There's much talk about the bar industry being in decline, and many customers are frustrated at experiences that leave them empty. But all is not lost, and some guys still manage to have a good time. What are their secrets? There are things you can do and strategies you can employ to have a better experience.
Smooci is a great way to book a bar girl or escort to your room. It’s available in Bangkok, as well as Manila, Singapore, and Hong Kong, and it will soon be coming to Pattaya. Just click search, put in your request, and have a list of 100+ girls to come direct to your hotel room.
Let Her Choose You
You're the customer so you should choose your service provider, right? Actually, you might just get a better experience if you allow yourself to be chosen by a lady. In the naughty bars you are going to be approached by girls which does not necessarily mean she likes you and admittedly it's tough to know when a lady might genuinely find you appealing and is not just looking for an easy mark.
There are always going to be ladies who prefer you over others. Some ladies prefer younger guys while others like older. There are ladies who like a super-sized guy while others might prefer to be around a guy who doesn't mind when she lights up a cigarette. While most ladies will go with just about anyone, when you are to a lady's liking – her spec, as the Thais say – you increase the chances of having a nice time and you're almost certainly better off with her than the stunner every guy in the bar has his eyes on.
Avoid The Young
If the goal is good sex, why would you choose a younger lady? The argument is that younger ladies look better but how relevant is that when so many Thai ladies already look younger than their age? Plenty of ladies in their late 20s can pass for early 20s. Is that not young enough? A young lady might be fresher, but is that really such a good thing? Freshness invariably means less experience which in turn may mean they are awkward. A woman aged a little older will likely give a better experience in bed.
Regardless of industry, when selecting a professional it is generally preferable to hire someone with experience, right?
Be Prepared To Pay
It's a moot point whether paying more than others may be willing to pay – or paying over the odds – gets you better service. If there is a lady you just absolutely want to spend some private time with and she is one of the bar's stars then she will be in demand. And if she is in demand, odds are that previous customers have been generous with her. When someone is paid over the going rate for a service a few times, the natural inclination is to increase their rates. The higher price becomes the new norm. Would you do a job for $200 if others had been happy to pay you $500 to do the same job?
You can moan and groan and be bitter about the numbers some ladies ask which may be similar to or even more than a sex worker charges in Farangland, or you can accept that it is simply basic economics at play – the lady is in demand and like every last one of us, wishes to maximise their earnings.
Paying over the odds may not get you better service – but it could be the difference between getting the opportunity to spend time with a particular lady, or not. And here's the thing: many guys remember – lament even – the one that got away. When you're back in Glasgow or Portland or Stuttgart and it's cold and raining outside and you think back to your last trip to Thailand, how will you feel about missing out on the hottest lady in the bar because she wanted 1,000 or 2,000 baht more than you were willing to pay? Do you want to live with regrets?
Take Her Out After Leaving The Bar
Going to a bar, finding a lady, barfining her and going straight to your hotel / condo / short-time room is a perfectly legitimate way to go about things – but it may not get the best results.
Building a rapport with the lady and showing her a nice time can make for a vastly more enjoyable time in the bedroom. After leaving the bar, consider taking her elsewhere before you go to private quarters, perhaps for a quick bite to eat – it needn't be anywhere flash; most ladies prefer a streetside setting / modest eatery – or somewhere for a drink. Of course, where you go may be predicated by the lady and how she is dressed. If she is in skimpy shorts and a tight top, your options are limited. Letting her choose a place is never a bad idea.
Some argue that you're paying a lady for a service and you should not have to spend more money and time cultivating her to get a better experience. It's a fair argument, so you have to ask yourself what your end game is.
Showing a bar lady a good time before heading for the main event usually results in a better performance later in the evening.
Be Presentable & Clean
There is no need to dress to the nines, but being clean and tidy will go some way to setting you apart. Bargirls are ultra competitive so a nicely presented customer is a better catch than someone who pays little attention to their appearance.
Thais are ultra-sensitive about smell so make sure you've showered before you go out and don't try and avoid showering before the main event. Little will put a Thai lady off more than someone who smells bad. Poor personal hygiene is the ultimate turnoff for many Thai women.
With this said, for many bar ladies money trumps all!
Get Off The Beaten Path
Many Thai sex workers go multiple times per night, especially the girls of Nana Plaza. They're on the clock and many are keen to do the deed as fast as they can so they can get back to the bar and find another customer. Things aren't quite so commercial at Cowboy although it all comes down to the individual girl.
Think about going to quieter, out of the way bars where ladies aren't barfined so often and where multiple barfines per night aren't the norm. Ladies in quiet bars tend to be more relaxed, less rushed and much less likely to return to the bar once barfined. Bars to consider are those in Sukhumvit soi 7, the odd bar on soi 8, the bars near the mouth of soi 20, bars in Queens Park Plaza / soi 22 and bars in soi 33.
Fewer customers means fewer barfines. Girls who are not barfined often are more likely to be grateful for being chosen which could mean they make a better effort than a lady who is routinely barfined multiple times per night.
Think Carefully About Whether You Really Want Long-Time
It is long-time that sets prostitution in Thailand apart from prostitution in the West. Once the norm, now many Thai bargirls won't go long-time at all. The average bar lady does NOT want to spend such a long time with a customer.
Long-time was popular in the past when there were more ladies and fewer customers, when ladies were desperate to snare a customer. It's not that long ago that barladies averaged around 10 barfines a month and plenty of ladies didn't even achieve their monthly barfine quota – often 7 barfines per month. Bar ladies used to be more inclined to marry a Western man, or at least keep him as their customer for the duration of his holiday in Thailand – and long-time was a way to do that.
Today the balance of power has changed and it is the girls who have that power and call the shots. There is no shortage of customers and ladies needn't stay all night with a customer. In fact, they can make more money in a night with multiple short-times than they can with a long-time, unless the customer is willing to pay more than the combined amount she could earn from 2 or 3 x short-time liaisons.
Consider forgetting the whole idea of long-time unless you're willing to pay top dollar. If you really want a lady to spend all night with you, get to know a lady first, perhaps take her short-time and if there is a connection then you put the idea of long-time to her after that.
The consensus is that older ladies in Pattaya beer bars are the most likely to be willing to go long-time.
Have A Clear Plan
There are many types of venue to meet working women in Bangkok. Understand how each operates and what's on offer – and choose your destination accordingly.
Gogo bars are the place to watch ladies dance in bikinis. Yes, most girls are barfineable – but not all. More and more gogo bars have coyote dancers and in some bars more than half of the ladies are not barfineable. There is a feeling today that gogo bars are more about entertainment than places to find a lady for bedroom fun. Don't be surprised if at some time in the not too distant future that ladies dancing in gogo bars won't be barfineable at all.
If you want a lady to come to you rather than you hunt for her, a lady who may (or may not) be more refined and presentable, consider an escort service.
If you are on a tight budget, there are many bars full of freelancers.
If you want to be pampered, Thai-style massage parlours offer just that.
If subconsciously you're looking for a girlfriend or a wife, the bars are NOT the place to search!
Consider Visiting Thai-Style Venues
If you're looking for quick and easy sex with a pretty lady in clean surroundings with guaranteed service standards and no hidden prices or dramas, consider the large massage parlours popular with Thai and other Asian men. At around 2,500 baht all in for 90 minutes, it's cheaper and the ladies are usually more attractive.
If you're not comfortable going to places dominated by Thai / Asian men, consider venues which operate in that style but which cater to foreign men, like Darling in Sukhumvit soi 12 and the long-running Annie's in Soi Nana.
Treat It Not As A Transaction But As Fun!
Too many guys take the idea of paid sex seriously and get all bent out of shape when things don't turn out as they had hoped. Thais are quick to pick up on this and for them it's a real mood killer.
The number one piece of advice for naughty boys hoping to have the best Thai hooker experience, is to look at it all as a bit of fun and nothing more. If you can get the idea across to the lady that it's all just a bit of fun and you want her to have fun too, you increase the chances of having a nice time. Thais love the idea of doing something purely for the fun of it and if they feel that's your motivation, odds are they will embrace it – and with a bit of luck you'll have an experience to remember!
Where was this photo taken?
Last week's photo was taken of the old Tax Office on Rachadamnoen Road, beside Democracy Monument. Just three people got it right.
FROM STICK'S INBOX (These are emails from readers and what is written here was not written by Stick.) Preference may be given to emails which refer to the previous week's column.
EMAIL OF THE WEEK – Life after Thailand.
Like you, I lived in Thailand and like you I moved back to Farangland (to Flagstaff, Arizona, USA). Your description of nightlife in Bangkok vs. day-time activities in Farangland is spot on. Flagstaff, much like Kiwi-land, is much centered on physical activities during the day vs. bar activity at night. Part is due to the crushing heat of the tropics compared to the exhilarating and bracing climate of Flagstaff (elevation 7,000 feet / 2133 metres). Flagstaff has a much higher cost of housing than Bangkok or Phuket but transportation is easy here (no traffic concerns) and you can bike from one end of Flag to the other along urban trails among Ponderosa Pines. When I rode my bicycle in Bangkok or Phuket I always had concerns for my safety. Here in Flag there are bike lanes on many of the main roads! My going out to a bar here means that I am meeting my son at a local Latin bar / restaurant that has a happy hour featuring $3 margaritas and $2.50 fish tacos – cheaper than Bangkok! Prescription drugs, generic, can many times be cheaper here than in Bangkok. Here you can trust the label on the drug container whereas I had my doubts in Thailand. One of your most important points of comparison is dealing with authority, be it the police, banks, taxes or realtors. In Flagstaff, I don't see the police in an adversarial role. I am not afraid of them. I can trust the banker, the real estate agent and I have a tax adviser do my taxes. I would not trust the Thai legal system to be fair and consistent and I would never, ever buy real estate in Thailand for these reasons. My Thai wife and I go back to visit her family each year. We enjoy the month-long visit and then we are happy to return to the USA.
Bar cover charges are already happening. Baccara has been doing it for years by steering anyone who isn't a well-known patron to the outside bar and requiring the purchase of drinks before going inside. Not sure how many other bars do this.
Picking up local habits.
I sometimes start speaking Thai when I'm back home as well. Usually only a word or 2 gets out, but it can be kind of embarrassing when it happens. I have also picked up a few Thai habits and not for the better. I went out with friends to a small sandwich shop and after finishing they all took their dirty dishes to the appropriate area while I left everything for the staff to clean up. So my friends grab my dirty dishes as well which was also embarrassing. In the past I would have cleaned up after myself without giving it a second thought. Not anymore.
The Equality concept.
I haven't been to Equality Club yet, but I think you might have got something wrong concerning their target market. You are right by saying that there are already many ladyboy bars in Nana. But as you stated many times in the past, most of them seem to make money! What you did not take in to account is the fact that most ladyboy aficionados are pretty open-minded. Many of them love to be with real ladies as well. But over many years complaints by homophobic straight guys regarding the mix of ladies and ladyboys in gogo bars made most mixed bars give up their business approach. Simultaneously, the market segment for ladyboy bars in the nightlife industry has grown significantly. Today, there might be a market for mixed bars again. The demand isn't from the straight side, as you correctly point out. The potential demand is from the side of ladyboy regulars and curious newbies. That is why it is only logical that ladyboys do the marketing. Plus, they are extroverted enough to do cold acquisition on the street, which is not an easy job. Since Hangover II, first-time visitors must know what they are facing when they come to Bangkok. In my opinion, a mixed club like Equality or a bar with very disciplined ladyboys like the new Fairy Bar is a good starting point for Bangkok newbies to feel the thrill of playing with taboos. Time will show whether the Equality concept works!
The city of bus jams.
So you can get an idea of just how bad the bus situation is here in Pattaya, on my walk this morning I decided to count tour buses. Unfortunately I didn't start counting from the beginning of my walk, but just on my walk along Beach Road starting from Central Pattaya Road and walking north to soi 1, I counted 62 tour buses either parked, driving by me or turning in front of me up the numbered sois towards Pattaya 2nd Road. It was funny too as all the buses that were slowing down to park had 3 or 4 Thai people running behind with their baskets of wares for sale. I really hate those things, but I guess when living in a tourist town one must learn to put up with all the damn tourists.
The ending of your column from the 3rd January about justifying how you spend your time struck a chord. I'm often asked “but what do you do all day?” having already given a healthy account of my time here. As Wilde said, “Hard work is simply the refuge of people who have nothing whatever to do”.
The end of the humble satang?
I spent a week in Bangkok in December and another in January. Not once was I given a satang in change at supermarkets. It seems to me satang coins have become extinct. Perhaps you could ask your readers when they last saw one.
Don't get caught long-term.
The Thai apologists are the ones that need to hear your words the most. The truth hurts but it can heal. It's not an easy thing to cut your losses and abandon ship. There is something very sad about an older man still being a slave to his desires and vices. It takes strength to stop lying to oneself. It's uncomfortable to consider we might be wrong or that we're really just a slave to some 45 kg girl. A photo you took of old guys sitting around waiting for their next fix was almost my future. Thailand will never change, but it always changes us. The venom some readers spit at you is jealousy. You are making many people reevaluate their lives in Thailand and that is scary for them. The truth is that they don't need Thailand as much as it needs them. I've noticed quite a change with the men and women I work and come in to contact with lately here in Canada. They somehow smell something different about me, even when I say nothing. Maybe that I project no desires, I'm unapologetic, professional and not overly polite and stumbling over myself. I'm comfortable in my own skin, I don't need them and they respect that. I can thank Thailand. I would still suggest to any single man to go and check it out, but just don't get caught up in that black hole long-term. Go have some fun, boys, but remember, your coffin probably won't be buried in Thailand and eventually we all need to come home.
A friend represented Stickman at the Hooters press party on Friday night and filed the following report about the venue on prime Soi Nana that everyone has been talking about, a venue which just might influence the future direction of the soi.
The 400-and-somethingth Hooters officially opened inside the Nana Hotel Friday night. One of the managers told us that the internationally franchised restaurant and sports bar, located directly across Soi 4 from Nana Plaza, was for visitors to Thailand who “want the Nana experience without actually going into one of those places and being hassled for small, overpriced drink.”
The bar is the fourth for Thailand – others are in Pattaya, Phuket and Sukhumvit Soi 15, with others planned for Samui, Chiang Mai and Khon Kaen – as well as the largest, occupying 604 square meters of what used to be the hotel’s sidewalk Golden Bar and much of the hotel’s old cafeteria. That gives the place room for 287 barstools, some of them so far from “The World’s Largest Adult Entertainment Playground” across the street you might think you were in the chain’s original location, opened in 1983 in Clearwater, FL.
Here’s another original twist: some of the trademark chests featured at the bar are from the Philippines, but so far no “Russians” as you can find in Pattaya and Phuket. The company’s international status allows it to hire foreign staff, so long as it maintains a high local ratio. According to manager Richard Kass, staff here, including large, tattooed security, totals about 90 and is about “97% Thai.”
Kass wouldn’t confirm it, but apparently Hooters signed a 15-year lease, showing either a great measure of belief or naiveté when it comes to predicting the future of the neighborhood.
According to the Hooters Bangkok website, where so far all the girls pictured are farang, the bar offers a starting salary of 25,000 baht per month, but Kass said the actual figure is 15,000, plus tips and local medical coverage. Kass insisted the chain was designed to offer its employees an alternative to sex work and girls are forbidden to go out with customers. (In Pattaya and Phuket, many do, but only after they complete their shifts.)
– Singha, Asahi, Kilkenny Red, Guinness, Hooters Brew and Magners on draft, as well as a decent house red and white, for 100 baht, with a harder menu that includes Absolute and Red Bull.
– Entertainment: flat screen sports, a mechanical bull, and classic rock and roll (at the opening party ranging from the Village People to Bob Seger).
–Chain range: 430 locations in 28 countries, 160 sites privately owned by a private company now based in Atlanta. Others are franchisees.
The girls of Hooters, Soi Nana.
Could the arrival of Hooters in Soi Nana signal the start of the gentrification of the sleazy soi? Since Hooters opened there has been the odd hint of Soi Nana moving a little more upmarket. A couple of hundred metres down the soi at the corner of sois 4 and 6 (the sight of the former Seven Seas Restaurant), a brand new hotel will be built and work has already started. And a few meters in to soi 6 at the Soi Nana end, I.S. Mansion will be converted in to a hotel. Work has started and all current tenants have to leave by the end of February.
The Hooters effect really might be something with the new Soi Nana branch said to be responsible for the relaying of the tarmac leading in to the car park of the Nana Hotel.
Apparently, the first couple of days at Hooters in Soi Nana saw a few runners, attributed to the layout of the bar which is open to the street making it easy for those so inclined to leg it without paying their bill. This is a seriously bad thing to do in Thailand because you are essentially stealing that money from the waitress who served you. If you leave without paying a bar / restaurant bill in Thailand, generally the waitress assigned to the table has to pay for it out of her own pocket! You wouldn't knowingly steal money from a waitress, would you?
More Japanese signage is creeping in to what was once thought of as the farang bar areas. Rainbow 4, which has long been a favourite for the Japanese, has large signs in Japanese, and a very large sign with Japanese script has been erected outside Cowboy 2 Bar on Soi Cowboy.
Pattaya bar owners were read the riot act this week in a meeting presided over by officials where it was impressed upon bar bosses that breaking the law could see their bar closed for a whopping 5 years. Breach of exactly which laws would see a 5-year closure isn't known, but hiring underage girls and violence in the bar were mentioned. There are fewer underage girls employed in the bars than ever before and that message seems to have got through, but with some of the hot-heads employed as security it's almost impossible to stop fights in bars. Thais are calm….until they are not – and then they can go berserk. There will continue to be breaches of the law but I have my doubts whether (m)any bars will see a 5-year closure. What these regulations do is potentially provide the authorities with power over venue owners. The days of infractions being resolved with an envelope containing 100 banknotes so that a 30-day closure never happened are history. The threat of a 5-year closure is ruinous and simply increases the size of the envelope.
Increasingly, bars in the entertainment areas don't employ dancers which means they don't get paid a salary and don't have to meet a minimum number of lady drinks and barfines. Instead, bars pay some girls a day rate, and in some cases might not even pay them at all – but allow them to come and go as they please and work when it suits them. This flexibility works for the girls who wish to be free and independent operators and not subject to the many rules. For bars, it reduces salary costs and fewer permanent employees generally means less headache. The downside is that bar bosses have no idea how many girls they are going to have on any given night. Of course, that has always been an issue and the day or two after payday are typically quiet as the girls often go out and enjoy themselves. What happens today is that the busiest night of the week – Friday – sees all the girls go in to work and a great atmosphere in the bar. Saturdays aren't usually as good and the rest of the week can be hit or miss. Even in high season, weeknights can be a real let-down – ladies know there are fewer customers so if they are not on salary there is less reason to go to work. There is no recourse for the bar to force girls to work as they are not employed by the bar and they cannot levy any penalties against the girls (and these days bars are reluctant to penalise them too harshly, lest the girls leave and go elsewhere). The problem is that girls employed by the bar and those who just come and go as they please operate under different sets of rules which can cause friction and ill-feeling. This has been a contributing factor to fewer ladies in the bars and it has got so bad that on a quiet week night some bars are like a ghost town. This issue is a particular problem in some Patpong bars.
No names mentioned, but bar owners left, right and centre are telling me the same thing – this year's high season is a bust. In Bangkok, trade is down on previous high seasons. A surprisingly good November was followed by a quiet December and there has been no lift-off in January. I don't think it has anything to do with the murder shambles in Koh Tao or other high-profile debacles which have shown Thailand in a negative light. I just get the feeling that sex tourism in Thailand is in decline. First time and mainstream visitors go to Soi Cowboy which is very much on the tourism circuit, and they can say they saw where Hangover II was filmed and get a selfie. Hardcore sex tourists and long-term expats continue to visit the bars, but the days of naughty boys in Farangland being consumed by the Thai bar industry and unable to get it out of their mind are largely over.
Blame it on the Burmese has become a catchcry in some Bangkok expats circles whenever a crime is reported when the victim is a foreigner and the perpetrators described as locals. No Thai would ever do this, say expats mocking the comments made during the investigation in to the 2014 murder of the two British backpackers on Ko Tao.
There are frequent reports in the news of ATM card skimming gangs who are caught by Thailand's finest. Invariably Eastern Europeans or Middle Easterners, they are caught using cards loaded with the details of stolen credit cards from around the world. Typically, it is reported that they were caught after making multiple transactions using dozens of ATM cards at various ATM machines. They are taken to their condo / hotel room by the boys in brown who find an ATM card writer, a mix of blank and used fake credit cards and a sum of cash not usually exceeding 10,000 baht. Errr, only 10,000 baht?!
As Vietnam attracts more and more visitors, the visa on arrival staff at the airport are struggling to keep up. Some nationalities get a 15-day visa waiver on arrival with no need to apply for a visa before arriving – Scandinavian, UK, German passport holders and a few others. For those from other countries / those wishing to stay for longer than 15 days, you need a visa. You have two choices: Either apply for a visa at a Vietnam embassy or consulate, or apply for a visa online. If you choose the latter method, you pay around $10 and you receive an invitation letter by email which you print out and present at the visa on arrival office at the airport where you pay a further fee and the actual visa sticker is placed in your passport. I used this method a couple of times and it was a short wait, perhaps 10 minutes or so. Word is now that with the massive increase in the number of visitors to Vietnam the wait at the airport in Saigon to get your visa can be a couple of hours. Being a little cheaper and with no need to make a trip to an embassy, this was the preferred method in the past. It seems, however, that things have changed and it might be easier to apply for the visa at an embassy or consulate beforehand so you don't have such a long wait at the airport.
Reader's story of the week comes from ABC123, "Life After Thailand".
A Chinese tourist kisses a snake in Phuket which then latches on to her face and refuses to let go!
A Pattaya taxi motorbike rider offers free rides to customers on his birthday.
A snake makes it in to the arrivals hall at Bangkok's busiest Airport.
It is alleged that the Thai authorities told the family of an English backpacker murdered in Thailand to go make another one!
A young Dane holidaying in Pattaya confesses that the crime he reported was fake so he could claim on his insurance.
Those close to the Brit who supposedly drowned on Ko Tao last week are suggesting his death may be suspicious.
Andrew Biggs talks about skin whitening product advertising and his one and only visit to a Petchaburi Road massage house.
Sunbelt Asia's legal department is here to answer your questions relating to legal issues and the law in Thailand. Send any legal questions you may have to me and I will pass them on to Sunbelt Legal and their response will run in a future column. You can contact Sunbelt's legal department directly for all of your legal needs.
Question 1: I am trying to gather some information on how I can open a bank account in Thailand. I am looking at all options. Do you have any advice or information I should know / be aware of?
Sunbelt Legal responds: Every commercial bank operates under rules and regulations set out by their main office to comply with Bank of Thailand regulations. However, some branches have different approaches to how they comply with those rules so it is always best to go to the bank and find out exactly what you need.
Usually (but not always), a foreigner who wishes to open an account in a Thai bank will need a long-term visa (i.e. Non-Immigrant class) that is valid for more than three months. There will be a few bank branches that will open an account for a foreigner on a tourist visa but it varies from branch to branch.
Some banks also have extra regulations for Americans due to the FATCA reporting regulations instituted by the US government.
The best option is to go to the bank you wish to use and talk to the manager and see what they require. If you do not meet those requirements then you might have to search until you find a branch whose requirements you do meet.
The arrival of Hooters on Soi Nana has been ridiculed by those who spend much time in the soi, some arguing that it wouldn't fit in with the neighbourhood and would quickly fail. Word is that trade is good, despite prices a little higher than elsewhere in the soi. Could the arrival of Hooters go on to be a game changer in Soi Nana? Could it be the start of a change in direction for a soi that has for some time been ground zero for Bangkok's sex tourism industry? The top of Soi Nana may be the heart of the city's naughty nightlife, but the area in which it is concentrated is very, very small. If you've never wandered further down Soi Nana, you might be surprised how quiet, peaceful even, the rest of the soi is. The further down Soi Nana you get, the quieter it becomes – and if you keep going beyond the end of the soi and enter the sprawling grounds of the Tobacco Monopoly you'll discover a lovely, green and peaceful area in the heart of the city. The bottom half of Soi Nana is home to some Thais of considerable wealth. There are condominium buildings that were once amongst the more luxurious in the city, large homes, international companies and even an international school. No doubt the residents of Soi Nana would not be opposed to the soi moving more upmarket and possibly moving away from the sex tourism industry which has dominated the top end of the soi for nigh on 3 decades. Where do you see Soi Nana going? Is Hooters the start of the gentrification of Soi Nana or will there be little change and Soi Nana rock on, business as usual?