During the late 70’s, bars starting appearing on the small soi between Sois 21 and 23 in the center of Asoke. Then in 1977 a retired US airman named T.G. “Cowboy” Edwards opened his own bar on the soi and Soi Cowboy was born. Edwards came to work daily sporting a Western style shirt, large belt buckle and cowboy hat earning him the nickname Cowboy. A writer named Bernard Trink solidified the name by using it in his very popular new column throughout the 80’s and 90’s. Today Soi Cowboy is one of the most famous and popular adult entertainment areas in the world. Sitting next to the very high traffic Asoke BTS station, the bright lights of the small Soi can be seen daily by thousands.
Soi cowboy is simply a small street packed with almost 30 go-go bars. The bright lights and beautiful Thai girls luring in big eyed men, is in itself an image to behold. During the day one side of the street is usually packed with office worker enjoying their lunch but the night has an entirely different vibe. Most bars on the street have some kind of happy hour to entice you for an early arrival. Inside these bars consist of girls dancing on a series of stages spread throughout the room or sitting with guests enjoying deep conversations while some have choreographed performances.
Where to drink on Soi Cowboy
The bars along Soi cowboy certainly vary in size and interiors. While some are like a tiny dive bars, others have elaborate stages, lights and music systems.
Probably the busiest bar and most well known in recent years is Baccara. With two stages on two floors with a see through floor separating them, Baccara seems to be packed with Japanese, Koreans and Farang every day of the week. You may be overwhelmed when first entering and finding no seats available, but go to the back right corner and check upstairs, from there you can still see the entire club.
Shark is just next door to Baccara and is another very popular and large bar. It has a long stage that runs through the middle of the room with tiered seating on both sides. It also has an upstairs but it only seems to be used when it gets really busy.
Up the Soi a bit is home to the bar whose interior was featured in the movie Hangover 2. Tilac is another large go-go that has quite a big following and even a soft ball team. In addition to the large stage in the middle of this bar, Tilac has small stages scattered throughout, pumping loud music and plenty of flashing light….. pushing your senses to their maximum.
If you are looking for something a little more low key, Cactus is sort of a dive bar go-go. This small bar consists of a long stage covering half the space, a handful of dancers and the kind of expats that can give you the history of Cowboy if you ask.
Lucky Star Long Gun is the only bar on Cowboy that we have seen actual ping pong shows take place as well as a theatrical AC/DC show. Kick back with some beers and see the entertainment that one can only see in Thailand.
Although there are very few ladyboys on Soi Cowboy, Cockatoo seems to be the only official ladyboy bar on the Soi that we know of.
Eating at Soi Cowboy
Surprisingly, there are some decent food options right in Soi Cowboy and in the close surrounding area.
The Corner Bar, serves tons of Thai office workers lunch and also has a small burger stand in the corner serving burgers throughout the night. Right across from it is The Old Dutch Corner, serving steaks, ribs and other pub food. Both bars are right at the entrance of the Soi and are great places to sit in the evening and watch the beauties trickle in for work.
Around the corner on Soi 23 is The Ship Inn, another pub serving food and drinks. Up Soi 23 a few minutes is a nice sports bar called The Clubhouse. Packed with TV’s and nice large booths, it’s a great place to grab a bite or get the night started.
If you are up later than expected and need to soak up some of that booze, Little Italy on the corner of Sukhumvit and Soi 23 is open 24 hours and has a large menu of standard Italian dishes. If you love Italian and your budget allows, Guisto is right up the street and one of the best fine dining Italian restaurants in the city.
For something a bit more local, there is a very popular outdoor Thai restaurant on Sukhumvit Soi 14 called Suda Pochana Restaurant. Just across the sky bridge from Soi Cowboy, this no frills Thai kitchen draws a surprising number of tourists on a daily basis.
Hotels near Soi Cowboy
Although we don’t really recommend staying on Soi Cowboy, The Penny Black is a short time hotel right on the soi and some people do decide to stay there over night.
For those with a bigger budget the Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit and the Weston Grande Sukhumvit are both 5 star hotels right over the sky bridge next to Terminal 21. With all the amenities you can imagine, both of these hotels cater to the business traveler who chooses their location very carefully.
Another breathtaking hotel is the Grand Millennium Sukhumvit on Sukhumvit Soi 21. Just a short walk away from Soi Cowboy, the Grand Millenium Sukhumvit can be spotted from far away due to its sail-like shape and modern allure.
The Asoke Suites is a smaller, no frills hotel located just across Sukhumvit that keeps you close to the action for a very affordable price.
Ramada is opening a brand new hotel right at the corner of Soi 23 and Sukhumvit. So close to Soi Cowboy you will probably be able to see it from many of the rooms.
The Darjelling Boutique Hotel is a nice little boutique hotel also right in the area.
If you need a break from the lights and noise of Soi Cowboy, there are many little massage shops along Sukhumvit Soi 23. For those that are too shy to venture into Cowboy alone but want to have the experience, Bangkok Hangover Tours offers to take groups to Soi Cowboy and other go-go nightlife spots.
Right across the street from Cowboy is one of the newest and most popular shopping malls in Bangkok. Terminal 21 is a large and modern mall with every floor dedicated to a different city in the world and an airport theme throughout. Hundreds of small boutique shops and restaurants have made this mall their new permanent residence.