Insider Guide: a local editor shares her pick of Bangkok’s best bars

From secret speakeasies to sundowners on a rooftop, Bangkok is packed with defiantly different drinking dens – you just need to know where to look. A local editor shares her insider insights

Words by Laurel Tuohy
Last updated: June 10, 2022
Bangkok's best bars | the upstairs drinking area at Tai Soon
Tai Soon Bar, Rattanakosin

Bangkok’s best bars offer a remarkable breadth of drinking: day sipping by the river, expertly crafted sundowners at a rooftop bar, or an ice-cold beer with your street food from one of Bangkok’s best restaurants are just a few of the opportunities for imbibing here. Head to nightlife-centric areas like Nana, Thong Lor or Silom to join the endless throngs of revellers, or sample award-winning serves in globally recognised drinking dens as a precursor to a night experiencing Bangkok’s lively music scene.

In order to experience the drinks scene at its best, you need to know what you’re doing, and getting a local’s view of Bangkok is vital. Nondescript doors are a secret portal to elegant spaces where the rich and famous quaff floral-scented champagne concoctions; dive bars ladle up homemade umeshu (Japanese plum wine); and reggae DJs set the mood for nights that last well into the morning. If you’re after the very best boozing that Bangkok has to offer, you’ve come to the right place.

Bangkok's best bars | Red neon signage outside Tai Soon
Red neon signage outside Tai Soon

Tai Soon Bar

Style: homemade craft beer with a retro Chinese vibe
Location: 190 Maha Chai Rd, Samran Rat, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200
Occasion: with friends
Price: cocktails from 200 THB/6 USD

This duplex bar is dotted with picturesque red lanterns, and sits directly across the street from the obscurely located Jay Fai, Bangkok’s only Michelin-starred street food joint, one widely considered one of the city’s essential restaurants. Pro tip: arrive at Jay Fai, put your name on the waiting list, then nip over to Tai Soon to while away the hours with Thai lagers, IPAs and stouts. The time is guaranteed to fly by.
@TAISOONBARThai

Bangkok's best bars | a throng of people at favourite Teens of Thailand
Teens of Thailand's buzzing bar

Teens of Thailand

Style: Gin cocktails
Location: 76 Soi Nana, Chinatown,  Bangkok 10100
Occasion: Mates and dates
Price: Cocktails from 250 THB/7.50 USD

Ready to kick things up a gear? Kratom is a natural leaf with stimulant properties native to South East Asia that’s making its way into cool cocktails. Try it for yourself at Teens of Thailand, alongside unique juniper-scented concoctions and an excellent array of G&Ts. The bar is tucked away on Soi Nana, an alleyway in Chinatown.
@teensofthailand

Best Bangkok bars | A drink garnished with an orange wheel in a tall glass on a coaster that reads 'Wasted Trust Fund' at WTF
WTF Gallery & Bar

WTF Gallery & Cafe

Style: Unique cocktails
Location: 7 Sukhumvit Soi 51, Thong Lor, Bangkok 10110
Occasion: Mates and dates
Price: Cocktails from 275 THB/8 USD

Billing itself as a ‘creative social club’, this small shophouse and bar sits on one of Thong Lor’s quieter streets. The apothecary-inspired space (booze is medicine, right?) makes deliciously irreverent drinks and hosts art exhibits upstairs. This is the kind of place where you can expect to find off-duty artists, designers of all kinds, and Bangkok’s literati perched at the bar, come to soak up the surrounds in this bar-slash-gallery (one of Bangkok’s coolest museums and galleries, if you’re asking).
wtfbangkok.com

bangkok-rooftop-bar-kimpton-maa-lai-bangkok
Bar.Yard rooftop bar at Kimpton Maa-Lai

Bar.Yard

Style: Tiki cocktails and craft beer
Location: Kimpton Maa-Lai Bangkok, 78 Soi Ton Son, Lumphini, Bangkok 10330
Occasion: with friends, date
Price: Cocktails from 300 THB/9 USD

No visit to Bangkok is complete without a trip to a rooftop bar, and this one is a new – but instant – classic. A 40th-floor tiki bar with a menu that’s heavy on American-style bbq food (think brisket tacos and melt-in-your-mouth ribs), this sky-high destination inside the Kimpton Maa-Lai Bangkok hotel (one of Bangkok’s most beautiful hotels) bills itself as a day club, rooftop oasis and bar. Expect upbeat DJs spinning a curated mix of funk, disco and R&B, as well as regional craft beers, and several coveted corners to watch the sunset and get that perfect sky bar photo (you know you want to).
kimptonmaalaibangkok.com

Bangkok's best bars | the bar area and seats at 12 x 12

12 x 12

Style: Beer bar with a twist
Location: 22 Thara Rom Soi 2, Khlong Tan Nuea, Watthana, Bangkok 10110
Occasion: Night out
Price: Cocktails from 200 THB/6 USD 

Tucked down a side street and behind a gate on a Thong Lor side street, this hidden bar is worth finding. Expect to hear live DJs spinning a variety of genres, from soul to funk, reggae and beyond. Attracting a subversive mix of punks, expats and musicians, they make their own umeshu and serve it out of a barrel (we wouldn’t recommend drinking too much of it though).
@12x12bkk

Bangkok's best bars | Leather high chairs and mirrors at Rabbit Hole bar
Bangkok's Rabbit Hole bar

Rabbit Hole

Style: Fine cocktails (think fine-dining for drinks)
Location: 125 Thong Lor Road, Bangkok 10110
Occasion: with friends
Price: Cocktails from 375 THB/11 USD

When it comes to Bangkok’s best bars, Rabbit Hole is one of our favourites. Aptly named, it hides behind an unmarked door in Thong Lor – but what it lacks in exterior, it more than makes up for with drinks, which mix ingredients like absinthe with smoked tea soda. Queen of the cocktails is Suwincha ‘Chacha’ Singsuwan, an award-winning female Thai bartender that serves up her indulgent recipes to the city’s late-night glitterati. With such acclaim it’s no surprise the bar gets very crowded, but unlike many other upmarket establishments, they’ll let you order and stand with your drink rather than being turned away because there are no tables.
rabbitholebkk.com

Best bars in Bangkok | A green marble-topped bar and dark brown leather stools at Vesper
The long bar at Vesper

Vesper

Style: Award-winning cocktails
Location: 10/15 Sala Daeng Soi 2, Silom, Bang Rak, Bangkok 10500
Occasion: Date, special occasion
Price: Cocktails from 400 THB/12 USD

Friendly yet refined, Vesper offers heady, low-lit romance just steps from the crowds of Silom, perfect for getting your evening off to a sophisticated start before further revelry kicks in. The staff serve up concoctions that mix ingredients like yuzu sake with saffron sorbet, and offer advice in a way that hits the glorious sweet spot between knowledgeable and welcoming.
vesperbar.co

Tropic City

Style: Rum cocktails
Location: 672/65 Charoen Krung Soi 28, Old Town, Bangkok 10500
Occasion: Friends and fun nights out
Price: Cocktails from 350 THB/11 USD

It’s impossible to feel anything but outrageously happy in Tropic City, where a colourful design (think Miami Vice meets Southeast Asia) brightens even the dullest of moods, and drinking a rum cocktail out of a pineapple is cool rather than cringe. DJs spinning lo-fi hip hop reaffirms the bar as a hipster hangout, but the crowd won’t judge you (much) if you take a selfie for your Instagram.
tropiccitybkk.com

Bangkok's best bars | the wooden bar at industry favourite Smalls
Smalls

Smalls

Style: Classic cocktails
Location: 186/3 Suan Plu Soi 1, Sathorn, Bangkok 10120
Occasion: with friends
Price: Cocktails from 300 THB/9 USD

Smalls is, er, anything but small: multi-level, packed with locals, and buzzing with energy, it’s a hotspot that just gets better as the night rolls on. It has a rep for being the place to go after-hours, when BKK’s other bars and restaurants close up shop – so you know it’s where a great night out begins (or ends). Get prepared to quite literally rub elbows with your fellow drinkers, too, because it’s never not busy.
@smallsbkk

Q&A Bar

Style: Fine cocktails with Thai touches
Location: 235/13 Sukhumvit Soi 21, Asoke, Bangkok 10110
Occasion: Mates and special dates
Price: Cocktails from 350 THB/11 USD

Conveniently located next to one of the city’s main intersections in Asoke – a very central area that’s inexplicably lacking in fine dining and drinking options – this tiny refuge feels like the bar cabin of a luxurious train. The drinks list leans on local ingredients like lemongrass and pandan, with homemade boozy ice creams that are potent enough to provide a nice buzz. It’s the perfect place to meet friends for a pre-gaming cocktail in a central location.
qnabar.com

Breathe in Bangkok like a local with our insider guide to the city, from boutique hotels in beautiful buildings to the best venues for experiencing live music.