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Patpong gets its name from the family that owns much of the area's property, the Patpongpanich (or Patpongpanit), immigrants from Hainan Island, China, who purchased the area in 1946.At that time it was an undeveloped plot of land on the outskirts of the city.While Patpong is internationally known as a red light district at the heart of Bangkok's sex industry, it is in fact only one of numerous red-light districts with some catering primarily to Thai men while others, like Patpong, cater primarily to foreigners.A busy night market aimed at tourists is also located in Patpong.Some establishments in Patpong employ kathoeys (or "ladyboys") either exclusively or as part of a mixed gender staff.
The consequence was that Patpong lost a great deal of its vibrancy as a go-go bar and sexual services strip, becoming crowded with tourist shoppers who were at best bemused by the nightlife.
With one or two exceptions, the gay bars in the Patpong area are not go-go bars, but simply traditional gay pubs, such as Telephone and The Balcony, which cater to both Thais and tourists.
The commercial gay oriented go-go bars are mainly on Surawong Road or in small street Soi Pratuchai leading off Surawong.
Patpong 2 was added later, and both roads are in fact private property and not city streets.
(The so-called Patpong 3 and Soi Thaniya are not owned by the Patpongpanich family.) The old teak house was torn down long ago and the klong was filled in to make room for more shophouses.
Originally simply an ordinary business area, the coming of the bars eventually would drive out most of the other businesses.