The city that was once notorious for its raunchy sex trade is now entertaining a burgeoning class of professionals hungry for thumping discos, trendy cocktail lounges, and swanky rooftop bars. There are also stricter rules that limit the sale of alcohol and most closing times now hover around 2 am (although nighthawks can probably find a club or two open until 5 or 6 am).
There are a few notable nightlife spots: the area off Sukhumvit Soi 55 (also called Soi Thonglor) is full of bars and nightclubs; Soi Sarasin, across from Lumphini Park, has lots of friendly pubs and cafés frequented by yuppie Thais and expats; and Narathiwat Road, which starts at Surawong, intersects Silom, then runs all the way to Rama III has trendy new bars and restaurants opening every month.
If you want to take a walk on the wild side, Bangkok still has three thriving red light districts: Patpong, Nana Plaza, and Soi Cowboy. Patpong is the largest, most touristy, and includes three streets that run between Surawong and Silom roads. Nana Plaza, at Soi 4, is packed with three floors of hostess bars and is considered the most hard-core in terms sex shows and shock value. Soi Cowboy, off Sukhumvit Road at Soi 21, is a less raunchy and an easier-going version of Patpong, though it's still a red light district and so be prepared.
Even though it may not seem like it, live sex shows are officially banned and prostitution is illegal. The government doesn't always turn a blind eye, so exercise caution and common sense.