Sexy Soi 6 and the Old Queen

Soi 6 has 70 girlie bars in a short street, unique in the world say locals.

There are more pubs named after Queen Victoria than any other monarch. Over 220 in the UK alone. But one of the most famous and successful is located in Pattaya where it shares street space with around 70 girlie bars where you might not want your grandmother to venture. The Queen Victoria Inn here has been run by Jane and Vic King since 2001. It’s a 33-room hotel with a large restaurant area fashioned after a traditional English pub. It has been described as “an oasis of calm” in an otherwise hectic environment.

Vic, who is a Londoner, said, “Soi 6 in 2001 was very different from today. It was far more cosmopolitan and diversified with two red furniture shops, an antiques center, tailor shops, travel agents and even a pest control business.” But the street became a virtual bar zone as the numbers of European visitors, especially Brits, peaked around 20 years ago. The Queen Vic, which promotes itself as guest friendly, benefitted from the growing popularity of the street, but the downside was that families and married couples tended to steer clear.

Although the street has recovered to some extent from the covid era, when Pattaya became a ghost city, the number of customers is smaller than even 10 years ago. The Brits tended to be big drinkers and generous spenders, but their numbers have steadily declined. The Thai authorities are pushing for increased tourist numbers from China, India, Russia but these visitors have different priorities. For example, most visitors to Pattaya’s Walking Street these days are Asians and, increasingly, the bars, clubs and restaurants there are gearing up to new markets.

Long time staff at Queen Vic get ready for the Sunday carvery: Sompit (chef left), Oo (center) and Ton. Together, they have clocked up nearly 55 years.

The fact that the Queen Vic has survived owes much to the managerial skills of Jane and Vic King. Some of the staff, including the chef Sompit, have worked there for 20 years plus: the permanence of staff always reveals a lot about successful businesses. The international and Thai menu is updated regularly in the light of changing tastes, whilst the Sunday buffet featuring four meats with all the trimmings is popular with local expats who are not lured by the neighboring bars. There is even a food challenge: eat the three foot long hot dog in its entirety and you don’t pay the 500 baht. So far, only three individuals have succeeded.

As evening approaches, the bars prepare for business and cars must proceed slowly as beckoning ladies throng the street. The names are seductive: Repent, Baby Cool, Flirt amid dozens of others. Prices are still reasonable with a beer usually around 100 baht, or less, and lady drinks well under 200 baht. Some bars have ensuite bathrooms in upstairs rooms, others are strictly for drinking or playing pool. The local police make occasional raids to remind everyone they are ultimately in charge, but mostly the street runs itself and controls any abhorrent behaviour without outside intervention.

Sexy Soi Sex in some ways is a reminder of what Pattaya used to be like. It is well known that the government and the local authority want to discourage the sex industry over the long term. Pattaya mayor Poramet Ngamphichet just last week gave a speech to immigration officers emphasizing the city’s evolution towards “neo” or new Pattaya: sports, wellness, family entertainment, conferences and exhibitions. But it’s a peaceful revolution. As long as there’s an international market for soi 6 and Thais are willing to work there, old Pattaya will co-exist with the new. But once profits can no longer be made, that’s another story altogether.