Sep 12 2011
It’s no secret that Bangkok can be overwhelming, and when the sun goes down a city that in daylight hours feels humid and bustling is suddenly also crammed with party goers and neon lights. Clubs and X-rated delights seem to be the touristic claims to fame, but if you are anything like me you are probably just looking for a quiet place to have a brewsky. Among the fluorescent signs and endless tuk tuks on Sukhumvit Road, Bar 23, WTF and Cheap Charlie’s are charming watering holes for those of us in the mood for something a little more low-key.
Think indie-grunge meets your cool high school friend’s basement. Dimly lit Bar 23 is quite easy to miss and from the outside always looks closed, but rest assured it’s not. The vibe is extremely chilled with uber-friendly staff and walls decorated with local art and hodge-podge tchotchke collections. Sometimes it’s packed, sometimes it’s empty but Bar 23 is consistently reliable for a relaxed, friendly setting. Beers are 100 baht and cocktails a bit more. If you stop in on Thursday nights around 20:00 there will be a free swing dance class underway.
For something a little more upscale but still with an indie edge, WTF is a local favourite with solid drinks, gallery spaces and yummo tapas. Vintage movie posters adorn the walls and a throw-back soundtrack gives it a classic feel. The cocktails are also top-notch with my personal favourite being a gin, lychee and lemongrass concoction called The Orchard. WTF has a popular schedule of weekly events, so check their calendar. Stop in for Thursday poetry nights which take place every six weeks. Cocktails here go for around 200 baht while tapas and snacks float around 150 per plate.
Backpacker haunt Cheap Charlie’s is a classic Bangkok dive. Little more than a bar and a few conveniently placed stools, Cheap Charlie’s has been serving drinks at its outside location right on the street for more than 30 years. The bar has become something of a visual curiosity with patrons bringing souvenirs to be fastened to the bar as part of the decorations; the final product looks something like a pile of old junk nailed onto a plywood shed. Always popular Cheap Charlie’s is solidly reliable for a lively, chatty crew and truly cheap drinks — beers are around 70 baht.
Bar 23: Located on Sukhumvit Soi 16 about 500 metres from the mouth of the soi on the right-hand side. Look for the sign that says 23. A 15-minute walk from Asok BTS station or the MRT station at Sukhumvit. Open Tues-Sat from about 19:00 to about 02:00.
WTF: Located on Sukhumvit Soi 51, a roughly five-minute walk from Thong Lor BTS station. Turn onto Soi 51 and WTF will be your second left on Soi 51. Open Tues-Sun 18:00-01:00. T: (02) 662 6246.
Cheap Charlie’s: Located on Sukhumvit Soi 11 a short work from Nana BTS. The bar is on a small alley on the left-hand side about 100 metres from Sukhumvit Road. If you get to Suk 11 Hostel you have gone too far. Open daily from mid-afternoon until midnight.
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