Photo: Fancy malls and gridlocked traffic.

VW bus bars

Cheap, fun, vintage

Sukhumvit Soi 11, Bangkok

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VW bus bars

VW bars are converted Volkswagen buses with staff operating the cocktail shakers from inside. Decorated with neon fairy lights, disco balls and impressive sound systems blaring out the latest pop hits, they’re a noticeable addition to Bangkok party street Sukhumvit Soi 11.

Cheap and cheerful.

Bangkok is a city where you can just as easily find high-end drinking and dining as you can dirt-cheap, down-and-out booze and nosh, and Sukhumvit Soi 11 is one of those rare sois that showcases clubs and bars to suit every budget. The general rule is that the further you venture up the soi, the more expensive the options get. However, the VW bus bars, dotted along the entire street, are about as cheap as it gets, and allow you to become lubricated under the gaze of notoriously pricey clubs, without putting so much as a chink in your wallet.

While the vans are certainly no place for a romantic aperitif, for pre-party cocktails, they’re ideal. In fact, don’t even bother asking for a beer or glass of wine, as the vans are exclusively stocked with spirits. Cheap spirits. We recommend opting for jugs, which tend to come in at the princely sum of 200 baht and include every classic cocktail you’ve ever heard of to go with a fair few scarily coloured ones which we’re pretty sure they make up.

Sukhumvit 11’s neon allure.

Okay, so the liquor might come from below the bottom shelf, but what the VW venues lack in quality, they certainly make up for in atmosphere. Sukhumvit 11 is a busy street, and propping up the bar of a VW, you’ll have ringside seats to this week-long party street. You’ll see vendors hawking street food, ladies (and ladyboys) of the night wooing middle-aged men, revellers stumbling along the pavement, travellers straying from their guesthouses to see a bit of Bangkok nightlife, and the high-society crowds of Bangkok picking their way through the tuk tuks and crowds to get to some of the soi’s classier venues.

Remember, these bars are temporary, so pre-20:00, you may find the street empty of them. Stick around and you’ll soon see the gaudy paintwork and hear the thump thump thump of R&B to announce their arrival. Make ours a Juicy Lucy.

Our rating:


VW bus bars
Sukhumvit Soi 11, Bangkok
Daily around 20:00-02:00