The Single Dude's Guide to Thailand

ThailandThailand, Thailand…. where to begin? Just after landing in Bangkok and getting checked into my hotel I decided to stick my head into the Irish Pub… or actually in this case an English pub. Shortly there after I met an American guy that worked for the American Embassy in Thailand. His first words to me were “Welcome to the circus.” No words rang truer throughout the course of my trip in Thailand than those. I feel like I could write a book based on my relatively short-lived experience in Thailand.

I have to say that I have a real love hate relationship with Thailand. On one hand you’ve got a lot of pluses: a beautiful country, great weather, amazing beaches, gorgeous islands, beautiful girls, reasonable prices and warm, friendly locals (or at least so 95%+ appear to be on the surface). On the other hand there is rampant sex tourism, prostitution, ladyboys, tons of shitty western tourists and some really off-putting cultural quirks (some are weird and some are downright dangerous for the uninformed).

I think almost everybody knows that Thailand is full of gorgeous beaches and is a fairly cheap destination (as I detailed in my Chiang Mai post). They call it the land of smiles and as long as you behave yourself and make sure not to violate any of the cultural norms that should be pretty much your experience. At this point however, I am going to say something that many will probably find outrageous… I do not think Thailand is a good single dude travel destination. I think Thailand is a far better destination to bring a girl who’s company you enjoy that you met elsewhere! Why? I will try to explain below.

Although Thailand is world famous for beautiful girls (and it certainly has it’s share) I don’t think it is a top destination to meet one on a short to medium term trip. In order to explain why you will need to understand just how prevalent prostitution and sex tourism really is in Thailand. To explain all the nuances I have a few recommended resources for you:

1.) Read the Wikipedia entry on bar girls and be sure you understand the concept of “bar fines”.

2.) Check out a sex tourism forum such as Pattaya Addicts.

3.) Read Private Dancer by Stephen Leather, a fictional story set in Thailand, however one that many expats claim is a fairly accurate portrayal of the way things work in the bar girl scene.

4.) Read the Thai Black Book – The Ultimate Thailand Survival Guide, another book highly recommended by expats. The book is extremely poorly written and in dire need of an editor or at least a spell check, however most of the raw information rang true to my experience. Since I was only in Thailand for a relatively short period of time, I cannot confirm or deny the accuracy of every topic covered, but I can say that I found almost nothing that ran contrary to my experience. Besides poor writing the only other thing I would fault the author on is that he too aggressively labels every girl with tattoo as a current or former bar girl – tattoos are extremely popular in Thailand and you can easily find little professional girls with garish tramp stamps.

If you’ve read some of the resources recommended above you’ll understand a little bit better about the drawbacks of fooling around with the bar girls. If sex tourism is your objective then Single Dude Travel is not for you, try Pattaya Addicts or google. If the above is not enough to convince you to steer clear of the bar girl scene consider the following: many of the bar girls are teenage single mothers who in some cases are sold or coerced into their “jobs” and others just do it out of pure economic desperation. You have to ask yourself whether or not this is something you want to support?

If you really just want to meet a nice regular girl… good luck in Thailand. As a farang (Thai for western foreigner) you will be automatically assumed guilty as a filthy dirty sex tourist by most non-bar girl Thai girls until proven innocent. Proving yourself innocent can take weeks or months so don’t plan on it unless you live there. Sure, there are always exceptions to the rule but this is generally how it works more often than not.

You do have one other option in Thailand, internet dating. I received glowing recommendations for the following site: Thai Love Links. Although I didn’t try these sites personally I saw some of the results first hand and I must say they were nothing short of outstanding. If you absolutely must go to Thailand and you want to meet a Thai girl this is probably your best bet.

Besides the bar girls the other major thing you need to be aware of in Thailand (and something that is well covered in Thai Black Book – The Ultimate Thailand Survival Guide) are the cultural differences. Thai culture is extremely different from western culture. There is far too much to cover in a short blog post, you really need to do your homework, however, the crash course version is as follows: Thai culture dictates that harmony and peace rather than truth and honesty is the highest order. What this means in a practical sense is that Thais are always smiling whether they are actually happy or not. Even if you are really pissing off a Thai he will likely be smiling at you right up to the point that he’s breaking a bottle over your head. That’s not the worst of it either, Thais only fight in groups. No matter how tough you are you cannot win a fight in Thailand if you are a foreigner. In any dispute of any kind the foreigner is always wrong and every Thai within a 5 mile radius will come running to help kick your ass. They will just keep coming until you are dead or unconscious. If by some miracle you win the battle, rest assured you won’t win the war. They will come back later with more people and more weapons. You have been warned! Thailand is no place for DAFFs!

With all of those topics out of the way let’s talk about some places to visit. Whether or not Bangkok is a place you plan to spend any significant amount of time in, chances are you’re going to need to spend at least a night at the beginning and the end of your trip. The place to stay is Khao San Road. It’s packed with bars, restaurants, cheap hotels and young tourists. You can have a great time here while you figure out where you’re headed to next. Try Gullivers late night for your best chance to pickup a non-bar girl even though 50-90% of the girls in there will be bar girls that finished work or “freelancers”. Normally I advocate avoiding other tourists but in Bangkok it’s certainly preferred to all the sex tourist destinations around Sukhumvit. Sukhumvit Soi 4 is absolutely crawling with ladyboys and has some of the sleaziest hooker bars you will ever see.

When you’ve had your fill of Bangkok it’s time to hit a beach or an island. There are tons of potential destinations, Phuket, Koh Phangan and Koh Samui are probably among the most popular. Koh Phangan is likely the best destination for the notorious Full Moon Parties but I decided to skip it because I was told Full Moon Parties are 90% drunk American, British and Australian tourists, 5% miscellaneous and 5% Thai people. I figured I could get the same experience at Cacao Beach in Bulgaria (among other possible locations) with hot Eastern European chicks instead of dumb fat western ones

Instead I choose some less traveled destinations that were also closer to Bangkok: Koh Larn and Koh Samet. Koh Larn was a complete waste of time and money, skip it. Koh Samet was wonderful. A charming little island you can get to in just half a day from Bangkok. Take a bus, taxi or private car (depending on your budget) from Bangkok to the port and the boat ride is just 45 minutes. You can get decent accommodation from $23 a night (700 THB) or a really nice place right on the beach for around $33 (1000 THB) and up. The beach is lined with bars and clubs with many putting on fire shows at night. Expect to find hot Scandinavian and Russian tourist girls gracing the beaches of Koh Samet with few Thai people other than those that are working on the island.

Fire Show

Fire Show

UPDATE: This was so priceless I had to add it. Below, “timbota”, a member of Pattaya Addicts Forum, explains that Single Dude Travel is a “Loosers Guide” [sic] for men that can’t find a wife at home. Implicit in his argument seems to be that paying for sex is a superior way to go. LOL! Priceless!

timbota, on 17 May 2011 – 08:15 AM, said:

“On the other hand there is rampant sex tourism, prostitution, ladyboys, tons of shitty western tourists and some really off-putting cultural quirks (some are weird and some are downright dangerous for the uninformed).”

These are actually reasons I LOVE this place!!!

“If you’ve read some of the resources recommended above you’ll understand a little bit better about the drawbacks of fooling around with the bar girls. If sex tourism is your objective then Single Dude Travel is not for you, try Pattaya Addicts or google. If the above is not enough to convince you to steer clear of the bar girl scene consider the following: many of the bar girls are teenage single mothers who in some cases are sold or coerced into their “jobs” and others just do it out of pure economic desperation. You have to ask yourself whether or not this is something you want to support?”

‘Drawbacks of fooling around with the bar girls.’ Really?? You think so? Have you ever heard of extreme sports?? Well, just think of this as extreme sex.
Do I want to support these girls? Of course. You think I’m going to fuck them for free? How heartless would that be??

I could not read any more after this….

Single Dude’s Guide my ass. More like ‘Looser’s [sic] Guide to Finding a Wife for those who are too pathetic to find one at home’.

There, now I feel a little better. Need a beer. And a ST.

We’ll leave it up to the readers to decide. If these are the kind of “tourists” you want to hang out with, Thailand and especially Pattaya is your place… otherwise… well my thoughts are above.

Be sure to check out the Chiang Mai post next…

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23 comments to The Single Dude’s Guide to Thailand

  • sri

    your write up about bankok really sucks, your only intention is to run down the place with your constricted tubular vision. millions of tourists visit this island every year. there are some bad and good , one should use their wisdom to choose. Thailand is great country with perfect beach locations , great street food, lovely drinks .. all these in resonable price s not like any europrean or american ripoff places, I bet one can visit any island in thailand and definetely go back with great memories. If you meet any foreigner ask him about thailand, mostly he will be saying that this is his 3 or 4 th visit to this great holiday.
    If a tourist should know how to behave in a foreign nation try to blend with the local tastes and traditions, its not your home buddy to do whatever you want.
    even in your own backyard if you do what you feel like your ass will be wiped off.
    I have been to this country 3 times and i didnt not face any problem anywhere,
    the only one thing is one should know to bargain on prices.
    great bars, pretty immaculate girls, good street food, wonderful beaches, lovely sea rides, friendly nation –a trip one must make–sri

  • ja

    great post, fuck the other dickhead hes just out for a lay

  • If you go to Amsterdam as a single guy, you’re not required to go to the red light district or smoke weed in a coffee shop, right?

    Meeting people who aren’t trying to sell you a service is difficult in most big cities, but possibly a little less so in Bangkok.

    There are plenty of great experiences to be had in Thailand that don’t involve having sex.

    This post doesn’t really make sense as it seems to not know whether it (the author) wants to raise ethical questions, warn naive travellers of pit falls, or just feels bad about having paid for sex on a drunk night out or something.

  • Cosmic psycho

    Hey Liz, your husband went backpacking alone in Asia? And you believed him? I’m shocked…………shocked that he only banged 5 women!

  • Rud

    I found it easy to find nice non-bargirls to pick up in BKK. Just go to the night clubs, RCA (Royalk City Avenue) in Ratchada is a good place to start. It is a younger crowd, 18-25 mostly so you don’t have to worry about the disgusting fat Euro geezers everywhere (I just turned 27 so I fit in).

  • Bob coyle

    Liz you sound like a right fucking cunt. The fucking reason I left to move here was because of sows like you. Cunt!

  • thecrap0n

    >>>you will be automatically assumed guilty as a filthy dirty sex tourist by most non-bar girl Thai girls until proven innocent. Proving yourself innocent can take weeks or months

    Oooohk…. So, you’re not a dirty filthy sex tourist because you just want to fuck somebody for free? With no strings attached? Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. “I’m not a dirty filthy sex seeking tourist, because instead of paying you, I’ll just feed you a big load of bullshit and leave you butt naked on the bed in the morning.”

  • Andy

    Boris/Charlie and all, 100% of everything you write about destinations is taken from Lonely Planet & other people’s websites. You appear you totally incapable of forming an independent opnion. Muppetts.

  • Lol

    Liz Had you learned to take care of your man and learn some its not only me attaitude, then you would not have written such crap!

  • Liz

    Hi, my husband went alone to backpack aross SE asia last March ..while i was working in Canada. I only found out a month ago that he slept with 5 thai girls! He said he met them in bars..he must have for sure paid for sex..prositutions? the bar scence..right? I am so livid right now..your right thailand is a place for losers. I deserve a man not a F*** loser.

    • Why?

      Haha! Uneducated, fat, white-girl alert! Guess which one of you is going to be having fun in their retirement after you both get divorced? Nah haah!

      Your post is so illiterate it hurts. Please proof-read next time.

  • DirectDanger

    Boris,
    I can totally understand you perspective on Thailand as my thoughts were some what similar the first several times I visited as a tourist. The problem is you just scratched the surface especially when it comes to Bangkok. I have lived in Bangkok for 2 years now and I can’t remember the last time I was at Kohsan road or Sukhumvit soi 4. As a tourist it is all you know but so far from all Bangkok has to offer.

    If you want to meet tons of university girls who are in no way “working” girls be sure to check out RCA an area that has 4 or 5 mega clubs where on a weekend there is probably close to 10,000 people. It is not recommended for old dudes as the average age is 18 to 25. If you want a bit of the hiso (high society) then go out on Thong Lo and Ekamai to clubs like Demo and Funky Villa.

    Once you get beyond the tourist shit holes Bangkok is an amazing place. Do a little more research on where to hang out and you will have different experience.

    Cheers.

  • Greg

    Cute, but a bit sensationalistic. The violence thing is waaaay overplayed.

    Let me ask you – in your own country, if you saw some guy in a fight with a stranger would you intervene? Chances are you wouldnt want to get hurt and you wouldnt. Its the same in Thailand – if theres a fight, strangers will not intervene. The idea is laughable.

    But its true Thais only fight in groups…..of friends. If a Thai guys doesnt have his group with him, he wont fight, period. Hell run. He knows he sure as hell cant count on strange Thai men on the street joining in on the fight.

    The reason you only hear about stories of foreigners getting into fights with groups of Thais is not because every time you fight a group will form – but because a Thai will only fight if he has his group of friends nearby! If his friends arent around, no fight. This creates the impression in the uninformed that groups will always form if there is a fight, but that isnt, as I have tried to explain, the case.

    All of this is moot because you have to do some pretty stupid shit to get into a fight with Thais. They are way more patient than anyone in the West.

    As for girls, youre more correct about that. Foreigners do have a pretty bad reputation there, but its much easier to get with a non-prostitute than you think, if you just go to the normal places.

  • Michal

    Thanks Boris, did some research and found out that the east coast (e.g. Koh Samui) is actually fairly dry in July, unlike Phuket. Will probably skip Phuket altogether. Is Koh Samui and surrounding islands worth it? Heard good things about Phi Phi, but it’s on the west coast and thus rainy in July…

  • Michal

    A good buddy of mine is going backpacking SE Asia this summer and I’m thinking to tag along with him for a few weeks in July (2-3, as work allows), probably just Thailand. The idea was to arrive to Bangkok and then take train to Phuket and see stuff along the way. However, I think this is the monsoon season and I’m worried that it’s going to suck with the daily rain. Diving, SCUBA, SNUBA might be not possible in T-storms, etc. Anybody has any experience with Thailand in July, can you recommend? Also, some good website for making an itinerary to make the best of it.

    Thanks a lot!

    • Boris

      Unfortunately I have no experience with Thailand in July but it isn’t hard to find forums that long term expats frequent that I’m sure can tell you. What I can add though is that all the long timers I talked to told me Phuket is a tourist trap and very over priced. Why not try somewhere else?

      • Actually It’s still pretty cheap. I had an apartment there about 4 years ago 5 minutes walk from Patong Beach and it was $7 a night.

        • Boris

          4 years ago can be an eternity in emerging market especially with western currencies nose diving… trust me I was just there – it ain’t like that anymore. The cheapest place I stayed anywhere in Thailand was $10 a night and it was a total shit hole and not on the beach.

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