Love it or hate it
Rama IX Rd
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A massive entertainment district that hosts more than 50 bars, restaurants, clubs, and cafes, Royal City Avenue (RCA) jams every weekend and stays busy straight through the week.
Love it or hate it, and if you talk to enough people who live in Bangkok they'll fall into one of those two camps, RCA is one of Bangkok's most popular places to let loose after dark.
One of the largest clubs, Route 66, has four sections with at least two of them focusing on hip hop thumped through bone-shaking speakers with huge screens displaying the music videos. Another spot called 808 brings in big-name international DJs focusing on dance and electronic, and has one of the best sound and light systems in town. Cosmic Cafe has rotating live music acts and is quite indie, with some fun mash-ups, like reggae and traditional Isaan music. You'll also find the cool jazz club, Mello Yello, and two of the only lesbian bars in Bangkok, E-fun and Zeta.
The crowds that flock to RCA consist mainly of twenty-something Thais looking to mix it up over bottles of whiskey with ice and mixers served direct to countless tables in the larger clubs. Buy a whole bottle and, at the end of the night, staff will put it away and give you a card that allows you to reopen it for more fun at a later date -- if you can manage to remember which club has half a bottle of Johnny Walker waiting for you.
There's no shortage of dancing but don't expect many Western-style dancefloors -- most of the Thais prefer to bob around their tables and nearly all come with groups of friends. Ladies tend to dress up in heels while guys try their best to look stylish. While many people look for a one-night stand, RCA is not a seedy nightlife area for the most part.
It's not the most conveniently located strip, requiring a taxi or motorcycle ride from MRT Phetchaburi or MRT Phra Ram 9, or a longer ride from BTS Victory Monument, but the strip has so many different options that you probably won't feel the need to hit a different area on the same night. If you're in the mood for a dive bar with more of an expat presence, head to nearby Fatty's Bar and Diner on Asoke Din Daeng Road.
Every taxi driver in Bangkok will know RCA by name.
By David Luekens
Last updated on 22nd July, 2016.