Nana BTS: nightlife and kebabs on the doorstep
There probably isn’t a tourist who has come to Bangkok with their eyes open who hasn’t heard of the infamous (in some quarters) Nana Plaza. This is where the City of Angels meets the Courtyard of Angles with Nana Plaza boasting a few floors no less of go-go bars and plenty of so-called beer bars, all staffed by ladies whose primary source of income is not via dancing or simply serving alcohol. Nana Plaza is what so many guides to Bangkok are seemingly innocuously commenting on when they say the city is noted for its ‘nightlife’. In some ways the Plaza is a great example of how Bangkok used to be, before the age of glitzy malls, huge high-rise condos, flash restaurants, and garish nightclubs.
Obviously, the easiest way to reach Sukhumvit Soi 4 and enter the world of Nana Plaza is to alight at the Nana BTS. The Dynasty and Nana Hotels dominate the first part of the soi near the Nana Plaza entrance, but as you walk further down there are other stand-alone bars and places to enjoy a drink or have some food or have a game of pool or watch sport on TV.
On the opposite side of Sukhumvit Road is Soi 3 where the Nana Square was constructed a few years ago. It’s bright and airy with shops and services available inside, including a Boots pharmacy (maybe a required stop either before or after a visit to Nana Plaza). This also has a coupon-based food court where basic Thai dishes can be purchased for 30 baht or thereabouts.
This is also, somewhat incongruously, the area known as the Arab Quarter. While just 100 metres or less away are ladies displaying more flesh than is usually seen on the streets of the city, here most females are dressed from head to toe in the kind of outfits you’d expect to see in Mecca or Medinah. There are plenty of good eateries serving Middle Eastern food if you’re looking for a change from Thai or Western fare.
Not far away from Nana Square is the Nana Nua office building which has a rather nice looking water fountain, one of the few in Bangkok. If you are traversing this section in the evening then you’ll be squeezing past a gauntlet of vendors who have set up their stalls selling t-shirts, shirts, DVDs, CDs, flashlights, and almost anything else you wouldn’t really want if you weren’t being a tourist in Bangkok.