Bangkok's best dive
Wong’s Place is a dive. It's small, its interior could only be described as eclectic-lazy and half of the time you have to get your own beer out of the coolers and open it before paying. But it's one of the best dive bars in all of Southeast Asia.
If you’ve ever partied late in Bangkok, you’ve probably been surprised that most clubs and bars wrap up at 02:30 due to strict drinking laws, and everyone, seemingly, goes home. You’d heard Bangkok was a party town?! Where’s the party? Well, for Bangkok’s hardest drinkers, it’s at Wong’s.
Rumour has it that the second Wong brother was a Thai senator's right hand man before his brother died in 2003. He apparently quit to run the bar and, thanks to his clout, enjoys an exemption from the normal closing time (as well as the indoor smoking ban, it seems). The bar opened in 1987 in what was then the backpacker heart of the city. While the backpacker district has long since moved to Khao San Road, the popularity of Wong’s has never waned.
It’s not hard to imagine what the bar must have been like all those years ago, because the decor probably hasn’t changed much. The fact is, it’s a dive bar in the truest sense; it’s smoky, it’s tiny, it’s reasonably cheap and everything looks a little bit dirty and worn. The walls are plastered with photos of the most dedicated patrons, ragged Chinese lanterns hang from the ceiling, ancient VHS’s are piled up behind the bar, and regulars prop up the bar to play Connect 4. Still not sure where the appeal lies? We suggest arriving after 02:00 on a weekend night (be warned, it looks like it’s very much closed from the outside) and soaking up the lively atmosphere in this very cramped and smoky bar.
If you’ve got real staying power, the bar starts to empty out to a more comfortable level at around 04:00, leaving the most sociable (i.e. drunk) regulars to sing along on a mic to the ’80s videos that are played on loop, help themselves to a beer or three from the honesty bar and then, at some point in the morning, stumble out into the daylight. There are no real opening hours, as such, though the bar tends to start serving around 22:00 and closes when people start to ease up on the drinking (usually around 07:00 or 08:00), but it opens and closes on the owner's whims. If you’re heading for a night at Wong’s, remember to bring your sunglasses for the walk home.
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