There’s not much that can make you feel like summer when Bangkok’s rain season comes roaring with whipping showers in the midst of your evening commute. However, if there were one thing, one place, or one drink that could wash away all monsoon mania at the sip of a cocktail-umbrella-clad straw, it would look something like this.
The tiki bar – a beachy, tropical, Polynesian-themed hideout – is perhaps the ultimate expression of a holiday. Think, a coconut lodge with a backdrop of surfers in the waves, floral shirts and the hula, tiki demon masks, grass clothes, light and dark rums, lagoons, mermaids, and pineapples. Plenty of pineapples.
With Thailand being an ideal location for a rum bar, given the many sugar cane plantations scattered across the country, it comes as a bit of a surprise that the tiki trend has not yet taken the city by tropical storm. Yet with the booming success of both the new Tropic City and Escape Bangkok this year, it seems Bangkokians are opening up to the idea of colourful Mezcal shooters in bamboo shoot interiors.
Vibrant, vivacious, and a volcanic recipe for a good time, we’ve put together a list of Bangkok’s best tiki bars of the moment. Whether you’re sipping from a classic ceramic tiki mug or indulging in a fresh poke bowl bar snack, don your most dapper Hawaiian shirt here, and, dare we say it, get tiki with it.
From the guys behind Sathorn’s beloved Lady Brett Tavern, the palm-printed neon-clad floral-adorned Tropic City has been causing much hot buzz around the city, and for good reason. A vibrant rum bar, the Charoen Krung hot spot is bringing only the best tropical vibes to the trendy neighbourhood. Try the ‘KL to BKK’, made with fermented Thai pineapple, dark rum and clove, and Campari, or the ‘Cane Suggah’, made with Chalong Bay cinnamon and Pisco Demonio. To the tunes of smooth hip hop and cheerful swirly palm leaf wallpaper (and, of course, a neon-lit pineapple), Tropic City manages to bring a flair of the Bahamas to Bangkok, and proves the ideal spot to, as they put it, ‘tropic it like it’s hot’.
Image Credit: Instagram
Tropic City, 672/65 Charoen Krung Soi 28, Bangkok, +66 83 838 2750
In fierce competition to Tropic City comes Pakalolo, Ari’s answer to a Hawaiian bar infused with a kick of Florida Keys. Between bamboo accents and banana leaf motifs, the tiki bar takes the Polynesian theme a few steps further by blasting ukulele music (yes, ukulele music) in the afternoons, before smoothly transitioning to deep-house beats in the later hours. Perched on beach chairs, kick back with the ‘Lilia’, a combination of elderflower and thyme with pear vodka, gin, and pink guava juice, or the ‘Umahi’, consisting of Mae Kong rum, passion fruit, basil, honey, apricot brandy, and vanilla and lime essences. To complete the Honolulu hums, be sure to try some of their Hawaiian poke bowls, too.
Pakalolo, Ari 4 Fang Nua Alley, Phaya Thai, Bangkok, +66 2 075 0939
A global name for over 80 years, Trader Vic’s is one of the worldwide pioneers of pacific rim cuisine and the tiki bar. Located inside the Anantara Riverside Bangkok, the bar takes its Polynesian theme seriously, between cheeky-faced exotic Tiki statues and tropical ceramic cocktail mugs. The ‘home of the original Mai Tai’, Trader Vic’s serves the classic island beverages, such as the super-sized ‘Scorpion Bowl’, a festive concoction of rums, juices, and brandy, or the ‘Zombie’, made with light and dark rums, grenadine, and curaçao. With views of the Chao Phraya river just outside, let the live music put you in true holiday spirits as you nibble on charmingly named bar snacks like Maui Waui coconut shrimp or Kona fish and chips.
Bringing homey and hearty island feels to its one-room Tiki-themed restaurant and bar, Mad Moa opened inside a wood-panelled shophouse in the Old Town, and though small, holds back on no big and bold flavours. Sit between colourful rugs and cacti and admire the occasional wahine statue as you sip on a creative rum-based cocktail menu that changes on the daily. A laid-back spot that is ideal for a low-key night out, don’t leave without trying the “twisted bar food”, truly bringing something of a charming beach shack in Tahiti to town.
Mad Moa, 211/8 Lan Luang, Chakaphatdiphong Rd., Bangkok, +66 85 155 2601
Not a tiki bar in a traditional sense, but definitely a tiki bar in true Sukhumvit style, Escape comes as a sleek tropical tapas bar, sitting atop The Emquartier. Whether you’re looking to take a break from shopping in the area, or simply seek a snap at one of the most insta-worthy rooftop bars about town, the secret sanctuary in the midst of the luxury shopping district proves an ideal eponymous escape. Divided into separate sections, bob heads and clink glasses to the sound of live beach bongos, reggae, or saxophone. Whether you pull up a stool by the DJ hut at the Ellipse bar, or relax in the more private cabanas on the terrace, Escape brings a Bohemian beach club to a buzzing part of town, in the company of a most ideal sundowner spot and breezy, beautiful people.
Escape Bangkok, The Emquartier, Building B, F/5, Phrom Phrong, Bangkok, +66 2 258 6515