Soi Cowboy: Bangkok’s Legendary Red Light Alley

If you’re heading to Bangkok for a taste of their adult entertainment, then you can’t miss a visit to Soi Cowboy.

A trip to Bangkok isn’t complete unless you at least pass through, if not visit, a red-light district or two. Soi Cowboy, along with Patpong, is one of the city’s most tourist friendly areas and, in particular, is popular with Western visitors. Though a fraction of the size of more notorious red-light districts of Patpong, Soi Cowboy has a big reputation when it comes to its bargirls, go-go dancers and hedonistic atmosphere.

In this feature, we take a look at the legendary Soi Cowboy and look at what you can expect to find down this small but well-appreciated road in Bangkok.

Location of Soi Cowboy

Soi Cowboy is a small road in Bangkok which runs to a length of just 150m. It is situated off Soi Sukhumvit 23 a few minutes’ walk from the ASOK underground station and right in the heart of the city’s nightlife. You can walk from Soi Cowboy to Nana Plaza in under 20-minutes directly west up the Sukhumvit Road.

History of Soi Cowboy

The history of Soi Cowboy as red-light destination only started in the 1970s when retired American airman, T.G. ‘Cowboy’ Edwards opened a bar in 1977 down a small alley off Sukhumvit Road. At the time of opening, there was only one other bar on the street but by 2000 this had increased to over 30 ground floor bars. The alley was nicknamed Soi Cowboy in honour of Edwards and was first used by the Bangkok Post’s Nite Owl columnist, Bernard Trink; Edwards famously only ever wore a cowboy hat.

Over the years, the types of bars opening on Soi Cowboy have become more notorious and the area is popular with Western tourists looking for adult entertainment. Along with Patpong and Soi Nana Tai, Soi Cowboy is one of the largest areas in Thailand’s capital that almost exclusively caters to expats and Western tourists; the former being another famous red-light district.

It has recently undergone some renovation works and is no longer as tired and run-down looking as it did a decade ago.

soi cowboy red light alley bangkok
Soi Cowboy has undergone some renovations over the last decade. Image via Flickr.

A Guide to Soi Cowboy

Though a relatively small area of the vast city that is Bangkok, Soi Cowboy certainly packs a punch when it comes to delivering a great selection of adult entertainment but is most popular for its go-go bars. You can also find one of the city’s more popular ladyboy bars, Cockatoo, plus the immensely popular Susie Wong’s.

Updated for 2018, here you can find a rundown of all the go-go bars on Soi Cowboy along with a brief guide on bar fines:

Of course, we cannot guarantee the prices, which have been curated from a number of different sources.

Bar Detail Typical Bar Fine
AfterSkool One of the smallest bars on Soi Cowboy but is popular for its hand jobs in the ‘naughty boy corner’. 600 Baht
Baccara One of the first bars you come to when you turn off Sukhumvit Soi 23. Not too pricey and with some very cute bar girls to choose from. 800 Baht
Cactus A mainly nude go-go bar with some slightly heavier girls on display. They seem to use the prettier and younger girls out front to entice you in but inside can be a bit disappointing. 600 Baht
Cockatoo One of the most popular ladyboy bars in Bangkok with some very attractive shemales putting on great shows. 600 Baht
Cowboy 2 A mix of girls and ladyboys, Cowboy 2 often has a dozen or so dancers in the street outside to entice visitors in. Good size dancefloor, no hassle and reasonable drinks prices. A must-see bar in Bangkok 800 Baht
Crazy Cat Cheap prices at happy hour, this former Cocktail Club is a small bar with some big screen TVs and coyote dancers. 600 Baht
Déjà vu Located on the Asok Road end of Soi Cowboy and a pricey option for drinks but some very good looking and willing girls. 700 Baht
Doll House A good venue for erotic dancing with table dancers on the second floor. An average sized bar with a huge reputation and exceptionally tourist friendly. 700 Baht
Dundee A small bar which has some outside seating from which you can watch the action unfold on Soi Cowboy. It isn’t a lively bar and has little to offer except friendly bar staff and some casual bargirls. 600 Baht
Fanny’s A small but intimate bar with nice choice of girls. 700 Baht
Five Star Although there are usually ladyboys working outside to tempt the crowds in most of the line-up inside are ‘real’ girls. They put on some good shows that will keep you in the bar to enjoy. 700 Baht
Jungle Jim’s Another hands-on bar where you can get some manual relief whist you enjoy a drink. Some good-looking coyote performers and it does get busy at the weekends. Great atmosphere. Cheap bar fines for some dancers but the cream of the crop are dizzyingly expensive. 500-3000 Baht
Kiss Go Go Not the busiest bar and not much to differentiate it from the rest but certainly nothing wrong with the club. 800 Baht
Lighthouse Located right opposite the Cowboy 2, Lighthouse often suffers as a result but is a decent enough bar. It does attract quite a lot of expats and can be a bit ‘guy-heavy’. Set over two floors with a glass ceiling, it is not the liveliest of bars. 600-1200 Baht
Lucky Star Formerly known as Long Gun this good size bar has an elevated dance floor and seems to have girls with larger breasts. Might be just coincidence…. 600 Baht
Midnite A mix of ladyboys thrown in here and can get pricey as a result of this extra appeal. However, it is a good bar with quality girls. 800 Baht
Rawhide The famous Rawhide mostly has completely nude dancers and is reasonably priced making it a popular bar to hit in Soi Cowboy. 600 Baht
Rio One of the most expensive bars in Soi Cowboy and situated right at the entrance from Sukhumvit Soi 23. Drinks can also be quite expensive. 1200 Baht
Sahara A big bar on Soi Cowboy, Sahara’s 600 Baht
Shadow Primarily a sports bar but a nice selection of bar girls to choose from. 600 Baht
Shark Located next to the Baccara bar, the Shark is very pricey but often has exceptional girls. Is usually very crowded at peak times. 600-1500 Baht
Spice Girls Drinks here can be a little more expensive than other bars but most of the girls are very good looking so could be worth a few extra Baht to enjoy their company. 800 Baht
Suzie Wong Come for the shows but stay for the girls, the best-looking women are on the stage, not in the bar. Sadly, the venue has dropped its big hitting lesbian show but still a good place to hit up when in town. 600 Baht
Tilac Located next to Déjà vu and at the Asok Road end, this is a big bar and has some great looking dancers though not many can be bar fined. 800 Baht
Toy Bar Another small bar but one that offers some in-house action with pretty looking girls. Reasonable prices 600 Baht
baccara go go bar soi cowboy
The Baccara bar in Soi Cowboy stands at the entrance to the alley and is often seen as the gateway to a den of sin. Image via Wikipedia.

Of course, you can also find a couple of other venues on Soi Cowboy including:

  • Sam’s 2000 – great place to get a bite to eat and enjoy a drink without having to decide on who to buy another one for.
  • Country Road Bar – A live music and sports bar which also serves food. It’s a good place to chill but they do have bargirls working here too.
  • Corner Bar – Another live music bar where you can just grab a drink.
red light bangkok soi cowboy
No trip to Bangkok would be complete with a visit to Soi Cowboy. Image via Flickr.

Overall, the atmosphere in Soi Cowboy is a mixture of laid-back hedonism mixed with sunshine party chaos. The weekends are generally busier than during the week and Fridays and Saturdays from 10.00pm to 1.00am are usually thronged with tourists trying to hookup. However, you can head to most bars during the early evening for some crazy cheap drinks during happy hour.

Featured image via Flickr.