A few months ago, I went out to dinner with my Thai boyfriend in Bangkok, Thailand and, after dinner, we wanted to have a drink and hear some live music. Not wanting to go to the usual western-style hangouts, he took me to a Thai pub and restaurant I wasn’t familiar with. Raintree Pub and Restaurant is a traditional Thai country music hangout and, boy, was it fun.
Where is Raintree Pub and Restaurant? – Located off the beaten track in downtown Bangkok, it’s not surprising most westerners and just about all tourists have no idea where it is. Raintree Pub and Restaurant is at 116/64 Soi Rangnam and is pretty close to Victory Monument, the area popular with Thai university students. Easiest way to get to the pub is take the sky train to Victory Monument station and take a quick taxi.
What is Raintree Pub and Restaurant? – Just about the coolest pub in Bangkok. Raintree Pub is a Thai folk music pub that’s a popular hangout for politically active Thais, throwbacks to the 70s and Thailand’s dictator past, and Thai folk and country music lovers.
At Raintree Pub, every night the live music is different. You’ll hear Thai singers and folk bands in their 40s and 50s. These singers play music about the 1976 October Massacre, when hundreds of Thai university students from Thammasat University, protesting against the government, were shot and killed by the military. Hundreds of students fled into the jungles of northern Thailand, where they lived rough for months so they wouldn’t be arrested.
Other younger singers will sing more modern, yet still political, folk songs and others will play traditional Thai country music. The music is intriguing, unusual and fascinating. Even if it’s in Thai, it’s still fun to listen and to hum along to.
Raintree Pub and Restaurant has good beer (on tap and in bottles), and serves excellent food and snacks. They’re cheap too.
Atmosphere at Raintree Pub – One of the best things about the pub is the atmosphere. It’s rustic and decorated in a country-style with water buffalo horns on the wall, and lots of leather and driftwood. Dark and moody, it also adds to the uniqueness of the evening and to the mood of the music. The pub is small and a bit cramped, as it’s busy and crowded with people, but that just makes it more fun and helps with the camaraderie of the place.
The People at Raintree Pub and Restaurant – The thing I loved the most about the pub was the people. From the waiters to the other customers, every one was friendly, relaxed and low-key.
At the time we went, I was the only westerner in the place, a fact that caused a fair bit of attention at first. But soon, people started to come over and try to talk (my boyfriend translated, where I couldn’t understand some of the more ‘country’ accents), which gave me a chance to meet some interesting people and to learn a lot about Thailand’s political past.
So different than most of the touristy pubs in Bangkok, Raintree Pub was a cool experience I can’t wait to repeat.
Photo copyright – Raintree Pub, neajjean, Creative Commons
Video – If you’re looking for a bit of a different ‘ping pong show’ than the regular ping pong shows in Bangkok, check out this video from Raintree Pub. It’s Bangkok’s Bumm The Clown. Cool, eh?