Thailand, 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 (now Thai Cupid). 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.
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…