Most anywhere in Bangkok is friendly and safe for anyone, as long as you’re not looking for conflict; and if you are, you can quickly get into a lot of trouble that you won’t be able to dig yourself out from.
At a broad 6’2” (6’6” in heels) I do not blend in, even in the UK where people are generally taller than your average Thai beauty, but unlike in the UK where I have to be cautious of where I go en-femme, and typically choose trans or gay-friendly venues, I have no concerns anywhere around Bangkok, and prefer to frequent “straight”, (or non-gay at any rate,) bars and clubs rather than the gay oriented ones, where I not only feel more comfortable, but can attract some welcome male attention.
In general, night life is far cheaper in Thailand, and high class restaurants, bars and clubs are easily affordable when compared with the UK. In my female form I prefer the Silom / Sathon end of the city and frequent Opus, Maggie Choo underneath the Novotel Silom, and Scarlet Bar in the Pullman Hotel. These are all expensive venues by Bangkok standards, with unique atmospheres and exceptional menus. Scarlet in the Pullman is on a very high floor with magnificent views over the city as well as an outdoor wide balcony where smoking is permitted. It’s a good place to go for an expensive dinner or tapas, excellently crafted cocktails and reasonably priced wines. Their spumante is crisp, dry and very drinkable and at around 30 pounds a bottle it makes for a significantly cheaper evening than the more famous sky venues such as State Tower and Moon Bar at Banyan tree.
For those with a lesser budget, and who want a more Thai experience, Cloud 47 on the roof of the United Center Building offers breathtaking views at local prices and is a little hidden but worth hunting down.
It’s on the doorstep of Patpong, which is sleazy but fun. Here there are the go go bars (and the expensive tourist traps that go with it, so be warned to read your lonely planet if you’re thinking of heading to one) and night market shopping, but dotted in and around are a fair few respectable establishments such as Music Café, where Boss Band (arguably one of the best chart covers bands in Bangkok) play the early set, before a more old fashioned rock band takes over later in the night. Interestingly, the lead singers from both bands are married to each other.
These areas are in the central business district where there are many hotels and so it is touristy, but not as much as the Sukhumvit area, which I’ll cover in a later blog, and where as a huge tranny I sometimes feel a little like I’m the tourist attraction. I’ve never had any negative experiences due to my dressing as a woman in the Silom/Sathon area – only encouragement – and the Thais who work these areas are very used to us Westerners and our ways. No matter what you do, do it with a smile in Thailand and it’ll largely see you through.
Left, and Top Right: Maggie Choo, Bottom Right: Scarlet