On Wednesday afternoon a large number of local business people involved in the entertainment industry gathered both outside and inside Pattaya City Hall for the third time in recent weeks to talk with officials regarding the clampdown by the new national
government on closing times for entertainment venues.
The official closing time for all places of entertainment has been long enshrined in legislation as 2:00am, but for many years the law has been relaxed to allow bars and clubs to remain open
until 3:00 and 4:00 am and sometimes beyond.
The business owners said foreign tourists came to places like Pattaya because of its vibrant nightlife not because of its temples and beaches.
The entertainment venue operators would like to
see 4:00am as the preferred closing time. Government officials agreed to put the request in writing and forward this on to the Chonburi Governor who would then stamp, sign and seal this and send it on to the relevant government boffins in Bangkok.
Update: Election Promises!
30th March 2008
Khun Sontaya, the former member of parliament for Chonburi and currently engaged in helping the campaign of Khun Itipon to run
for Pattaya Mayor, told assembled media on Friday that he would like to help keep the city’s places of entertainment open as long as feasible.
He said he supports the idea of giving Pattaya bars the option of staying open until at least 4:00am
but said at present owners and tourists had to understand that 2:00am closing might be here for a little while longer.
Freelancer venue to appear behind The Pier Complex
People have always wondered why Pattaya doesn't have a venue for freelancers along the lines of Bangkok's Beer Garden on Soi 7.
Well bar owner Pattaya Pete (previously of FLB) has bought a venue that he hopes will emulate the success of the
Beer Garden. The venue is hardly a garden though, as it is at the back of the Pier Complex overlooking the sea.
It is a large venue and will feature reasonable prices so as to encourage customers and girls to hang around and buy a few drinks.
There will be no bar fines.
The workmen are currently busy so further news soon. The bar will be named Pattaya Beer Garden.
It seems that the Cinderella police are still on patrol and once they have closed the GoGos starting at around 2am, they move on to the clubs. So by 2:30 or 3am, Marine, Tony's, Lucifer, Insomnia are closed. Tony's 2 or Europa seems to avoid the
police though, perhaps something to do with its fitness centre other half. It has also been reported that Marine 2 stays open late too.
Club Insomnia have announced that they are opening an hour earlier at 10pm. Presumably they need to find a way
to get things started earlier so there is a buy one drink, get one free offer until 1am.
Disgruntled owners of bars and other entertainment venues led by their association, complained to representatives of Pattaya City Council at City Hall on 20th March about the current uncertainty about opening hours.
They were told that Thailand‘s
new government is concerned to strictly regulate entertainment zones throughout the country and Pattaya had no option but to follow suit.
Approximately 3000 owners had gathered outside Pattaya City hall to voice their concerns to Ittipol
Khunpleum, the President of the Pattaya Mayoral Advisory Team. The owners of the entertainment venues, including restaurants, and the operators of motorbike and songtaew taxis etc. want to extend their operating hours, but they were informed that the new
minister of the interior's policy is to restrict the hours that these places and support services may function.
Ittipol has recognized that this is a special case and all concerned should be allowed to extend their operation times. The old
government had allowed entertainment venues to stay open until 4 am, but currently those venues in the entertainment zone may only stay open until 2.00 am, with out-of-zone venues being allowed to stay open till 1.00 am.
The owners made the case
that Pattaya is a tourist city, capable of bringing in over Bt 60,000 million each year. With the shortening by 2 hours every night, their industry and takings will be radically affected.
Taboo Club was padlocked as of 17th March 2007. It seems that the March lull is shadowing that of the US banking sector.
Maybe good news at Magic Palace A-GoGo though as there are plans for some sort of rescue attempt. But for the moment
Pattaya is down to 77 girl gogos operating.
Ray visited Taboo just before its closure his comments turned out to be more of a post mortem than a review
Review by Ray: Don't Go There
The last time
I visited this bar it had been packed for a dance competition so I was quite unprepared for the scene of desolation that greeted me when I swept the curtain aside and stepped in. Peering into the gloom I found one, two, yes two other customers. Not
terribly popular then.
This is a medium to large square bar with a center stage and a couple of satellite stages. There is bench seating around the walls, tables and stools scattered about and a sofa in the corner. The decor is industrial
basement and the lighting is Saturday Night Fever.
Which is this bar's main problem, it clearly thinks it's a disco. Spotlights seem to be aimed haphazardly and motorised lights sweep around the room straight across customer's eyelines. I noticed
the other two customers were carefully sitting in the corners where the search lights didn't reach. Does the management need pictures?
The girls are average, which is to say a couple are eye catching, but were not showing on either of my two
visits. They are arbitrarily divided into dancers and showgirls, dancers wear bikinis, "show" girls wear considerably more. The dancers I treated to a ladydrink were friendly enough but because of the bizarre dance roster, the showgirls do a
number and then the dancers do one, they were popping up to go dance every three minutes. More yo-yo than go-go and not conducive to more than a single drink.
This bar gives every impression of being owned by an absentee falang, maybe he'll come
back soon and sort it out. Until then, Taboo means "don't go there".
Changes are afoot in Soi 8. The owner of the old Prince Hotel (Mr Mike Shopping Mall) recently informed the beer bar owners of hid plans.
He wishes to expand the current bar complex and to finish renovating the old Prince hotel. The new hotel
will have approx 200 rooms and be known as the Baron Hotel. It's main entrance will be via Soi 9, however there will be a walkway via Soi 8 past Cherry Bar to the hotel.
The beer bar complex (to be known as Baron Beer Bar Complex) will have a
total of 20 new beer bars and 2 disco / gogo bars.
The good news is will there will one DJ sound system for the whole complex, security to keep out vendors and brand new sexy bars.
The bad news is that to have a new bar, means the old one
has to be knocked and a new one built. The date for this to happen is the 1st May. He is saying this will take only one month to do, but living in Thailand and being pessimistic, it will probably be two!
The thrust of 2 meetings at Alcazaar this week is that the Government is keen on early closing of bars and has threatened some more severe enforcement measures to get what they want.
It seems that the closing time for Pattaya's entertainment zone
is 2am. This zone covers most of Pattaya bars between 3rd Road and the beach from Walking Street to Pattaya North Road (maybe the Naklua bars are in the Naklua entertainment zone).
Unfortunately the bars on the Darkside are outside the zone and
hence should close at 1am (although midnight was mentioned in one report)
There were also worrying mentions of 18:00 as an opening time. Also it is not clear how strict these closing times will be for beer bars which have rarely being forced to
close early (although they have sometimes had to turn out the lights and music).
The discos and nightclubs also seem to be under the same cosh and as soon as the police have finished ensuring that the gogos close at 2am then the police have then
been closing the discos such that most are closed by 2:30 or 3am.
There have also been mentions of bikini requirements but these seemed sporadic in a tour of gogos last night with plenty of bars still showing but some covered up.
Local Police are currently enforcing a 2am closure of bars in accordance with instructions from Central Government in Bangkok who would like to see all late night entertainment venues around Thailand close at this time.
The Policy appears not to
affect the closure of open air bars such as beer bars which are not being closed and remain open sometimes around the clock. How long this closure policy will remain in force is unknown.
Over the weekend, Police Lieutenant General Jeatanagorn, the
Commander of Region 2 Police conducted a brief inspection of bars along the entire stretch of Walking Street to ensure that bars were closing at 2am and patrons were aged over 20 in accordance with the law.
He was happy that bars were complying
with the Law and the current closure policy.
Y.U? Club in Jomtien has locked its doors. It had seemed to be struggling for a long time. It is always tough trying to run a small gogo bar. Not big enough when there is an influx of customers and goes desperately short of dancers after a couple of
Maybe advertising karaoke is not a good way to get farangs in either.
The bar opened in June 2006 as a bar/disco but converted to gogo in Jan 2007.
Phuket bar, discotheque and pub owners will be given a 90-day grace period before police begin to strictly enforce a 2 am closing time at all nightlife venues on the island, authorities have announced.
Nightlife venue owners will be given 90
days, from February 28, before police will begin arresting bar owners who fail to comply, Col Grissak told the Gazette a few days later.
The new initiative follows an order by newly-installed Interior Minister Chalerm Yoobumrung.
that pubs and nightclubs were supposedly used by youths as a place to experiment with and trade in narcotics, he said better compliance with existing closing times would be a key part of his campaign against drug abuse.
threatened to punish police officers, district chiefs and other officials who failed to strictly enforce anti-drug measures at entertainment venues, Phuket Governor Niran Kalyanamit said at the monthly meeting of provincial government officers, which he
chaired at Phuket Provincial Hall on the morning of February 27.
The strict enforcement of closing times had slackened considerably while the country was under post-coup martial law and remained slack after the National Legislative Assembly was
appointed as the interim government.
While there were reports of some unlicensed beer bars being closed down in Kathu after Minister Chalerm’s order, Kathu District Chief Khantee denied that either officials or police had been distributing yellow
warning cards to venues found in violation, as reported by one Thai language newspaper.
Now we are forcing all bars to send their guests home at 2 am, but we are not charging them. We also found some venues employing girls under 18 and closed
them down, Chief Khantee told the Gazette.
The 2 am closing time would cost local businesses money, but both the laws and goals of the anti-drug campaign need to be respected, he said: I believe that if nightlife venues close up at 2 am,
tourists will begin their night out on the town earlier. This is also a good opportunity to let tourists know about the anti-drug campaign .
Sompetch Moosophon, President of the Patong Entertainment Business Association (PEBA), said he plans
to meet Chief Khantee soon and push for Patong to be exempted from the 2 am closing time, which he sees as incongruous with the needs of most visiting tourists: In my opinion, the 2 am closing time is not appropriate because many tourists who visit
Patong like to stay out drinking and partying all night long…This is the special appeal of Soi Bangla as far as tourists are concerned.
The PEBA has already begun distributing an English-language questionnaire to visiting tourists to see how
they feel about enforcement of the 2 am closing time. The results will be presented to both Chief Khantee and Gov Niran, he said.
A closing time of 3 am, extended to 4 am or 5 am during the high season, would be appropriate, he said.