What makes a good bar? A guide to what you can expect in the Pattaya area?
What actually makes a good bar great and makes you wish to return? We all have our preferences and reasons but what really makes a few of these bars standout? Pattaya has an overabundance of bars in virtually every shape and form scattered throughout the city each plying for your custom and willing to relieve you of some of your hard-earned cash. The choice is vast from swanky roof tops, elite cocktail bars, entertainment venues, professional sports bars, neighbourhood bars, Gentlemen’s Clubs, live music venues, holes in the wall and Thailand’s omnipresent Beer Bars. What is your preference and what criteria should a bar provide to encourage your patronage?
Location: With a city the size of Pattaya, obviously location plays a large role, many will seek their ‘local’ generally located within a short staggering distance of home. However, Pattaya offers such an extensive range of areas each with their own distinctive features and character. From Naklua, to Beach Road, from Soi Buakhao to Walking Street, from the Darkside to Jomtien each region/area offers its own distinctive atmosphere and enjoyment. What are the main features/facilities that make a bar popular?
Ambience: What are you actually looking for in a bar? Good company, lovely ladies or just a quiet place to sit and watch the sport, chat with other locals or to watch the world go by? How loud should the music be? How comfortable the seating? Or just how quickly you get your cold beer. Some may like just to sit alone and peruse the day, some would prefer company with the recognised openings of ‘Where are you from? What is your name?’
Size & Decoration: Again, a great variety is available in Pattaya from modern, airconditioned gastro-pubs/sports bars to the rows of very basic beer bars many of which date back to the American R&R style that basically turned Pattaya from a sleepy fishing village to a major tourism hub. Many bars are well decorated, comfortably furnished with screens and smart restrooms whilst many of the beer bars are just a row if horseshoe bars located under one roof. Each has it’s hopeful name trying to entice you to enter, if that fails the cries of “Welcome” from the indeterminate aged ladies is often enough to scare one away.
Drink Offers: Whilst the choice of many is the ubiquitous small bottle of beer that stands as company for many drinkers enveloped in it’s insulated ‘Condom’, the choice of drinks in most of the established bars is vast, from excellent draught beers, good wines, exciting cocktails and spirits from every corner of the world.
A small bottle of beer in Thailand is 320 ml and a large bottle 640 ml, alcohol content ranges from 5 to 6.4% alcohol. Light beers have 97-123 calories and full strength from 130-165 calories per 320 ml and the cost of a small beer in a supermarket is THB.39. In simple establishments in Jomtien the going rate is around THB.50, cross Pratumnak Hill and the prices start to rise to THB.80 to THB.100, though in some establishment this rises to THB.150. Naturally there are many Happy Hour deals around and many bars also offer specials on certain days of the week. It does depend very much on your budget where you drink.
Music: I am not a prude but as one advances in years sometimes with word “music’ becomes questionable! Some establishments appear to consider that a tinny concoction of repetitive, metallic sound at high volume through a poor sound system is synonymous with having a great time! Some may like this and good luck, but I personally steer away. Most of the better bars in the Pattaya have both a professional sound system and an understanding of the phycological aspect of music making customers feel content and most importantly consume. Some establishments even change their music at different stages of the day/night to encourage consumption. Pattaya is also blessed with a vast array of live music, some excellent and some rather poor. Exploration will find some excellent bands playing popular tunes often in combination with Thai or Isaan music.
Company: One does not need to stand alone in Pattaya! Many bars, particularly sports bars are regular haunts for the expat community that lives here. These are regular, convivial bars where one can easily strike up a conversation with your neighbour at the bar. A few Western managed establishments are also keen to introduce people to each other and many evenings can be pleasantly spent. Probably more that 70% of the bars in Pattaya have the added facility of female company or gay or even hybrid! Many visitors enjoy this attention, after all in their own countries how often are they approached by attractive, young ladies! Sorry to burst your egoistic bubble but naturally this attention is commercially founded. In beer bars the ladies earn a commission from every drink that they serve you, your kind offer to buy them a drink is also much appreciated. Sometimes these are regular drinks but these can also be Lady Drinks. Thailand has a great system of bills being added to a small pot on your table, you can always check the costs by looking at the slips. Generally, the rule is the better the bar and the more attractive the company, the higher the prices.
Facilities: The quality of the bar generally indicates it’s standard. Most of the open beer bars sport a pool table though many are of a questionable vintage. Most of the Sports Bars offer high quality table, some of which are a joy to play. The more established bars offer some excellent food where the cheaper street bars can order food in for you. Especially in these enlightened days of the Covid-19 virus the quality of washrooms takes on a much higher priority. Many of the cheaper bars share a public toilet so you pay to consume the beer and you also have the pleasure of paying to dispose of it. Generally, sanitation in Thailand is not of the highest level, but you will note that some bars really go out of their way to provide hygienically clean facilities for their clients.
Basically you can find whatever you are looking for in Pattaya and in future reports we will be looking closer at some selected establishments. Watch this space!
Kim Waddoup enjoyed a lifetime in the tourism business and is an active ‘Silver-Ager” living in Thailand. He writes for his age group with high varied articles covering subjects relevant to retirees living in, or visiting Thailand.
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