Soi 11 – My favorite place to spend a Friday night in Bangkok

You’re in Bangkok and you want to go out…with so many options it’s difficult to decide where to go.  If you are looking to eat an authentic burger, listen to live blues music, drink cheap drinks on the street, dance at a club overlooking the city…or anything close to this you should head to Sukhumvit Soi 11, better known as Nana.  This area may be known more for Nana Plaza where Ping Pong Shows, lady boys and bargirls are available for your viewing pleasure (or personal entertainment).  But just a short walk across Sukhumvit from there and you will find yourself in a whole different world.  It is not quite as intense as Khao San Road, has a mix of local Thais and Westerners, and really offers something for everyone and every budget.

Here are a few of my favorite spots that I would recommend checking out…if you can recommend any others please pass them along!

Having drinks on Soi 11
Having drinks on Soi 11

Apoteka

Apoteka
Apoteka

I really found Soi 11 and this bar by accident.  RG and I were looking for a spot to grab some drinks and I did some quick Googling and found this article on CNN.  The description of Apoteka sounded like so many bars we frequented in Atlanta so we decided to head that way.  As soon as we stepped in I fell in love.  There is a live band playing a mix of blues and classic rock…you’ll hear everything from Johnny Cash to John Denver.  The drink menu is extensive, but don’t miss out on their infused vodka!  It is not very publicized, but one shot is 100THB ($3.30) or you can get six for 500THB ($15).  The flavors are different but my favorite is the lemongrass chili, they do have more standard vanilla or ginger that are also flavorful.  Mix it with soda water and you have yourself a cheap cocktail!  You can grab a seat on the loft looking down over the bar and band, at high cocktail tables around the stage or outside on comfy couches to enjoy the fresh air.  One entire wall is lined with French doors opening to the patio and street offering some great people watching during the music breaks.  Every time we find ourselves here I find it very difficult to leave.

Firehouse Burgers

I won’t go into much detail about this place, since I already wrote entire post about it…check it out here.  But this definitely offers the best burgers in Bangkok and a great happy hour special every night.  If you catch a table outside you will be able to listen to the live music from Apoteka…they share an outdoor balcony.

The best burger in Bangkok from Firehouse
The best burger in Bangkok from Firehouse

Cheap Charlie’s

Looking for a bubbling atmosphere that won’t cost you too much?  Head to Cheap Charlie’s…you’ll find it down the first side soi on your left when walking up from the BTS station.  It is a no frills, very kitschy bar, completely outdoors, with a bunch of tables in the middle of the street.  All drinks are 70THB ($2.30), from a local Singha Beer to a Jack Daniels and coke.  The music is old school and it is consistently packed out with Westerners.  This is a great spot to start your night’s adventures.  And to make it better all beers are served with coozies…but you do have to give them back : (  I could spend hours trying to figure out everything that is built into their bar…check out the beehive below!

Cheap Charlie's
Cheap Charlie’s

VW Bus bars

All down the soi you will see VW buses pull up, park, pop open the roof and set up a mobile bar.  It is incredible.  The first time I saw these I couldn’t believe it, and thought “I have to bring this back to the US!”  Each one is decked out differently…some have disco balls and play old hip hop like Tupac and Biggie…others are adorned with neon lights and playing boy band pop music.  But regardless of the look or music each one has the same prices…100THB ($3.30) for a basic cocktail, 120THB ($4) for a premium cocktail and 250THB ($8.30) for a bucket.  To be honest I like the drinks better at Cheap Charlie’s but I cannot pass up at least one cocktail at a VW bus.

VW Bus bar
VW Bus bar

Levels

Levels is your traditional upscale nightclub.   The club has a strict dress code for men…no open-toed shoes or shorts…but does not charge a cover charge.  They do make up for that with the cost of drinks, but you should expect that when you enter a club like this.  It was nice to sip some Prosecco for the first time since arriving in Thailand.  While this type of club is not usually my scene, I have found myself here a few times and had a lot of fun each time!  There are a number of areas…from an outdoor lounge overlooking the city, to a small back dance room playing house music, to a loft overlooking the main dancing area to the main dancing area.  The DJs are great and there is usually a live performer singing hip hop to the DJs tracks.  I may have been caught dancing on stage here a time or two, but I blame that on the free (horrible well vodka) shots they hand out at midnight!  If you are up for some dancing and good music head here and you will not be disappointed…but don’t get here before 10pm or it will just be you and the bartenders…it is a late arriving crowd.

Dancing on stage for a bit
Dancing on stage for a bit
In the house music area at Levels
In the house music area at Levels

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