July 27, 2015 Comments (0) Adventure, Backpacking, Destinations, Thailand

The Crazy (& Fun) Bangkok Red Light District!

Red Light Districts of Thailand 3

I couldn’t believe my eyes. “Ping pong show, you go to ping pong show,” the Thai hawker screamed at both the parents and their 2 small children. An innocent-looking, and somewhat confused Farang (foreigner) family was being offered a trip to the ping pong shows in the infamous Bangkok Red Light District!

Related Post: 4 Notorious Thailand Scams to Avoid

Just in case you’re not aware,  this isn’t an homage to the wildly popular game of ping pong in neighboring Malaysia. This show involves women showing off their skills by delicately – or not so delicately – manipulating ping pong balls, to perform seemingly impossible feats. I will let you connect the dots.

Only in Bangkok baby, only in Bangkok. Anything goes there…really!

Bangkok has 3 distinct Red Light Districts: Patpong, Nana and Soi Cowboy. Both prostitute seekers and curious passersby frequent the Bangkok Red Light Districts for various reasons: companionship, a night of fun or maybe, a shock and awe session.

Whatever your motivations, I promise you’ll never look at a ping pong the same way after a visit to Bangkok’s seedier and more salacious side.

The Bangkok Red Light District to Visit:

Soi Cowboy

This little strip is quite popular with locals and tourists alike. When most ex-pats think “Red Light” they are likely thinking “Soi Cowboy.” There are of course the customary strip joints, along with bars to get a Singha while taking in the entertaining sights. Take a few minutes to stroll the full strip for a more colorful taste of BKK.

red light districts of bangkok

Nana Entertainment Plaza

This district centers on a multi-story building in Bangkok. Look out for endless hawkers pawing at you to check out the “prettiest ladies in Bangkok.” Note; ladies, also means, “lady boys”, a lady who was once a boy, or man, in case you were wondering. Some farangs actually prefer the lady boys to ladies. A little more on the risqué side than Soi Cowboy, Nana Entertainment Plaza is a fun onslaught of Bangkok nightlife.

red light districts of bangkok


By day, this area is more of a commercial district. By night, things get a little juicier. Patpong has more of a dual purpose where you can pick up silly souvenirs or a cold beer from the many night market or bar stands in the district, while also picking up a partner for the evening.

Bangkok Scam Alert: Patpong bars are notorious for boosting your drink bills. The three, 50 Baht Singhas you purchased can become a 1,000 Baht final tab when it comes time to settle. Since saving face is critical in Thailand simply politely decline to pay the bill with a smile. Stand your ground. Or, if you feel things going south since the Thai bouncer you’re dealing with is so big that he can blot out the sun, suck it up and pay the Baht.

bangkok red light district

Colorful Characters of the Red Light Districts

Lady boy prostitutes may stalk you until you’re forced to sprint from them to save life and limb, or perhaps you’ll be hounded by aggressive touts who will, inappropriately, bug you and your family to visit the all too “family friendly” ping pong shows. Whether you’re entertained by a bar girl cat fight, with each woman slapping each other to win over a Farang husband, or you’re simply entertained by the endless flow of super portly, bloated Westerners who are coming to town to score, you’ll never run out of intriguing, horrifying or flat out hilarious things to see in the famous (or infamous) Bangkok Red Light District.

Also if you want to enjoy a gripping, thrilling read, which does a fabulous job re-creating what the Red Light Districts are really like, pick up Private Dancer by Stephen Leather. It’s fiction, but it’s not really fiction as Leather has a handle on how things work in this part of town.

Have you ever been to any of the Bangkok Red Light Districts?


What stories do you have to share?

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I'm an aspiring scuba diver, novice spelunker and avid adventurer.I have a penchant for always getting lost with an established track record for choosing the worst places to eat. With a healthy aversion to staying in one place for too long, I am the ceaseless wanderer and explorer. I recently traded in the suit for a backpack, and am now pursuing to live a life of sustained travel. I travel to learn, I travel to live and I travel in search of adventure.
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