Soi Cowboy is the by far the preferred area in Bangkok if one wants to go and enjoy the naughty nightlife. Between Nana Plaza and Pat Pong that cater to tourists, Soi Cowboy caters to the ex-pats. Because of that the low tourist season is not as severe. Soi Cowboy is about 125 meters in length and no doubt one of the most interesting and exciting places in Bangkok.
Soi Cowboy is the only naughty nightlife area in Bangkok that has been undergoing renovations and upgrades with the Go-Go bars both inside and out. Soi Cowboy also has Sports bars and restaurants to round out the area. Looking down the Soi you see a blaze of neon and hear the sounds of people just having fun. It is not uncommon to step out of a bar and be greeted by a 2300 KG elephant not necessarily of the pink variety. Feeding an elephant can be fun and exciting if you have never been near these huge animals. This all adds to the atmosphere of fun and adventure.
There is also a general lacking of Ladyboys (Transvestites) at Soi Cowboy and that can be a good thing if you are too drunk to properly Identify the gender of the person who you may be heading for a romp in the hay with. No such luck at Nana Plaza and Pat Pong.
Soi Cowboy also differs in that the bars do work collectively. Bar owners sit down and chat with each other and visit each others bars. The magic formula seems to be a combination of several things. First being no two bars have exactly the same venue. There are bars that cater to the Japanese up skirt fetish with glass ceilings and well polished mirrored dance floors. There are bars with Coyote dancers, and other bars with shows.
The second part of the formula is bars that have more than one venue. A Bar that has Go-Go dancers and also does shows of acceptable quality and entertainment value no doubt bring in more customers. The multi venue approach clearly is key to survival in rough economic times.
The third part of the formula is reasonable pricing. Keeping in mind Soi Cowboy primarily caters to ex-pats, it does not take long to figure out what bars are unnecessarily expensive and avoid them next time. This is not Pat Pong and the repeat customer in Soi Cowboy is what it is all about. As a result Soi Cowboy becomes somewhat self policing and has a strong focus on customer service more than any other nightlife area in Bangkok. At more than one bar the service staff will come around and ask if you want another drink before the end of happy hour in an effort to improve service and save you some money. It is little things like that, that keep customers happy as the sense of caring is there. They recognize not to bite the hand that feeds them.
The forth part of the formula is the type of girls that work there. Many are not what would be called hard core although there are a few. They are only working there because of the unfortunate reality of having a baby by a Thai man who decided “Not my Problem” and left her to raise the child alone. These girls given the choice would much rather find a good man to take care of and leave the bar. This change in attitude is a direct effect of the economy.
Before when things were good, financially it made sense to continue working at the bars as there were plenty of customers and making money hand over fist was common. Now the ratio of customers to ladies has drastically changed and it makes more sense to find a good and loving man and leave the bar life behind. Other than the high tourist season, things are rough going.
So all in all Soi Cowboy provides the most fun of the three Bangkok naughty nightlife areas, however in comparison, Pattaya is in another league and that will be in part 4.