Want to be a Queen’s Park Ranger? Explore the Plaza!
Tucked away on Sukhumvit Soi 22 is Queen’s Park Plaza, a cool and quirky throwback to the soi bars of ten years ago. If you’ve ever had the privilege to go to Lamai in Samui or most of the Bangla Road offshoots back then, you’ll feel that you recognise this little gem of a drinking quarter. You won’t find the aggressive haranguing of passing punters like you do in Patong, but in terms of layout, décor, sounds and games, this will seem very familiar – with of course a few little twists.
Affectionately named by the veteran, knowledgeable and anecdote-laden ex-pats that drink in these bars, this “Rabbit Warren” of fun will keep you bright eyed and bushy-tailed until the sun comes up. Then, you can find your way out of the maze and head home while the working city embarks on the start of their day. Providing some of the bars have paying punters and polite patrons, a 6am finish is definitely on the cards.
The common theme in most bars here is pool. If you enjoy a game of 9-ball or billiards, then you won’t go wrong – there are many good players among the ex-pats and hostesses that work here. Most of the pool pubs have an indoor area with air-conditioning and slightly quieter bar music.
At some point, everyone who has sat in a Thai soi bar complains about the decibel competition with neighbouring bars’ music, often stating, “Why don’t they just have a centralised sound or PA system and stop the silly sound battles once and for all?” I hear you! It can be like Bedlam most of the time, but with the advent of YouTube and other sites, bars welcome you to put on a song of your own and hold back the madness, even for just four minutes or so while you play a track that simply gives you equilibrium and puts you back in that happy place.
The night is indeed what you make it, and the sheer variety of hostesses, bars and non-pushy personnel from whatever side of the bar that they work makes this a place that will take away your pain, figuratively speaking
The layout is very much like crazy paving except it is bars that make up the jaunty geometric angles. Some of the pedestrian areas are enough for two people to walk side-by-side, while in others: you can reach out an arm to shake hands with a person who is sitting in a different bar from you.
This all adds to the unique dynamic of the Plaza – as they say, “Reach out and touch someone”. The ladies do play, but vetoing the bar fine is non-negotiable – it’s old school, remember.
The hostesses deserve to get a solid mention here, as it could be a little frustrating or even claustrophobic without them. I’ve never met a rude, aggressive or pushy lady while drinking here. Having spoken with a few of the bar owners, who are mostly ex-pat, they all say that they frown upon that correctly maligned bargirl behaviour – there are plenty of other places in Bangkok where you can experience that.
The Plaza correctly holds its’ retro title in terms of the relaxed, laissez-faire and fun concept. You’ll find real people here, so go and embrace it!