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Royal-palace Thai music, “hooligan boil rice.”

Chinese New Year in Bankok’s Chinatown.  

Illustration by Murphy Lippincott  

A night out with Maft Sai, owner of the record store and label Zudrangma and the bar Studio Lam.

“In the past five years, people have become much more open to different kinds of music and clubs here; it’s not just the same old routine at Khaosan Road. You have the gothic, seedy places like Dark Bar (2/F, Ekkamai Mall; 662-381-9896), which is always packed with trendy fashion people listening to electronic music. And there are the places focusing on cocktails; a new one called Q&A (235/13 Sukhumvit Soi 21; 669-4417-9898) mixes good rum and whiskey with its own homemade syrups. A little further out, in Chinatown, there’s Soul­Bar (945 Charoen Krung Rd.; 669-5521-1541) for James Brown and jazz-funk and Tep Bar (Room 69-71, Soi Nana; 669-8467-2944) for traditional Thai music, like you’d hear playing in the royal palace hundreds of years ago. End the night with some “hooligan boil rice” and all the drunk people eating and shouting at Saengchai Pochana (762/5-6 Sukhumvit Rd.). There’s like 400 side dishes to choose from, so I try to go with a lot of friends.”

Where he’d crash:The Atlanta Hotel (from $20; in the heart of downtown is easy to get back to after the party. It’s an old-fashioned place with lots of charm, plus a sign in front of the hotel that says ‘Sex Tourists Not Welcome.’ ”