Soi Cowboy Bangkok is the city’s most famous red light district. Here, you can find out whether a detour is worthwhile and what to look out for.
Besides Khao San Road, Bangkok has a second famous street that also divides minds.
We are talking about the infamous Soi Cowboy – the epicenter of the night in the popular Sukhumvit district.
The street, only about 150 meters long, is known for its dazzling hustle and bustle and colorful, exciting nightlife.
Soi Cowboy Bangkok never seems to sleep, and even though it is definitely not everyone’s cup of tea, it is worth paying at least a short visit to the red light district.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at Bangkok’s Soi Cowboy – from how it came to be to its bars and clubs to practical tips.
Getting there: By BTS Skytrain (Green Line) to Asok station, by Metro (MRT – Blue Line) to Sukhumvit station, or by cab.
Opening hours: The bars and clubs are open from about 18:00 to 02:00.
This is how Soi Cowboy Bangkok was created
Officially, Soi Cowboy Bangkok was opened in the 1970s. It got its admittedly somewhat quirky name from T.G. “Cowboy” Edwards.
The American businessman was one of the first to open a go-go bar on the street.
Originally, Soi Cowboy was intended to serve as an entertainment district for American soldiers.
Gradually, however, it was discovered by other visitors and developed into an internationally known entertainment hotspot.
Tip: Book a guided tour of Bangkok’s main sights to learn more about the city’s history.
What can you expect on Soi Cowboy Bangkok?
In fact, the sight of Soi Cowboy Bangkok at night is unique, so it’s worth a short trip for that alone.
The street is illuminated by glowing neon lights that sparkle in different colors and patterns, creating a surreal atmosphere.
The predominant colors are red and pink, so Soi Cowboy lives up to its reputation as the most famous red light district in Bangkok.
Along the street, you will find several bars and clubs – including go-go bars and other establishments where the action is hot.
But don’t worry: on Soi Cowboy Bangkok, you won’t only meet men who are looking for an adventure.
In the meantime, all ages and walks of life can be found here, and in addition to singles and couples, you can even see families who don’t want to miss out on the spectacle.
In front of the bars and clubs, countless promoters compete for the favor of the visitors.
They try to lure you into their stores with skimpy outfits, cheap happy hour deals, and loud music.
Now you have to decide: Do you go on shocked and get out of the way as fast as possible? Or do you give in to entertainment and all the temptations?
What do the bars and clubs in Bangkok’s red-light district offer?
The bars and clubs are definitely among the main attractions of Soi Cowboy Bangkok.
Each establishment has its unique atmosphere – some bars and clubs are also dedicated to a particular theme.
For example, you’ll find some classic sports bars with large monitors where you can watch sports broadcasts or play a game of pool.
There are also classic pubs where you can comfortably order a beer and take in the hustle and bustle of the city.
Things get a little hotter in the clubs: here, (partly erotic) shows with music, dance, costumes, and performances are often offered. Drag shows are also popular on the infamous street.
Some of the most famous bars on Soi Cowboy are “Baccara,” “Crazy House,” “Deja Vu,” and “Long Gun”.
They are all known for their elaborate shows and personable, bubbly staff.
The dedicated teams offer visitors the best entertainment – including dance and acrobatic performances or comedy interludes.
Tip: Book a bike tour of Bangkok here, which will take you through the hidden backyards and alleys of the city.
Prostitution on Soi Cowboy Bangkok
Especially for men traveling alone or in groups, it can also be relatively exhausting on Soi Cowboy.
Because the sexily dressed promoters try to lure especially the male audience with all their tricks and sometimes loudly into their bars and clubs.
Inside, lightly dressed women are often already waiting at the bars, to whom the newcomers should best directly buy an (overpriced) drink.
If you want to go a step further, you can “buy” one of the go-go dancers or even a bartender or waitress for a certain amount of time.
According to the operators, the price (“barfine”) for this is calculated on the basis of the turnover lost to the bar or club during this period.
What the “ransomed” person then does with the client is a matter of negotiation and, of course, costs extra again.
For sexual services, however, you usually have to go to hotels because prostitution is officially illegal in Thailand.
By the way, ladyboys (Kattoys) are also common in the bars and clubs of Soi Cowboy Bangkok.
A moral tightrope walk
ATTENTION: Please keep in mind that if you buy sexual services in Thailand, you are entering into illegality.
Also, think about the moral component before you make a decision.
This is especially true when prostitutes appear conspicuously young. Because, sadly, children in Thailand have a religious duty to contribute to the family’s income.
Child prostitution is, therefore, widespread in Thailand. But even adult prostitutes are largely unprotected in the country.
Since they work illegally, they are often at the mercy of their pimps and cannot expect any help from the police or the judiciary.
Many prostitutes also suffer from STDs and are generally forced to put their health at risk on a regular basis.
Most of the exploited women (and men) come from educationally disadvantaged families and are accordingly unaware of their rights.
Tip: You can also escape the hustle and bustle of Bangkok for a while on a day trip – for example, to Ayutthaya.
What else you should know about Soi Cowboy Bangkok
The aggressive behavior of the promoters, which is completely unusual for Thais, as well as their loud shouting and provocative looks, can actually degenerate into stress.
So, if you find that Bangkok’s red light district is not for you after all, you will definitely find nicer and also cheaper bars and restaurants in Sukhumvit.
Although things can get pretty wild on Soi Cowboy Bangkok, you should still remain responsible and respectful.
Photography is not allowed in almost all bars and clubs. If you are not sure, you should ask the staff first.
Every now and then, small elephants are herded down the street on Soi Cowboy. Tourists can then buy food and feed it to the animals.
Please be sure to stay away from it because an elephant definitely does not belong in this environment.
And since Thailand is unfortunately still lagging behind in terms of animal welfare, you should not support these actions as animal lovers.
For the small hunger in between, you will find on the Soi Cowboy Bangkok, by the way, also some small cookshops, where delicious street food is sold.
Tip: This Bangkok Food Tour is perfect if you want to learn more about Bangkok’s local cuisine, history, and culture.
Did you know: Hollywood has also discovered Soi Cowboy for itself.
Bangkok’s red-light district was the filming location for the movies “Bridget Jones: On the Verge of Madness” and “Hangover 2,” among others.
Frequently asked questions about Soi Cowboy Bangkok.
Here, we answer some frequently asked questions about Soi Cowboy Bangkok.
What is Soi Cowboy in Bangkok?
Soi Cowboy is a famous street in Bangkok known for its lively nightlife and entertainment options. It is especially popular for its many bars and clubs with exciting shows. At the same time, it is the most famous red light district in Bangkok.
Where is Soi Cowboy Bangkok located?
Soi Cowboy is located in the Sukhumvit district of Bangkok, in close proximity to the Asok BTS Skytrain station. The exact address is Sukhumvit Soi 21.
Are the bars in Soi Cowboy only for tourists?
No, Soi Cowboy attracts a diverse mix of visitors, including locals and business travelers.
What are the opening hours of Soi Cowboy Bangkok?
Soi Cowboy usually comes to life in the evening hours and stays open until the early morning hours. The exact opening hours may vary from bar to bar.
Is photography allowed in Soi Cowboy?
In most bars, photography is not allowed without prior permission from the staff. Even on the street, asking politely before taking photos is advisable.
What are the most popular bars in Soi Cowboy Bangkok?
Some of the most famous bars in Soi Cowboy are “Baccara,” “Crazy House,” “Deja Vu,” and “Long Gun.”
Is there a dress code for Soi Cowboy?
There is no set dress code, but it is recommended to dress appropriately. However, most bars do not have strict rules regarding clothing.