The Mixmag Asia Clubbing Guide: Bangkok was updated on 11 April, 2023.
If you’ve ever been to Bangkok or heard wild and raucous stories from someone who has, you’ll know how easy it is to go out for one drink and wake up two days later next to someone of questionable gender on seedy soi near Khao San Road. Even with things having calmed down in Thailand’s capital since the military took over 2014, Bangkok is still one of Asia’s top party destinations. It’s easy to end up on the wrong side of the tracks, however, but we promise there is a lot more to the city than bucket bars and EDM — there is house, there is disco, and there is lots and lots of techno — it’s just a little hard to find. Follow our little guide the next time you’re bound for Bangkok, and you’ll end up at the right kind of after-party.
For those looking for something industrial feeling but a little bit bougie, BEAM is Bangkok’s go-to for top tier house and techno DJs from Asia and beyond. The sound is ear-shifting with a thunderous sound system by VOID acoustics, minimal aesthetics and renowned programming that lead by music director Kritsada Vadeesirisak (also known as Marmosets). Fabric’s own Dave Parry was at the helm of the launch, and his touch is apparent throughout which makes for a properly immersive clubbing experience. That said, the Thong Lor club does have tables, fancy cocktails and an often hi-so crowd but they ted to mix and mingle well with the hardcore music aficionados. Over the years, BEAM has hosted acts like Tom Trago, M.A.N.D.Y, Eli & Fur, TOKiMONSTA, Soul Clap, Carl Craig, Marcel Dettman, and many more.
Studio Lam looks like a bar for audiophiles straight out of a Murakami novel. From its dimly lit interior, warm wooden walls and vintage record collection on display, it’s oozing with eccentric Japanese vibes throughout its ultra-small interior. There is no designated dance floor at Studio Lam; there is a however a very cool DJ booth and specially designed custom tube sound system, so what small space is available does turn into something lively. Parties regularly get so wild that they blow the roof (and speakers) off the place. Since the bar is part of the ZudRangMa Records family (it began as a radio podcast by the record store), most of the live music is adventurous and can span anything from Nigerian disco to vintage Cambodian rock all the way through to psychedelic blues. In fact, the bar solely exists to provide outside of the mainstream. Obviously, the staff and clientele boast a sophisticated musical style that you can learn something from. The cocktails are potent and made with over 30 different kinds of homemade ya dong, the beer interesting, the people eclectic, and the vibe bar none — altogether creating a kind of communal warmth in an intimate space that’s feels far away from Bangkok while being right along Sukhumvit.
When you first hear that your friends are headed to party in Lat Phrao, your first inclination could be to stay within the comfort of Sukhumvit. But Never Normal makes a strong case for making the journey worth it, night after night. Coming up in a post-pandemic landscape as a creative space for emerging artists, Never Normal is officially a four-story creative community space on Lad Phrao Soi 18 meant to connect music with art and culture, and inspire dialogues between creative identities in the film, music and photography spaces. It also has bold plans to become a production house and host workshops, activities and live concerts. But as with many creative spaces, after the sun goes down, the creatures of the night come out and command the dance floor. As such, Never Normal has become Bangkok's de facto spot for club nights centered around underground sounds and has been steadfast at luring anyone looking to escape the big club domination in the city's core. On most weekends, the programme features local collectives and up-and-coming independent acts, but occasionally we've seen some regional names show up on the bill like Indonesia's Jonathan Kusuma, Vietnam's Binh and India's Abhi Meer. Whatever the night, it promises something that's never normal—and we love that.
Sing Sing Theater
Stop into Shanghai in the 1930s where dim red lighting, retro-futuristic Chinese lanterns, cheongsam clad women and the occasional dwarf hurrying to the stage for a performance sets the mood for an atmosphere only found at this unabashedly theatrical venue. The bar and club is the brainchild of Ashely Sutton of Iron Fairies and Maggie Choo’s fame and boasts mezzanines, hidden backrooms and a dance floor that comes to life on the club’s pièce de résistance — a grand staircase. Best of all, instead of catering to an EDM cartel, Sing Sing Theater has stellar music programmers at its helm and is a regular destination for acts like Sébastien Léger, Yokoo, Red Axes, Amine K, Technasia and more when in Asia.
Google Tropic City and you'll read about a lovely neon-soaked cocktail bar in the Charoenkrung neighborhood of Bangkok that reinterprets the rum-style tropics in a kitschy yet cool way. Sure, the cocktails are spectacular, but so are the parties—that's what you get when the bar's Swedish partners love breezy beats as much as they do booze. Ranking on both the World's 50 Best Bars and Asia's 50 Best Bars, if there were a similar list for clubs in Asia (but there isn't, phew), it would be right up there. On most Thursday and Friday nights, Tropic City welcomes a rotating cast of Thailand's top selectors playing anything from house, techno, breaks, boogie, funk and hip hop. But the space also lends a home to traveling acts from around Asia, most recently hosting a takeover by Seoul Community Radio and other artists from as far as China, Japan and the US. Go for a drink, stay for a dance, Tropic City is always a nice night out.
In its first incarnation, De Commune existed somewhere in the depths of Thong Lor in an abandoned room inside Liberty Plaza. The low-key venue came to life on the weekend when both bands and DJs took to the stage, before closing in 2020. Today the venue lives not far from the Democracy Monument and Khaosan Road, scaring off loyal Sukhumvitists but appealing more to musically-charged Thai youths and travellers, and remains committed to its music policy of underground techno, drum ’n’ bass and acoustic gigs like jazz.
The venue is described as a “come together” project by a passionate group of people from the underground. They shared similar interests in needing a space that doubles as a live house, art space and club with a caring quality for sound-system, lighting and visuals. While small, depending on the night, the venue is a worthy contender for a throwback to the old clubs of Bangkok's once-legendary nightlife and can offer anteing from pulsating techno and experimental electronic to drum ’n’ bass (and even the odd punk rock band). Scene stalwarts like NT66, Marmosets, Delorean, and Mendy Indigo can be found playing here, but so can international acts like Zinc.
This cosy vintage-style bar is a hipster magnet that churns out eclectic underground music in the regular in an excellent atmosphere. It’s super casual and low key with couches, a bar to sit at and musical accompaniment that will transport you to an era gone by. The bar is a hidden gem, and that always makes for a great low key night out — think Japanese beers and homemade plum wine coupled by an intelligent soundtrack. We’ve never heard of a “big” DJ playing here but you never really do when it comes to all the best audiophile bars in Japan, where 12x12 gets its inspiration from. And here’s a story we love to tell: we previously bid farewell to 12x12 but turns out its time had not yet come, and it was resurrected and saved, and thanks to some donors, the space was recently renovated, soundproofed and a new venue installed.
V12 by Onyx
Onyx is one of Bangkok's loudest clubs…if you like EDM (they just hosted Skrillex, Blasterjaxx and a slew of other chart-topping artists). But to cater to the city's rumbling appetite for a more underground sound, the club acquired neighboring V12, which now opens for special events. Upon opening in 2021, V12 was also the first club in Thailand to be powered by Funktion-One's state-of-the-art Dance Stack®. Because it opened during the pandemic, the club gave local acts a place to party but with Thailand's swift bounce back to clubland, V12 is now also one of the few spaces equipped to host bigger international acts. Recent billings include Richie Hawtin, Nakadia, Sven Väth, and many more.
Although Bangkok’s days of raucous parties are in the past, Mustache has retained some of that pre-coup party feel for the last eight years. From its beginnings as a three-story venue far away from Sukhumvit on Ratchada Soi 7, Mustache has picked up a rep for its underground music policy with an afterparty vibe. Like many, Mustache shuttered during the pandemic but reopened in a new home, and its current incarnation opens on Friday and Saturday nights on Sukhumvit Soi 23. No matter where it’s been located, the people who go there make the trek for the music — which oscillates between bangin’ techno and uplifting house — so the crowd is made up of likeminded party starters instead of tourists and people with “ulterior motives”. While it borders on being a dive bar, it’s what we like best about it. It’s also loud, dark, cosy, and everything you would want from a wild night out in Bangkok (hangover included). The club is like a tabula rasa for regional talent, letting all the local loves step up to the occasion at one time or another but it also pulls a lot of big names like Pan-Pot, Nakadia, Sven Väth, Dee Montero and more. Even more recently, it has evolved into a party brand on the Bangkok circuit with pop-up events on boats, warehouses and other venues around the city in events that are branded as Mustache Takeovers.
Tropical Galaxy & Mischa Cheap
Khaosan Road is amid a resurgence. Well, at least when it comes to good music. You can find in-your-ear EDM at any bar along the road, but if you're looking for something a bit musically refined yet still raw, head to one of many underground music clubs in the area. We've already mentioned De Commune, but newcomer Tropical Galaxy inside Mischa Cheap lures patrons by offering good times and great music. And just because it's on Khaosan Road, it doesn't mean it's a tourist trap: we've been there and rubbed shoulders with a healthy mix of expats and extra cool locals. Tropical Galaxy calls itself a "spiritual bar, " which is certainly true via its sonic trips. The club hosts a mish-mash of nights, from techno to drum 'n' bass to psytrance and everything in between—even if you don't know the names, you'll love the party. Sharing a space with Mischa Cheap, a party garden opened by indie party organizer Dudesweet that is known for themed nights that range from My Space bangers to Taylor Swift or David Bowie, they belong to a cluster of bars in Khaosan Road's backyard that transform into a raucous night out almost every night of the week (except Tuesdays). No need to even check the schedule, just go and impress your friends with a cutty find.