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Going out in Bangkok

Performing Arts

Top-name rock acts, cultural dances and museum exhibitions are the highlights of this city's cultural roster. Posters are plastered all around town on fences and walls when a big pop act comes to town. 

Concert Halls

The National Theater features plays, music and dance, as well as half-a-dozen performances yearly by the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra. Special exhibition shows of Thai classical dancing and music are held on the last Friday and Saturday of each month Please contact the theatre for details.Rachinee Road, Phra Nakom, phone 221-0171.

The Thailand Cultural Center occasionally hosts traditional and nontraditional Thai and Western dance, music and variety shows and, occasionally, the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra. Far up on the east side of Ratchadapisek Road, north of Din Daeng intersection, just past the Bangkok Metropolitan Transit Authority. Phone 247-0013 or 247-0028.

The National Stadium hosts sporting events and such superstar performers as Michael Jackson. In the city center, Rama I Road, phone 251-4109.  

Dance/drama

The traditional dance-drama you're most likely to see is khon, which is performed at the standard "dinner-and-dance" package tours taking place in perhaps a dozen restaurants each night. The silent dancers wear masks and heavy, ornate costumes. Movements are extremely stylized and intended to convey precise events and action. A chorus chants the story to the accompaniment of classical musicians. The story is always an episode from the Indian epic, the Ramayana (in Thai, Ramakien).
Although the audiences will be primarily tourists, the performances are assuredly authentic. The dancers have trained for many years.
Performances of khon are presented several times a month at the National Theater and occasionally at the Thai Cultural Center. They're well worth seeing, even when (as at the National Theater) the dancers are still students.

A form of dancing derived from the khon is lakhon, which features dancers with masks and has no chorus. Besides dramatizing episodes from the Ramayana, lakhon may also dramatize episodes from the life of Buddha or from Thai folk tales. Lakhon is what you see performed at the Erawan Shrine and Lak Muang (the City Pillar).

Here are some restaurants offering a Thai dinner followed by a khon performance. 
Hotels and travel agencies selling dinner-and-dance tickets will funnel you into one of these shows, and will also include transportation:

Baan Thai, 7 Sukhumvit Rd., Soi 32, phone 259-5403
Maneeya's Lotus Room, Ploenchit Road, phone 252-6312.
Chao Pharaya Restaurant, Arun Amarin Road, phone 424-2389.
Ruen Thep, Silom Village Trade Center, Silom Road, phone 233-9447.
Sala Thai, Indra Regent Hotel, phone 251-1111.
Sala Rim Naam, Oriental Hotel, phone 437-6221.  

Symphony

When the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra performs, the National Theater is filled to capacity. A ticket for one of their performances will run you between 250 baht and 2,500 baht. Phone 221-0171.   

Nightlive

Still known as "Sin City," Bangkok is a gritty source, unfortunately, for commercial and exploitative sex. Patpong I and II are two infamous streets running parallel to each other between Silom Road and Surawongse Road. In the Patpong area and in the establishments on Soi Cowboy and at the Nana Plaza (at Soi 4 and Washington Square), there's plenty to see for the curious, but extreme caution is advised if you frequent the bars. AIDS is rampant (more than 800,000 Thais are infected); consorting with strangers is not only hazardous to your health but also an invitation to theft of your wallet.

You'll find trendy Thais eating, drinking and resonating to music off upper Silom Road (around Silom Soi 2 and Soi 4) -- the hub of a very trendy area. Just north of Lumpini Park, Soi Sarasin and Soi Lang Suan echo with the sounds of blues and jazz and soft rock every night of the week, drawing 30-something professionals. Soi Thonglor (Sukhumvit Soi 55) is similar, but with a higher standard of cuisine. Royal City Avenue (RCA) is a phenomenal concentration of theme bars, discos, clubs, outdoor cafes, art galleries, pop music, hip-hop and techno -- not to mention an authentic Sardinian restaurant. Far-flung Rachadapisek Road appears to be turning into a Las Vegaslike strip. The Bamboo Bar, in the Oriental Hotel, is one of the finest jazz venues outside of Chicago or New Orleans. If you want to catch music and jokes that appeal to most Thais (i.e., ordinary, country-bred types), persuade a Thai friend to bring you to some of the live middle-of-the-road lam and luuk thung clubs, such as those along New Petchburi Road: The mood and lyrics recall U.S.-style country music.  

Cabarets

Calypso Cabaret is a campy, Las Vegas-style revue featuring dance, song and burlesque performed by a "slew of lovely ladies" (actually, they're men). This might not be everyone's cup of tea, but the show has a touch of class. Reservations suggested. Nightly 8:30 pm and 9:45 pm. 300 baht, including one drink. Full bar. All credit cards. Asia Hotel, 296 Phyathai Road, phone 261-6355. 

Live music

Spasso's, on the lobby level of the Grand Hyatt Erawan, offers lively rock bands in an elegant setting. Not a great place for conversation, but you can communicate on the dance floor. Booze flows; so does your cash. Italian cuisine in the restaurant. 10 pm-2 am nightly. Credit cards, no cover. 494 Ratchadamri Rd., phone 254-1234.

The Bamboo Bar entertainment invariably consists of an accomplished female jazz singer from the U.S. and an accompanying pianist. Very civilized atmosphere. Music starts at 10 pm. Pricey drinks. Dress up; this is one of Bangkok's most luxurious clubs. Credit cards, no cover, one-drink minimum. The Oriental Hotel, Oriental Lane, phone 236-0400.

Hard Rock Cafe hosts the best Top 40, soul, rock and reggae cover bands in Bangkok. It's popular with Thais and foreigners alike. Credit cards, no cover. Food, booze and beer. Nightly music 8:30 pm-1 am. Siam Square, 965 Rama I Rd., phone 251-0792.

Raintree looks like a hunting lodge, with stuffed skins and stag heads. But the musicians play an infectious brand of socially critical folk rock -- "songs for life" (pleng pleua cheewit). Nightly 6 pm-2 am. No credit cards. 116/64 Rangnam, off Phyathai Road (south of the Victory Monument), phone 245-7230.

Saxophone Pub and Restaurant is an old favorite of expats and Thais alike. The purely jazz format has been relaxed to allow some blues and rock to sneak in. Casual atmosphere. Credit cards. 3/3 Victory Monument (southeast side of circle), Phyathai Road, phone 246-5472.

Witch's Tavern is a lounge bar with very comfortable seating, good food and polished jazz, plus a bit of pop music. Visiting musicians are invited to join jam sessions on Sunday afternoons. Open daily 11 am-2 pm and 5 pm-1 am. Credit Cards. 306/1 Sukhumvit, Soi 55 (Soi Thonglor), phone 391-9791. (This neighborhood hosts many good small restaurants, music bars and two art galleries.)  

Nightclubs and Dancing

CM2, a play on the name Siam Square, is a multithemed spot with different "entertainment zones." Nightly 7 pm-2 am. Credit cards. Novotel Siam, Siam Square, Soi 6, phone 255-6888, ext. 2549.

DJ Station attracts the trendier gay set. It's packed on weekends. The 200-baht cover includes two drinks. 8/6-8 Silom, Soi 2, phone 266-4029.

Phoebus Amphitheater Complex. Described as looking like Moonbase Alpha, this club boasts the most up-to-date lighting, laser and sound technology in the world. Rock music, always packed. Nightly 9 pm-2 am. Rachadapisek Road, phone 245-5545.

Phuture is new, very trendy, high-tech and not cheap. Part dance club, part theater. Even Aqua has performed on the premises. Late in the evening, deejays take over with house and techno. Frequented by TV stars and the children of "influential people." Nightly 9 pm-3 am. 500 baht cover charge, includes two drinks. Visa. 91/9 Ratchadapisek Rd., phone 693-8022.

The Rome Club is an institution -- going on 25 years now -- but with one of the best sound systems and deejays that make sure everyone keeps dancing. Gay and straight crowd. Drag show at midnight. Nightly 7 pm-3 am. Credit cards. 90-96 Silom, Soi 4, phone 233-8836.

Taurus is another rare survivor, a perennial favorite of models, TV stars and children of the idle rich. Quality live Thai bands in one part, club with chart and house music in another. Sushi restaurant and video arcade as well. Nightly 6 pm-2 am. 500 baht cover fee, includes two drinks. Credit cards. Sukhumvit, Soi 26, next to Four Wings Hotel, phone 261-3991.  

Taverns and Pubs

Bobby's Arms is a British-style pub, perhaps the only one in Patpong where women will be halfway comfortable. Serves food, spirits and beer. Dixieland on Sunday afternoons. Daily 11 am-1 am. Credit cards. 2 Soi Patpong, phone 233-6828.

In the popular Sarasin area, Old West Saloon puts on the face of the frontier, with Thais interpreting country-western music. Clientele is white-collar Thai and foreign residents. Serves food, spirits and beer. Nightly 6 pm-1 am, music starts at 8 pm. Credit cards. 231/17 Soi Sarisan, phone 252-9510.

Wine Wild Why? is a very Thai bar with a Thai clientele, despite the easy-listening and pop jazz background music. It's convenient if you've been scouting Chatuchak Park's weekend market. This road is just south, and it's full of other quirky bars and friendly drinkers. Close also to Central Plaza Hotel. Nightly 5 pm-2 am. No credit cards. 421 Kamphaengphet Rd., phone 272-4783.

El Gordo's Cantina, striving for a Tex-Mex ambience, is an odd place to go on a Thai vacation, but you'll feel comfortable bringing your children. Live Tex-Mex, Cajun and bluegrass with dobros, kazoos and other funny instruments. Touristy. Daily 11 am-1 am. Credit cards. 130/8 Silom Rd., Soi 8, phone 237-1415.  

Recreation

Though early mornings are pleasant, Bangkok's steamy climate is a deterrent to those who enjoy watching and participating in sports. Some of the major hotels offer air-conditioned sports and fitness facilities, but the sport that's increasing in popularity is one that is necessarily played out of doors: golf. More than 20 courses are within close reach of the city.

Thai boxing (which allows kicking) is the country's most famous sport. Matches are held every night. At Lumpini Stadium, east of Lumpini Park on Rama IV Road, matches are on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday.  

Restaurants

Aside from those countless ramshackle food stalls selling spicy treats around the clock, Bangkok is full of restaurants offering the best cuisine from every region on the map. You're apt to find restaurants offering Indonesian rijstaffel, Indian malai kofta, Hungarian goulash, Mexican flan and even Wiener schnitzel served in a biergarten.

Diversity aside, however, you'll miss the boat to this culinary port if you don't taste the local specialties. Most people agree that eating Thai food is one of the more sensual dining experiences. Be sure to try the sweet gaeng kiew wan (green curry) or tom yam kung (a sour and spicy soup with prawns), local favorites. Those with mild palates beware of anything described by the term preek (it means it'll be fiery hot). Generally, any Thai food is going to seem hot by Western standards, so be sure to tell the chef you want it mai pet if you prefer a gentler experience!

Expect to pay within these general guidelines, based on the cost of a dinner for one and not including drinks, tax or tip:  = less than 250 baht;  = 250baht-500 baht;  = 500baht-1,250 baht; and  = more than 1,250 baht.

Best in town

Sala Rim Naam - Probably the best Thai restaurant in the whole country. Owned by the Oriental Hotel, this exquisitely furnished traditional Thai pavilion sits across the river from it. Diners arrive by private boat. The dinner show starts at 8:30 pm and features traditional dance and theater. Daily 1-2 pm and 7-11 pm. Reservations suggested. . Major credit cards. 48 Oriental Ave., phone 236-0400.

Baan Khanitha - A quaint, old house with gardens in a quiet location. Royal (refined) Thai cuisine and regional dishes, including green curry with coconut tips. Daily 11:30 am-2 pm and 6:30-11 pm. Reservations recommended for dinner Saturday and Sunday. . Major credit cards. On the east side of Bangkok, Sukhumvit Road, Soi 23, phone 258-4181.  

Hot and trendy

Harmonique - This is like dining in someone's antique-strewn home. Very popular for excellent Thai cuisine, eaten indoors or in the courtyard. Sample some of the "dishes from the past" and the homemade ice cream. Reservations advised. Open daily 10 am-10 pm. Reservations advised.
. 22 Charoen Krung Rd., Soi 39 (near the GPO), phone 237-8175.

Spasso - Known for its Italian food. However, better known because it's the hip destination of the more agile members of the hi-so (from English "high society") who come here to be seen on the dance floor. U.S. bands can be relied upon for danceable, middle-of-the-road rock. Dress conservatively. Nightly 6 pm-2 am. . Credit cards. Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel, 494 Ratchadamri Rd., phone 254-1234.  

Local favorites

Baan Thai - A great place for the first-time visitor. Beautiful gardens outside a Thai-style house including a pond with monster catfish and carp. Inside, tables are sunk into the floor, the floor becomes your seat, and your feet drop into a comfortable space underneath. A Thai menu is served piping hot, and there's a floor show of Thai music and dancing on two stages. Beautiful traditional costumes illuminate these traditional, dramatic pieces. Daily 7:30-10 pm. Show starts at 9 pm. Reserve to secure the best seats. Most major credit cards. Set back in Soi 32 next to the Rex Hotel on Sukhumvit, phone 258-5403.

Cabbages and Condoms - Great Thai food and a friendly atmosphere, despite the gimmicky decor and clientele that's exclusively tourists. It's run by the Population and Community Development Association, whose chief is known internationally for his innovative contraceptive and AIDS campaigns. The restaurant is decorated with condoms from all over the world. Dine inside or outdoors in a lovely garden. All profits go to population control and AIDS research. Reservations recommended in the evening. Daily 11 am-10 pm.. Visa. Soi 12, off Sukhumvit, phone 252-7349.

Khing Khao - Here's a chance to try Chiang Mai and Lanna cuisine, if you're not heading up north from the city. Heavy on the pork sausage. Tuesday-Sunday 11:30 am-10:30 pm. No credit cards. Sukhumvit Soi 22, immediately off Sukhumvit Road. Phone 259-5623.

Na Phra Lan - The perfect place to reward yourself after a morning doing the Royal Palace and environs. It's an art cafe. The art on the walls and the artsy clientele come from nearby Silpakorn University. Basic, nicely presented Thai food. Monday-Saturday 10 am-10 pm.  No credit cards. 18 Na Phra Lan Rd., phone 221-2312.

The Spice Market - In the Regent Hotel, informal, with a setting that looks like an old market scene. Renowned chefs serve up traditional Thai and regional fare. Daily 11:30 am-2:30 pm and 6:30-11 pm. Most major credit cards. 155 Ratchadamri Rd., phone 251-6127.

Whole Earth - Terrific Thai vegetarian fare with an Indian influence. There are a few meat and seafood entrees as well. Two locals: The smaller, cozier one is at 93/3 Soi Lan Suan, off Ploenchit Road, phone 252-5574. It's a stroll to a half-dozen live music bars. Much larger and more secluded is the branch at 71 Sukhumvit Soi 26, phone 258-4900. If you've got children, choose this one: Since every item is cooked to order, the wait can be long, but the kids can play out in the garden. At both restaurants, you can sit on floor cushions, as in the old days (but it's not required). Both of these fall into the   range. Credit cards: MasterCard and Visa.  

Italian/French

L'Opera - Good Italian food in an unpretentious setting. Fresh seafood and produce, good wine selection and reasonable prices. A bit out of the way on the eastern edge of town, but worth the trip. Daily 11 am-2 pm and 6-11 pm.  Most major credit cards. 53 Sukhumvit, Soi 39, phone 258-5606.

Le Banyan - Bangkok's premier French restaurant offers both traditional and nouvelle cuisine in a lovely, colonial-style house with gardens. The wine list is astounding (and so are the prices). Dress up. Monday-Friday 11:30 am-2 pm and 6:30-11 pm, Saturday and Sunday 6:30-11 pm. Reservations suggested. Most major credit cards. 59 Sukhumvit, Soi 8, phone 253-5556.

Stanley's French Restaurant - Near the center of town and the Imperial Hotel, Stanley's offers fine European dining. Eat on the terrace or inside in the air-conditioning. Lots of local movers and schmoozers at Sunday brunch. Tuesday-Sunday 11:30 am-2:30 pm and 6-10:30 pm.  Most major credit cards. 20/20-21 Soi Ruamrudee, Ploenchit Road, phone 250-1613.

Terrazzo - In the Sukhothai Hotel, in the southern part of the city, this is one of the finest Italian restaurants in Thailand. Supremely elegant, with wonderful service and homemade pastas. Extensive wine list. Dress up. Daily noon-2 pm and 6:30-11 pm. Most major credit cards. 13/3 Sathorn Tai Rd., phone 287-0222.  

Other Asian

Mayflower Restaurant - At the Dusit Thani Hotel, the Mayflower serves highly praised Cantonese specialties in a fine colonial-style room decorated with Chinese antiques. Roast suckling pig is a house specialty. Vegetarian dishes are excellent. Dress code. Daily 11:30 am-2 pm and 6-10 pm. Reservations suggested.  Most major credit cards. 946 Rama IV Rd., phone 236-0450.

Tan Dinh - New, but very ambitious. It's associated with the Vietnamese restaurant of the same name in Paris. Small but very rich menu that includes frog, goose and duck. Extensive, pricey wine list. Elegant decor. Daily 11 am-2:30 pm, 6-11 pm.   Credit cards. Ruamrudee Village, 20/6-7 Soi Ruamrudee (off Ploenchit Road), phone 650-8986.

Bukhara - Excellent Northern Indian dishes in a rustic setting with views of the Chao Phraya River. Tandoori specialties and live Indian music nightly except Mondays, 7-8:30 pm. You could live for a week in India for the price of a dinner here, but your meal is well worth every penny. Daily noon-2:30 pm and 7-11 pm. Reservations requested for dinner.  Most major credit cards. Royal Orchid Sheraton, 2 Captain Bush Lane, phone 266-0022 or 266-0123.

Shin Daikoku- Every hotel has its obligatory Japanese restaurant; this is one of the best outside the hotel set. Shin Daikoku's renowned chef serves sashimi, sushi and teppanyaki-style dishes. Lots of private rooms. Daily 11 am-2:30 pm and 6-10:30 pm. $$$. Most major credit cards. On the eastern edge of the city, past the Ambassador Hotel, at 32/8 Sukhumvit, Soi 19, phone 259-9980.  

Additional dining experiences

The Ayutthaya Princess - One of the dining highlights in Bangkok. Built to resemble a royal barge, this floating restaurant provides dinner cruises with traditional Thai culture shows. The food is great, and despite the large size of the boat (seats 170 persons), the service reflects the high standards of the boat's owner, the Shangri-La Hotel. Daily cruises depart at 7 pm, return at 9:30 pm. Dressy.  Most major credit cards. 89 Wat Suan Phlu, Charoen Krung Road, phone 236-7777.

Wit's Oyster Bar & Restaurant - The only oyster bar and restaurant in town. Typical British cooking with the freshest ingredients. Besides oysters, expect steak and kidney pie, Stilton soup, spotted dick and fish and chips. Excellent collection of spirits. Open 11:30 am-10:30 pm. Most major credit cards. 20/10-11 Soi Rumrudee, Ploenchit Road, phone 252-1820.

Bourbon Street- Fun and boisterous, this restaurant serves Creole and Cajun dishes, Mexican food and home-style fare. Specialties include gumbo, jambalaya, tacos, chili and barbecued ribs and chicken. You can wear your grubby jeans, since it's in a frankly grubby karaoke-massage area. Daily 7 am-1 am. Most major credit cards. Washington Square, Sukhumvit, Soi 22, phone 259-0328.

Cafe at the Park - Thai and other cuisines served in a glass-enclosed corner of the Century Park Hotel. You feel like you're eating in an air-conditioned park. Try the lunch or dinner buffet. On Friday and Saturday nights, a large, fresh seafood selection is added. Open 24 hours. Most major credit cards. Rajaprarop Road, phone 246-7800.

Seafood Market- You enter this restaurant through an active fish market and select your entree from dozens of large fish tanks. Next, you enter a small market area where a clerk helps you select salads and vegetables. Now, choose a bottle from the wine rack. Give instructions on how everything should be cooked to the cashier. Then sit at your table under the stars and wait for your meal to arrive. If you can't bear to look your dinner in the eye while it's still swimming, go straight to a table and order from a standard menu. 89 Soi Sukhumvit 24 (Kasem), Klongtoey, phone 661-1252 or 661-1253, fax 261-2073.

Panthong Seafood Restaurant - Specializing in Thai food and seafood, this is another restaurant where you select your dinner as it swims in front of you. Thai dance and cultural shows are performed as you eat. Select an indoor table or one in their lovely outdoor garden.133 Pan Rd. near Silom, phone 234-6687.  

Late night dining/breakfast

You can always get something to eat late at night at the Ambassador Hotel (Soi 11). The sidewalk restaurants that spring up every night but Wednesdays often run until 4 or 5 am. (Thai customers will insist you join their party.) Probably every luxury hotel and nearly every economy hotel runs a 24-hour coffee shop.

For a bit more class, try the Greenhouse Restaurant (open 24 hours) at the Landmark Hotel, 138 Sukhumvit, phone 254-0404, ext. 4105. The Narai Hotel boasts an excellent restaurant that's also open 24 hours. 222 Silom Rd., phone 237-0100.

Old Dutch Cafe - A real breakfast treat for late risers and one of the best values in Bangkok. A gut-stuffing breakfast for 85 baht consists of three eggs, bacon, cheese, ham, turkey, sausage, french fries, rolls, orange juice and all the Dutch coffee you can drink. At night, try their famous cheese fondue with wine. Cozy and rustic, even though the remainder of this soi is dedicated to sex tourists. Open 10 am till late. 9/3-4 Sukhumvit, Soi 23 (just outside Soi Cowboy), phone 258-9234.  

Internet cafes

In the past few years, cybercafes proliferated in Bangkok, but since 1997 they've also been folding at a rapid clip. You can find a somewhat accurate listing of internet cafes in Thailand at http://www.thailine.com. Listed below are a few that look is if they may hang on.

If you just want to retrieve or send e-mail, try the price-competitive venues on Kaosan Road, haunt of the budget tourist. Rates start at about 3 baht per minute, or 150 baht per hour. (Elsewhere, expect to pay double.) If you need advice, there's only one option, however: Cyberia.

Cyberia - Fairly busy hangout. Fresh coffee, beer, wine. Free e-mail accounts. Open daily 10:30 am-11 pm. 654/8 Sukhumvit Rd. (corner of Soi 24), phone 259-3556 or 259-3557, e-mail kulthep@cyberia.co.th.

The Cafe - Tiny, but smart and elegant. Modem plug-ins for laptops. Terrific range of coffees and teas. Surawong Road near Soi Thaniya, e-mail royidii@rms.ksc.co.th.

Golf

For a map of all the golf courses, including telephone numbers, contact Al Eberhardt, Letter-Ads, 25/2 Sukhumvit 31, phone 258-4654, fax 259-4854. Map can be delivered to your hotel.

The Royal Dusit Golf Course is the most convenient course to the city. Championship 18-hole course, par 66. Daily 6 am-6 pm. Fees: Monday-Friday 320 baht, Saturday and Sunday 530 baht. Phitsanuloke Road, phone 281-4320.

The Krungthep Kritha Golf Course, 15 mi/24 km east of the city center, offers an 18-hole or nine-hole course. Daily 5 am-5 pm. Fees: Monday-Friday 300 baht, Saturday and Sunday 500 baht. 516 Krungthep Kritha Rd., Hua Mark, phone 374-6063 or 374-0491.

Unico Golf Course, 15 mi/24 km east of the city, near Krungthep Kritha Golf Course, is a championship 18-hole course, par-72. Daily 5:30 am-4 pm. Fees: Monday-Friday 535 baht, Saturday and Sunday 1070 baht. 47 Mu 7 Krungthep Kritha, Prawet, Phra Khanong, phone 377-9038.  

Health clubs

The Hilton Hotel, in the city center, has an extensive recreation center with tennis courts, squash courts, gym (featuring weight machines, free weights, treadmills and stationary cycles), large swimming pool and restaurant. Daily 7 am-10 pm. 300 baht for nonguests. 2 Witthayu Rd., phone 253-0123.

World Club is the best of the private clubs, with a giant gym, free weights, cycles, treadmills and aerobics classes. No pool. Near the Grand Hyatt in the center of town. Daily 8 am-8 pm. 350 baht. 97-121 Bangkok Bazaar Center, Ratchadamri Road, phone 251-7647.

The YMCA, on the south side of the city, has a pool, a badminton court and an outdoor gym with free weights. Daily 7 am-9 pm. 75 baht per day. 27 S. Sathorn Rd., phone 287-2727.

Colony Saun is a predominantly gay health club with swimming pool, steam room, sauna, gym (free weights, treadmills, cycles and weight machines) and a restaurant. Daily 3 pm-midnight. 200 baht. 117 Soi Charoensuk, Sukhumvit Soi 55, phone 391-4393.  

Massage

Massage is a Thai tradition for both men and women, taken for granted as one of life's simple joys. Traditional massage is an ancient and honorable profession that's a bit more bone bending than Westerners often expect. Once you have enjoyed (survived) a traditional Thai massage, you'll be completely relaxed. Thai massage should cost approximately 150 baht per hour and can be found in many traditional massage parlors. One is Buathip Thai Massage, 4/13 Soi 5, Sukhumvit Road, phone 255-1045.

The well-regarded Bodie Care, near the north end of Surawong Road, offers a two-hour massage. Daily 10 am-midnight. 38/8 Surawong Rd., phone 233-4144. Close by, across from Thaniya Plaza, is Eve House, which serves only women. 150 baht per hour. Daily 7 am-9 pm. 18/1 Suawong Rd., phone 266-3846.

Massage is taught as well as given at the Wat Po, Bangkok's oldest temple. A 30-hour course in the traditional southern style is taught for 4,500 baht (in addition to the daily entrance fee). A half-hour massage costs 100 baht. Thye Wang and Sanam Chai Road, phone 221-2974.

Many hotels also have legitimate massage services; ask at yours.  

Swimming/tennis

Sathip Swimming Pool, on the eastern edge of the city, offers a lap pool, as well as tennis and badminton courts. Daily 8 am-midnight. 250-baht membership fee, 40 baht per visit. 140 Sukhumvit, Soi 56, off Sukhumvit Road, phone 331-2037.

Queen Sirikit Park (also known as Benjasiri Park) boasts a large, relatively new, outdoor public pool near the rear of the park. Enter on Sukhumvit Road, between Soi 22 and Soi 24. Get here midday when school is in session and you can swim laps. Daily 10 am-8 pm. Membership costs 40 baht per year, plus 15 baht per visit. Children not yet age 16 enter free. No phone.  

Boating

Rowboats and paddleboats can be rented at both Lumpini Park and Chatuchak Park for 40 baht an hour.  

Jogging

Lumpini Park, Chatuchak Park and Sanam Luang are popular with joggers in the early morning and early evenings.

Hash House Harriers is the ever-popular running club. Bangkok H3 is known affectionately as the drinking club with a running problem. Contact Randall Burke on his mobile phone, 01-406-8896, or try Todd Wilkie (phone 865-7137) or Frank Allum (phone 01-925-4344). This predominantly expatriate group organizes fun runs several times a week. Ask also about monthly mountainbike rides outside of Bangkok.  

Spectator sports

For current information on sports events in Bangkok, check the sports sections of The Bangkok Post and The Nation, or call the Sports Promotion Organization of Thailand, phone 377-6423.

The following clubs sponsor horse races every other Sunday: The Royal Bangkok Sports Club, 1 Henri Dunant Rd., phone 251-0181; and The Royal Turf Club of Thailand, 183 Phitsanuloke Rd., phone 280-0020. Races begin at 12:30 pm and admission is 50 baht-100 baht.

Lumpini Stadium, near Lumpini Park, hosts Thai kickboxing matches every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday at 6 pm. 100 baht. Rama IV Road, phone 252-8765.

The National Stadium, in the city center, offers a range of spectator sports, including soccer matches. Rama I Road, phone 214-0200.

Ratchadamnoen Boxing Stadium is another site for Thai kickboxing. 1 Ratchadamnoen Rd., phone 281-4205. Bouts on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday.

Entertainment Guides

The most useful source, even at 100 baht per issue, is the monthly magazine Bangkok Metro, available at your hotel (and perhaps free for guests), as well as at the bookstores named above. In the listings at the back are objective, capsule reviews of restaurants, bars, clubs and music venues. You'll also be able to find out what's showing at art galleries and who's on at live music venues.

For information on sights, entertainment, restaurants, tours, hotels and timely events in and around the city, consult the entertainment and sports sections in The Bangkok Post and The Nation.

 
 
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