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Soi Cowboy bar owner says the business has survived the pandemic, but revenue has fallen by 70%



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Bangkok’s notorious red light district Soi Cowboy has survived the pandemic, but barely. An owner of a bar along the street said the business is only earning enough to cover operating costs.

Bars and nightclubs were hit hard by disease control restrictions with the government banning alcohol, shutting down the venues and limiting operating hours during peaks in the pandemic. Just recently, bars and nightclubs were allowed to reopen after being shut down during the recent wave of Covid-19 infections.

Reporters from Nation Thailand took a walk down Soi Cowboy. It’s been a full year since Thailand’s first nationwide lockdown. For the manager of Country Road music bar on Soi Cowboy, Thawatchai Tutthayayut, he told reporters it has been a rough year.

The ban on international tourists hit the area hard. Soi Cowboy is a famous red light district for foreign men, and for some tourists, a rite of passage. Thawatchai says his bar depends on foreign tourists for income. Over the past year, the bar’s revenue fell by 70%.

“What we earn nowadays is only enough for running costs – staff salary, electricity and water bills, and rent.”

Country Road’s shareholders had to use their savings to pay for some of the expenses and keep the bar running, Thawatchai told Nation Thailand. The bar’s staff and musicians took a pay cut last year and the landlord helped out by lowering the rent.

“A bar might only sell three bottles of beer per day… Some bars decided to operate from their entrances and keep their interiors shut to save on expenses.”

Thawatchai says that he and other bar owners are thankful for the regular customers who come at least once a week.

“My friend’s bar lost around 300,000 baht a month… But we were lucky enough to have the expats.”

SOURCE: Nation Thailand


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  1. Glenn

    Monday, March 22, 2021 at 9:53 pm

    tell CCSA and the other crazies running the show.

    all that loss for a Thai fatality rate of 0.00012%

  2. GeorgeA

    Monday, March 22, 2021 at 9:56 pm

    I don’t know how the world’s tourism industry will survive. Even if all quarantines ended tomorrow, people would need multiple PCR tests, many people are afraid to travel even with the vaccine, and many people have taken a financial hit. The effects of this will last years or decades.

  3. toby andrews

    Monday, March 22, 2021 at 10:19 pm

    Tough luck Soi Cowboy. Your prices were 70 over above elsewhere. Your girls were hustlers persuading mugs to buy B240 lady dinks – they could buy five and the girls wanted B4000 plus B1000 bar fine to go out short time!
    They knew nobody would pay. but they still had commission off the lady drinks.
    Starve Soi Cowboy, owners, managers, and scamming bar girls.
    Thai greed killed this street.

  4. Mr cynic

    Tuesday, March 23, 2021 at 2:10 am

    Think it’s the same sort of deal at all the well known westerner orientated bar areas in bangkok.
    One very experienced monger I used to work with informed me that much higher quality thai prostitute’s were available in amsterdam that offered better service at a lower price than in bangkok.

  5. EdwardV

    Tuesday, March 23, 2021 at 3:29 am

    While I normally feel for any business hurting right now, the bars on Soi Cowboy are not one of them. Clip joint, tourist trap, rip off call them what you want, karma is kicking them in the rear.

  6. 7.62mm of darwin

    Tuesday, March 23, 2021 at 6:47 am

    Soi Cowboy had one drink then left. It is just over the top and the vibe is utter contempt for farangs.

  7. Ben

    Tuesday, March 23, 2021 at 7:13 am

    The fact that they’re able to keep the doors open after a 70% revenue drop tells you they were making a fortune pre-COVID. Feeling sorry for them is like feeling sorry for a millionaire who lost 10% of his money. These bars are now pretty much for novel tourists who are seeking a right of passage.

    The economics have driven away most customers.

    -2 rounds of drinks with a lady – 1,000B
    -Bar fine – 1,000B
    -Short time – 3,000B
    -Long time – 6,000B

    So most punters are paying 5,000B – 7,000B for a go go or $165 – $230 (the lady gets $100/$200) in Bangkok where the average monthly salary is $800 and much less outside this city. Many blame Japanese men who were willing to break the bank and pay these prices for setting the market rate. You can’t blame the bar owners and girls for raising prices if there are customers willing to pay the increased prices. It’s supply and demand.

    But’s what’s ironic is what you get for your money. You typically get a cute girl who wants to get the dirty deed done as quickly as possible and get back to the bar so she can be picked by another customer. Same for long time as sometimes they make it so obvious it’s annoying having them around all night so you let them go earlier than agreed upon. To be more direct you get rushed mediocre service from these lovelies who know they’re in demand.

    This reality makes punting in your home country a reasonable alternative since it’s only slightly more expensive overall and you can become a regular customer and obtain much better service.

  8. senor impasta

    Tuesday, March 23, 2021 at 4:33 pm

    tourist goes to tourist trap.
    tourist complains that it’s a tourist trap.

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