What’s Become of Soi 7 and Soi 8?

Songkran 2015 on Pattaya Soi 7As your webmaster was scanning some clips recently posted on YouTube, I couldn’t help but wonder what’s become of Soi 7 and Soi 8 these days?
Until just a few years ago, these two parallel alleys in Central Pattaya, with dozens of open-air beer bars and hundreds of bar girls scrambling for your attention, were literally the heart of Pattaya’s nightlife and busy round-the-clock.
Walking Street had always been a rip-off for tourists. Soi 7 and Soi 8 were for “insiders”, we mean where Pattaya “old hands” would go and get pissed and find some company for the night. More often than not, you would see more farang punters than girls in the bars, and the bars would keep going till the wee hours of the morning and beyond. After all, that’s what Pattaya is famous for, ain’t it?

So what’s left over from this former glory? While Walking Street has developed into some kind of night-time “tourist attraction” for Chinese and Indian tour groups, Soi 7 and Soi 8, let’s face it, are just a shadow of their former selves and, well, unless it’s Songkran (that’s when the image above was taken), somewhat comatose these days.

Don’t get us wrong: There are still bars, girls and everything, and you may well have the time of your life here. But it’s just nowhere near what it used to be, full stop. And unless you’re a Pattaya “newbie” the clips embedded in this post will sadly speak for themselves.

During your webmaster’s first couple of visits to Pattaya in the late 1990s, the bars of Soi 8 were basically his second home. Now I live on the southern outskirts of town and don’t go there much anymore. Two months ago or so, however, and rather by accident I must admit, I once again paid Joy Bar opposite the Sunshine Hotel a visit.
Joy Bar had been my favourite watering hole in 1998 and 99 when it was still located on the other side of the street. Now it’s still open 24/7, but while in the late 1990s Joy Bar would be packed with thirsty (and horny) Farangs from the hotel next-door even at breakfast time, this time the place was completely empty, no decoration on the walls, no music, and with just three or four bored and overweight girls sitting behind the counter. The busiest place seemed to be the massage shop next-door which at one point attracted a gang of Indian tourists staying in the hotel across the road.
While Joy Bar was a mere shadow of its former self, funnily the mamasan was still the same as in the late 1990s and even remembered my name. She conceded business was nowhere near where it used to be in the “good old” days and said the night before they had had just a single customer. Granted, it was only late afternoon. But the rest of Soi 8 didn’t appear to be in much better shape, so unfortunately there was little reason not to believe her.

Your webmaster’s last visit to Soi 7 sometime last October or November was an equal disappointment. Songkran is obviously not all year round. Most of the bars had just a handful of punters, while some were completely empty; that’s aside from two or three lonely girls fighting their ennui with their smartphones.
Looking for an air-conditioned place to cool down, I entered Happiness A-GoGo and found myself between a bunch of Indian or Middle Eastern sex tourists. The mostly chubby girls (including a nude one in a bathtub with mouldy water) were as little interesting as they were interested in your webmaster, so I called it quits after a Sangsom coke and walked on.

So what’s become of Soi 7 and Soi 8? While Walking Street these days has degenerated to some kind of “adult tourist attraction”, and the city’s bar girl industry has obviously been in a crisis for some years now, Soi 7 and Soi 8 seem to illustrate best that Pattaya as we used to know and love it is apparently drawing its last breath.
Sure, there will always be prostitutes and some kind of sex industry in Pattaya. But in the future, that’s our sad prediction, all this will exist to a much lesser extent.

In one the clips embedded on this page, you can see two adjacent empty beer bars that are obviously for rent on the southern (left) side of Soi 7 at this very moment. There’s another one for sale further up in the direction of Second Road. And we know of at least one bar on Soi 8 that currently has a “for rent” sign hanging on its closed door.
This can’t just be explained with a temporary lack of customers or increased competition in the area of Soi Buakhao in recent years (Soi New Plaza, Soi LK Metro etc.) Rising rental prices and “key money” for bars, direct results of ever-increasing property prices in Pattaya, are equally to blame. Bar owners simply can’t afford to keep their businesses running anymore.

On this page, we’ve already analyzed some other problems bar owners and managers are facing these days which help explain why some kind of “doomsday” seems to be approaching for Pattaya’s bar girl industry anyway (lack of new blood due to decreased ferility rates, socio-economic changes etc.)
But what reasons are there specifically from the tourist’s/customer’s point of view? Why are so many bars, not just on Soi 7 and 8, empty even in the “high season” months, or at least don’t get enough customers in to secure the survival of their businesses?

  • Has Pattaya and its “adult entertainment industry” become too expensive for the average Joe?
  • Are the girls no longer what they used to be (not as attractive or friendly as they used to be) and demand too much money for too little services?
  • Are the Thai Baht exchange rates to blame?
  • Is there simply too much competition (too many bars)?
  • Have the Russians, Indians etc. put the more “traditional” Western sex tourists off and destroyed the illusion this place was their home?

Or are we just being pessimistic scaremongers lamenting days gone by?
What do YOU, dear reader, think about the obvious decline of two of Pattaya’s formerly most popular and busiest nightlife hotspots? Feel free to tell us your opinion in the comments section below.

2 Responses to What’s Become of Soi 7 and Soi 8?

  1. I think most of your points are valid. I first came to Pattaya in 1999 and we stayed in the soi connecting soi 7 and soi 8. I think it was the Sunbeam hotel. There were no mobile phones here or internet in those days to distract the girls which in my opinion has put the ball back in their court. Back then when the young lovely lady (that I had stay with me for about a week) would ask me if it was OK to go see her mama and we would arrange a time to meet back at the hotel. These days the girls are obsessed with their mobiles and leaving their phones on even when back in your room. They can get a call from a better paying customer and then say “my friend has no keys to get in the condo I have to go” and so on. It hasn’t happened to me but I have seen it many times on forums.

    My friend owns a bar on soi Buakhao and as you say this soi and so LK Metro seem to have more expats and more business than soi 7 and 8. The other point about key money for shop owners is absurd as there is no good will and the money the Thais are asking for is rediculous but unfortunately most bars go broke the Thai owner has received his key money and can afford to keep his shop shut for 3 years. Then another aspiring bar owner comes along and before you know the Thai owner has a new victim. I think now that with the global economy being what it is at the moment and the baht remaining strong against most currencies that things will get harder for them here.

  2. I was a frequent visitor of Soi 8 between 1997 and 2000, it was the place to be. I see the Sailor bar is still there, but it almost hurt my feelings to see what has happened to my most favorite bar at the time, ‘the Victory bar’. I have still got a little card somewhere that gives me a VIP status membership to the Victory bar; I wont be needing that anymore. Soi 7 looks quite good now, when I was there it held just a few bars at the top and near the little joining side road to Soi 8.
    I don’t know what the girls are charging these days, but back then, on quiet nights, they would fight over customers who would give them 500 Baht.
    What’s with all the street vendors on Soi 8 selling dresses and shoes. I remember thinking, back in 2006 whilst sat in the Victory bar, (the last time that I was in Pattaya) that the place was changing. I was chatting to three other customers in there, two of which were first timers and one of them had been going there since the late 80’s. The two first timers were telling me that they were paying 2000 Baht for a short time. I wasn’t too bothered at the time because I was already married to a Thai girl (from the Victory bar) with two kids.
    Without being cheeky, I would point out that I am the author of ‘Walking the wild side’ that our webmaster has kindly helped me to promote, and in that book, I mention a couple of chaps who would sit outside the pharmacies, and they would wait for a bus load of new girls to arrive from the villages and pay them just 200 Baht for the night. Then at around the same time, one of my girlfriends was given $100 US for a short time.
    I have always dreamed of starting a bar up in Pattaya, but I think that dream is starting to fizzle out. I would imagine that Pattaya would still be a most amazing experience for all that arrive for the first time, it would just be ‘same, but not same’ as all of us ‘old school’ patrons hit it at the end of a global era. The whole world has changed so much since the start of this century, for better or for worse. The bar girls may well be getting fatter as they swap a little orange pill for a bigmac. As the whole Pattaya experience may well have changed to cater for the new wave of patrons. I think that it may be best to just be optimistic, and hope that everything balances back out to a place where everybody is happy. Like it was in the good old days.

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