Bangkok is famous for its romantic dinner cruises on the Chao Phraya River against a backdrop of Thai temples. These cruises are usually accompanied by fascinating Thai musical and dance performances along with Thai or international buffet. Other boats have live bands instead of cultural performers.
Traditional Thai dances are performed in many restaurants and first-class hotels. These performances are often rolled into a package that includes a set menu of Thai food. The elaborate and beautiful costumes and the graceful movements of the dancers are always a big draw among visitors to the country. To see a full-blown and more sophisticated Thai cultural show, visit a larger cultural center such as the National Theater (02-224-1342) or the Thailand Cultural Center (02-247-0028) on Ratchadapisek Road.
During the last few years, Bangkok has emerged as the concert capital of Southeast Asia, with a string of international music artists performing here all year round. The popular venues for such concerts are the Impact Arena (02-504-5050) in Muang Thong Thani, the BEC-Tero Hall (02-262-3800) at the Suan Lum Night Bazaar and the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center (02-229-3000).
Some of the world's best jazz musicians perform at places like the Oriental's legendary Bamboo Bar, or the Conrad's Diplomat Bar. Hotel bars offer a classy and elegant setting, but are for that reason a little more pricy. Great tunes can also be found at the Saxophone Pub, popular among local expatriates, while Brown Sugar offers a slightly more stylish outset.
Clubs and bars
Bangkok has a reputation for wild and rowdy nightlife. The truth is the city's nightlife goes way beyond the over-worn naughty image from the Vietnam days. Fun would be a better description for it. Bangkok’s nightlife is relaxed, safe and varied. Most bars have no dress codes and drinks are reasonably priced.
A few places in the city offer Western-style disco dancing. They have a band or a DJ playing dance music. The dance floor usually has tables grouped around it. The public consists of middle and higher class Thai, mixed with resident foreigners. The entrance fee is steep (although sometimes free), the drinks are quite expensive and food is not always available. Dress up for this one.
Thai boxing, or Muay Thai, is one of Thailand's most popular sports firmly rooted in the history and culture of the country. This fact is obvious in the traditional pageantry, which begins well before a match and actually continues all the way until the decision is rendered. This pageantry, in addition to the aggressive nature of the sport itself, makes a Thai boxing match an extravagantly colorful and exciting event. Matches are held regularly at the Lumpinee Boxing Stadium (02-253-7940) Rajadamnoen Stadium.
Another entertaining element to Bangkok’s colorful nightlife is the cabaret show, a spectacular Broadway-type performance by Thai transvestites, complete with dazzling props and stunning costumes. Calypso Cabaret is the city’s leading cabaret venue, with daily performances at 8:15 p.m. and 9:45 p.m.
Bangkok is internationally famous for its massage parlors. Traditional Thai massage can be found all over town, in hotels, at spas and stand-alone salons. Thai massage is recognized for its health benefits and relaxing effects, both on the body and on the mind. Thai massage, foot massage and oil massage are the most popular courses. A one-hour Thai massage can cost as little as Bt150