While you can spend weeks in Thailand without ever seeing a prostitute there are some areas of the City of Angels that are designed with nothing more in mind than the sex tourist. There are also some other places that tend to draw Thai girls who are looking for involvement with a farang – Khao San Road immediately comes to mind. Today’s post will focus on the largest of the pay4play entertainment areas in Bangkok known as Nana Plaza.
Nana Entertainment Plaza (or NEP) began 25 years ago when several bars on Soi 14-Soi 16 were forced to close indefinitely because of construction on Sukhumvit Road. In mid 1982 the Rosemarys (1&2) , The Three Roses and The Rainbow Bar all moved into Nana Plaza which was formerly your normal run of the Thai strip mall and parking area. Since that time it has grown to almost 40 bars packed into the central court area.
For almost 2 decades now Nana has been the center of naughty nightlife in Bangkok. It does see some competition from Soi Cowboy area bars, but Nana Plaza is the top of the heap when it comes to A-Go-Go bars, with stages and shows throughout the complex. Nana is famous for it’s Go-Go bars where you can find scads of scantily clothes Thai girls gyrating on stage and around shiny poles, all meant to excite and titillate the variety of visitors that come just for that purpose. Nana is also famous for the katoey or ladyboy bars in the area. Many are the man who hasn’t understood the difference between the lovely katoeys in Nana Plaza and been handed a large surprise later.
The Plaza does seem to fluctuate in popularity from year to year with the expatriates and sexpatriates visiting Thailand. One year you can go there and find the area packed to capacity and another year will see NEP almost empty. 2007 was a slow year and 2008 looks to be the same with many of the bars reporting their take to be down 20-30% from normal. Some of this is due to the strength of the Thai baht which is affecting all areas of tourism in Thailand. Other reasons mentioned are the declining upkeep of the clubs, the rising price of the girls and the poor attitude of many of the staff and girls. Another hit is coming in the form of a smoking ban in all restaurants and bars in Thailand which is supposed to take effect February 11th, 2008. It will be interesting to see if this ban is actually enforced.
The first time visitor to Nana Plaza should be prepared for a surreal experience with the area looking like a neon lit circus midway in full swing and music pumping from the various bars surrounding the Plaza. Bible thumping missionaries, prostitutes, western sexpats, camera wielding Japanese tourists and curious tourist young and old fill the area making it a great place to sip a beer and watch the diversity of humanity in all its forms. No matter how far and wide you travel you are unlikely to see another place even remotely like it.
With dozens of bars, brightly flashing neon, hundreds of girls and all the sights, smells and sounds of Nana Plaza I have only scratched the surface of what Nana Plaza is. Go and see for yourself, you’ll be amazed and possibly shocked, but it will be different than any other experience of your life.