BANGKOK REVIEWS: Gay Bangkok Scene – The gay scene in Bangkok is, in my humble opinion, the very best in the world. Biased though I am toward drop-dead gorgeous Asians, this is no mere idle claim. I have 15 years of research, meticulously conducted through direct personal experience, to back up my opinion.
Before I ever set foot in Thailand, I did my research and knew this is where I wanted to live. When I arrived I found the reality on the ground to be everything I expected and more.
There are some major differences between the gay scene in Thailand and in my native country, the United States, or any Western country. You may as well just throw out all your cultural assumptions. For starters, the term “gay” originally didn’t even mean the same thing in Thailand where same-sexuality is more common and didn’t carry the historical stigma that it did in the West. This is a different world.
(Disclaimer: Thais often use the term “boy” to refer to males well into their 30s. The term does NOT normally refer to the underaged).
The Thai gay Bangkok scene can be divided into two major categories – commercial and noncommercial. First, I’ll describe the noncommercial scene, focusing mostly on the tourist areas where most foreigners go. Many of the Thais that frequent these venues are interested in foreigners.
Understand, however, that many gay Thais have no interest in foreigners and mostly frequent the many venues in non-tourist areas that cater to an almost exclusively Thai clientele, though foreigners are always welcome. You’ll get a more authentic Thai experience in these places, but you’ll also find it not as easy to hook up with a Thai, if that’s what you’re looking for.
The noncommercial gay Bangkok scene consists mainly of pubs, dance clubs, saunas, and online sites.
Pubs are bars/restaurants where people go for drinks and snacks (though full meals are usually available too), especially just before heading out to the dance clubs. The most popular in Bangkok are Telephone Pub and Balcony, both located on Silom Soi 4. (“soi” is a side street off a main road). These places are busiest on Friday and Saturday nights prior to 11:30 p.m. when everyone heads to the dance clubs on nearby Silom Soi 2.
DJ Station is the most popular dance club for gay foreigners and tourists, and Silom Soi 2 also has other dance clubs catering to a more Asian crowd. One of the highlights at DJ is the Asian tourists (especially the Singaporeans) who like to dance shirtless on the stages to show off their muscular bodies.
After DJ Station closes around 3 a.m. those who want to continue dancing go to G.O.D. on Silom Soi 2 1/2. It closes around daybreak. The crowd there tends to get even hotter, with many Thais and other Asians drunker by that point and freely taking their shirts off.
The saunas in Thailand are roughly what Americans call bathhouses, but the best ones are much nicer and more respectable places. There are about 20 in Bangkok, the most popular with Westerners being the famous (infamous?) Babylon Bangkok. It is considered by some to be the world’s most beautiful gay sauna.
Babylon, located off Sathorn Soi 1, is like nothing in the U.S., a huge place with an awesome Thai decor – though not quite as good as the old Babylon which was located at the front of the same soi until 2000. The new Babylon is a bit more modern-looking, a little less Thai and exotic.
The sauna has a hotel attached to it called the Babylon Barracks. The rooms are nice and clean, but do not include private bathrooms. This is evidently intended to add the excitement of cruising in a public bathroom. Unfortunately for me, I almost never saw anyone in there that was my type. The suites are large and beautiful, and contain their own private baths.
When you enter the Babylon Sauna you pay the entrance fee of some 260 baht (a little higher on the weekend), and are given a key for your locker. Inside you’ll find a couple of towels and a condom and lube.
There’s a good gym there to work out, and a nice swimming pool. Exotic trees and plants surround the pool area, as well as four sphinxes and some Egyptian decor.
Upstairs you’ll find a cafe that’s open for lunch, with gay or award-winning movies shown, and a restaurant downstairs that opens around 5 p.m. The place has four or five bars serving drinks. You can get a fruit shake or cappuccino to sip at poolside.
Babylon has two steam rooms and two dry saunas. A whole lot of action takes place in the steam rooms, which are large and get quite dark as you move away from the door.
There are also two areas with lots of small, private rooms that can be locked. This is where you can take someone you meet for some fun. Two dark areas/mazes also get a lot of action.
Various music is played in several areas, with the best being in the second upstairs section which opens in the late afternoon. Here you may hear the exotic sounds of Tibetan Buddhist monks chanting, Enya, or other mystical-sounding tracks. The rooms are actually a good place for a nap, listening to the exotic music.
While the Babylon venue is great, unfortunately the crowd is not as cute as it once was. Back in 1999 when I first moved to Bangkok there were always lots of cute, young Thais there. Nowadays it tends to be more older Western tourists, and fewer young Asians. At one time, back around 2001, Babylon was getting some 700 customers on a Saturday night. It seems the numbers have fallen off somewhat.
Another great sauna in gay Bangkok is Chakran, near the BTS Skytrain station Asok. It has an almost exclusively Asian clientele, is very well decorated, and is even cleaner than Babylon. They have “naked zones” on certain days. Most of the action takes place in the steam room and in the upstairs cruising area with private room. The sauna was recently cut in half, with the other half of the building now a massage venue.
The third large sauna worth a visit is Farose II in the Ramkhamhaeng Road area, where you’ll find a younger Thai crowd, with almost no Westerners at all. It gets busier and the crowd gets younger and cuter into the night. Around 2 a.m. a lot of go-go boys arrive after work to have some real fun. If the place closes at all, it’s after sunrise.
Farose II is large and would be beautiful if they’d just keep it cleaner. There are four floors, the first containing a music/dance room which is a lot of fun after 11 p.m., especially on the weekends. At this sauna the customers wear underwear instead of towels, so the dance room is packed with cute, young Thais in hot underwear. Some of them are awesome dancers.
The second floor is era fairly dark cruising area with rooms. The third floor is the “naked zone” with rooms, and the rooftop has free Thai food and a nice view.
Outside the first floor is a pool and a magical jungle area for cruising. There are a couple of other buildings, one a dark room and the other with showers and a dry sauna.
Online gay sites have become a very popular way to meet and hook up, with gayromeo being the most popular with both Thais and foreigners.
There are many cruising areas in Bangkok, including the huge Lumpini Park and any shopping mall. Walking around the Silom Road area, especially at night, is very cruisy.
The commercial gay Bangkok scene consists of go-go bars, massage parlours, and freelancing money boys. I realize, of course, that some are simply not interested in this type of transaction. I’m just putting this out there for those who are. Also, some go just to watch the shows – which are especially popular with Asian tourists.
The advantage of the go-go bars is that you can very likely find someone who is exactly your type physically, fulfilling your wildest fantasies in that area. The downside is that they are at least partly doing it for money. Choosing a go-go boy is an art, and there’s no teacher like your own experience.
The go-go bars are simply like nothing in my country. When I first read about these, I could not believe it. But alas, everything I’d read was true, and more.
The go-go bars catering to tourists, especially Westerners, are lit up in neon lights in gay Bangkok. The largest cluster of them are found on Soi Twilight off of Suriwong Road, which runs parallel with Silom.
You are welcomed almost like royalty in these venues. They seat you and take your drink order. There is a stage in the center where a plethora of scantily-clad boys are moving slightly to the music. The “line-up” is what many want to see – what is for sale. The larger bars may have nearly 100 boys, while the smaller ones may have just a dozen or so.
Around 10 p.m. they stop the go-go dancing and have shows. Asians customers generally like these, Westerners not as much. The shows usually include exotic Thai costumes and at least one ladyboy. The scenes change quickly, and you never know what’s coming next. A boy may come out dressed in nothing but a hoola hoop.
The “big cock” show and “screwing” shows are usually saved for the end. And yes, it’s all real and right in front of your eyes.
If you see a boy you want to meet, just tell the captain his number (all the bar boys wear numbered badges) and he’ll bring the boy over. You can always ask the captain questions about the boy first – for example, if he’s straight or gay, top or bottom. If you decide you want to take the boy with you, you pay an “off” fee, generally 200 baht, and he’s yours.
It’s always a good idea to settle with the boy the amount he expects to be tipped for his “services”, and whether you want him for “short-time” or all night. Also, if you have any specific things you want him to do, be clear about that before taking him off. In the most commercial area of Soi Twilight, the boys generally expect a tip of 1,500 baht up.
Some of the go-go boys are straight, perhaps 50 percent. Some are gay and would be cruising at the saunas if they didn’t need the money. The best and most fun ones to “off” are the gay ones who are attracted to you. If you take one who is straight or not genuinely attracted to you, he may be gorgeous but he might also perform like a mattress. What you get varies greatly, so choose carefully. Like I said, it’s an art.
The most important thing at these venues is to smile, be friendly and polite. And they love joking. If you can speak any Thai at all, by all means do it here. But most of the boys can at least speak a little English.
At the massage venues in gay Bangkok scene you choose the boy and go to a private room, getting a massage with special services. Some are straight and some are gay, so again choose carefully. If you have specific things you want the boy to do, be clear about that first.
You can find free-lancing money boys in the Silom area, at the gay dance clubs, pubs, and even at the saunas – though most of the Thais there are not money boys and would be offended if you asked them. The most difficult place to tell the difference is a dance club, especially DJ Station. Most are not money boys, but some are. And some would never dream of asking a Thai for money, but would indeed ask a Westerner. Again, telling the difference is an art form.
Coming soon – a review of the Thai gay scene at the famous beach resort of Pattaya. Gay Bangkok Scene / image