Destinations: When in Bangkok

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com June 02 2008 12:00 AM ET

Bangkok,
Thailand, has been called everything from the Venice of the
East to the Capital of Sin, but only recently has it
been raising eyebrows as a cosmopolitan destination.
The mantra "anything goes," once applied only to the
city's naughty nightlife, now extends to everything
from shopping and art to hotels and spas. Add a karma-driven
culture and relaxed views on sexuality and gender and
you have a gay mecca in the making.

While there's no
gay neighborhood per se, two crowded alleys in the area
of Bangrak host the lion's share of happening gay bars and
clubs at night, and during the day the expat-filled
Sukhumvit is where you'll spend most of your time.
This seething metropolis may seem intimidating, but
it's also wonderfully accessible. It's an urban explorer's
paradise.

STREET GUIDE

THE DRINK

The Balcony
86-88 Silom Soi 4; 66-2-235 -5891
BalconyPub.com
One might start a bar crawl along the
tourist-friendly Silom Soi 4 at this publike bar and
restaurant with a top floor where you can survey all
the freewheeling Western tourists and their temporary Thai
boyfriends.

THE GROOVE

DJ Station
Silom Soi 2, Bangrak; 66-2-266-4029
DJ-Station.com
This is the crown jewel of Soi 2. Young Thais
and a handful of Westerners flock to this multilevel
dance club on weekends, especially during festivals
where colorful costumes are de rigueur.

G.O.D.
60/18-21 Silom Soi 2/1, Bangrak; 66-2-632-8033 A
former cabaret, this club's tradition of showmanship lives
on in drag shows and go-go boys (hence the name "Guys
on Display") who dance to progressive house music on
three floors, the top of which is notorious for its
active darkroom.

THE BED

Old Bangkok
Inn 609 Pra Sumen; 66-2-629-1787
OldBangkokInn.com
Eschew the isolated and gargantuan five-star
resorts for the rustic Old Bangkok Inn, located in a
converted teahouse. Situated in the city's historic
center, the inn has a series of calm, green-friendly rooms
filled with Thai and Burmese antiques, native teak, silk and
ceramics.

The
Metropolitan 27 South Sathorn Rd.; 66-2-625-3333
Metropolitan.como.bz/bangkok
Filled with natural colors and plenty of
polished wood surfaces, the design favors calm and
Western minimalism over easy Buddha clichés. Much
like its popular sister locale in London, this is home away
from home for the creative Western jet set. In keeping
with the exclusive vibe, the sultry Met Bar lounge is
for hotel guests only.

THE BITE

Spring and
Summer 199 Soi Sukhumvit 49; 66-2-392-2747-8
SpringNSummer.com
Join the offspring of local elite in one of
these two adjacent postwar residences, the
façades of which have been replaced with glass to form
Spring, a contemporary Thai restaurant, and Summer, a
chocolate café/bar. Or sit outside on the lawn
for a leisurely drink.

Bed
Supperclub 26 Soi Sukhumvit 11; 66-2-651-3537
BedSupperclub.com
Nibble on Thai fusion while lounging on sleek
cushions in this all-white, ultra-mod cylindrical
design marvel; stay past dessert when this multilevel
space converts into a popular dance club that plays house
and electronica.

THE THREADS

Playground!
818 Soi Sukhumvit 55; 66-2-714-7888
PlaygroundStore.co.th
This stark multilevel department store is ground
zero for design and youth culture. Finely curated
housewares, books, gifts and small furniture sit
adjacent to hard-to-find independent fashion, including
totes from Rotterdam's Vlieger & Vandam and vibrant
threads from Paris' April77.

Siam
Center/Discovery/Paragon 989 Rama 1 Rd.; 66-2-658-1000-19
SiamCenter.co.th
These new and renovated malls include the city's
best boutiques, from Japanese gift shop Loft, bursting
with anime-inspired wares, to the Zen-like Panta,
selling modern eco-friendly decor in rattan, earthenware
and silk.

THE KNEAD

Babylon
34 Soi Nandha, South Sathon Rd. Soi 1 ; 66-2-679-7984
BabylonBangkok.com
When queens reminisce about the opulent
bathhouses of old, you can direct them here. Picture a
four-star hotel instead of a seedy hole-in-the-wall.
When was the last time you heard live jazz, ate a decent
meal or saw an art exhibit before cruising the
showers?

Originally published in OUT May 2008, issue 174