If Disneyland is a virtual world where grown-up men feel like young boys again, yep, “Disneyland” is a suitable description for the teenage-years-revisited experience that Pattaya has on store for adult men who still feel young at heart and like putting their virility to the test.
But to retain the Walt Disney allegory: Always bear in mind that the Scrooge McDuck types, in the real world as in Duckburg, are often luckier with girls than the Donald Duck types. In “Pattaya speech” this translates to the slogan: “No money, no honey.” Or at least that’s the rule of thumb if you want to start off on the right foot when dating Pattaya bar girls.
- Pattaya – Disneyland for Adults
- Bar Girl Basics – “No Money, No Honey”
- Bar Girls vs Freelance Prostitutes
- Taking a Girl out of a Bar – Bar Chit-Chat & Lady Drinks
- Bar Fines & How Much to Pay for Sex?
- How to Spot (Avoid?) Ladyboys in Pattaya
- In Your Hotel Room – Joiner Fee & Thai Sex Morals
- HIV/Aids & Sexually Transmitted Diseases in Pattaya
True, Pattaya has made immense efforts to upgrade its sleazy image in the past decade – away from its tattered reputation as a receptacle for so-called sex tourists and “sexpats”, towards more “upmarket” and family-friendly “quality” tourism.
Then again, have these efforts been really successful? Or have the chief strategists of the tourism ministry and the TAT been rather naive and presumptuous with their ambitious new advertising strategies for a “clean” Pattaya? Isn’t the underlying problem that prostitution is deeply ingrained in Thai culture itself and has a lively and much longer tradition in Siam than modern-day mass or “sex” tourism?
Granted, Pattaya today can no longer be reduced to its bustling nightlife and “sex industry” but has managed to attract an ever-increasing number of recreation seekers from all walks of life. But let’s face it, Pattaya’s nightlife and “bar girl industry” are still thriving – and remain the top draw for a large percentage of visitors to Funtown.
Here’s a thought experiment: Simply imagine a completely redesigned “clean” Pattaya without its hundreds of bars and GoGo clubs and their 20,000 or so bar ladies, lightly-dressed coyote dancers and ladyboys – how many tourists do you think would still opt for Pattaya as a holiday destination? Probably significantly less than the 9.1 million visitors Pattaya attracted in 2014.
Of course, things have changed in Pattaya in the last 10 years or so. Not only has the general “atmosphere” changed with the influx of increasing numbers of Russian, Chinese and Indian tourists, most of whom do not care much for bars but stick to the beaches and “mainstream” attractions. Pattaya is no longer as cheap as it once was either. Prices, not just for drinks and women, have increased substantially in recent years, while the “quality” of the bar girls and their “service-mindedness” have certainly somewhat declined – at least compared with the “good old days” when mass tourism was in its infancy and “everything was less commercialized”.
But don’t just listen to the moaners and groaners – Pattaya is still the world’s central hub of raunchy nightlife and “adult entertainment” unrivaled anywhere across the globe; a virtual “Disneyland for adults” where a man can materialize his secret dream of sexy exotic women at relatively affordable prices; not forgetting the infrastructure and general safety provided for tourists – aspects where aspiring destinations like Cambodia or the Philippines simply lag light-years behind Pattaya.
Men come to Pattaya for sex – the core service that bar girls provide. In that respect, the girls of Pattaya have been the driving force behind the city’s boom – an attribute they were never given kudos for – and still keep on making the world go round in that little parallel universe that Pattaya resembles for single male tourists. And well, if it ain’t broke, you wouldn’t fix it, would you?
But who are these Pattaya bar girls really? What’s driving them to this surreal city? And what should you as a tourist be prepared for (and aware of) when engaging with them?
To start with, you need to realize that the vast majority of working girls in Pattaya’s bars and GoGo clubs don’t actually come from Pattaya but hail from Thailand’s rural northeastern region commonly known as Isaan (or Isan, Esarn).
Traditionally, Isaan has always been Thailand’s poorest region, rich in cultural heritage but otherwise an only little developed, hardly industrialized rural region between the border of Laos in the North and East, and the old Khmer empire of Cambodia in the South.
While infrastructure in the region has developed continuously since the turn of the millennium, and the rich-poor divide between Bangkok and Isaan has slightly decreased, many Isaan people, especially from rural areas, are still seeking higher-paying work outside the region, particularly in Bangkok.
Due to generally low wages for, e.g., factory workers in Thailand, many young Isaan women (and men) also seek jobs in Thailand’s informal sex industry (prostitution is technically illegal), often so in Pattaya.
The people of Isaan are mostly farmers, hence, the average Pattaya bar girl is obviously not a sophisticated college girl but a rice farmer’s daughter from remote village areas, who has enjoyed only little formal education. In spite of their Western appearance and rather “infamous” occupation, most bar girls are actually rather conservative (or old-fashioned for Western standards) and all pay high respect to family values. The Thai family is the traditional cornerstone of Thai society, especially in rural areas, and if you’re in a relationship with a Thai woman you will sooner or later learn that her family, in particular her parents, will always have priority. This strong attachment to their parents, siblings etc. certainly also means that they’re often expected to financially support their less fortunate relatives who usually struggle to make a living in their day labourer jobs.
The average Thai bar girl, no matter how young or old she is (and they’re usually older than they look!) also looks back onto an unhappy history of at least one broken marriage and some hapless affairs with local men, who eventually transpired to be either alcoholics, wife-beaters and gamblers, or were simply too lazy to work. (At least that’s the girls’ version.)
Nearly all bar girls you’ll meet in Pattaya – we’d say probably more than 95% – have also given birth to at least one child that has usually been entrusted in their parents’ or grandparents’ care. The obligation to not only support their kids financially but also their parents or other family members who look after the children, certainly adds to the financial pressure bar girls have to cope with.
So given their relatively poor educational background, the lack of lucrative employment opportunities in their home region, and the social pressure to support other family members, you may now also have a guess what all these beautiful young women have come to Pattaya for and “sell pussy”?!
Look for a foreign boyfriend or husband? While this may be a beneficial side-effect for some, the correct answer is: to make cold hard cash. “No money, no honey”, as bar girls say. To put it straight, these young ladies haven’t come to Pattaya for a clubbing holiday or to necessarily meet YOU, but to make a living of their most valuable resource – their body.
“Money number one!” as the saying goes; then the family and kids. While a more serious relationship may always be on the horizon, as a tourist “dating” bar girls in Pattaya, please accept one fundamental fact: In the first place, you’re just another customer paying for their girlfriend-like services and are nowhere near the top of their priority list. Love takes time and – in the Thai bar girl context – usually requires a bit of an investment.
N.B. Thai women with more romantic ambitions increasingly hook up with foreign guys on social networking and dating sites rather than work in a bar in Pattaya, which not so long ago was virtually the only platform where Thai girls from the countryside could hook up with love-starved Western guys. So if bars aren’t really your thing, and you’re after more than just pay-for-play adventures, dating sites like Thai Friendly are definitely worth a shot.
When an Isaan village girl has made up her mind to seek a job as a “sex worker” in Pattaya she has basically two choices: a) work as a hostess in a beer bar (low base wages, long shifts), or b) seek a job as dancer in a GoGo bar (high base wages, less working hours). The latter option will certainly only be available to girls who aren’t too shy to exhibit their body in front of a large male audience and are sufficiently “easy on the eye”.
Other girls soon get tired of long regular working hours or the bossy behaviour of a bar owner and decide to ply their trade as freelancers. These ladies will then be roaming Pattaya Beach Road after dark, always in search of a potential customer, or hang about in bars and nightclubs, mostly in the Walking Street area, that are notorious for their large clientele of freelancers (and an equally large clientele of men looking to hook up with one) and even attract them with discounted drinks.
Other girls again might still have regular jobs in bars, or might not even be working in the sex trade, and simply seek to earn some extra cash after work.
You can pick up freelancer hookers most easily along the Pattaya beach promenade or in one of the notorious late-night bars and dance clubs on Walking Street that are essentially pick-up joints for freelancers, for example, JP Bar on Soi Lucky Star, Insomnia, Marine Disco, Lucifer’s or Tony’s.
As a single male, you probably won’t just easily spot them there but will sooner rather than later get chatted up by one anyway. No special tricks are required.
(“Normal” Thai women that don’t work in the bar industry would as good as never chat up or date foreign guys in Pattaya. And even if you get to pull one, money or some form of financial compensation is usually still involved or expected in return for granting sexual favours.)
Obviously you won’t be required to pay a “bar fine” when inviting a freelancer back to your room. But unless you’re picking up Yaba addicts from the beach or so, prices for sexual service do not vary significantly from what “regular” bar girls ask for – that’s at least 500 Baht for a “short-time” session (more likely a little more).
Aside from saving some money on “bar fines” and lady drinks at inflated prices, you’re obviously not restricted to opening hours of nightspots either … but, let’s just add a stern warning at this point.
Taking freelancers back to your room doesn’t only come with a number of risks and traps for unwary tourists and rookies but also “old hand” expats who think they know it all. Freelancers are professionals in more than one sense.
Sure, you might well save a few Baht with a freelance hooker. On the other hand, if you end up in some kind of problem, say, you get robbed of your money during your sleep, possibly after she’s spiked your drink with knockout drops or sleeping pills, your chance to find the same girl again somewhere on the streets of Pattaya is basically as low as zero.
On the other hand, if you’ve got problems with a girl you’ve “bar-fined” in a bar, you can always go back to the place where she works – most venues keep copies of their employees’ ID cards and will be ready to help you in such (extremely rare) cases.
To make this clear: Not only is the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease usually much higher with freelancers, but they’re also much more likely to rip you off, for example, grab your money from your wallet and run off while you’re sleeping or just taking a shower.
To be on the (relatively) safe side, we’d advise you to engage only in “short time” activities with freelancers; don’t leave them alone with your drink (they might spike it while you look away for half a second); always keep an eye on your valuables and cash or, even better, lock it all away in a safety box if you’ve got one in your hotel room.
Step gently and use common sense if you pull freelance hookers in Pattaya, especially when you’ve had one too many – and please don’t end up as the main performer in one of these “foreigner drugged and robbed” stories you can frequently read in our news blog. Most freelancers may be good girls just trying to do their job; then again, it’s better to be safe than sorry we think.
Now let’s assume you walk down, for example, Soi 7 in Pattaya on a random evening of the year. From every single bar along your way, swarms of girls will shout at you stuff like: Hello sexy man, where you go? I want go with you! And Soi 7, be warned, is absolutely packed with open-air beer bars and hundreds of sexy ladies trying to drag you in!
(Let’s further assume that between 10 and 20 girls work in each venue. Now if you multiply this figure by the estimated number of bars around Pattaya you’ll also get a basic idea of how many “available” girls there are in Funtown.)
Nice sight, all these young exotic chicks competing for your attention, ain’t it? Like balm for the troubled soul, eh? Don’t you worry if your possibly low self-esteem and reason can hardly agree with their enthused ratings of your incredibly good looks – a completely new “fact” you had never been aware of before walking down this narrow side street. You might be old, bold and fat, so what? Even more reason to enjoy their unprecedented attention – that’s as long as you don’t fall for their sweet nothings and believe you are really as “sexy” and “handsome” as they want to make you believe you are …
Chances that you eventually stop at one of the bars, treat yourself to an ice-cold beer and start a chat with one of the hostesses are probably extremely high we’d predict.
Hello sexy man, you like some drink? Can I sit with you?
Of course you can, you think to yourself and try to recall your best chat-up lines to win that little cutie over. But don’t worry now if you’ve never been a genius at hitting on girls back home. A sophisticated conversation surely isn’t required now.
Remember that the foreign language skills of the average Isaan rice farmer’s daughter, unless she’s a “veteran bar girl”, are rather low anyway. That’s why the notorious bar girl “chit-chat” will always sample the same old phrases and chat-up lines they’ve picked up from more experienced co-workers:
Where you from? What my name you? How long you stay Pattaya?
The equally popular standard questions What hotel you stay? and You come Pattaya alone? could be an early hint at a “more profound” (financial) interest in your company. You come Pattaya first time? on the other hand, is a question you should always negate. It’s not like that your lady really cares but she’s just trying to figure out how much of a greenhorn you still are – and potentially suitable as a human ATM.
You buy me drink?
Sooner or later “your girl” will likely ask you to buy her a so-called “lady drink” – these are regular drinks in most cases (often orange juice or so), however at slightly inflated prices, which allow the ladies to earn a commission. Granted, you might not like the concept, but given the low base wages bar girls have, there’s really nothing wrong with buying your girl a lady drink or two in order to keep her happy (prices are usually around 100 Baht or a bit more in a standard bar).
Then again, you better watch out when a lady pushes you too much and asks for yet another lady drink every 15 minutes or before she’s even emptied her glass – the more so if you’ve replied to her question You come Pattaya first time? with an innocent telltale “yes” …
If you fancy the girl you’re chatting with, and you’re tired of playing Connect Four or other typical bar games with her, you can always ask her to accompany you back to your hotel room and spend an hour or the rest of the night with you, i.e. unless she’s already brought up the subject herself:
You sleep alone? You no have lady? I want go with you. You like “boom boom”? (Pattaya slang for you know what)
On the other hand, if this should be your first bar of the night, perhaps even during your first-ever visit to Pattaya, you might as well check bin at this point and have another drink at the joint next door to see whether that cutie over there isn’t actually even much cuter than this one here?
Our general advice at this stage would be: Take your time, have a look around and enjoy yourself; and don’t fall for the first best girl. Especially as a Pattaya “newbie”, you’re surely not in a hurry now to make a quick decision. There are more than a thousand bars in Pattaya with tens of thousands of sexy bar girls who are all willing to spoil you and be your special friend of the night. What a sweet and alluring luxury …