Stickman's Weekly Column March 10th, 2024

Peak Pattaya


Pattaya has shaken off its seedy reputation. What was once a playground for middle-aged white men is now very much a family holiday destination. For many of us, the Pattaya of today is rather different from the Pattaya we first knew.

I first visited Pattaya in July, 1998. It was a novel choice of location for a language school training trip. After a day of training, 30-odd foreign teachers were let loose on Sin City, many of us visiting for the first time.

He Clinic Bangkok

You’d think those who knew Pattaya would have some advice for us. And they did, but it was hardly the advice I would have given someone visiting for the first time. “Only give the songtaew drivers 5 baht. That’s the price. Don’t give them 10 baht!” It was probably a reflection of the English teaching industry and the low salaries paid.

We were staying at The A-One Cruise Hotel, at the North Pattaya end of Beach Road. Walking Street’s up the end of the beach, we were told. That’s where you should go. Jump on a songtaew and get off when the road turns. From there, you can’t miss it. And off we went in to the night.


Soi Pattayaland 2, 2010. The soi was at its best 20+ years ago.


We were a real bunch of misfits. Most of us were in our first year in Thailand. We were complete strangers to one another before we boarded the bus to Pattaya earlier that day. I would quickly realise that I’d be better off flying solo and slipped away from the group to do my own thing. That night I roamed Walking Street, discovered Soi Pattayaland 2, and ended up in a beer bar on Second Road long after most bars had closed. It’s a night out that I still remember today.

CBD bangkok

It was July, and Pattaya was dead. Most bars had very few customers.

I don’t trust my memory entirely, but memories from that first visit to Pattaya include music in the gogo bars that was way too loud, bars where all the service staff were male and a good few beggars on Walking Street.

In the beer bars, many ladies were chunky and not what you’d call attractive. I clearly remember thinking how the beer bar ladies seemed so much older than the ladies in the bars in Bangkok. I liked the beer bar vibe, but the ladies were rough. In retrospect, it didn’t help that I was in my 20s and many of the working girls were (in some cases, much) older than me. An older man might have found the ladies fetching. I didn’t.


Second Road, Pattaya, 2009.


We often think of our first trip to Bangkok or Pattaya as the best, but that was not the case for me. That first trip to Pattaya left me largely unimpressed. The beach sucked. The locals were rather more aggressive than your average Bangkokian. Many ladies weren’t that easy on the eye and I just wasn’t that impressed. Just a couple of months earlier my plan had been to settle in Phuket, even though I ended up in Bangkok. Comparing Pattaya to Phuket, give me Phuket any day!

wonderland clinic

I would visit Pattaya again a couple of months later with a friend from home. Apart from where we stayed – a small guesthouse on Second Road which has long gone – I really can’t remember all that much about that trip.


The familiar path to Happy A Gogo, for a time the best gogo bar in all of Sin City. 2009.


It would be the best part of two years before I made it back to Pattaya. It wasn’t until mid-2000 when I would visit Pattaya for the 3rd time. Like I said, I just wasn’t all that impressed with the place and back then everything I needed was in Bangkok.

Details of that 3rd trip to Pattaya are hazy and other than staying at the Apex Hotel on Second Road – splashing out 400 baht for one of the premium rooms at the back, over the cheaper 350 baht rooms at the front – I don’t remember all that much. I must have had a good time because from then on, Pattaya grew on me and I would return frequently.


One of the many friendly ladies in Secrets, 2010.


Over the years I probably visited Pattaya something like 50 times. I tended to stay a couple of nights, sometimes 3. The longest I ever stayed in Pattaya was 4 nights. I did that twice. And each time I stayed for 4 nights, on that final morning I was keen to get the hell out and back to Bangkok. As much as I enjoy Pattaya, 4 nights has always been plenty.

The last time I was in Pattaya was the middle of last year. Thinking back over the last 25 years, when was Pattaya at its best?


With a reported total building cost of 40 million baht, Angelwitch Pattaya was a very impressive bar.


In those early years, Pattaya felt almost provincial, especially in the low season. Walking Street was vibrant enough year-round, but venture away from ground zero and while there was no shortage of bars, there were a lot of dark spots in between. Up until about 15 years ago or so, Pattaya felt rather undeveloped. Large, empty, undeveloped plots were everywhere.

The opening of Central Festival on Beach Road in early 2009 signalled the beginning of mass development. And that marked a period of change as new malls, hotels and places to eat attracted a more diverse range of visitors.


Handsome or otherwise, ladies were delighted to meet you. Pattaya Beach, 2009.


It’s tempting to say that Pattaya was at its best way back when I first visited. But it wasn’t. Sure, the further back you go, the lower prices were. And yes, probably the girls were friendlier way back then too. But there was something missing.

Back in those early days – for me 1998 through to say 2002 – it felt like there were a lot more beer bars than there are today. And while prices were lower, much of Pattaya felt rather downmarket and simply didn’t compare to Bangkok (or Phuket).

I liked sitting in beer bars on the Beach Road with the sea breeze and a view of the ocean, but I always felt that Bangkok’s gogo bars had it all over Pattaya.


But Pattaya isn’t kind to everyone. Pattaya Beach, 2010.


But that would change and over the early years of this century, the number of gogo bars in Pattaya crept up each year as the Internet helped more and more single guys discover Pattaya. I recall that at one point the total count of gogo bars in Pattaya wasn’t all that far off 100 – considerably more than there has ever been in Bangkok. Pattaya was changing.

Through the early 2000s until 2010, I felt that Pattaya got a little bit better each year. I still much preferred Bangkok but I found Pattaya a place I increasingly enjoyed visiting. And as I became more familiar with the place, I found more venues I liked, and made friends who I would enjoy hanging out with.


There was a time in Pattaya when the white man was king. Pattaya Beach, mid-2010.


For me, Peak Pattaya was from 2008 to 2010. Pattaya had transformed from something of a backwater beach destination full of bars, to a destination with even more bars plus many good restaurants, cafes that made decent coffee, and various quirky venues, all while not being over-commercialised.

Pattaya was developed, but not overly-developed. For a while it managed to maintain the old vibe with more choices of places to go, shop and sleep. It was still very much a place for, and dominated by, middle-aged white men.

And then, very slowly, perhaps imperceptibly, I felt that it started to decline. Prices crept up (but were still very reasonable). Pattaya was still cheap but no longer a bargain. Attitudes deteriorated. Again, it was slow but year after year you noticed the smiles weren’t so easy, the attitudes were becoming harder and you just didn’t feel quite as welcome. Things were changing in the bars. Amongst the many changes, the coyote concept went from a novel gimmick to entrenched in many bars.


High season, Walking Street, January, 2009.


As the years rolled by, it just didn’t feel like it was as much fun as it once was. Or at least that’s how I felt.

One of the many things I liked about the bars back then was that many bar owners were in the industry for fun. Bars weren’t run by faceless bar groups with multiple bars, many of which felt like just another branch of a fast food restaurant. The bar was almost like a hobby, a place owners would hang out with their friends. They were involved in the bar industry to have fun and this created a real party vibe. And many of these guys were real characters.


Glitterman, the very definition of a “colourful character”.


Pattaya was rich with characters back in the day.

There was the eccentric Glitterman who performed “the show” – riding his beautifully decorated bicycle around the streets of Pattaya, late afternoon, to the wonderment of those seeing it for the first time.


Ladyboy Emma watches the comings and goings on Walking Street.


There was Emma, a gorgeous ladyboy who perched on a stool most nights, overlooking Walking Street. How many of us lusted after her until we were terribly embarrassed when someone who knew better told us that she was once a he?

There was the guy with the parrot who you’d see all over town. The lady who covered herself with tarantulas. The young contortionist. Sharky….and the list goes on.


Whatever happened to the guy with the parrot? Or the parrot for that matter?!


All of these characters brought colour to Pattaya. They were part of the magic of that era.

In Pattaya, you never knew what you’d see or come across next. That’s not a feeling I’ve had there for some time, even when I visit after a long time away. The loss of these old characters from Pattaya is like a womaniser losing his charm. It’s just not the same.


One of many friendly locals.


Today Pattaya feels almost bland compared to the way it used to be. Pattaya bland? How can you say that?! Compared to what it once was, yeah, it feels that way to me.

There’s no doubt in my mind that today it’s a better place to live. There’s so much more to do. So many more places to go. More bars. More restaurants. Far more shops etc. There are many more businesses offering much more with vastly superior service standards. But as a place to visit that is off-beat and risqué? In that respect, it has changed.


Signage from Soi 13/1, Pattaya. 2010.


So many bars in Pattaya today have bland neon signage which look much the same. I watched a YouTuber crawl through Soi LK Metro and many bars had signs so familiar that it reminded me of a street with McDonald’s, a Burger King and some other fast food outlet all next to one another. When Chinese tour groups with flag-waving leaders walk from one end of Walking Street to the other, you know it’s firmly on the mainstream tourist map and with that, it loses part of its personality.

A city that had so many characters doesn’t seem to have so many these days. The closest you get to a character in Pattaya is a hot young Russian in a skimpy bikini parading through Central Festival. A sight for sore eyes, for sure, but hardly one of the characters of old.

For me, it was the two years following the Global Financial Crisis when Pattaya hit a crescendo. It was heaps of fun. Everyone was happy and having a good time – visitors, business owners, staff, and all the girls. Bars, hotels and eateries, you were spoiled for choice. Attitudes were great, smiles were the norm. Prices were ridiculously reasonable.


High season, Walking Street, early 2009.


Even back then, Pattaya had a diverse customer base. Photos from the early days show plenty of mainstream visitors. Western couples. Asian families. Middle-aged white guys might have been the dominant group, but hardly the only group.

From late 2008, there was a dip in visitor numbers due to the GFC. Many of the oil workers and those in security employed in the Middle East lost work and stopped coming. Fewer visitors overall meant the girls had to try harder. Attitudes got even better. It was the best of times.

For a couple of years the lure of Pattaya was strong, and I visited often. There was a period when I visited Pattaya most weeks. I’d drive down on Tuesday and return to Bangkok on Thursday. When I checked out of the hotel I would book a room for the following week.


Girls line up to collect Western Union payments sent by their boyfriends / sponsors in Farangland. Soi Buakhao, 2010.


There were so many good bars back then and that period from 2008 – 2010 was when many were at their best. Some survived but most are long gone. FLB Bar. Club Boesche. X Zone. Fahrenheit. Secrets. Peppermint. Happy A Go Go. Roxy. Iron Club. Airport. Living Dolls. The Cavern. Catz A Go Go. Carousel. Alcatraz. Sisterz. Misty’s. Angelwitch. Babydolls. Diamond A Go Go. The list could go on.

The girls, like the wider industry, were different back then. In Pattaya, long-time was very much the norm. The girlfriend experience was still a thing.


Larry, outside Secrets, 2010. Larry made what was a very good bar even better. Best bar boss ever? For my money, yes.


For those for whom Walking Street was too much, other areas were flourishing with popular bars. Soi Pattayaland 2 had Classroom. Soi LK Metro had Champagne. On Second Road there was Tim’s Bar, and that’s before you even start mentioning the likes of Devil’s Den, Lolita’s and so on. There were so many good bars that even if you stayed for a couple of months you couldn’t possibly stop by them all.

My favourites were Secrets and Catz A Go Go. I spent many an enjoyable night floating between the two. Both are long gone.


Friendly, happy, smiling ladies – and no mobile phones – was the norm, Soi Honey, 2009.


There were girls everywhere. Ok, so there are plenty of girls around today too. Perhaps the difference back then was attitude. You really could fall in love with the girls back then. The girls were sweeter. Everything was so much more relaxed.

Most punters came from a similar background – middle-aged, white, from Europe, North America, Australia and NZ. You would often get chatting with like-minded fellows in a bar and end up doing the rounds together.


Enjoying Pattaya Beach. It didn’t matter what you looked like, she really would love you long time!


I don’t recall any bars being dominated by Asian men. Even Baccara – which attracted an Asian contingent – had, I seem to recall, more white guys than Asians back in the day.

There were few Russians or Chinese or Koreans. The white man was king. It should be noted that our Japanese friends were very popular back in the day before the emergence of Korean pop culture and the influx of Koreans, but the Japanese never seemed to take to Pattaya in the way that Caucasians did.


Devil’s Den had quite a following.


Pattaya was the bar industry. It felt like everyone in Pattaya made their money directly or indirectly from the bars. And because of that, no-one blinked at just about anything related to the bars.

Walk of shame through the hotel lobby with your lady du jour? Not in Pattaya, at least not back in the day. No-one looked twice at the lady you were having breakfast with. In fact, many times I remember chuckling quietly as guys with a Thai lady they’d met the night before stared at a Western guy with his Western wife!

Perhaps part of the reason I think 2008 – 2010 was Peak Pattaya is timing. It was just before the era of Internet-capable mobile phones. While everyone had a mobile phone, Internet access on mobiles was lousy and there was nothing like the apps and social media we have today. Mobile phone culture as we know it today wasn’t yet a thing.


Where you go?” “I go with you!” The Beach Road stroll from one end to the other and back was an enjoyable daily ritual.


So what happened? Where did it all go wrong? That would not be the right question to ask – but there’s no doubt that things changed.

I can’t put my finger on a specific point in time but it just felt to me that when 2011 rolled around, the peak had passed. Maybe it was the recovery from the GFC and punters coming back in numbers. Maybe it was the continued development of Pattaya which attracted more mainstream visitors. Maybe it was the increasing popularity of the iPhone and the way so many have become more interested in their phone than real life.


Back in the day it felt like everyone was smiling.

A beer bar somewhere in Pattaya, 2009.


Probably my age had something to do with it. I was in my 30s, in that sweet spot where I still had my looks and had cash in my pocket. How can you not have fun in your 30s?

For me, the best times in Pattaya were spent roaming around. Exploring, taking photos, wandering down dark alleys to see where they led. Hunting for stories for the column and meeting up with and interviewing characters like Glitterman and Sharky.


High season, Walking Street, January, 2009.


Did we ever stop to consider just how good Pattaya was? Did we ever think that the Pattaya we loved wouldn’t last?

Sexy ladies were everywhere, and most were available. The girlfriend experience was the norm. As a white man – any white man –  you were a prize. Ladies were fixated on you, not on their mobile phone. Prices were ridiculously reasonable. For naughty boys, or merely those who wanted an escape from the drudgery of home, Pattaya from 2008 – 2010 was hard to beat.

Of course you can still have a great holiday in Pattaya today and it’s probably a better place to live year-round than ever before. But it’s also a very different place and some of its original charm has been lost.

Just when Pattaya was best is very subjective. For me, that period from late-2008 through to late-2010 was special. As much as anything, back then Pattaya deserved the Sin City moniker. While you can still have lots of fun in Pattaya today, it really has changed. To me, as much as I enjoy visiting, it just doesn’t feel quite as welcoming nor as exciting as it once did.



Mystery Photo

Where is it?

Last week’s photo was taken from the National Stadium BTS station, looking across at the old national stadium which is right next to MBK shopping centre. I thought it was relatively straightforward but only a small number of you got it right. What happened to the days when Stickman readers took their lady du jour shopping at MBK? Were you so fixated with her you didn’t notice your surroundings?! This week’s photo may look more like provincial Thailand but let me assure you, it’s central Bangkok. But exactly where?



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

Bar area evolution.

Nana has changed in the past 5 years. The new roof is a blessing in the rainy season. A few bars have changed names which is no big deal. Soi Cowboy is changing dramatically. It is not material change, but a change of purpose. Out with some gogo bars, in with live music bars, which are well patronised. Out with more gogo bars, in with some new sports / beer bars e.g. the new Stumble Inn Soi Cowboy which seems to be doing well. And let’s not forget the weed shops. The profile of Soi Cowboy visitors is changing and it’s out with the romantic adventurers and in with “normal” couples looking bemused / shocked / horrified. I must confess to examining the faces of this new class of Soi Cowboy tourist and being gratified if I see shock and / or horror! I don’t believe this change process has run its course. The zombie gogos surely can’t pay the electric bill let alone their staff, so either they reform or repurpose. These bars were zombies well before Covid. How long can they continue?

The price for medical treatment today.

A month ago I visited my doctor. I have two hernias. One doesn’t bother me, but the other does. It’s a 30- or 40-minute operation. Rather than wait, I asked him how much it would cost if I went private. He estimated $NZ 7,000 – $NZ 8,000. I thought, no way for such a minor operation. I then penned an email to Bumrungrad Hospital in Bangkok. I have heard stories over the years about how terrific and reasonably priced they are. I got a reply that shocked me. For robotic-assisted umbilical hernia repair, the price starts at 433,300 baht plus there will be add-ons and unforeseen expenses. That means the price starts at NZ $19,751 which is way more than twice the cost of having it done at a private hospital here in New Zealand. Because I am not in a hurry, my doctor put me on the waiting list for treatment in a public hospital. I’ve already had communication from the hospital to say I’ll have the operation within 4 months. It will cost me $0. At 71 years of age, if I was to decide to move to Thailand, I can only imagine what it would cost me for medical insurance.

Wokeness driving us away from the West.

So many of my Western friends and acquaintances in Thailand are fed up with the political correctness and constraints on free speech in our home countries. I’m back in the UK this week and all that is covered in the news is the politics of supposed Islamophobia, hate speech and MPs being suspended. I don’t want to hear about it! What does it have to do with the majority population of the UK?! There are more important issues for the government to deal with. I have a friend who’s a PC in the Met Police in London. He was in Pattaya for 2 years and had to return to policing last year as he can’t quite fund retirement yet. On resuming duties, he was aghast at the wokeness that has affected the service since he left in 2021. Now he’s counting the months until he can retire and return to Thailand, and his wife, permanently.

More Readers Emails

Airport taxi experience 1.

Coming through the airport this week, I took a queue machine ticket at the taxi stand, found my cab, leapt in, and it appeared not to have a meter. So I asked about it and the driver insisted, “No meter, no meter, only 500 baht” to Sukhumvit soi 8. Needless to say, I opened the door and was halfway out when he raised the sun visor on the passenger side of his windscreen revealing ……. a meter! The trip didn’t cost 500 baht. Never had this happen with an airport cab before.

Airport taxi experience 2.

The taxi from the public taxi booth at the airport tried to jack me for a 600 baht ride. I have the receipt from the taxi stand and I’m gonna report him, assuming he gets me to Ekkamai! He did turn the meter on. This is the first time this has happened to me at the official taxi stand. The driver was a wreck. He kept talking to himself and making himself angrier: words included meter, queue, traffic, farang, 600 baht etc, all in Thai. He was tail-gating, swerving around cars and bikes, and once we got on Ekkamai Road he got worse, and capped it by swerving to the curb in front of a bike and screaming at the biker. This guy on the scooter was yelling back, cars behind us were honking and I was thinking that if I were first-time visitor I’d be terrified. I put on my polite Thai and asked him to please turn left on Sukhumvit by the BTS escalator. The area’s well-lit with pedestrians about. He locked the doors and demanded payment. I kept saying “suitcase, trunk” in English. Fortunately he didn’t pull a knife or anything but unlocked the doors and popped the trunk. I got out, took my suitcase, and handed 300 baht (meter was 231, plus the 50 baht surcharge which is supposed to stave off the crooks, right?) to him without re-entering the taxi. I don’t know how many taxis I’ve taken from SVB, but I’ve never experienced anything like this before.

African drug dealers all but gone.

The situation regarding the African dealers loitering around at Sukhumvit has highly improved. There’s still the occasional one around, but it’s far less than it used to be. It looks like the Police really has cracked down on them. Finally! This took way too long and I’m still surprised it went on for so long at that scale. Let’s hope they keep up the good work and things won’t slip back to what it was.

No longer sleepy Vientiane.

I just got back from a 2-day trip to Vientiane. Saw old Lao friends and yet again I was horrified at the unbridled development, fueled by Chinese investment. Traffic, pollution and a proliferation of restaurants, hotels and massage places. Ate a burger at Hard Rock in Vientiane, and spent an inordinate amount of time waiting for a break in traffic to cross the road. Walked along the river road early Saturday morning having to don an N95 to deal with the filthy air. Vientiane is over-run with tourists. It’s definitely NOT the 1997 Vientiane with sleepy streets, mostly bicycles and few western venues.


This Week’s News, Views & Gossip

Did someone jump on the brakes? From an amazing high season, the low season suddenly looks like it’s just around the corner with readers and bar industry insiders saying that bar trade was noticeably down everywhere. Even some of the most popular bars have been genuinely quiet some nights. This is not to say that Bangkok is quiet – it’s not – but bar trade has definitely eased.

In Soi Cowboy this past Tuesday, Crazy House was standing room only until about 11 PM – but only because the bar didn’t open the second floor due to a shortage of ladies. Long Gun, a favourite amongst the more prurient was desolate at a time of night when it was packed just two weeks ago.

Wednesday was no better in Patpong and even worse on Thursday. Weirdly, bar management reported that Tuesday was a busy night (for Patpong) but that was either a blip or a flippant comment like the old, “If you’d been here 15 minutes ago, the bar was packed” nonsense that some bar managers and owners can’t help but spout!

A Nana Plaza bar owner acknowledged the slowdown, but said it is still possible to rake it in. However, unlike the high of this high season, it’s no longer easy money. You can bring and keep good crowds, but it’s a lot of work, he said. No more just opening the doors, putting girls on stage and counting the cash. The worrying thing for bar owners is that Songkran is a bit over a month away and we all know what happens when Songkran is behind us, don’t we? Bar trade dives!

This coming Thursday, March 14th, The Dollhouse in Soi Cowboy will celebrate manager Dennis’s birthday. And this is an auspicious one for “Dollhouse Dennis” turns 69. Those familiar with Dollhouse know that the Dollhouse ladies outfit is a football jersey with 69 emblazoned across the back. It would appear that Dennis is in the right place for this particular birthday.

Speaking of bar boss birthdays, down in Pattaya, details can be confirmed about Nong Nat’s upcoming performance at Play Girls A Gogo in Pattaya. It will take place on April 25 as part of the boss’s birthday celebrations. I believe the bar is run by a couple of Aussies.

Soi Nana has been said to be something of an international soi in recent months – and I’m not talking about the punters, but the ladies. It’s the same in Pattaya where ladies from around the world are hoping to meet you on Beach Road. I am told that the going rate these days for many local ladies on Beach Road is 1,000 baht. Not every lady will accept that, but most will. You can find a small number of ladies from Russia on Beach Road whose asking price is 1,500 baht. One lady from Turkey is at the pricier end of the scale, asking for 2,000 baht while the hottest of the bunch claimed to be from Uzbekistan – and she also requested 2,000 baht. Next time you’re in the local Consumer Protection Services office, you might wish to lay a complaint about the African ladies who are practicing price collusion. The black beauties all insist on 1,500 baht a pop and anyone who strays from this will suffer a backlash from the others. It doesn’t matter if she’s slim and sexy or big and brash, 1,500 baht is the fixed rate. Some local ladies charge a supplementary fee of 500 baht for idiots who prefer not to wrap up.

In Soi Farang LK Metro, I hear good things about Top Gun which one fellow tells me has a line-up that might even impress Tom Cruise. Even the mamasan is said to be a hottie. Alas, word is she is not available…..or maybe one just needs to put their hand deeper in to their pocket and improve their offer?

Word is that more Indian clubs are coming to Walking Street. Could Pattaya’s ground zero become an Indian-dominated area? Could Pattaya become separated in to entertainment areas by ethnicity? Some would say it’s already happening. Walking Street would be Indian or perhaps South Asian generally. The Soi Buakhao / LK Metro is for bald Brits Caucasians. And North Pattaya is where the Chinese congregate. And perhaps we could add parts of Pratumnak and Jomtien for the Russians?

I’ve mentioned Maggie May Bar and Gentleman’s Club a few times in this column. You can find it on Soi Chaiyapoon, which is just off Soi Buakhao. The knocking shop has done a decent job promoting itself with a Pussy Wagon, pictured below, which you might spot cruising around the streets of Sin City.

A long-time visitor to Cambodia, who once made several trips a year to Phnom Penh, says his most recent visit may be his last. Why? He feels that the bars are no longer worth the trip, even from Bangkok. While Cambodia expats know all the best places to have fun, tourists largely stick to the riverside bars. He feels that these spots have become a wasteland, one non-descript hostess bar after another, with 4 – 10 average to homely girls sitting outside, staring into their phones and making little effort to engage. If you do find an attractive young lady, you walk into the bar to find you are the only customer. Staff fire up music on YouTube and then you sit there with a girl who can’t speak English except for “$5 lady drink”. At current exchange rates that’s 180 baht which is around what you’ll pay in Bangkok. What happened to the days when Cambodia was so much better value? Beers for customers are now $2.50 (90 baht). Personally, I don’t think you can complain at that price but no doubt there are still places in Phnom Penh where you can get a beer for a dollar. If you’re lucky enough to find a woman you fancy taking back to your hotel and she’s willing to go – many either aren’t or wouldn’t care less about doing so, negotiations start at $120 (4,200 baht). That’s for an hour. Over 3 nights, the lowest quote my friend got was $60 (2,100 baht). From Wednesday to Friday, all the riverside streets were barren of customers. Street 104, once a hive of activity, is a graveyard. When he was there, the only place with any sort of vibe was Street 136 and that’s where prices are the highest. He feels that, amazingly, Bangkok is better value than Phnom Penh these days, and certainly Pattaya is.

And it’s not just Phnom Penh where the bar industry is said to be far beyond its peak. I have been hearing similar comments about Angeles City in the Philippines for some years. A friend who recently returned from a trip to Angeles City said it’s dire, the bars are dead and there are very few tourists about. Apparently many bars have two signs out front – “girls wanted” and “bar for sale”! There was a popular freelancer pick-up place called Margarita Station that had been in business for many years. It is now closed although a new, smaller, Margarita Station has reopened on Perimeter Road. I am told that, for comparison, that would be like The Game moving from its prime location under the Nana BTS station to the On Nut BTS station. And what was once Angeles City’s biggest nightclub, High Society, has been closed for years with no sign of reopening. Will the Angeles City bar scene make a comeback or is it done?

Ever wonder how newly made pavements get footprints? City workers provided the obvious answer Tuesday on Soi 23 as they poured hundreds of metres of wet cement on the newly demolished right side of a street where they still haven’t finished rebuilding the left, Soi Cowboy, side. Two big cement trucks mucked up vehicle traffic during the evening rush hour while street workers mucked up the shoes of countless pedestrians by not putting up cordons, ropes, barriers or even signs along the entire soi. People exiting the 7 Eleven or dodging motorbikes by jumping on the sidewalk ended up leaving footprints in the new sidewalk.

One venue that never has a problem filling the house, high season or low, is Smalls, the appropriately named jazz and live music bar in Sathorn. Walking into the moody, retro club, you understand why it’s called Smalls. Downstairs seats 50. But, in fact, the bar is set across three levels with a breezy rooftop area. The live music, four or five nights a week, is best enjoyed on the ground floor. Smalls, named after the New York jazz club of the same name, is famous with jazz and blues artists and fans and still draws acts that only play there. Did you know that Smalls’ founders created and designed Q Bar, which explains Smalls’ fantastic interior. The bar is located a short motorcycle ride from the Lumphini MRT or Sala Daeng BTS and is open every day from 6 PM except Tuesdays. See their Facebook, Twitter or Instagram channels for events, videos and promotions.

Former bar boss Big Andy has run bars and restaurants, but as he enters his twilight years he’s focusing on his real passion, big bikes. Today, Andy operates He rides all over Thailand and South-East Asia, and is an official BMW Motorrad partner. He has 2 shops, one in Pattaya and the other in Chiang Mai. Andy tells me that Northern Thailand has some of the best riding in the world and he loves showing fellow bikers the beauty of Northern Thailand. He’s about to open a new showroom in Chiang Mai as well as Route 66 Bikers Cafe. Check out for more details.

While we’re on the topic of roads and getting around, a friend in Thailand mentioned the fun and games he had buying a new car recently. It reminded me of when I bought a new car in Thailand all those years ago. In 2003, I bought a Honda Civic. The first problem was that I wanted a manual transmission. “No have”, I was told! Ok, never mind, I’ll go and talk to Toyota. Suddenly, they did “have”! But in all of Thailand, what they did not have was a manual transmission demonstrator car – so I had to test-drive an automatic. After I had signed the contract, they came back to me and said we don’t have any manual transmission vehicles in the country and it will be a long time to get one – do you want an auto and, by the way, that will cost you 50K baht more? I’d already signed a contract with them so I was a bit pissed off at that, and I insisted – as much out of principle, as anything – that I wanted a manual. It would later turn out that they did have a few manual transmission cars but my Mrs at the time could not drive manual and she had colluded with the sales girl to try and get me to buy an auto! Can you believe that?! Then when it came time to collect the car and pay, I was ready to transfer the entire amount but they insisted I could not do that and I had to get a 3-year loan for a minimum of 50% of the purchase price. I’d waited some time for the car already and relented when I realised that the interest rate was low, something like 2.95%, and I would make more on my money invested than I would in paying interest. Buying a car in Thailand is nothing like buying one in the West.


When were these the exchange rates?


The exchange rates in the photo above are NOT the current exchange rates. They are from some time in the past. I came across this shot and thought it might be fun to slot it in the column and see if you can guess when these were the current exchange rates. Which year was this? The answer precedes the news article links, below.

The bridge at the end of Sukhumvit soi 10 that crosses the klong and leads to Benjakitti Park and the Green Mile / path to Lumpini Park is currently undergoing repairs. There is a temporary bridge that allows you to pass.

The story of the Swiss fellow who kicked a Thai doctor in the back on steps between his rented luxury villa and a beach in Phuket was the biggest story in Thailand this week. And it was no surprise that first there was an uproar from Thais. Within days, his background had been dug up as Thais found other misdeeds. An official request was made by the Governor of Phuket for his visa to be revoked. Immigration agreed. The Swiss fellow remains in the country as he is facing charges for criminal assault. There is a lesson in this for all foreigners in Thailand. Don’t behave like an asshole! This sort of thing can blow up very quickly, spin out of control and before you know it you’re on the next flight out. In the spur of the moment, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that most of us could do something silly, things escalate and it all ends up with you deported, separated from your wife, children, home, job, company, pets, belongings etc. With this said, I can’t shake the feeling that the Thais can get themselves in to a frenzy and compete with one another to show who is the greatest patriot. For someone whose life was in Thailand, being shown the door could be a life-changing punishment.

Thailand-Related News Articles

Answer to the exchange rate photo question: June, 2014.

A Brit faces life in prison in Thailand for selling LSD in a Ko Tao bar.

And another Brit is facing charges for dealing cocaine, on Ko Samui.

Thailand and the Philippines went to war this week as ladyboys from each country had an all-in brawl!

The Immigration Department revoked the visa of a Swiss man who assaulted a Thai doctor on Phuket.

The tourism industry rebounding has contributed to Thai airlines returning to profitability.

More than 10 million Thais sought treatment for illnesses linked to air pollution in 2023.

Many endangered animals, including a red panda, have been found in passengers’ luggage at Bangkok Airport.

Closing Comments

I hope you liked today’s opener about when I most enjoyed Pattaya. I’d be interested in what you think, and just when you think Pattaya was at its best. Or maybe you think it’s better now than ever before? I might write something similar about Bangkok although that would be tricky. As far as the bars go, there’s no doubt that in my time in Thailand the best was from 1998 – 2001. I imagine anyone who was around in the early 90s or the 80s would likely point to that being the best time. Putting the bar industry aside and thinking of Bangkok as a place to live, I think there’s a pretty good argument that it’s a better place today. It all depends on what is important to you. Go back a few decades and just getting to and from the airport was supposed to be quite an ordeal. Everywhere is changing. Some places are getting better. Some aren’t!


Your Bangkok commentator,



Stick can be contacted at :

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