 baht.

wonderland clinic

At the beginning of this century when I could party and drink, 10 K baht was the amount I’d have in my pocket on a serious night out. I could spend it all no problem. Now I’m 72, things don’t work the same and my cash-flow is not what it was. My last barfine from Nana Plaza was 2017 or 2018. I was drinking with a lady and agreed to barfine her at 1,000 baht. If I remember right, I only had 3,000 or 4,000 baht on me so I paid and we left at an agreed 4,000 baht for long time. I had to visit an ATM. It turned out to be one of the best nights ever. She left at 8 AM and we didn’t sleep. I would pay 10K in a heartbeat if I could replicate that night. I guess that a serious night of 21st century drinking and carousing, what with the price of lady drinks and barfines today, I would need 20,000 baht for a night out. I never tossed bundles of 20 baht notes on stage nor rang the bell. I had a ball.

More Readers Emails

What the girls charge, and where farangs fit in.

When I worked at <bar name removedStick> on Soi 4, I remember asking girls about the prices they charged. Was it cheaper for young, fit guys compared to fat, old guys? The answer was always, ‘No’. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a girl with a ‘sliding scale’ based on the attractiveness of customers. As far as I could tell, they charged whatever they thought they could get away with. They made estimates based on the wealth of the race, which still endures today – Arabs, Japanese / Koreans, Farangs, Black / Indian etc. It probably won’t make your readers happy to know that Farangs are almost at the bottom of the scale.

You can take the racist out of Blighty but….

Something tells me the hansum men of high season who featured in the January 7th weekly look very similar to the old geezers writing in and complaining about Africans every week. The Africans, who have been there for years in varying numbers, are indeed unlike the entitled white flotsam that washes up in Bangkok every high season (with the true dregs sticking around as the tide recedes). First, they’re pleasant and don’t constantly complain about how the world wasn’t tailor-made for them. They play the shitty hand life gave them and get on with it. Secondly, I’ve never seen them get drunk, then belligerent, then violent, as many a white foreigner, particularly Brits, do. What can I say? You can take the racist out of Blighty, but you cannot take the blight out of the racist.

“You buy Rolex?”

A reader last week commented on Indian fake watch sellers in a disparaging way. I was sitting with a friend a few weeks ago at Bus Stop in Nana, at the area facing the street. Big mistake, as you’ll be approached every few minutes by sellers of this and that. But one was an Indian with watches, and as a joke I repeated what a friend used to say to them when he was approached on Soi Cowboy. “Do you have a work permit?”, which would get them scurrying away. But this chap said he had and even produced it for inspection! We got talking and he was a really nice guy, someone I’d be happy to spend the evening with. His father, the breadwinner back home, had died and he was working to send money home. Of course, the permit might have been fake but, as I said, he was far from being someone to treat as a nuisance and avoid. These people have a living to make, same as you and I.

Shark, where everyone is potential prey, even long-time customers.

In 20 years I have rarely felt the need to message you but tonight is different. I’m a Nana man but recently have found Cowboy less crowded and a bit more welcoming. Tonight I went to Shark which I have been going to for 15+ years. I sat with a girl who no longer dances. I have known her for over 10 years. I bought her 4 – 5 drinks and had 5 beers myself. When the bill arrived I was charged for 10 lady drinks. The girl I was with knew this was wrong and furiously tried to argue with the other staff but they charged me for all 10 lady drinks. As you will be aware, there is nothing much that can be done other than pay and never return. In my 20 years of hitting bars in Bangkok, this is the first time I have felt blatantly scammed and I wanted to let you know. A bar I have visited for nearly 20 years will never see me again. <The owners of Shark have been made aware of ongoing problems in the bar, as well as its sister bars, Mandarin and Red Dragon. It would appear that some staff work together to cheat customers by running up bills for lady drinks that were never ordered. I was encouraged to reach out to the general manager of Shark to comment on this issue. I sent him an email earlier this week. Shark did not bother to reply. Make of that what you will. My impression is that they just don’t careStick>


What was Black Pagoda, Patpong soi 2.


This Week’s News, Views & Gossip

What is happening to what was once Black Pagoda? The unique bar on the bridge that connected buildings on either side of Patpong soi 2 looks like it is being dismantled. Black Pagoda was ordered closed 9 months ago.

If you’re a fan of Thai music, Kinky Girls in Patpong soi 2 (previously The Strip) is the bar for you. Earlier this week, the DJ played Thai song after Thai song in a move that had a regular reader first scratching his head before calling for the checkbin. Wind back the clock 20+ years and Thai songs were often the last few songs played in bars before closing time when there was only a punter or two remaining. This was especially the case in Soi Cowboy. Thai music appeals to your average gogo bar customer as much as 5,000 baht barfines. Why do some bars insist on doing stuff like this that puts people off? My best guess is the boss was away and the DJ was showing off to his latest floozy.

A stone’s throw away on the same soi, popular Virgin is another bar with a DJ issue. Virgin is polarising. Some love it, declaring it one of the very best bars at this time. But there are a few who hate it. How can that be? A friend who took hundreds of photos in Virgin last month, many of which were featured in Patpong, There’s Life In The Old Dog Yet raved about Virgin. Another friend says the line-up features many stunningly attractive ladies. No matter how good the line-up of ladies is, some are put off by the music selection played so loud that it bordered on assaulting. It looks like we can add “various DJ issues” to Patpong’s long list of afflictions.

If you’re sensitive to smoke in bars, stick to Nana Plaza and Cowboy. Patpong has a lot of old bars that for the most part have lousy air-conditioning systems and bars like King’s 1 and King’s 2 are full of East Asians who are eager smokers. Compare that to Nana Plaza where bars like Billboard and Butterflies recognise that smoke bothers some people so they installed the very best air-conditioning systems along with industrial strength air purifiers.

While the bars in Bangkok are busy at this time, Bangkok’s oldest bar area was described as stuttering along this week. The reports I received this week from Patpong weren’t great. That said, Virgin and Pink Panther are very much worth stopping by. And if you prefer to avoid the crowds, Patpong might be for you.


Patpong, photo from the rainy season. Same say it’s not much busier now, at the peak of the high season.


Soi Cowboy was once almost entirely the domain of expats. It was around 2001 or 2002 when many bars underwent improvement and the area would begin to attract more of those who were in town for a short time. Soi Cowboy has pretty much always been dominated by farangs although there are a couple of bars particularly popular with Asians, Baccara being the best of them. So I was surprised to hear from someone who said that his impression on visiting Soi Cowboy this week was that some nights there were more Asians than farangs. A high season blip? Or is this the way things are going?

Speaking of Soi Cowboy, an update from the Arab’s bars shows nothing has changed. This report is from Spice Girls, one of the Arab’s bars, on Thursday night:

Just back from Spice Girls and ฿ 1,550 lighter. Cute girl but a scammer. I met her outside and went in with her. I did order her a drink but I assumed the standard one only. The server brought green tequila and a Coke and asked me to sign the bill. I did not see the price initially but did ask why there were two drinks. I did not get a reply. I had a Heineken. Standard ladies drinks are ฿ 220 at other bars. I was charged ฿ 450 for the two drink set. I never asked to give the girl more drinks and was planning to ask for the bill after the first but barely touched my beer so wanted to finish it. By sets, I mean the combination of green tequila and ladies Coke which is billed as “Coyote”. The server brought another set when the girl finished without asking, and then a third. Then I saw the bill was already ฿ 1,550 as I was asked to sign it. I complained and said this was dishonest. The server pointed to the girl and she just smiled. I paid the bill while protesting and got up and left. Kind of ruined the evening. I went back to my hotel.

Chang, Singha and Leo are priced at 280 baht in The Arab’s bars. Asahi and San Miguel Light will set you back 360 baht. You can buy lady drinks – which appear to be sold as a “set” of two drinks but why would you bother when there is no barfining (although this is not clear until you invite a lady to go with you. She’ll string you along for more drinks and finally make some excuse not to leave the bar with you). It has long been my strong advice that you should avoid the Arab bars. In the 20 odd years our Persian / American friend has operated bars on Soi Cowboy, his MO has been much the same – have pretty ladies outside entice punters inside and run the bill up as fast as possible. The Arab’s bars are clip joints, and they are a reason why Cowboy simply cannot be considered serious competition for Nana Plaza. The sort of nonsense that happens at the Arab’s bars simply wouldn’t be allowed at Nana Plaza.


The iconic Dollhouse sign.


In Soi Cowboy, Dollhouse is regarded by expats as one of the best bars for fun without any hassles. Dollhouse manager Dennis has many improvements planned. They are working on getting an extra mamasan. The long fireman’s pole that goes from the mezzanine floor down to the main stage will be replaced with a pole dancer’s style. Can we expect special pole dancing shows in the future? There are plans to redevelop the upstairs areas. The tall tables will remain, and they would like to add several couch-style booths, with a table in the middle for a dancer.

Following on from recent columns where I have named bars that have a loo with a view, we came up with three in Soi Cowboy – Tilac, Rainbow and Suzie Wong. Red Dragon in Nana Plaza also has a loo with a view where you can check out who the lady you just barfined is flirting with while she thinks she is out of sight.

Speaking of Suzie Wong, it has joined the growing ranks of Bangkok bars choosing not to stay open until 4 AM. The doors at Suzie Wong now close at 3 AM. Dollhouse, directly opposite, also shuts down “early” if there are no customers. It may be high season and the busiest time of the year but bar owners across all 3 major bar areas are almost all in agreement, saying the final hour simply isn’t worth it and know it’s better to let staff go home and get some much-needed sleep rather than stay open another hour.


The view from the soon to open (??!!) Lace Lounge, Nana Plaza. (This would have made a great mystery photo.)


Two new round, revolving signs have gone up on the top floor of Nana Plaza’s main staircase for Tycoon and Lace Lounge. But the delays continue at Lace Lounge with the contractor again playing games. One thing that has been done is that the window in Lace’s smoking room / patio has been cleared of the old air-conditioning compressors and junk, so you can see the view that smokers will get while lounging in what promises to be very plush seating in the smoking area. Hopefully, Lace Lounge will open in February.

Once upon a time, knee-high boots were the norm in many gogo bars. Are there many bars that go for that look today? It’s a look that works so well. As a regular in the original Rainbow on the ground floor of Nana for years, that was the uniform. One shift danced in boots and nothing else. It really was quite something. Ah, back in the early days when I was in my 20s and most punters were 40+, what memories!

There was a time when freelancers in the likes of Spasso’s, CM2 and Q Bar in the early days were a few rungs up the ladder from ladies elsewhere. More comfortable in English, much better presented and generally more refined. But where once these higher end venues attracted a higher class of lady, over time ladies from other freelancer venues heard the stories about how much their sisters were making in the higher end bars and invested in a nice dress, high-heels, brand-name lipstick and joined them. They figured, “If she comes from the same province as me and can get 7,000 baht a pop, so can I!” And for many ladies, it worked! For the punter who took her straight from the bar to his hotel room, all was well. For those punters who had been used to meeting a more refined lady and taking her out for a meal and drinks, things had changed. Some of the new ladies were like a fish out of water away from the bar. You couldn’t take her to really nice places if you feared being embarrassed. Today, there are venues where you can find a higher class of lady today, but they’re not ordinarily covered in this column. Why is that? Because most of the people who help me with what is happening on the ground don’t frequent these venues. And when I am in town, neither do I frequent those nightspots. I am very much out of touch with that sector of the industry, hence such venues are seldom mentioned. But they are out there. If you want to know where, ask around.

What’s the latest with the African drug dealers of Sukhumvit? Multiple reports say they are gone. A couple of readers wandered Sukhumvit this week and did not see one.

At the same time, their sisters on Soi Nana are still around in numbers. Soi Nana continues to be the place to find imports with ladies from Africa, elsewhere in South-East Asia as well as a few ladies in full hijabs, all of who are available. Walk down Soi Nana past Nana Plaza toward the Novotel and the turning for soi 6 and you’ll find many friendly ladies lingering.


The Brew House, Sukhumvit soi 8.


Sukhumvit soi 8’s newest bar from the Queen Of Soi 8 – the lady who has a number of popular and wildly successful venues like Viva and Monsoon – looks like it will open imminently. The Brew House is said to have a large number of craft beers available. Soi 8 gets better and better.

Just around the corner from the mouth of Sukhumvit soi 8, a middle-aged Farang has been sleeping rough this past week. He is often seen between Buddy’s Soi 8 and the 7 Eleven. He has been described as rough and gruff and is not shy to yell nonsense at those passing by. One reader reported that while he was at the checkout in 7 Eleven he heard a voice behind him accusing him of ‘being one of the Lewis family from the East End’, whatever that means. When said reader turned around, he saw the homeless fellow who he described as agitated and aggressive. Said fellow sounds like he has mental health and financial issues.


The homeless foreigner who appears to be a Brit, near the mouth of Sukhumvit soi 8. (The foreigner is the guy in the left.)


Down in Pattaya, for the past two decades, Windmill Club has had the dubious honour of being widely regarded as Pattaya’s filthiest bar. But, in fact, repeated police raids and closures over the years have forced management to tone things down (a bit). What the bar’s regulars get up to is still stomach-turning, but the same level of antics that went on, say, 15 years ago, don’t happen today. Other bars have gladly stepped into the void. Upstairs, Pimp on Soi LK Metro is raunchy but the girls these days are skittish about the many CCTV cameras that have been put into dark corners. It’s a reminder that everything you do in gogo bars is recorded.

The new king of sleaze is Angels which, downstairs, first appears as just another gogo bar. But upstairs it’s anything but – and anything really goes. A friend who visited recently walked in to find one lady bent over doing her best “milkmaid” impersonation on an elderly bloke in baggy gym shorts. In Angel’s Jacuzzi, an aspiring doctor was giving a young woman a gynaecological exam. And, at the padded play-mattress stage, one hungry fellow was dining at the garbage dump. It was one beer and out for said friend.

Reader Tim sent more great captures of the hansum men of Pattaya. There’s little I enjoy more than roaming Pattaya, camera in hand, shooting the “local wildlife”, as my friend Dave The Rave used to call it. Tim is another keen wildlife photographer.


Good guys go to heaven, bad(ly dressed) guys go to Pattaya?


Still in Pattaya, the group of bars announced new operating hours for its 8 venues. The 6 gentlemen’s clubs, including Maggie Mays (Soi Chaiyapoon) and Club Fate (Soi Boomerang), now open as early as 1 PM, with some like Buzzin Lounge opposite Maggie Mays operating until 1 AM. Tree Town’s Bar39 – home of the 39-baht local beers – and Club Fate will remain open till 4 AM, alongside the nightclub Escape in Tree Town. GentsClubs is also eyeing expansion in 2024, targeting areas like Jomtien with plans for a resort complex featuring a gentlemen’s club, swimming pool and restaurant. Another proposed venture includes a spacious g-club on the darkside, and an intimate club in Naklua tailored for locals. You can find more about the new hours and 2024 ambitions in the group’s January newsletter.

Walking Street continues to evolve with fewer bars, and more food outlets. In the space where the iconic Lobster Pot stood for years, a new venue called Folk has opened. And, in the spot that was the Family Mart on the corner of Soi 15, a Burger King has opened. And it does a roaring trade, more than the McDonald’s located at the far southern end of Walking Street.

Work seems to have paused on the Penthouse Hotel in Soi Pattayaland 2. One imagines it will reopen soon but there has been nothing official. If you are a naughty boy who has never stayed at the Penthouse Hotel before, do yourself a favour and book a couple of nights. It’s a unique experience that every naughty boy should experience. And yes, I have ticked that box. I have no idea if the property is still under the ownership of the English gentleman who had it for so long but if it is and he is on the premises, he’s an interesting character and fabulous raconteur.


Construction work seems to have paused on the Penthouse Hotel, Soi Pattayaland 2.


Have some of Walking Street’s gogo bars pushed prices to the point that customers are pushing back and saying nah, that’s just too much? There are increasing murmurs that punters feel price hikes in some Walking Street bars have pushed prices too high. This week – and remember, we’re talking about high season / the very busiest time of year – there were reports that late at night Walking Street hasn’t been that busy. I keep hearing the same thing – there are fewer Westerners out and about late on Walking Street and not even that many East Asians. Indians have been observed to be far and away the largest group.

And in more clear evidence that price is an issue for some, Pattaya’s soi 6 is experiencing a renaissance. It’s busy at all hours as punters head to areas where they perceive better value for money or in Pattaya parlance, get more bang for their buck.

Mike, the friendly operator of Devil’s Den is ALIVE. Rumours did the rounds recently that the angels had come for him. This was, in fact, not true. Mike is very much in the land of the living. Really good guy is Mike, a real straight shooter and someone I always found very easy to deal with. Who spreads nasty rumours like that?

This coming Friday, January 19th, the soi 8 branch of Buddy’s Bar & Grill will be doing its super-popular Cajun Shrimp Boil. With its roots in the bayous of Louisiana, fat fresh shrimp, potatoes, corn on the cob and smoky sausage are all boiled together in a broth filled with Cajun spices. It’s all-you-can-eat for just 350 baht from 7:30 PM.

On the main Sukhumvit Road, not far from soi 18 and just along from Exchange Tower / the Asoke intersection, is a single shophouse Isaan food restaurant called Esaan Nation Kitchen. I lived in that area for years and walked past it most days. I don’t ever remember seeing it busy. I am told that these days Esaan Nation Kitchen is booming. Did I miss out on something special. Anyone tried it?

Readers’ submissions contributor Bangkok Byron is making his book, Philosophy in the Gogo Bar, available for free download on Amazon from Sunday, January 14, 12:00 AM PST through until Wednesday, January 17, 11:59 PM PST. You can download it from or


Free download for 3 days.


Thailand-Related News Articles

Quote of the week comes from the manager of a big-name Bangkok gogo bar, “With the implosion of chaos in the world, I’m just happy to be here in Thailand!

Is the Thai government going to ban cannabis for recreational use?

Thailand is seeking public opinion on recreational cannabis use.

A young American man will be arrested if he returns to Thailand after tricking Thai women and recording intimate video of them without their knowledge or consent.

Thai Airways will resume the Bangkok to Perth direct flight from March 31st.

The Thai government is planning to introduce a special Muay Thai visa for foreigners who wish to learn / train in Muay Thai.

Closing Comments

Last week’s column generated a lot of feedback. I appreciate many of you taking the time to comment on my question at the end of last week’s column about the cost of a night out. I’d love to have included more emails on that topic in this week’s column but I had to draw a line somewhere. My apologies if your email wasn’t included. As always, I appreciate your emails, and for taking the time to tell me about what you’ve seen and experienced.

Your Bangkok commentator,


Stick can be contacted at :

nana plaza