by Amir Hafizi

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Thailand is just great, fantastic fun. I didn’t spend five years in Thailand, but I did spend most of my vacation time in Thailand for five years. What I discovered was a wealth of beauty, fun and excitement. I really do love Thailand, believe it is the source of all power, and I’m sharing all of it with you right here, right now.

Here are some of my best discoveries in Bangkok and Phuket, for those new explorers:

1. Nana Plaza
The best places to party in Bangkok would be RCA (Royal City Avenue) and for the more daring types, Soi Cowboy and Nana Plaza.

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Nana Plaza is situated about a few hundred metres from the Nana Skytrain station. It is basically one building with three levels. Ground floor, you get a bunch of go go bars. A go go bar is a place where you can consume alcohol and watch scantily-clad girls dance on chrome poles.

On the first floor, you will find even more go go bars with Rainbow 4 being touted as one of the best in Thailand. With over 40 dancers at any one time, you will indeed be spoilt for choice. To look at, of course. It would be immoral to do anything else.

The top floor has some ladyboys or katoeys, with the Malaysian slang calling them ‘aquas’. They put on good shows, but one floor down is Angelwitch, a go go bar that has equally titillating performances, after 10pm.

Nana Plaza used to be called Arab Plaza because a lot of Arabs go there.

Recommended: Playskool, Angelwitch, Rainbow 4.

2. Soi Cowboy
Soi Cowboy is just a stone’s throw away from Sukhumvit station - the Masjid Jamek of Bangkok. The Skytrain and the MRT intersect here and it is very accessible.

Soi Cowboy is a street - ‘soi’ means street - and has less go go bars than Nana Plaza. However, their drinks are slightly cheaper and the shows that they put on rival that of Nana Plaza and anywhere on earth.

Recommended: Sheba, Rawhide or whatever strikes your fancy.

3. Patpong
Not to be confused with Phuket’s Patong Beach, Patpong is the heart of Bangkok’s entertainment zone, meaning officially, it is the only area where bars and pubs can close at 2am. The rest have to close at 1am.

During the reign of Thaksin Sinawathra, it was rumoured that some of his family’s establishments can open till 5am, but since I have never been to those places, I wouldn’t know for sure.

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According to Wikipedia, Patpong gets its name from the family that owns much of the area's property, the Patpongpanich (or Patpongpanit), immigrants from Hainan Island, China, who purchased the area in 1946.

If you are looking for gay bars, you can find Telephone Bar or The Balcony somewhere here.

I generally don’t go to Patpong anymore as they have changed their tunes - literally. My favourite places were ones where they play classic rock. Though I must say, hip-hop group Thaitanium was pretty awesome.

4. Ratchadaphisek Road
This is one of my favourite places to get a massage or people-watching. To get there, you need to board the MRT and get to Huay Kwang station. It is just a 10-minute walk from the station. There are lots of beautiful girls here, some who could do well to become models or movie stars. Hell, I’d buy a photobook of them, if there are any.

5. Hidden Gems
Scattered all over Bangkok are hidden gems and whatever else. I have heard of places such as the ‘no-hands restaurant’ where you cannot use your hands to eat your RM600 meal, and dessert is something really spectacular. Or so I heard.

There are also fabled clubs which perhaps should not be mentioned. Ones that come with briefcases, to live out your Three’s Company fantasies as well as more risque ones. It’s not that I am telling you to go or that I frequent these places, just that they’re good to know.

My actual favourite places are small establishments all over town, where everybody knows your name, even if you haven’t been there for years.