Soi Cowboy is a short (150 meter long) street in Bangkok, Thailand, with some 40, mostly go-go bars. It caters mainly to tourists and expatriates.Soi Cowboy contains one of the three largest groups of foreign-oriented bars in Bangkok, the other two being Patpong and Soi Nana Tai.
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The first bar opened in Soi Cowboy in the early 1970s, but it was not until 1977 that a second bar opened on the street by T. G. “Cowboy” Edwards, a retired American airman. Edwards got his nickname because he often wore a cowboy hat and the soi was given its name in reference to him by longtime nightlife columnist Bernard Trink. The number of bars grew to 31 by the end of the century, all located on the ground floor.
When Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was elected in 2001, his government instituted a “social order” campaign. As part of this, all bars, nightclubs and restaurants had to close by 02:00, later changed to 01:00 for all areas not officially designated as “entertainment zones”. (Unlike Patpong, Soi Cowboy and Nana Plaza were not so designated). A mandatory midnight closing time was even discussed.
Over the years this policy has eased, and some Soi Cowboy bars stay open as late as 02:00.
At their entrance, all go-go bars carry government-mandated signs in Thai and English. The sign reads:
UNDER 20 YEARS
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