Phuket, Thailand – and the sex trade

Please read the text:     

I will refrain from making any judgmental comments and only remark on what I have researched through literature and conversations with the many people I have talked to in Phuket. As in most countries the values and norms are different. What’s accepted elsewhere may go against our morals however; Tradition and family responsibilities are strong in Thailand, as every daughter knows, according to custom, her first sense of duty is to care for the parents and pay off family debts. The Thai’s view of prostitution is seen as a means to an end and is accepted by the male dominated government (Although illegal). 

Most women are not in the prostitution trade but a foreign husband, no matter how a Thai woman meets him, is a status symbol and the ultimate reward that can lift a young woman’s family out of poverty.

The majority of women working in the tourist locations and the sex industry come from the northeast of Thailand which is agricultural, the poorest area, and very little money is available. The women come to work in the hotels, restaurants, and of course, some find their way into prostitution as the money they can send back to the family is significant. They do this on their own free will, no slavery, no outside force such as a pimp, and no indentured commitment.


Patong Beach in Phuket is full of bars and massage parlors. Families come here for the beaches and entertainment and I saw a whole family getting a massage together, all above board. It is very safe here, although you need to be aware of some of the scams to get your money.

There are no women in public view under the age of 18. If you are caught with women under the age of 18 the penalties are severe. That does not mean they are not available (human and child trafficking come to mind) but you have to be undermined, have connections to organizes crime, and be a deviant (my only judgmental statement). Aside from that, the sex trade is very open and available and many tourists’ sites on the web encourage it.

I met a colleague of mine and his wife one night. They took me to a bar where we could watch the action and not be solicited.
One might think that only unattractive old men, or desperate individuals come to Thailand for the sex trade but that is furthest from the truth. You have your collage guys, and old men too, but you have women, wealthy people with their yachts, and the normal guy from Wichita Falls. I saw both men and women participating in this tourist activity. It’s odd to see an old man hand in hand with a 20 year old woman. It’s odd to see an old woman with a 20 year old woman. It’s odd to be blogging about this but I can’t help it.
Needless to say I was not safe at the bar, this young lady came up to me and asked if I wanted company. I declined but asked if I could take her picture. She replied “100 baht please.”
After she went on her way, my colleague and his wife were laughing and said “that was a man.”
The Thai people are very accepting. There is a saying in Thailand … “All the best looking girls in Thailand used to be boys.” Oh how true and they call them Lady Boys or Katoey. Thailand has accepted the transgender population for what they really are and consider them as the “third sex”. One characteristic of the lady boys that I noticed is that they have the temperament of a spoiled 12 year old little girl. Don’t upset them, pay them the 100 baht, and take their picture. I witnessed one Lady Boy rant and rave at a cheap tourist who took a picture but refused to pay, it’s only $3.
  These men were promoting an all male review.
Let’s get the whole family in the act.
“I can’t believe what I’m looking at.”
I had to get a better picture of these guys so I left my safe bar stool and walk out into the street. Notice he/she has my 100 baht in his right hand.
Some other tourist grabbing a picture moment.
Young woman with a client.
The negotiation …
Thailand-C (174)
Here is how the trade works. You sit down at the bar, any bar, lady comes up to you and if you are interested you buy her a drink just for the company. If you want to take her home you have to pay the bar a tax or fee for the lost wages she will bring in during the night when she’s not there. You negotiate the price with the girl and leave it in a cup on the bar.
The following are real women. Walking around can be a little overwhelming.
This young lady below kept telling me how pretty and straight my teeth were (Thanks mom and dad for the braces). All the women have similar stories to gain sympathy, they have a sick mother, brother, sister, or dying father back home, and this may be true to some extent, but if you believed every story then half of Thailand should be sick or dying.
Tourist dancing on a bar.
Young woman waiting for a date.

All I have to say, Lady Boy or young lady, they were all very kind and welcoming. However, Inexperienced travelers need not apply, if you come just for the sex alone I wouldn’t advise it as Thailand has so much more to offer.

Two other pieces of advice, heed the billboards …

 And, no matter what these young ladies say, how much you think they love you, how much they admire your teeth, they are doing it for the money, period. Have fun …

8 thoughts on “Phuket, Thailand – and the sex trade

  1. Lulu Simawati

    Is it true that “All the best looking girls in Thailand used to be boys” ? oh it must be a joke. By the way, nice pictures. Especially, the ladyboys. Like carnival in Brasil.

  2. rodi (Rob and Diane)

    Interesting post; for me, Phuket is the only part of Thaialnd I want no part of. We chose Krabi the first time instead. Diane is also repulsed by the old fart fat slob American guys with their little skinny Thai prize ives but that’s a sad part of reality I guess. Thanks for liking my post;


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