Bangkok - Go Go Bars Scams in Bangkok

If you are rich you don't have to read this page. I'm saying that because I already saw visitors coming to a Go-Go bar and throw real cash on the stage, just for fun (or to prove something) and I saw others ring a bell beside a sign that says : "Ring the bell and pay all the girls a drink" (and there are lots of girls in a Go-Go bar), so these people don't need my advice about how to save money.
For the ones who want to pay only their beer while enjoying the atmosphere of a Go-Go bar, keep reading.
Bangkok Soi Cowboy

What is a Go-Go Bar ?

Go-Go bars are like discos, but only the girls are dancing. They are dancing on a stage and they are dressed very lightly, there is loud music.
There is a rumor that on certain conditions you can take a girl with you out of the club. The conditions may be : The Girl wants + You want + You pay.
Note : The girls in the Go-Go bars are called "Ladies". Their chief (a woman) is called "the Mamasan", you will recognize her, she looks different.

What are the common Scams in the Go-Go bars of Bangkok ?

There are two types of Go-Go bars :
  1. Go-Go bars with big scams
  2. Go-Go bars with normal scams

Go-Go bars with big scams :

It's better to avoid this category of Go-Go bars, they are easy to spot.
I'm talking about places where you have to climb narrow stairs and you find yourself isolated from the world, in a lousy and dark place with almost no people (maybe a few other trapped tourists). It could be a place that a Tuk-Tuk driver has taken you or it could be in a known red light district like Pat-Pong.
In these kind of clubs it could go well or not. A typical scenario may be :
When you want to go out and pay your drink, they will give you a bill of 1000 baht instead of 150 baht that cost your drink. They will tell you it is for the "show".
If you will try to protest, a big guard will prevent you from going out. If you go to the police outside, the police may help you or help the club owner, you may never know (should I remind you that you don't speak Thai very well ?).

How to protect yourself from this :

  • Look where you are entering. If you are inexperienced in Bangkok, you have no reason to enter a suspicious place, even if they promise you wonderful shows inside. The clubs that are on the ground floor, behind a simple curtain, with many people inside, are OK.
  • Stay in one of the known zones.
  • Don't be guided to places "recommended" by Tuk-Tuk and Taxi drivers.
  • Before ordering a drink ask " how much".
  • If the place is suspicious, ask if the show is free (but still, you can not trust a bad place)
  • It is better to go with friends than alone.
  • If you have problems, the police may help (they are located in touristic zones like Pat-Pong).

Go-Go bars with normal scams :

It may even not be considered scams in a capitalist world. What these clubs are doing is putting you under extreme pressure to spend your money and give it to people you don't know. It is a white-collar scam.
Here is a typical scenario :
  1. Minute 1 : You enter the Go-Go bar, there is loud music and many girls in underwear are smiling and greeting you, you feel King.
  2. Minute 2 : An hostess is leading you to a table and ask you what you want to drink. You are smart so you ask the price. You take a Whisky-Cola for 150 Baht.
  3. Minute 3 : You finally have time to look around you, you see many girls dancing on a stage, some of them are sitting very close to you.
  4. Minute 4 : A waiter brings your bill and put it in a special can on your table. You look at it, it's 150 Baht, everything is fine.
  5. Minute 5 : One of the girls is approaching you and ask your name. You try to remember your name.
  6. Minute 6 : A special waiter is passing among the guests with a platter full of tiny "shots" in paper cups, they look like samples distributed in Starbucks, not real drinks. The waiter is offering you and "your girl" a drink. There are 30 people looking at you: the waiter, "your girl" and all the other girls dancing on the stage. You don't want to look "cheap" and the drinks look completely innocent, they probably cost a third of a real drink, so you say Yes.
  7. Minute 7 : A waiter comes and replace your bill with a new one. You look at it, it's now 500 Baht.
You get the idea, right ? It comes in many variations.

How to protect yourself from this :

Before you go out, at your hotel room, in front of a mirror, you have to practice and repeat : No, thank-you No.
While at the bar, If there is a specific girl you like and you want to invite her for a drink (it's called a "Lady drink") then it's fine, but you better ask the price of the drink.
In all other cases, I don't see why you should buy drinks to all the girls that are surrounding you but I don't pretend to completely understand human nature.
You must realize that it's all planned, they want you to feel pressured and they know you don't want to appear cheap before your friends and before the girls. Think if it's really important to you to appear generous in this particular environment.
Note 1: Some of the Go-Go bars are better than others, they have regular clients and they want to keep their good reputation.
Note 2: If you take a girl out of the club, you will be asked to pay a "Bar Fine", this is not a scam, this is common practice, you pay the bar because you take a girl out of work, she is not dancing anymore in the bar.

Where are the Go-Go bars of Bangkok ?

There are 3 main zones in Bangkok :
  1. Pat-Pong
  2. Nana Plaza
  3. Soi Cowboy
Here, you can see them on the Map :

View Bangkok - Red Zones in a larger map

Pat-Pong is very touristic, it is composed of two narrow parallel streets: Pat-Pong 1 and Pat-Pong 2 . There are go-go clubs and a night market, it is located in the Silom district. The Skytrain (the BTS) station is "Sala Daeng" and the underground (the MRT) station is "Silom".
Nana Plaza and Soi Cowboy are at one skytrain station distance from each other on the main street of Sukhumvit. This is the main nightlife area of Bangkok.
Nana Plaza is near Nana skytrain station (Sukhumvit street, Soi number 4) and Soi-Cowboy is near Asok station (Sukhumvit street between Soi 21 and Soi 23). The "Soi" are the little streets that are on the sides of a main street, there are no numbers on the buildings in Bangkok.
See Hotels near Pat-Pong.
See Hotels near Nana.
See See Hotels near Soi Cowboy.

Pattaya and Phuket - If you need more Go-Go bars

Pattaya City :

If the Go-Go bars of Bangkok are not enough for you, you can go to Pattaya. Pattaya is the second largest city in Thailand after Bangkok and it is just on the beach, so you will have Go-Go bars and beaches (and also a nearby island called Ko-Larn). In Pattaya there are hundreds of Go-Go bars, especially in the walking street. It's easy to reach Pattaya by bus from Bangkok, it takes less than 2 hours. There is a regular bus from Ekkamai station (see location on Map) and a minibus from the suburban station Victory monument (see location on Map). These buses are going every half hour.
See the page about Pattaya to know where to Stay in Pattaya, the transport and more Info on Pattaya city.
Pattaya walking street

Phuket island:

Phuket is a big island in the south of Thailand. Patong is the most touristic city in Phuket and it has also a walking street with Go-Go bars but not as much as Pattaya.
See See Hotels in Phuket, Patong beach.
See how to reach Phuket island from Bangkok.

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