A Night in Bangkok’s Red Light District


What really goes down in Bangkok’s Red Light District? And what has little ole’ Krissy gotten herself into?

While the red light districts of Bangkok can be uncomfortable to visitors (like us), we found out that it is actually not impossible to have a good time amongst the neon lights.

**We neither encourage nor condone the sex industry. However, it is an active, undeniable in your face, facet of Bangkok nightlife.**

With that said, let’s get into the night that became of me and my dear Kelly.

We wound up on Sukhumvit Road in search of a certain hostel we were reviewing for our Go! Girl Guides to Thailand (coming soon). We found it, loved it and decided to take a look around this infamous part of town because, well, we were in the neighborhood.

It was early, around 7 p.m., and not much was going on past the bright flashing lights of little “Las Vegas”. There were a few girls standing outside of each bar, looking bored and uninterested.

So, we wandered away and found ourselves some super-delicious, super-CHEAP, pad thai amid the stalls selling pornographic ashtrays and Viagra.

After some top-notch people-watching, we met up with friends and decided to get some drinks back in smut-ville.

The atmosphere had shifted within an hour.

It was now packed with groups of the stereotypical middle-aged gringos, cliques of young females scheming on their eager clients and vendors selling weird dancing bears.

With all the craziness surrounding us, we got no attention. No catcalls, no googly eyes, no looks. And it felt nice. As absurd as it sounds, it felt safe.

Eventually, curiosity (and 50 Baht tequila shots) led us inside these little Thai strip clubs.

There weren’t men flashing dollar bills or baht at these ladies like you’d see in the States. It was not as filthy as I would have expected either. But I was shocked by the dancing, if you can call it that.

Dancing definitely is not a requirement for these places. Instead, it’s more of a “look at me on display” type showcase.

Most girls looked miserable, others kept their focus on the adjacent mirrors while they tried to keep their bodies moving to the music. At times it was hard to watch.

Bars ranged from the scantily dressed to full-on, uncomfortable teenage nudity.

There was even a beautiful duo who danced to a Thai cover of a Beatles tune! Poor guys… if they only knew.

By the end of the night and a few bars later, the group of us were up dancing with the best of them, having a good time… until they expected us to take some girls home with us. A little innocent dancing turned sour.

And that was our cue that it was just about time to leave.

All in all, I had a good time amongst the flashy lights and loud music.

And the journalist in me wishes we did take some of those girls home to ask questions and get their stories. Because regardless of what I think about this industry, there is something really interesting about it. The taboo gets me.

Would you ever spend time out in the infamous district of lights and lust? Share your stories with us, we’d love to hear.

Keep it censored please


About Author

A photographer and total adventurer, Krissy is originally from California, though she hardly stays in one place long. Since moving to Arizona in 2004, she has been bouncing along, spending time in the South Pacific, Argentina and Greece. Luckily for you, she shares glimpses through her photography! Feel free to take a gander... http://viiphoto.ning.com/profile/KrissySauter


  1. I’m sure I’ll go have a look when I make it to Bangkok one of these days. I don’t know if I would have the guts to actually go in one of those places though. As a single white male I’m sure I’d get hassled much more than you ladies did.

    Thanks for sharing your story!

  2. I lived in Bangkok and from time to time we would end up in these places. The most interesting place was a male go-go bar. It was obviously a gay bar,with mostly men in the audience, but when I talked with one of the dancers for a while, he insisted that he wasn’t gay and that he made most of his money off of women, which I found interesting since 99% of the clientele were males. I never got to the bottom of the real story, but it was an interesting discussion.

  3. I’ve heard stories about “special shows”. I might go around the red light district bars with a girlfriend just to check it out but the shows are a different story. Oh and euw on when they were expecting you guys to take some girls home!

    • We stayed away from those infamous “shows,” don’t think I could hang. But the red light district is worth stopping by and observing, I’m sure you’d come away with some good stories too.

  4. I know I’ve only lived in Thailand for 20 years and you seem to have quite a grasp on what’s what, but I noticed most of the Thais that I’ve known for the past 20 years don’t judge others through their eyes but try to through the eyes of the people doing it.
    Maybe you can bring some baptists over and convert these heathens.
    Chok Dee khun Ba.

  5. Funny enough the red light district here in Cebu,Philippines is something I have visited for all the wrong reasons. Yep nothing sexual just out of interest of why people do it. Its when talking to people that are in the industry you start to realise the real affects of poverty as well as the fact there are little other options for most.

    Add to that the “dream” of meeting some rich foreigner to take them away from it all its often a misunderstood industry. Doesn’t mean I agree with it but I find the middle ground is often ignored while you will get Pro and Against.

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