The beginning of the much-anticipated sequel to The Hangover juxtaposes grandeur and sleaze. A wedding party starts off in the sumptuous surroundings of a luxury Krabi beach hotel. But soon enough the trio of feckless partygoers who tore up Vegas to such humourous effect in the original movie are shown waking up and down on their luck in a stinking Bangkok backstreet, surrounded by pimps, players, beer, bhats and a smoking monkey.

It might all seem juvenile, but director Todd Phillips has nailed today’s Thailand — you can galavant glamorously or sink into sleaze up to your neck and not emerge for days. The new film, shot on location in Bangkok and Krabi, offers up both sides of the coin: it depicts underground speakeasies frequented by ne’er do wells but also mind-blowing cocktail lounges, like the Sky Bar — perched atop one of Bangkok’s tallest buildings.

For full-moon parties and beach raves you need to head out of town —nightlife in Bangkok is less hippie-oriented — apart from in that travellers’ nexus, the Khaosan Road. There’s more glamour in the capital. Places like Bed Supperclub cater to a hip, international crowd of cocktail-drinkers in the Sukhumvit neighbourhood. Yet Sukhumvit is also the area of town where there are girls, boys and everything in-between to be found wrapped around poles and portly male tourists with money. There’s still the odd sex-show as well. But why would you, a discerning traveller, come to Thailand for that kind of thing?

For nights out that defy the Thai cliches, there are cool, late-night jazz bars and relaxed pubs, like Saxophone, in the area around Victory Monument. There are plenty of grimy dives playing records all night in Bangkok, but for really good music, head for clubs like Culture. This forward-looking place hosts indie, dubstep, electro and techno nights on Ratchadamnoen Klang Rd. The club has even set up its own festival, the Culture One Festival.