Dance, Theater, and Music
Patravadi Theatre & Studio 9
“Best modern dance performances in Bangkok.”—Chawadee Nualkhair, entertainment writer, BK Magazine. Established by actress Patravadi Mejudhon, open-air theater and studio hosting live music and dance, known especially for fusion of Thai and Western styles. Tickets from $13. 69/1 Soi Wat Rakang, Th Arun Amarin; tel. 66 (0) 2412 7287. www.patravaditheatre.com
“This new company has a growing international reputation.”—Joel Quenby, entertainment writer, Bangkok 101 magazine. Thailand’s first Western opera, fusing Western styles with Thai stories, or Thai variations on classics such as Turandot. Founded and inspired by Thai author SP Somtow, who adapts some operas himself. Check for latest venue. Tickets from $16. 232/14-16 Moo Baan Ruamjit, Sukhumvit Soi 22; tel. 66 (0) 2663 3236. www.bangkokopera.com
Thai Puppet Theater
One of the few remaining Thai puppet troupes, using traditional hun lakorn lek puppets in humorous shows. Formerly known as the Joe Louis puppeteers. Tickets $29. Suan Lum Night Bazaar, 1875 Rama IV Road, Lumpini, Pathumwan; tel. 66 (0) 2252 9683. www.thaipuppet.com
Sala Rim Naam
“A rite of passage for visitors to Bangkok.”—Chawadee Nualkhair. Run by the Oriental Hotel across the river, this restaurant-cum-theater lets you watch khon, an ancient Thai tradition of masked dance, while eating Thai food around the circular stage. Tickets $70, including set menu. 48 Charoen Krung Soi 40; tel. 66 (0) 2437 6211. http://www.mandarinoriental.com/bangkok/dining/restaurants/sala_rim_naam/
“Thailand’s khatoey ('ladyboys') have mastered the art of transgender reassignment; it’s mind-boggling.”—Mason Florence, founder and publisher, Bangkok 101 magazine. Musical gender benders camp it up in a sea of feather boas and sequins. Good fun and family friendly. Call ahead to make sure they’re not touring. Tickets from $19. Washington Theatre, 496 Th Sukhumvit, near Soi 22; tel. 66 (0) 2259 5715.
Opened in 2008, this is Bangkok’s most modern and functional theater and hosts performances ranging from traditional Thai dance to opera via symphony and musicals. Siam Paragon Shopping Complex, Th Rama 1; 66 (0) 2690 1000. www.siamparagon.co.th
“The cheapest beers outside of a 7-Eleven; easy place to meet locals and fellow travelers.”—Stuart McDonald, founder of independent travel site www.travelfish.org. Hole-in-the-wall that’s been true to its name for decades. Look for the street-side bar covered in carvings and other bric-a-brac, and the mainly young crowd drinking in a small street off Soi 11. Sukhumvit Soi 11; tel. 66 (0) 870 968 444.
Moon Bar at Vertigo
“Classy and romantic; famous but pricey cocktail menu.”—Joel Quenby, entertainment writer, Bangkok 101 magazine. More than sixty stories up and open to the sky; panoramic views of Bangkok’s skyline, the Chao Phraya river, sunset (and sometimes smog) add to the romance. Closed if it’s raining. Banyan Tree Hotel, Th Sathon Tai; tel. 66 (0) 2679 1200. www.banyantree.com
“For the ultimate flamboyant Bangkok club experience; it’s an event.”—Chawadee Nualkhair, entertainment writer, BK Magazine. Like a vast, slightly squashed, futuristic white cylinder filled with smooth lines and beautiful people. Half club and half restaurant where diners eat on a long white bed. International DJs. Must bring a photo ID. 26 Sukhumvit Soi 11; tel. 66 (0) 2651 3537. www.bedsupperclub.com
One of several small, arty, and upbeat bars set in converted shophouses (ground-floor shops with upstairs residences) in this area. Peopled by in-the-know farangs (foreigners) and fashionable young Thais. Good music; small range of food. 58 Th Phra Arthit; tel. 66 (0) 2629 0318.
Saxaphone Pub & Restaurant
“Bangkok’s oldest jazz bar; always a good vibe.”—Joel Quenby. Bangkok’s best and most reliable live music venue. Not glamorous, but always busy with Thai and foreign musicians—either playing or listening. Informal atmosphere, interesting people, quality jazz and blues—the antithesis of a hotel bar. Good fun. 3/8 Th Phayathai; tel. 66 (0) 2246 5472. www.saxophonepub.com
“Artist Patti treats her café like her own home, so behave yourself and expect the unexpected.”—Mason Florence, founder and publisher, Bangkok 101 magazine. Fashionable but unpretentious bar for in-the-know locals and visitors. Jazz plays not-too-loud; good cocktails; interesting, subtly erotic artwork. 36/11-12 Soi Lang Suan, off Th Ploenchit; tel. 66 (0) 2252 6572. www.commerity.com/profile/CafeTrio
Chinese New Year
Late January or February. Bangkok’s Chinatown is home to dragon dances, firecrackers, and endless offerings of Chinese food. Most action is in Th Yaowarat and Th Charoen Krung. Tip: Think twice if you suffer from claustrophobia.
Bangkok Fringe Festival
Late January through early February. Performing arts festival featuring Thai and international artists in disciplines including dance, theater, puppetry, acrobatics, music, film, multi-media performance, and art exhibitions. Held each year at the Patravadi Theatre. http://www.sightseeingbangkok.com/bangkok_festival.html
April 8-15. Thai New Year celebrations during which, traditionally, people pour water on the hands of elder people to get their blessings. Today, young people arm themselves with high-velocity water guns, buckets, and hoses for the mother of all water fights. Tip: Prepare to get wet; pack phones and wallets in waterproof plastic containers, and anticipate that the clothes you wear will probably get ruined.
Bangkok International Film Festival
July, but check dates. Southeast Asia’s largest film festival shows scores of films, including a large number of Thai and regional productions. Tip: Book ahead. www.bangkokfilm.org
Loi Krathong Sai Festival
Full moon night of the 12th lunar month, usually November. Traditional Thai ceremony to wash away sins and bad luck by floating krathong, tiny boats made from banana leaves and incense, down rivers—in this case the Chao Phraya. Tip: When buying a krathong, avoid the environmentally unfriendly Styrofoam versions. www.bangkoktourist.com
Bangkok Pride Festival
Late October through early November. Week of parties, awards ceremonies, cabarets, and sporting contests to celebrate Bangkok’s large gay community. Usually begins with Pink in the Park in Lumphini Park.
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