BANGKOK is a city known for its indulgences and places to imbibe are no exception. With hundreds, if not thousands, of bars, clubs, pubs and street stalls to choose from on any given night, how does one even begin to narrow it down? From clubs pumping the latest dance hits to quiet, neighborhood nooks, Bangkok’s nightlife has something for everyone. For those who favor a more eclectic and quirky vibe, there are several smaller bars that Bangkok locals swear by.
The Iron Fairies
If you have ever had the dream of visiting a magical workshop where fairies are born (and really, who hasn’t?), then this Bangkok staple is the place for you. During the day, The Iron Fairies is an actual blacksmithing workshop, where tiny iron fairies and leather goods are painstakingly created by local craftsmen, all of which can be purchased onsite. By night, the bar/restaurant has a dark, vaudeville vibe – from the heavy curtains flanking the door to the wrought-iron spiral staircase from where a celebrated jazz band trumpets their film noir melancholia. Upstairs, old movies play on a loop projected onto the wall as a whimsical magician makes his way from table to table. In addition to an impressive spirits menu, The Iron Fairies also serves food, most notably one of Bangkok’s most talked about burgers – served with a knife thrust right through the center. And if the rustic, 1930s moonshine ambience inspires you to light up a pipe, keep in mind that rooms hidden behind bookcases aren’t just in the movies.
Location: Iron Fairies, 395 Sukhumvit Soi 55, Thonglor BTS. Tel: 084-5202301.
Walking into Tuba is like walking into your crazy aunt’s vintage-filled home. It is a visual assault of retro couches, lampshades, mannequins, overstuffed chairs, chandeliers – everything you could hope to find at an amazing estate sale. And somehow, nestled into this small two-story building, it all works. There is a cozy vibe at Tuba with friendly staff, free Wifi, incredible (and huge!) cocktails and a great menu serving Western and Thai favorites. The best thing about Tuba is that if you like the couch you are sitting on – you can buy it! Everything is for sale at Tuba, again giving it the feel of one of the best garage sales you could ever hope to stumble across. And after drinking a few giant martinis, you might be compelled to walk out with more than just a happy buzz.
Location: Tuba, 34 Ekamai Soi 21, Ekamai BTS. Tel: 027-115500.
WTF began as a small gallery space/bar and has now expanded into a mini-empire of its own on a small soi off Sukhumvit 51. The main establishment is small and cozy, with only a few tables and a quaint menu of cocktails and one of a kind tasty treats. The upstairs levels of this unassuming shophouse contain the art gallery, with a rotating roster of different artists on display. Recently, a new space opened across the soi called Opposite. Affiliated with WTF, this larger warehouse-type space serves up live music, drinks, poetry readings and other cultural events. Located right next to WTF is a new branch of ZudRangMa records, a great space to browse through Thai luk thung records as well as more familiar favorites.
Location: WTF, 7 Sukhumvit Soi 51, Thonglor BTS, 02 662 6246
Do you ever wonder where the Thai hipsters flock to on a Saturday night? If listening to Spandau Ballet, eating free popcorn, and self-consciously sipping a cocktail is your thing, then come and join them at Happy Monday! Tucked just off of Ekamai’s Soi 10, Happy Monday is a place full of young, creative types, good music and well-priced cocktails. With indoor and outdoor seating, this small space is a great spot to start (or end) your night. And did I mention the free popcorn?
Location: Happy Monday, corner of Ekamai Soi 10, Ekamai BTS. Tel: 027-143953.
If you are a recent Brooklyn transplant, then there’s no place like home quite like Bar 23. By Brooklyn, I’m referring to the indie music loving, plaid-shirt wearing, beard-loving crowd. Most nights, you will hear indie favorites TV on the Radio, Wilco, Neutral Milk Hotel and Animal Collective blaring from the speakers as DJ’s with clearly discerning musical tastes spin records that keep the crowd moving – and nostalgic for those dive bars of the Big Apple’s coolest borough. Reasonably priced drinks, good service and a lively, diverse crowd all keep Bar 23 at the top of the list as one of Bangkok’s coolest small bars.
Location: Bar 23, Sukhumvit Soi 16, Asoke BTS. Tel: Tel: 080-2644471.
* Check out more of Sarah’s writings at The Best of Bangkok