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Pattaya – Is the Go-Go Party Over?

Pattaya One

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I have been out a few times recently in “high season” on Walking Street and to the bars in LK Metro/ Soi Buakhao, where I was surprised to find the LK bars were generally busier, and there were more punters in them than in many of the bars on Walking Street.

I have been wondering when high season would begin on Walking Street, as most go-go bars are very empty, and I think this year, for a lot of bars, the high season will last two weeks over Christmas and New Year, if they're lucky.

Of course at weekends more of them are more packed, but on any other night of the week, even formerly popular Walking Street bars are quiet, with only a handful of girls, who generally look unhappy, probably thinking they too need to migrate to Soi Buakhao to get their bar fines and lady drinks up (although I hear in fact that is not true, and LK girls are complaining that the busy bars there are as difficult to get drinks and bar fines in as Walking Street dens).

Yet the other night at 9pm I stood at the bottom of Soi 16 on Walking Street and was surprised by how many tourists there are in town. It was like  a New Year crush down there,  and I have been trying to work out how come the bars are empty and Walking Street is packed every night, and here’s what I think.

The majority of early-evening Walking Street visitors are big tour groups of Asian package tourists, being led by a flag-waving guide. They zoom along the street, photographing and looking at the sights, maybe take in a boxing match, then they rush back to their coaches and they’re gone.

The other big groups seem to be Indians and Arabs. Indians generally don’t have the money to spend in bars, and instead go up to the Coconut Bar to negotiate group discounts, and Arabs, for all their numbers and free-spending in the town, are not that welcome in many bars, and often aren’t interested in going into them anyway. They have the hookas and dance-with-your-hands-in-the-air-to-blaring-music bars in Soi 16 and Marine Plaza to enjoy and a lot of lardy freelances waddling around Arab Town to keep them occupied without having to go to bars on Walking Street.

Then you have the Russians. Depending on the time of day and where you are, 60-80% of the town seems to be Russian these days, and they are coming here for a cheap holiday, the beach and cheap booze. Many come with their families and girlfriends, and the majority of them probably don’t know about Pattaya’s go-go bar nightlife, except for having fliers thrust in their faces by touts and the souvenir photos they take of door girls on Walking Street. They aren’t that interested in sitting in go-go bars.

What has been missing from Walking Street for a very long time has been the high numbers of “traditional” Pattaya high season punters, who can sometimes still be seen in the beer bar complexes and some of the notorious bars off Walking Street, but, like the Dodo, they seem to be dying out fast, and certainly this high season the number of traditional Pattaya punters is well down even on last year’s, as Europe’s and the US’s financial problems continue.

And yet, with numbers of visitors to go-go bars well down on any year I can remember, there are even more of them opening up on Walking Street, which I don’t understand. They have to pay high rents and high salaries to attract girls already thinly-spread over the existing bars, and there are markedly fewer punters around who the bar owners can make money off.

Where is the financial logic in that?

The tourist profile of the city has changed, and will keep changing, with more people arriving in Pattaya for a family holiday and not for sex, and that fact has not yet hit the bar scene in terms of closures, but I have no doubt that it will, and then only the best bars and the best managers will survive.

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A good perception of things and I think the main things people dont really grasp although you did mention it is the growth of Pattaya and the many more competitive bars etc.

For example guys who come here on a tighter budget look for cheaper everything, accommodation, beer, food etc etc, I know guys who have told me this for example to have a beer in Walking Street beer bars can be as high as 100 baht per beer, Barbies, whiskers or the triangle bar by our bookshop is buy 1 get one free about 40 baht per beer, maybe why they are rammed most of the afternoon and evening, also many bars on soi Baukhao the same deal.

Pattaya is so spread out nowdays, not many years ago it was Walking Street and that was it, those days are gone, the LK Metro has had 3 new go go's open in the last few months and more to come.


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Thanks Pattaya One for sharing your thoughts on the Go Go scene. The demise of the go - go has been raised in a number of threads. However, I found your contibution to be a good summary. It is important to realise that change in demand and expectaions is ongoing and if your business model does not adjust to the changes then at soome stage you are out of business. In business - past success is no guarentee for future proprerity. However, IMHO what is happening in WS are very small and incermental changes on a month by month basis. However, at some stage, in the absence of corrective measures it will be meltdown beyond which there is no point of return.Small but regular changes which in time will add up to major colllapse of WS.


It appears to me that the majority of the Go Go owners are either not seeing or ignoring these very subtle changes in both demand & demography. The ones that do acknowwledge the emerging problems believe it is a temporary abberation which will self correct in a few months then it will be back to normal. It requires a major re-think of the Go-Go owners and also some collabarative measures to adopte and promte WS as a long teerm attraction. At present it is undoubly not addressing the problems. Demanding higher prices for drinks and girls to compensate for decliningg business revenues will only

exacerbate the difficulties. The GO - Gos urgently need to reapprise their business model. One off party specials and cheap draft beer is not a solution to the long term challenges. Bottom line - they must ensure they delivering what the current cash paying customers are demanding. Are they doping this? Over to you!

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Where is the financial logic in that?



There seems to be zero financial logic in it, but the number of bars in Pattaya has always mystified me. And I'm talking even before the financial collapse in the West.


As I ride and walk around town -- and I mean Pattaya, Naklua and Pratumnak Hill -- it seems to me that the No. 1 activity for the Russians is shopping.


They hit the beaches, but only in a fraction of the numbers you see in the markets, malls and single retail outlets.


At this time of the year my girlfriend's shop (lotions, make-up and other girly shit) really needs to be about 3X the size it actually is.


You couldn't give me a bar, but man would I love to own a 7-11 or two here.

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There's no doubt that Pattaya's visitor profile is changing. However, when I was there in mid December, most of the WS gogos I visited were packed: Baccara, What's Up, Baby Dolls, Lighthouse, Happy, Silver Star 3. Gogos might be losing their appeal to the seasoned monger, but they're still just as popular with the newbies and those who aren't over-concerned by prices.

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travel all across the world to drink bear in a shit venue which the triangle bar is and having to limit yourself to beer bars


some holiday


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