1) Bar Girls have been forced into prostitution. Basically wrong. Every bar girl you'll meet in Pattaya has made her own decision for this delicate kind of occupation, or at least they haven't been forced into prostitution physically but rather by economic restraints. However, due to the bad reputation of working as a prostitute, and to "save the face," often not even the girls' parents (papa-mama as they usually say) know the real source of the money their daughters send them every month.
Of course, there are more decent job alternatives upcountry, e.g. in factories, supermarkets etc. As salaries paid in factories, however, are low compared to the potential income of a "talented" bar girl who knows how to please her clients (i.e. not only sexually) and most girls, due to their lack of education, can hardly find jobs that pay any better, it is, in the first place, a financial decision why Isaan girls "voluntarily" enter the "sex trade". Village girls simply follow the call of money or, let's say, have been forced by economic restraints when they board a bus to Pattaya the first time.
Also, many new girls have relatives (elder sisters, cousins etc.) or friends from their home village working in Pattaya's bar scene, who invite them to work in the same bar. Unlike in Western countries, no pimps are involved usually (at least not in the foreign-oriented bar scene) and often the girls' parents would not even guess that their daughters work as prostitutes in Pattaya.
As elsewhere in the world, prostitution is definitely no reputable occupation in Thailand, so many girls will conceal the delicate nature of their income source from their family and tell them they were working in restaurants or hotels instead. Note: Prostitution is virtually illegal in Thailand, although the act of prostitution by itself is not outlawed anymore since 1996, while solicitation of sexual services in exchange for money or any other benefit is. On the other hand, the kingdom has a long tradition of prostitution and in practice it is widely tolerated and takes place in nearly every major city and province in the country. The amount of money that is generated in the sex trade is significant (one credible estimate published in 2003 placed the trade at US$ 4.3 billion per year or 3% of the Thai economy) and when the parents of the girls eventually find out about the delicate source of the money their daughters send them regularly from Pattaya, they will usually ignore their own traditional prejudices. Money number one ...
2) Many Thai Bar Girls are under age. Wrong. For unexperienced first-time visitors, most Asian women look significantly younger than they are, and it takes a while to get used to the often child-like looks of Pattaya bar girls. Most of these "girls", however, are at least in their twenties (some are even in their fourties already!) have been married previously and given birth to at least one child.
Even if you happen to meet a 17-year old girl working as hostess in a beer bar (or along Pattaya Beach Road) chances she's still a virgin are as low as zero percent. Teen pregnancies are unfortunately quite common in Thailand, and even in the 21st century many Thai girls still get their first children at the age of 14 or 15. Some underage girls who wish to work in a bar might lie about their real age to their employers and tell them they're at least 18 or 19. But as most bar owners keep copies of their employees' ID cards, and sex with a prostitute under the age of 18 is strictly prohibited - which is followed closely by the authorities - it is actually extremely unlikely that you come across an underage girl in a regular Pattaya bar.
If you should ever read about (female) underage prostitutes in Pattaya, you can be quite sure that they haven't been employed in bars frequented by foreign tourists, but in Thai-style karaoke bars catering mainly to local men, or have plied their trade as freelancers on Beach Road.
To judge from the number of foreign paedophiles Pattaya police catch regularly, however, things obviously look different in Pattaya's gay scene, where underage boys seem to be first choice?
3) Bar Girls are getting sexually exploited by Western "sex tourists". Correct, Pattaya bar girls are getting sexually exploited, that's a part of their job as sex workers. Or, to put it less cynically, Thai bar girls who have chosen to "sell pussy" (as they like to call it) voluntarily, are getting sexually just as much exploited by so-called "sex tourists," as these "sex tourists" are getting screwed and financially exploited by the girls. (That's the Farang's part in the deal so-to-say.)
In other words, it's a fair trade: sex in exchange for money. After all, this is the reason why both sides, "sex tourists" and bar girls - by their own decision - have come to Pattaya for. And, most importantly, Pattaya bar girls, unlike a majority of Western prostitutes, can usually choose their customers, even if it may appear the other way round. In practice, it's really very unlikely that a girl will go boom boom with a man she finds completely unattractive (of course, money can effectively enhance one's sex appeal.) Which Western prostitute can afford this kind of luxury?
As stated above: There are more respectable jobs available, even for the least educated "village girl," and no matter how low the wages may be, they're sufficient for living upcountry. The real problem is that a Thai labourer in a factory is getting physically perhaps as much exploited as the hardest working bar girl in the most thriving short-time bar.
After all, what is the minimum wage in Thailand? Just above 200 Baht a day. Now how does that compare to a minimum pay of 500 Baht for an hour of "short-time" and 1000 Baht, or significantly more, per night? Not to mention gold necklaces, motorcycles, clothes etc. that long-term clients (part-time "holiday boyfriends") may buy their darlings? Blame politics, society, capitalism or globalization - not the sexual desires of Western men who, neglected by their Western women, fill a financial gap they did not create themselves. (By the way: Prostitution in Thailand has a longer tradition than modern-day tourism in the West, or so-called sex tourism in Thailand, and the biggest "market" for Thai prostitutes are Thai males, not foreigners.)
4) Farangs are getting financially exploited by Bar Girls. Of course, some "love fools" who end up buying houses, motorcycles, cars, and tonnes of Thai gold for their short-term Thai "girlfriends" they've bar-fined in a local beer bar (of course, they've never paid for sex!!) might get seriously exploited financially and sooner or later end up in both a financial and emotional disaster. Yes, there are quite a few guys who got totally screwed by their "loving Thai girlfriends" (aka hookers), and have lost all their savings to a "smart" Pattaya bar girl, who has literally ripped them off. Then again, we've all heard these stories before, so nobody can say he hasn't been warned, correct? If someone feels the irresistable urge to send his Thai girlfriend a monthly allowance of US$1,000, build a luxury home in her village (in her name, of course) buy papa a dozen of water buffaloes, and her brother a brandnew pick-up truck, well, if it all goes wrong, then that's a classic case of som nam na, as they say in Thai: "Tough luck!" But let's face it, while money is the definite "number one" for all bar girls, these stories are rather extreme examples.
As a matter of fact, most guys simply get what they have come to Pattaya for: sex for money, a fair deal for both sides. Just stick to the basic rules of common sense when getting romantically involved with prostitutes and always remember who they are: prostitutes who get paid for sexual services. If a relationship based on paid sex should develop into a more serious love affair, well, that's a bonus. Otherwise remember: "No money, no honey!"
5) Bar Girls do not like their job. Usually wrong - most Pattaya bar girls do pretty much enjoy their job. Most ladies already have friends or relatives (elder sisters, cousins etc.) working in the same bar, so it's easy for "fresh" girls to get used to the job. Those bar girls who can't get used to their special kind of occupation, or the sex part of it, usually find this out after a couple of days only and leave Pattaya again.
Most girls, however, decide to stay. After all, what is wrong with working in a bar?! Aside from the important "money factor," physically it's definitely not a tough job - chatting with punters, enjoying "lady drinks", playing games, and going to the fridge occasionally to serve a bottle of beer, neither requires a keen intellect nor physical effort (the latter at least not as long as they haven't been bar-fined). And unless they're busy with their main job assignment, namely to "take care customers" either at the bar or in the privacy of their hotel rooms, they can chat with each other, eat their favourite Lao dishes, watch soap operas on TV or manicure their fingernails, possibly all at the same time.
Most importantly, though, the bar job pays a lot better than an exhausting factory job in Bangkok or Isaan. Although base wages are rather low (roughly 2,000-4,000 Baht per month in a beer bar) girls can increase their wages by earning commissions on lady drinks and bar fines, and bar girls who know "how to do the job", i.e. to the full satisfaction of their clients, can easily make enough money to support their parents and children in the village and make a living for themselves. A rough estimate would be to place the average monthly earnings of a working girl in Pattaya at between 10,000 and 20,000 Baht, i.e. not including the money eventual "boyfriends" occasionally send from abroad. For girls who can't find enough "customers" and earn signinficantly less than that, it simply wouldn't make sense to work in a bar for longer than a few months. (Dancing girls in A-GoGo bars, who not only have much higher base wages of around 10,000 Baht/month but also charge significantly more for sexual services, should easily make at least between 20,000 and 30,000 Baht a month, some significantly more.)
As far as the "sex part" of the bar job is concerned, well, that's a rather difficult question: Do Thai bar girls actually enjoy having sex with clients - apart from the fact they're getting paid for it?
First of all, let's face it, the sex work they complete during the night is probably the most difficult part of the job for many bar girls, especially if they are new in the job and have little experience only, or come across some "weirdos" and Cheap Charlies who refuse to pay at the end of the session or try to negotiate previously agreed prices down. Also - and aside from the permanent risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases or HIV - many bar girls may also get abused by their clients one way or the other, get talked into unprotected sex or performing non-standard sex practices they would normally reject. So, here's a basic rule: Be nice, fair and polite with your girl and treat every bar lady like you would treat your new girlfriend! Having said that, and to get back to my question whether bar girls actually enjoyed sex with clients, provided the above mentioned objections can be ruled out ...
Ten years ago I would have naturally replied: "Some do, others don't." And quite a few girls (often the best performers who enjoyed having sex most!) were sometimes willing to spend the whole night with youfor free and absolutely enjoyed "it" - provided you were Fun to be with, halfway good-looking, and knew how to "do your job."
Nowadays, many Pattaya old-hands might rather have the impression that less bar girls actually enjoy the sex part of their job but simply "do it for the money." Unfortunately that's probably right; in the same way as Pattaya has become more "touristy" and commercialised, many bar girls have developed a more professional, i.e. money-oriented attitude, and "enjoy" their job less than they appeared to do just a decade or two ago. But - thanks Buddha, there are still quite a few bar girls who enjoy the sex part of their job; you might just have to search a bit longer than in the "good old days" ...
6) Bar Girls earn "big money". Unfortunately wrong. Even though many good-looking, "talented" and accordingly busy bar girls, especially stunners working in GoGo bars (with relatively high base wages), have the potential to make "big cash", most bar girls simply aren't able to save anything of their monthly earnings; not so much because they actually waste it (some do!) but as the major part of their income is being sent back to their parents and kids upcountry - and 95% or so of Pattaya's bar girls have at least one child and parents in need of financial support.
As stated above, the average monthly earnings of a bar girl may be between 10,000 and 20,000 Baht, i.e. not including the money eventual "boyfriends" occasionally send from abroad; while coyote girls, dancers, or show girls in A-GoGo bars - who not only have much higher base wages but also charge significantly more for additional sexual services - should easily make at least between 20,000 and 30,000 Baht a month, some significantly more.
But due to Thailand's traditional "social security" system that expects children to support their needy parents, and other financially less privileged or elderly family members, unfortunately even those girls with relatively high wages (and "wealthy" foreign "boyfriends" aka "sponsors" who regularly send money from overseas) do not become rich women in Pattaya. Aside from regularly sending money back home to their families in the village and the relatively high cost of living in Pattaya, another major factor why most bar girls find it hard to save money is that Thais in general, including many bar girls, love gambling. Regularly spending a large percentage of one's income on the latest mobile phones models, or shopping for other luxury items, of course doesn't help either.
Having said that, as always there are a few exceptions to this rule, and some bar girls manage to save a decent amount of money within a relatively short period of time (not always necessarily by "skimming" a Farang love fool), then retire from the sex trade and go back to their home province to start an own small business there, minimarts, noodle soup stalls etc. Then again, exceptions prove the rule ...
7) Bar Girls prefer young men. Wrong. In general, Thai bar girls prefer older men as their financial situation is secure enough to provide reliable financial support to them on a regular basis, meaning money sent from his home country when he's not in Pattaya. In addition, older men seem to be under the misconception of displaying less "butterfly" behaviour than their younger counterparts. Plus, if a girl doesn't enjoy the sex part of her job, an older man (unless he takes Viagra) often mean "less work" for more money.
8) Bar Girls prefer old men. Wrong. If a good-looking and well-off young guy can offer the same financial support as an elder chap, most bar girls, unless they are looking for a "father figure", prefer younger men. Simply guess why! (On the other hand, an age difference of sometimes 20 or 30 years between spouses is traditionally not an issue in Thailand but "accepted" and seen as "normal" by Thai society; which explains why many bar girls usually don't have much of a problem with having sex with Farangs old enough to be their fathers. As Thai society, however, has been rapidly changing recently and same-age relationships between Thais appear to be becoming the "norm," most observers might argue that many younger bar girls are increasingly reluctant to accompany men double their own age or more.)
9) Bar Girls do not like Thai men. Usually wrong. Although most girls who seek a job as hostess in a Pattaya bar have previously made negative experiences with ex-husbands or Thai men in general, and are now looking for a Farang boyfriend, it's surprising how many bar girls in Pattaya, especially GoGo girls or younger ones, secretly have Thai boyfriends, some of whom are even getting financially supported by the girls - respectively their unaware Farang "boyfriends". In some cases, these Thai boyfriends or husbands may live happily on the village (the money the wife sends them allows them to work even less but drink and gamble even more ...), in other cases the girls live together with their boyfriends in Pattaya. While bar girls with Thai boyfriends are basically an exception, due diligence is recommended, especially if your "future bride" is asking for more (and more) money than is "necessary." For example, if she lives on the village and claims she needs US$1,000 or so a month, you are advised to have a closer look at her good-looking "brother" ...
10) Pattaya Bar Girls just want your money. Partly true: Which prostitute in your home country does not want your money?! Do always keep in mind that the girls you happen to meet behind the counters of Pattaya's beer bars, and on the dancing stages of its chrome pole palaces, have, in the first place, come here for only one reaon: to make enough money to support their families, raise their kids, afford a halfway decent lifestyle and possibly meet a potential Farang future husband who can take care for them financially. If it was not for the money, why should all these pretty girls have come to Pattaya and become what they are effectively: prostitutes.
Then again, money alone may not be enough to win the heart of a Pattaya bar girl ...
As Thai women in general, Pattaya bar girls, too, appreciate polite behaviour and men who smell and dress well. If you haven't taken a shower or changed your clothes in the last seven days, or have no command of the most basic rules of polite behaviour, then you will probably face a hard time searching for suitable sex partners (or a Thai girlfriend if that's what you're looking for) no matter what a "rich jerk" you may be. Aggressive behaviour, shouting, constant moaning and groaning, being a "Cheap Charly" (khi niao in Thai), permanently arguing about bills etc. are patterns of behaviour that will definitely not raise your esteem in the eyes of a Thai girl. When it comes to choosing a boyfriend or potential future husband, for whom they would readily give up their bar jobs, not only money is an important factor, but also whether the "chosen one" is a "good man" who can credibly promise her a better future. Interpretations of what constitutes a "good man" may individually vary, of course, but the factors listed above may be a first useful hint for those looking for a Thai wife that doesn't only "love them for their money."
11) Bar Girls in Pattaya are all Ladyboys. Complete nonsense. We understand that when you've watched too many Pattaya-related videos on YouTube you could easily get the false impression that every second bar lady in Pattaya is a ladyboy or transsexual. Nonetheless this is but an ill-founded misconception. While it's true that Pattaya has a large number of ladyboy sex workers, katoeys mostly work in designated ladyboy areas and bars, e.g. on Soi 6 and in the Walking Street area, or ply their trade as freelance hookers along Pattaya Beach Road. And while some "regular" bars around Pattaya, i.e. those catering to 100%-straight customers, may occasionally have one or two ladyboys working among the "regular" female staff, we'd estimate that roughly 95% of Pattaya's bar girls are actually real women. So relax and forget about all that nonsense on YouTube: If you stick to "regular" bars and Gogo clubs, you should be reasonably "safe" from accidentally bar-fining a ladyboy only to end up with an unpleasant surprise in your bedroom ... For more details on how to spot (and avoid) ladyboys in Pattaya, or perhaps just to find out where you can meet these bizarre creatures of the night, please view our special page dealing with katoeys in Pattaya.
Bar Girls Explained: The Truth About Pattaya Bar Girls (Part 1) - Part 2
Think about it: How many times have you've heard the following or similar bullshit from the lips of a Pattaya newbie who just bumped into the "love of his life" in a given bar in Pattaya? My girfriend is different from all the other bar girls, my lady doesn't love me for my money only, my girl has never been a prostitute, my missus works only as a waitress in her bar ...
Others, misguided by lurid news stories in the Western yellow press, seem to think that Thai bar girls are all "ladyboys" or sexually exploited teenage girls who have been violently forced into prostitution, and all foreigners with bar ladies as girlfriends are "sex tourists," perverts and losers who can't find a woman in their own country, or, even worse, pedophiles.
What is right, what is wrong? And what is your position as Farang when dealing with Pattaya bar girls, be it as a client, two-week "boyfriend" or long-term partner? On this page, we'll look into some of the most common misconceptions about Pattaya bar girls, as well as some aspects of relationships between bar girls and their "walking wallet" Farang counterparts. Occasionally your sense of humour will be taken for granted ...
Note: As this page has been growing longer and longer over the years, it is now split over two pages. Bar Girls Explained: The Truth About Pattaya Bar Girls (Part 2)