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Old VW buses rigged out as mobile bars in Bangkok

11:45 AM, Jan 1, 2014   |    comments
In Bangkok, brick and mortar bars are making way for a new nightlife trend - mobile bars on wheels. DAVE STAMBOULIS
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USA TODAY - One of Bangkok's most unique features is its abundance of mobile cocktail bars. Usually in the form of rigged-out Volkswagen buses, these bars on wheels show off the Thai entrepreneurial spirit. They certainly appeal to counterculture lovers and also to those who want to have a cheap party out on the town.

VW bars have been around Bangkok for more than a decade, but only in the past few years have they proliferated and become wildly popular drinking destinations. All things retro are in vogue in Bangkok, and the Volkswagen bars not only fit this profile, but also offer one of the only spots in town for a reasonably priced cocktail, alcohol taxes and prices having spiraled upward in the past year.

While many of the mobile bars are run by young men who prefer nighttime hours and a constantly changing environment as a 9-to-5 alternative, some are manned by older bartenders (who also mix a pretty stiff drink). Everything from mojitos to Singapore Slings can be had, and the best value drinks are those four to five times the normal size, and aptly named "buckets."

The best places to find Bangkok's eye-popping mobile bars are in Sukhumvit Soi 11 (VW bar central, with the entire street lined with vans); the small lanes around Khao San Road (popular with the backpacking crowd); and the recently relocated Retro Market (moved from its former home of the Train Market in Chatuchak to an area behind Seacon Square in northeastern Bangkok).

(Copyright © 2013 USA TODAY)

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