So you’re planning to meet some ladyboys in Pattaya? Read this.
The whole of south-east Asia is remarkable for its highly visible populations of transsexual women. These are not at all the same as you may be used to thinking of, if you are a Westerner. (See my discussions on Ray Blanchard for more details.)
Ladyboys in Thailand and across Asia are not like that at all. They are
beautiful and very sexy. They are extremely feminine in appearance and manners. From their early teens they use female hormones, often birth control pills which are freely available without prescription. These can turn them into staggeringly beautiful women. And the fact is that many men are powerfully attracted to them.
The Ladyboy Phenomenon in Pattaya.
Unfortunately a great deal of the information available is either badly researched or flat wrong.
The destination of choice for men who desire to investigate further their attraction to transwomen has become Thailand. Pattaya, along with Phuket and Bangkok, are the favourites. Thailand has a very well developed tourism sector, with many hotels and short-term apartments at very reasonable prices.
Pattaya is easily and cheaply accessible from the West by air and does not require prior visa approval for most Westerners — you get a month automatically on entry. As well as this it is relatively inexpensive, fairly relaxed, warm, sunny, many people can speak English and there is excellent infrastructure and communications. Together, these make it popular with all types of tourists as well as more hard-core travellers.
Thailand is an ideal destination.
Thailand is therefore an ideal destination for the ladyboy-attracted man who wants to find out more. ‘What happens in Thailand stays in Thailand,’ is the saying. As long as you don’t make the actual news, nobody will ever know what you get up to — although they may presume you are seeking out sex.
Action in Pattaya is constant all year round, although in the low season, Western summer, things can be a little quiet and it will be rather hotter and wetter than from November to March. Only around 10% or so of the sex workers in Pattaya are ladyboys, as transsexuals there are usually known (they all call themselves that) but they are obvious.
Ordinary Thai girls, even sex workers, are nowhere near that forward, or, frankly, that gorgeous. Pattaya attracts a lot of Russian family tourists — I can only imagine what might be going on inside their heads — but they don’t get in the way.
(By the way, don’t call ladyboys ‘kathoey’. Depending on pronunciation and context, this may be offensive.)
You will see ladyboys serving in restaurants, in shops, working in hairdressing salons — I think every salon in Asia is majority LB — as well as in banks, travel agencies and such-like. Besides this, there are well-known, glamorous ladyboy cabarets.
Tiffany and Alcazar are the two biggest, both with large theatres, but there are many other, smaller and more intimate venues. They’re not everyone’s cup of tea, but I recommend visiting at least once.
(Please note: the girls who work in these, certainly the more upmarket ones, are usually NOT available for paid sex, or at least, not on the premises. Don’t cause embarrassment.)
Generally, having fun with bar girls is safest because they work under a person called a mamasan. This is usually an older woman or ladyboy whose job it is to manage the younger girls. The mamasan will make sure the girls behave when they are with clients (you have to behave too). So if there’s an issue, you can go see mamasan and get her to sort it.
However, you will have to pay a ‘bar fine’ to take a girl out of the bar. The logic behind this is convoluted and it’s really just the bar’s cut from her off-campus activities.
You will find yourself targeted by girls (of both types) so be polite but firm. In some bars, ladyboys can be extremely direct and may shock you. However, don’t be rushed and if you don’t fancy a particular girl, just say so.
Protocol, with bar girls, is to buy a ‘lady drink’ while discussing your plans for the evening. These are more expensive than regular drinks and she gets the extra as a tip.
Check your hotel is LB friendly first.
Most Pattaya hotels are OK, but better to be sure.
Your date may be asked to leave her ID card at the concierge desk and this is definitely in your interest. A good hotel will require that you accompany her to retrieve it, so she can’t make off with your new Nikon while you’re asleep. Always use the room safe for your valuables, however.
This applies even if you (think you are) in a long-term relationship with a bar girl. You don’t know who else is in there. Be sensible and be safe. (Now if you have a real relationship with a girl, which you are not going to establish in a 2-week trip anyway, it’s different. But by then you’ll have more experience.)
After 10 pm or so (LBs are just unusually gorgeous vampires) there will be loads of ladyboys on the street in Pattaya, not just in the bars.
You will certainly, at least in Walking Street, see many well-known faces.
Finally, you can meet girls online. The principal site is Thai Friendly, which has literally thousands of girls subscribed. (Facebook is also popular but the profiles are mostly in Thai, so you may have difficulty.)
Not all the girls are seeking casual fun. Some are in fact looking for longer relationships. But there are plenty who would still be interested and it will say so on their profiles.
Do be aware though, that you are asking someone you have never even seen in real life to come and stay in your hotel room. Take sensible precautions.
My advice to a first-timer would be DO NOT GET DRUNK and treat everyone with great respect. It’s Thailand, respect is a big deal. It will also be paid back.
Then there is the question of love.
Now I will be honest, being genuinely in love with an Asian TS who really loves you too is the most wonderful, rewarding experience. There is nothing she will not do for you. Most ladyboys have a great sense of humour and are strong characters — they have to be. She can probably cook like an ace, and will delight in looking after you. But the payback is commitment. You have to be ready to give that.
Asia is full of stories of Westerners who have had all their savings taken by a gold-digger who is actually running a string of men. So be careful. These are lovely women but they have real needs, supporting the rest of an enormous (by Western standards) family being one of them.
They see milking Western men as a legitimate career; they don’t see it as fraudulent, as any cursory check of the relevant sites will prove.
Now it’s up to you. You can just pay a girl for her time; or you can have casual fun, and it will cost dinner and beachwear and salon visits and so on, and maybe the buffalo got a bit sick this week. There’s probably not that much in it. Or you can get serious. But serious is really serious, and these girls will give you their hearts on a plate. If that’s not what you want, you have to tell them.
You need to know what you want up front and not let passion — or for that matter alcohol — cloud your judgement. I can highly commend the experience of being in a committed relationship with an Asian TS, but it’s not for everyone. Try to be cool and if you’re only going to test the waters and find out about yourself, follow the old adage — ‘no getting lubbed up’.
Back in Pattaya, watch it on Beach Road after 1 am. Just be careful and if you feel you’re a bit tipsy, get a tuktuk or a taxi home. Don’t walk alone there if you can avoid it.
Also, you’re meant to carry your passport at all times in Thailand but this is risky; better make a colour photocopy and carry that along with your hotel reservation receipt. If you are asked (very rare) you can politely explain it’s at the hotel. (This is one area where the Philippines is better; here, if you extend your visa, you’ll get an Alien Registration card. That is all you need to carry, leaving your passport in the room safe at all times.)
Be aware that there is a difference between Thai Royal Police and the Tourist Police. If you have trouble go to the Tourist Police FIRST. They have a cabin in Walking Street. They are generally more sympathetic and speak good English — indeed, most are ex-pats themselves. If you go to the Thai Royal Police and they reject your claims, that’s it and the Tourist Police can do nothing to help you, even if you have a legitimate grievance. It’s a ‘face’ issue.
Also, anything you agree to will be held to be a binding contract in any dispute. So mind what you say. If you are in a dispute with someone and you believe you are right, keep schtum and insist on calling the Tourist Police.
The old Pattaya ‘jet-ski’ scam is still ongoing, for example. Here, an innocent is hired out a jet-ski with significant damage which may have been covered up to make it look less obvious. He takes it back and bingo, $500 USD bill for repairs, while the owner is brandishing a gun.
Keep calm and get the Tourist Police. The scammers are all known to them. But if you agree to pay the damage in the heat of the moment or because you are intimidated, you’ll be held to it. Stay polite, say nothing and get the cops.
Always avoid violence and stay calm.
Being calm is big in Thailand. If you appear aggressive, you’ll just get it back with interest.
Be very careful never to get into a violent exchange with any Thai. This applies just as much everywhere in Asia. ‘Face’ is hugely important across the region. I don’t care if you’re a 120kg 6’4″ Yankee Doodle or whatever.
Apart from the fact that they might well be armed, all those little Thai guys do Muay Thai or I dunno what. Even if you do manage to get the better of one, you know something? He’s going to come back with 20 of his chums and hospitalise you if not worse.
The best thing you can do, if you fuck up like this, is to get on the next plane out. They might not come today, or tomorrow, but they will come, and you will be consuming sustenance through an intravenous drip for the rest of your trip — or maybe your life.
And don’t imagine that just because they look cute, ladyboys can’t defend themselves. They’re as strong as men (unsurprisingly) and will whip off a stiletto-heeled shoe and beat you round the face with it if they have to. Play bonny and play safe.
Finally, if you want all this in safety and to meet a nice group of girls in a relaxed, no-pressure environment, try Sensations Bar in Soi 21. Also, if you don’t mind staying a little out of town I can recommend Gino House. It’s quiet, clean and discreet.
Oh, and, I should warn you: once you have discovered ladyboy love you will never go back.
The full version of this post was first published, with many additional details, at http://rodfleming.com/pattaya/