Ever watch old b-roll footage of Vietnam-era GIs and reporters on leave in Thailand, huddled around radios tuning into Voice of America, sipping whiskey, grooving to the sounds of rock-n-roll that defined a generation, with local kids in the background trying to make a baht selling random junk to the farang? It’s almost become a romanticized idea, but ever wonder what happened to those local kids as they grew up?
Sam Wong and his brother ‘Wongsie’ were two of those kids, peddling tee-shirts in front of the Malaysia Hotel back in the 1960s and 70s. It was at this young formative age where the two brothers fell in love with the slammin’ tunes that would influence their rock bar, and Koh Spot’s vote for Best Bangkok Dive Bar, Wong’s Place.
Opened in 1987 amongst the blossoming backpacker movement in Thailand, Wong’s Place was the first bar in the area, well before the likes of Khao San Road and Sukhumvit became tourist magnet centers. While Sam went into government public service as a bodyguard for a Thai Senator (explains why the bar can stay open every night until 6am), Wongsie continued to run Wong’s Place to international and local acclaim and grew an almost cult-like following, until his sudden death in 2003. Wong’s Place shut its doors.
Flowers piled up, notes and emails flooded Sam’s inbox and he realized he had no other choice than to give up his government post and re-open Wong’s Place in his brother’s memory.
While Wong’s Place doesn’t have any set hours, Sam will likely open the bar most nights around 11:30pm and stay open until the early hours of the morning. Wong’s Place is the type of bar where you can request any rock-n-roll artist for Sam to play on VHS and he’ll simply reply, “which year.” Just don’t ask him to arm-wrestle unless you want a broken wrist.
The beer is cheap, the air is smokey, the light dimmed, and its just about the best dive bar we’ve ever found in Asia.
Off Soi Ngam Duphli, near the Ibis and Malaysia Hotel.
No related posts.