The transition had been under way for years, but the eight-month closure of Walking Street has confirmed as Soi Buakhao as the new center of Pattaya’s nightlife industry.
Granted, current nightlife is a stunted shadow of its former self, revolving around bars masquerading as restaurants and alcohol disguised in coffee cups. At least now that Chonburi has allowed booze sales at restaurants the vendors at Tree Town market that have been illegally serving for months won’t have to hide it.
As evidenced by the many beer bars and even go-go bars in Bangkok opening as “restaurants” and serving alcohol, the regulations have become a farce. Increasingly, only the largest nightclubs and naughty bars are being penalized by the national bar closure order.
The rest are using loopholes, both legal and not, to get around it.
Damrongkiat Pinitkarn, secretary of the Pattaya Entertainment & Tourism Association, said the time has long since passed to just open everything up. Nightlife has been closed for eight month and ruined the lives of millions of business owners and entertainment workers.
If regulations on the books aren’t going to be enforced uniformly, or at all, it’s time to do away with the pretense.
Once they do, and the chrome pole palaces on Walking Street reopen, Soi Buakhao’s reign as Pattaya’s king of nightlife will be put to the true test.