It is near Sukhumvit Road, between Sukhumvit Soi 21 (also called Soi Asoke) and Soi 23, within walking distance from the BTS Skytrain's Asok Station and the Bangkok Metro's Sukhumvit Station. The Grand Millennium Hotel is nearby.
The soi was given its name by longtime nightlife columnist Bernard Trink, after the late T. G. "Cowboy" Edwards, a retired American airman who opened one of the first bars there in 1977. A tall African-American, Edwards got his nickname because he often wore a cowboy hat.
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 as of 2012, some Soi Cowboy bars stay open as late as 02:30.
At their entrance, all go-go bars carry government-mandated signs in Thai and English. The sign reads
UNDER 20 YEARSDRUG-FREE
Films and songs
In 2000, the Norwegian group Getaway People released a song called "Soi Cowboy" about this area. The American rock band Sun City Girls have a song called "Soi Cowboy" on their 1996 album 330,003 Crossdressers From Beyond The Rig Veda. In the albums booklet it is said to be based on a traditional melody.
Actor Hugh Grant visited Soi Cowboy in December 2003, while shooting the movie Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. The Tilac Bar and several Soi Cowboy bar girls are seen in the film. The Sun wrote on 23 December 2003 that Grant was chased by bar girls and had to flee, though that apparently was untrue.
In December 2010, scenes for the film The Hangover Part 2 were also shot here.
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