Forget Khao San Road or Soi Cowboy. Bangkok’s bar scene has so much more to offer than its infamous backpacker hub or seediest street. Thailand's capital is known for its nightlife and, in a city where novelty and appearances reign supreme, there’s always a new uber-cool spot to sip on carefully mixed drinks while soaking up the perfectly crafted atmosphere. Here’s our pick of some of the best bars, pubs and clubs in Bangkok.

Patrons of Moon Bar are drinking and socialising at dusk. The Bangkok skyline is visible
In Moon Bar travellers can sip a cocktail on the 61st floor © Alana Morgan / Lonely Planet

Moon Bar

Located at the Banyan Tree Bangkok, the 61st-storey Moon Bar was one of Bangkok’s first rooftop bars and still rises above the competition. After taking the elevator as high as it will go, climb a flight of stairs to reach the rooftop...and then ascend even higher to Moon Bar and the attached Vertigo restaurant. (If you’re not great with heights, this will definitely push you past your comfort zone.)

Once at the top, take in the 360-degree views as you nurse a horribly overpriced – but still totally worth it – beverage. Note that there’s a smart casual dress code; shorts, sleeveless shirts, sandals and flip flops are not allowed.
Opening hours: 5pm to 1am 

sala rattanakosin’s rooftop bar

For a rooftop bar with a different feel to the swanky Moon Bar – but boasting an equally memorable view – the Rooftop Bar at sala rattanakosin on the Chao Phraya River near the Grand Palace is a gem. Though only on the 4th storey of the minimal, boutique hotel, the sleek but laid-back bar arguably boasts Bangkok’s best view of Wat Arun on the west side of the river. The bar is at its best come dusk, with the sun slowly sinking behind the temple’s iconic chedi.
Opening hours: 4pm to midnight

A row of stools sit in front of empty bar at Iron Balls Distillery & Bar
Iron Balls Distillery & Bar is renowned for its friendly staff and delicious beers © Alana Morgan / Lonely Planet

Iron Balls Distillery & Bar

Don’t let the odd, strip mall-like location put you off – as soon as you step into Iron Balls Distillery & Bar you’ll be enveloped in quirky, Victorian steampunk surrounds. From the Bangkok bar legend that created Iron Fairies, Iron Balls offers a similar ambience without a minimum spend and an extra-friendly staff to boot. The bar's namesake gin is the order of the day here – whether served as part of a cocktail or in a simple G&T – and guests who know their spirits will likely find themselves embroiled in discussions with the resident distiller, or even be offered a nose around the attached distillery.
Opening hours: 6pm to 1am, Sun-Thurs; 6pm to 2am Fri-Sat 

River Vibe

Experiencing one of Bangkok’s rooftop bars doesn’t have to blow your budget. River Vibe at the River View Guesthouse located deep in Chinatown near Talat Noi offers an unexpected spot to enjoy an astounding view of the bending Chao Phraya River – with prices that’ll leave you pleasantly surprised too. Completely casual, the eighth storey bar is excellent for enjoying a beer and sunset on the cheap.
Opening hours: 5.30pm to 11pm 

A member of staff at Teens of Thailand prepares a drink
Teens of Thailand is very popular with fans of gin © Alana Morgan / Lonely Planet

Teens of Thailand

One of Bangkok’s many speakeasy-style bars, the edgy Teens of Thailand is situated on the trendy Soi Nana (not to be confused with Bangkok’s notorious Nana district) on the edge of Chinatown, and is a major hit with gin drinkers.

Duck through a carved wooden door to enter the tiny bar that only seats 15, where two bartenders mix the drinks in the back while the bare cement walls, sparse retro furniture and well-curated playlist set the scene. Here, it’s all about artisanal gin and tonics infused with local flavours like Thai tea, chrysanthemum, jackfruit or salted guava, all served in sizeable wine glasses with tons of ice to help beat the heat.
Opening hours: 7pm to midnight, Sun-Thurs; 7pm to 1am, Fri-Sat

Mikkeller Bangkok

Artisanal cocktails and bottles of Singha may be the drinks of choice in Bangkok, but beer lovers can also find an increasingly active craft beer scene. Tucked away on a residential soi (sidestreet) in Ekkamai, Mikkeller Bangkok, from the eponymous Danish brewer, is set in a retro-meets-modern house featuring more than 30 microbrews on tap, ranging from quaffable local offerings to some of Mikkeller’s crazy concoctions (a 13% oatmeal stout, for example). Drawing a primarily expat crowd, the insightful “beertenders” are happy to point you in the direction of the perfect pint. 
Opening hours: 5pm to midnight

A man playing a guitar-like instrument sits next to a woman who is singing, in Tep Bar
Tep Bar offers live music and a taste of Thai culture © Alana Morgan / Lonely Planet

Tep Bar

Another Soi Nana hotspot, Tep Bar bills itself as the “Cultural Bar of Thailand” where each drink, dish and decoration comes with a splash of local culture. A grid of white strings hang from the ceiling, a nod to a ritual practised during monk blessings, and cocktails are garnished with traditional Thai herbs and treats, like a cube of black grass jelly adorned with gold leaf.

But it’s not just the drinks and decor that has a local feel. Head to the bar after 8pm and you’ll be hit with a shower of sound as you walk in the door, with the resident band blasting out traditional Thai folk songs with a lively twist; creating a unique sound that is as intriguing as it is infectious. The band play until 11pm each night.
Opening hours: 6pm to 1am

More one-of-a-kind bars in Bangkok:

Maggie Choo’s – blends a Shanghai speakeasy setting with live jazz, blues and the city’s best drag show. It’s an experience. Opening hours: 7.30pm to 2am

Havana Social Club – for a taste of pre-revolution Havana behind an unmarked door. Find the phone booth on Sukhumvit Soi 11 and get the secret code from the doorman to enter. Opening hours: 6pm to 2am

Studio Lam – great for live mŏr lam (eastern Thai folk) music, retro vinyl vibes, bottles of beer and house cocktails featuring yah dorng (known as Thaiquila). Opening hours: Tuesday through Sunday 6pm to 2am

Libération – for next-level craft cocktails featuring unheard of combinations, like shiitake mushroom-infused tequila with creme de cassis, lime, tofu and fish bone foam. Opening hours: 7pm to 2am

Beam – for those wanting more of a nightclub scene, check out the current lineup of DJs and events at Beam. Opening hours: 9pm until late (often around 3am)

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