Best Early Entertainment in Bangkok

Entertaining Yourself in Bangkok, without Having to Stay Up All Night

Bangkok, despite its reputation, no longer parties all night long. The government instituted a 2a.m. closing time for bars some years ago, and this even applies to the big nightclubs. Yet for some, even these not so wee hours are too late, and for those who prefer to be in by 10, this list is for you. Why not start (or end?) your evening with an early drink, perhaps a cocktail taking in the sunset at one of the city's rooftop bars. The Moon Bar is one of the best spots to do this from, with outstanding panoramas of the entire city. Amorosa Bar doesn't have the wide angle, but it does have the number one sunset viewing spot over Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn, and is another great choice. A lot of partiers start their evening off at the legendary Cheap Charlies, and you can finish yours at this Bangkok institution. 

Other not so late entertainment options include going to the cinema. Take your pick between pampering luxury at the Enigma Screen Theater in Siam Paragon or try something more artsy and avant garde at the nifty Friese Green Club. If you don't want to watch people on screen, make it real with some great people watching and outdoor entertainment at either Khao San Road, with plenty of cafes, pubs, and eateries to choose from, or on weekends at the packed Chatuchak Market, which is a must see while in Bangkok. Another highly entertaining choice is the fabulous transvestite cabaret at Mambo, which doesn't finish anywhere near the witching hour.


You can still entertain yourself without sleeping at a ridiculous hour in Bangkok. Head to Siam Paragon's Enigma theater or Nokia Ultra Screen for a movie seen in absolute luxury. In the Enigma, all the seats are sofa beds, outfitted with comfy pillows and blankets. You start off your movie experience in the VIP lounge with complimentary wine and cocktails, move on to appetizers and pasta, and then have staff serving popcorn and soft drinks at your couch. The neighboring Nokia Ultra Screen is no slouch either, with motorized reclining seats, and even a complimentary foot massage to go with your drink and snack service. Regardless of how the film turns out, you are guaranteed to be well taken care of! After the flick, you can head to the city's best gourmet food market, shop the highest end designer stores, or just be wowed by the sheer opulence of all that Paragon has to offer.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: For some pampering luxury entertainment you can't beat a movie at Siam Paragon's Enigma Theater

Dave's expert tip: Get here via the BTS Skytrain to Siam and walk the skybridge straight in. Make sure to book in advance for the theatre screenings at the Enigma.

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You don't need to stay up late to enjoy Khao San Road, as the famed backpacker street bustles with activity throughout the day and night. Khao San Road has gone from being a hippie and backpacker haven to moving a bit more upscale. While it still remains a place for cheap lodgings and for Thais to come and check out the foreign crowd, it also is a decent spot to shop for certain items, and with plenty of food, bars, and people watching opportunities to boot, it makes for an enjoyable trip. Some of the largest collection of second hand English books can be found here, along with typical Thai souvenirs for take home such as t-shirts, embroidered pillow covers and Thai pillows, patterned sarongs and beachwear, vintage and exotic clothing, plenty of jewelry and other objects d'art, as well as the latest DVD and CD's to name but a few, not to mention that you can get your hair braided in dreadlocks and get your body tattooed while you wait.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: For nonstop entertainment and people watching, Khao San Road is a good bet.

Dave's expert tip: Ignore the tuk tuk drivers that hang out at either end of Khao San. Either take metered taxis to escape, or else use the nearby Phra Athit ferry pier on the Chao Phraya River. Make sure to explore the area behind the temple on Chakrapong Road and the ferry pier, a quiet alternative to Khao San.

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It's only open until 6pm on Saturday and Sunday, and while it does stay open until midnight on Fridays, Chatuchak Weekend Market is a great people watching and entertainment spot worth an early evening or afternoon in, as there are now hundreds of food and drink stalls and restaurants, plenty of shopping, and tons of interesting characters and goodies with something that will appeal to everyone. Originally a flea market started in the 1950's by a former prime minister who wanted to put a flea market into every town in Thailand, Chatuchak, more affectionately known as JJ Market, is now the largest market in Thailand. Over 5000 stalls vie for business, selling everything from clothing to pets, antiques, plants, amulets, and plenty of food and drink. The market is now a highly touristed affair, hot, crowded, and no longer dirt cheap, yet it is still a great place to people watch, find something you don't have to buy, and the latest addition of impromptu cafes for sipping a cappuccino or having a cold beer and watching the world go by make it worth an afternoon.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: For great people watching and an amazing variety of goods, Chatuchak is a Bangkok institution.

Dave's expert tip: The back section of the market is probably the most interesting, as fairly illegal things such as cockfighting and various animal (some endangered some not) species are to be found, but don't get too pointy with your camera back here, as the merchants may be suspicious of your motives.

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While the party might get going after dark, those in the know come to this high-rise bar for their 2 for 1 happy hour promotions, combined with a superb skyline view at sunset. Located in the heart of Sukhumvit, just steps from the skytrain and subway stations at the Asok intersection, Axis & Spin flies under the radar of most visitors, perhaps because it sits so far above them, located up on the 38th floor of The Continent Hotel. This beautiful chilled out sky lounge and bar features all you need for a superlative night out. The panoramic city views are dazzling, the extensive drink and food menu both creative and inspiring, and the happy hour specials as well as freebies for those who opt in for Sky benefits at the hotel make it well worth the elevator ride up. The drink menu is well themed, divided by classic cocktails or more innovative "Pre-Prohibition, Prohibition, and Post-War" drinks, matching the vintage decor of the bar, which features plush armchairs, old bicycles and animal statues, along with massive bay windows looking out on the city lights. Try a Barbary, with blended scotch, creme de cacao, and heavy cream, or an Artist's Special, with bourbon, Amontillado sherry, lime, and grenadine, or you can stick with the more well known offerings like the colourful tequila sunrise or strawberry daiquiri. If you're hungry, dinner is also served at Axis & Spin, with the eclectic menu featuring standouts like black mussels in white wine garlic sauce, Australian Wagyu beef burgers on charcoal buns, Australian lamb rack served with black truffle risotto, and fish and chips with tartar sauce.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: For sunset and pre-sunset drinks, Axis & Spin provides early entertainment

Dave's expert tip: Take advantage of the happy hour promotions from 5-8, such as buy one get one free. Check the Continent website for updates.

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Regis Bar, St. Regis
Photo courtesy of St Regis Hotel

For an early night out, consider drinks at the Regis Bar. The Regis Bar, on the 12th floor of the luxurious St Regis Hotel, has brought several novelties to the Bangkok bar scene. One is the traditional art of champagne sabering, which hails from the Napoleonic era, and is done every evening at the Regis at sunset. The other is the St Regis classic Bloody Mary, which has been reinvented in Bangkok into the bar's signature drink, the Siam Mary, inspired by spices and flavors from traditional Bangkok recipes. Served in a 14 ounce silver goblet, the fiery red cocktail combines Thai chilies and wasabi along with the zest of lemon, coriander and tomato, to create a perfectly refreshing cocktail, served surrounded by Thai basil, lemongrass, and lime for contrast.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: For Bangkok's only champagne sabering, check out the Regis Bar

Dave's expert tip: The Regis Bar overlooks the Royal Bangkok Sports Club, making its terrace zone the city's top luxury box for watching the Sunday horse races! Come early to get a seat. The bar can be reached directly from the direct entrance from the Rajadamri BTS Skytrain station.

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Yunomori Onsen
Photo courtesy of Dave Stamboulis

There's no need to stay up late in Bangkok when you can go chill out and have a relaxing hot spring bath and get a long peaceful night's rest. This Japanese bathhouse takes all the traditional love of bathing from Japanese onsen (hot spring) culture and brings it to Bangkok. At Yunomori Onsen, bamboo and finished wood surrounds several hot spring water baths where visitors can spend hours soaking and relaxing. There is a carbonated soda water pool, a jet pool, and an onsen pool with 43 degree mineral water trucked up from the famed Raksawarin hot springs in Ranong, whose water is extremely clear and without any sulfurous odor. Additionally, there is a large spa treatment area upstairs where one can have aromatherapy or traditional Thai massage treatments after relaxing in the baths.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: For a hot spring experience, Yunomori Onsen is Bangkok's only choice.

Dave's expert tip: Take advantage of the package treatments combining spa and hot spring while here, they are well worth it. There is a also a beer garden, coffee shop, and Japanese restaurant on premises, so plan on spending half the day here.

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Looking for an early night out? While Bangkok does have dozens of multiplex cinemas where one can find posh seating and freezing air conditioning to help soothe away the stresses of the city heat and chaos, it really is not known as a place for art house cinephiles. However the Friese Greene Club is not only a great place to watch flicks, it is like a nostalgic ode to the great days of cinema and worth visiting for its memorabilia, bar, and kind owner as well. William Freese Greene was a British photographer and inventor who is considered to be one of the pioneers of the motion picture industry, creating a chronophotographic camera and an additive color process to film, and it is in his honor that the club is named. The Friese Greene Club was opened by Paul Spurrier, a former British child actor and writer-director of the well known Thai ghost film P (2005). Spurrier ended up turning his beautiful old shophouse into a private screening room filled with film memorabilia, antique cameras and film posters from the classics, along with comfy chairs and sofas to chill out on. The downstairs of the three story house is a bar, serving up inexpensive cocktails named after various films the drinks have been in, while the middle floor has a couch and large screen TV, and then the pi�ce de r�sistance is the nine seat private screening room on the third floor, complete with plush red VIP seats and a giant screen.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: For homey entertainment and artsy film, you can't beat the Friese Green Club

Dave's expert tip: Make sure to book in advance for films if you want a seat in the private screening room. Films are free, but the place fills up, so make sure to reserve in advance.

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Mambo Cabaret
Photo courtesy of Dave Stamboulis

No need for an ultra late night out. Go humor yourself at the wildly entertaining Mambo Cabaret. Many people cringe at the thought of seeing a transvestite cabaret, but these ladyboys put on one of the most professional and entertaining shows you will ever see, AND it is great family fun. With a troupe of about sixty dancers, the cabaret gives three performances every night, entertaining crowds with Las Vegas style dance revues and lip-sync song numbers, performing classic and contemporary hits ranging from Broadway musical numbers to the Spice Girls, plus comedy sketches, along with well choreographed routines and elaborate and colorful costumes. There are usually tickets available at the door, but best to call ahead to make sure a large group isn't visiting that night

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: For some totally unique entertainment, Mambo Cabaret is outstanding

Dave's expert tip: Mambo Cabaret has performances seven nights a week at 7:15 p.m., 8:30, and 10 o'clock. Tickets can be booked in advance by calling 02 294-7381 or reserved online at the cabaret's website. Best to take a taxi to get here, it is a bit out of the way.

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Amorosa Bar, Arun Residence
Photo courtesy of Dave Stamboulis

For a sunset drink that will have you home early, head over to the Amorosa Bar. Most Bangkokians don't know that the best view of Wat Arun (the Temple of Dawn) is seen from across the river, from the 4th floor of the stylish Arun Residence, and its bar Amorosa. This cozy open air bar overlooks the Chao Phraya River and Wat Arun as the sun sets over it and the lights go on illuminating the temple, providing one of the most outstanding views in Bangkok. The atmosphere in Amorosa is laid back, with no dress code, and prices are reasonable. If you get hungry, you can continue your Arun viewing one floor down at The Deck, an elegant restaurant also owned by the Residence.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: For the best views of Wat Arun, the Amorosa Bar is fantastic

Dave's expert tip: The best way to get here is to take the river ferry to the Tha Tian pier, walk up to Maharat Rd, turn right, and then down to Soi Pratoo Nok Yoon, which is recognizable by its red pavement leading down to the river. If there is no red pavement, you are in the wrong soi.

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No need to go barhopping late here, as the prime time to visit is sunset. The Moon Bar, perched on the rooftop of the Banyan Tree Hotel, offers one of the most stupendous panoramic views of Bangkok, and a sunset here is a memorable occasion, well worth the price of a cocktail. The bar sits in a stylish roof garden, seemingly sprawled out across the sky. Long divans, chic bar stools, and comfortable tables surround the bar, each with their own unique panoramic view. The cocktails are as astronomical as the views, running 350 baht per drink, but they are actually a pretty fair deal, as they are well mixed, strong on the alcohol, and are served along with complimentary dishes of cashews, wasabi peas, and chips. The drink menu is extensive, featuring mango margaritas, golden paradise concoctions with passion fruit juice and triple sec, and all sort of other exotic creations

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: For one of Bangkok's most unforgettable panoramas, the Moon Bar is dazzling.

Dave's expert tip: Arrive early if you want a prime sunset table, and remember, no sandals, shorts, or grubby jeans are allowed. Closed shoes are required for men.

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Meet Dave Stamboulis

Dave Stamboulis is a travel writer/photographer based in Bangkok. Born in Athens, Greece and growing up in the U.S., Dave first discovered Bangkok while on a 45,000-kilometer bicycle trip and...  More About Dave