Rompho is a place that will always be close to my heart, even when I decide to depart this magical land of Thailand and more specifically, the amazing city of Pattaya. Rompho is a bar, food and market complex situated in the south of Pattaya at an area known as Jomtien.
Jomtien itself offers an abundance of bars, massage places, restaurants and shops, not to mention the fabulous beach with its numerous activities; a beach that stretches for a number of kilometres, where you will always find farangs walking and enjoying the splendid weather that Thailand enjoys more often than not.
But I want to concentrate on the area known as Rompho. What is it you may ask? Well, as you enter the complex from the main road, you will find a busy market place, some of which is indoors but much of it, typically the food stalls at the front are outside. The food area is very popular with tourists and locals alike, especially at night.
There are two main thoroughfares, which are roads that divide the complex into two but there is also a couple of walkways that split the bars again, which is for the most part undercover.
On the left there is a line of barbers or hairdressers salons, which breaks for a car park, followed by a large restaurant before concluding with another indoor market.
To the right, is a mixture of bars, massage venues and small eating houses.
But I am going to concentrate on the bars, and there are many, the names of which will have you giggling at times. Sexy Girl Bar, Piss Bar, No Name Bar and Have Name Bar are a few you will see, the latter two always give me a chuckle when I see them.
Now the central part which sits between the two roads parting the complex, is made up of many small drinking establishments. The best way I can describe most of these is to say they mainly have one back wall, a bar area, a pool table or two, seating around the perimeter and if the bar is big enough, chairs situated outside, sometimes on the street. I will add that the streets rarely have traffic on them other than motorcycles.
There are no other walls, there may be a supporting beam here or there but that is more or less the structure of the small pub, which in most cases will hold approximately 20 to 75 customers depending on the size of the bar. This is of course on a busy night. Most bars appear busy if they have a dozen customers and six girls working there, simply because of the dimensions of the properties.
Come closing time, they simply pull down shutters, some metal, some plastic and there are bars that have nothing to prevent people entering the premise when closed. These bars will have chains around their fridges but that is all the security you will find on them. Yet I have never heard of a bar being broken into or damaged after closing time.
The bars employ girls to serve drinks to the customers. A few employ lady boys, which I find their antics over the evening highly entertaining. I am told that you can bar fine the girls and take them out for a nice meal or go dancing or whatever you both decide to do, although I have never done so myself 😉
Many of these establishments have live entertainment but if not there is always music playing over the speakers, often too loud or even not loud enough but the owners will alter to suit the clientele on the night.
At the top of the complex is a large Thai buffet, a dance hall of sorts and another largish restaurant. I have never had the pleasure of going that far up Rompho for my entertainment so I have no idea what goes on in that neck of the woods but the buffet appears to do well, being busy any time I have passed by.
So there you have it. Rompho – a basic insight. But what these bars are good at – is parties. Entertaining the customers. They are the bees knees and a Rompho party is something you must attend if ever in Pattaya.
You do not require an invite. Just walk along and listen for the music or look for where there are canopies outside of bars, a small stage, a DJ or food laid out on tables. Walk in, you will be welcomed with open arms and if you try to walk beyond any bar, there will always be a lady attempting to attract you in with cries of “Hello sexy man” or “Welcome” or “Where you go?” Some may even drag you in if you don’t enter of your own free will but it is all good natured.
Once at the party, find a seat, a lady will serve you and deliver your chosen drinks to your table. You will not be asked for money, instead you will have a small container, known as your bin, which accumulates till you decide to move on. This is when you pay your bill or “Check Bin.” You should always keep a close eye on your bin though. I have caught people putting their bills into mine but it is rare.
You can sample the food, which is always free of charge to anyone attending the parties. In fact I know people that attend parties just for the food then leave. Shocking behaviour!
The parties are always great fun. The bar will lay on entertainment of some sort. It may be a DJ or a band. Often it is a singer or three, who take it turns to give their vocal chords some exercise, singing to backing tracks. Some of these artists are good, others are dreadful but occasionally they are simply brilliant.
Drag artists, dancers, showmen, magicians may come along at intervals and entertain you with their own brand of amusement and again it is a hit or a miss if they have any talent.
Towards the end of the night, drunken people will get up on the stage, grab the microphone and make a complete fool of themselves but it is all in the name of fun and enjoyment.
Thais know how to throw a party and the ladies love to dance and/or sing. Once they have sampled enough Thai Whisky or Tequila, their principles go out the window or they would if there was windows and the dancing commences.
There are bars that appear to throw parties every night. Someone’s birthday is usually the reason and often it may be a member of staff who is celebrating being a year older. Other bars never have parties, not even for their own staff. Shame on you 🙂 This is Pattaya – people come here to have fun, drink and be merry, sex and rock ‘n’ roll and dancing the night away.
The night will be split into western music and Thai music. I have heard farangs complain about having to listen to Thai music but hey – you are in Thailand in case you have failed to notice. Once is a while a Thai song will have you tapping your feet or singing along with your own interpretation of the words. if not, sit back and watch the ladies dancing. They can be sexy, they can be provocative or simply downright mad but they will always have fun.
Everyone who comes to Pattaya will always head to Walking Street, which of course is world famous for its Go Go Bars and sexy ladies or Soi 6 and LK Metro, the latter being my own preference if I am down Soi Buakhao way but in my opinion, you should never come to Pattaya and not put a couple of evenings aside for Rompho. It is an experience you will never forget if you hit the right bar, with fun loving people and girls galore.
Rompho offers good food, cheap beer, sexy girls, respect and the parties – well they are the best. And if it is all too much for you, come back the following day and enjoy a Thai massage.