The existence of the Thai Sex vacation industry is considered to be deeply offensive by many people in the west, but I have no particular objection to consenting adults earning some money or having some fun, so look elsewhere if you want to read any damning reports.
Whatever your viewpoint, there is no denying that this sort of thing is big business in Thailand. Just about every town has got a venue where sex is available for money, but there are some stark contrasts between the tourist-orientated Thai sex vacation practices and those which cater for local Thai men.
Since the Thai girls involved in the oldest of professions do have the ability to ‘vote with their feet’ and choose where to ply their trade, my guess is that the tens of thousands of working girls in Pattaya alone is testimony to the better standards and rewards that are available there.
I’d advise any supposedly well-intentional naysayers who would like to stop westerners from going on Thai sex vacations to consider how the working-girls involved would be affected. My guess is that restricting their options would not benefit them.
The Bangkok red light district, Bangla Road in Phuket, and just about everywhere in Pattaya are much more 'in-your-face' than the industry that serves Thai men, and I believe that this is the main bone of contention. A little more discretion would certainly appease local Thai attitudes to such things.
It’s also worth noting that things are not as sordid as they once were. Even Pattaya has got much more to offer its visitors these days than just the naughty stuff. You could even dispense with the Thai sex vacation industry altogether these days, as there are other options for finding female company.
The online dating scene is growing at a rapid pace in Thailand, and western men are a highly sought after commodity there.
There are many reasons why Pattaya, sometimes referred to as sin-city, is the number one destination for a sex vacation in Thailand (and the world).
Add all this together and you have all the ingredients for a thriving Thai sex vacation industry i.e. high demand (from international visitors, local expats and Bangkok expats) and high supply (from the nearby Isaan ladies). I can't see this situation being reversed anytime soon.
I've already set out my advice on long-term relationships with Thai girls; I've also advised on how to treat bar-girls if you do partake in the pay-for-pleasure scene, but I think that there are a few extra words of caution to add to this that need to be written regarding the age of the girls.
The Thai sex tourism industry is no stranger to the employment of underage girls, although the authorities are doing a good job at gradually stamping it out. The legal age of consent in Thailand is 18. In many western countries the age of consent is 16 and this can lead you to think that you will be okay with Thai girls of that age.
Suppose you are 19 and you have sex with a girl of 17, you might think this is perfectly okay, but it could lead you to find yourself looking at jail-time. This is especially so if the girl's family were to get involved and press charges against you.
My best advice is to stick with girls that are clearly aged 18+, and you will know because they will have an ID card stating their date of birth (you’ll need to adjust for the Thai calendar which is 543 years ahead of the Gregorian calendar). Her identity card will be written in Thai, but you can always ask your hotel receptionist to look at it for you.
Starting from young to old, there are many western guys who have come to this part of South East Asia, and many of them come for similar reasons.
For the older generation of Pattaya sexpats that have made the permanent move here, many of them had been sex vacation aficionados for decades before making that permanent move, and a fair proportion of today’s younger visitors will end up making the move in due course.
The main Thai resorts are addictive, and a very high proportion of first time visitors come back for more of it. Be aware though, that the stuff you see in the holiday resorts is not a good reflection of traditional Thailand where attitudes towards sex and soliciting are quite different.
The younger participants in the pay for play industry, in the age-range of about 18-29, are a bit of a minority, but there are a few of them dotted around here and there.
I think most people in this age range tend not to have the resources to be able to afford a 2-4 week holiday half way across the world; they tend to choose holiday vacations in places closer to home for no more than a week at a time.
For those young men that are fortunate enough to find themselves in places like Pattaya, they tend to think that they must have died and gone to heaven!
They don't often have any intentions of long-term relationships with Pattaya girls, and most seem to be on a mission to spread their love as widely as possible. That's not always the case of course and there have been plenty of men in this age range that have gone home smitten with one particular girl.
This is the main group of visitors that come to enjoy the pleasures of A Thai sex vacation; those guys aged from 30 - 50. There is still a large number of men in this group who are first time visitors, especially at the younger end of the scale, but most have been many times before.
There are also plenty of Pattaya sexpats in this group who are intent on spreading the love, but I think there is a growing body of men who are here for the long-term romantic opportunities rather than for purely lustful purposes.
There is also a very strong contingent of men who are already involved, to some extent, with Thai girls. Many of them have gone the whole nine yards and actually married their Thai sweetheart. Some have started families too.
It is still relatively rare that men in the middle-age group have actually made the permanent move from their own countries to Thailand. The reason is obvious, they have not yet accumulated the financial resources to allow such a move. Instead, they live abroad but frequently visit Thailand.
A fair proportion of the men that use the Thai pay-for-play industry do so after going through a messy divorce back home in their own country. Pattaya offers a great escape from all that trouble and strife and for a time it really serves a purpose and allows faster mental recovery from the distress of a broken marriage.
It's around about that time, once recovery is complete, that romantic attachments with Thai girls start to occur. More distress usually follows, breakups occur, and new long-term Thai sexpats emerge!
It has to be said that this group is well represented by those men who have been burned by the less scrupulous ladies working in the Thailand sex trade. In fact, just about everyone has been burned at one time or another to a greater or lesser extent, and most of the rest are waiting to get burned without realizing it.
It is a sad fact that getting serious with a girl met in a bar is a recipe for disaster, and it's a disaster that happens again and again before people learn how to do the dating thing correctly. Unfortunately, it's a lesson that we rarely learn from the mistakes of others...
There is, of course, a great deal of diversity across all the groups that I've written about and I think that this is especially true of the older generation. I think that people are less concerned with doing what western society thinks they ought to do as they get older, and they concentrate more on doing whatever they want to do.
Different things suit different people, so you see more diversity in the older group. Take the Pattaya sexpat in the picture below... he couldn't care less about what nosey on-lookers are thinking. He's not only walking carefree down Second Road with a companion less than half his age, he's doing it with a ladyboy less than half his age!
Some of the older characters in Thailand have had very interesting lives and have lived in many different parts of the world. Many have been married before, got divorced, sought comfort with Thai girls and gone on to marry one. I think that the most interesting characters tend to keep themselves to themselves, but if you get talking to them they'll keep you entertained with their stories and their knowledge about what goes on.
Don't go thinking that any old duffer will be scintillating company though – if you head off to a bar and see a group of old-timers drunk at 2 o'clock in the afternoon it's probably best to leave them well alone.
There's a large body of Pattaya sexpats who love nothing more than whining about Thailand, and they’ll happily bore you senseless with their petty nonsense. Bearing in mind what is on offer to them in Pattaya, I sometimes wonder if these old-timers are grouchy because their love-tackle isn't functioning properly.
Believe it or not, there is a growing number of Western women heading to Pattaya and other Thai sex vacation hotspots. At one time I doubt that they would have wanted anything to do with such places but times are changing, and Thailand is developing fast.
On the other hand, you do see quite a lot of western women who seem to like nothing more than sticking their noses into other people's business. You see them turning their noses up at western guys who are accompanying younger Thai girls.
A word of advice to these ladies, you're only making us guys enjoy it all the more...
There are large numbers of Chinese tourists who seem to be on holiday purely to fire off about a million shots with their cameras. You'll see them traveling in large groups together, sometimes 40 or more people at a time. It all seems like a hassle to me, I like to just wander off wherever my feet take me but the Chinese hordes gaggle along like a flock of geese.
I was quite surprised to find that the typical Russian visitor does not like to drink, not in the bars at least. I had a preconceived idea about Russians drinking large amounts of Vodka and generally getting far too drunk.
This is not the case though, it is relatively rare to see a Russian visitor looking out of control in any way. Many Russians visit with their girlfriends and families, so it's not usually the sex industry that they are coming for.
For as long as I can remember, a Thai sex vacation has had a reputation for being the living embodiment of a naughty boy's paradise. Stories of hedonistic excess have been shared by many a man in bars across the world about Thailand's world famous nightlife services.
Even people who have never visited, and never intend to visit, are aware of what is openly offered there. But what about the future of the Thai sex vacation industry?
As an early heads-up, the future will of course remain fun-packed. However, just because things have been the way they are for so long now does not guarantee that things will always be the way they are, so what are the drivers that might cause the industry to change?
I mentioned above that the Thai sex vacation industry started in Bangkok and Pattaya during the Vietnam War days, but it wasn’t until the 1990s that the industry reached its zenith, with tens of thousands of sweet, lovely Thai girls eager to snag a potential wealthy husband.
The most important thing that needs to be said about the past is that virtually everyone who remembers it agrees that the naughty nightlife scene was even more fun back then than it is today. I'm not sure that I agree completely, but I don’t doubt that the ladies were even more tender and caring… at least outwardly.
It was certainly cheaper at one time, and even the past few years have seen substantial increases in prices (see my page Thai hooker prices for current costs), but the fun factor is still there in spades!
Many long-term visitors feel that the attitude of the Thai girls in tourist areas has changed over time, but on this I think that most guys are a little unfair.
I've never read a single report or heard a single story where a long-term visitor has acknowledged any change in his own attitude and perception. Most long-term visitors have been stung at one time or another by a somewhat unscrupulous individual and that taints the way that a person looks at things thereafter.
It is also true that Thai girls are, believe it or not, human…
Those western guys who lament about the treatment they received in days gone by need to factor into their memories the fact their bodies were younger, slimmer, and more attractive back then. The younger guys today can expect to be treated well by the girls today, but fat old men have never really been greeted with enthusiasm.
That said, I do think that the once common sweet traditional girl is being steadily replaced by a new generation of somewhat westernized ladies, and for many of us that's exactly what we are trying to get away from!
Luckily for you, access to those sweet and lovely girls is actually easier than ever, but you’ll need to use my online dating strategy to capitalize on those opportunities.
As far as I can make it out, I think that there are three main things to consider when thinking about the future of the Thailand sex vacation scene:
Starting with the Thai people, I think it is fair to say that the local population of any country is not going to be particularly overjoyed to see millions of middle-aged, single, male visitors coming to their country from all over the world to enjoy the company of the local ladies and, whilst Thai sex attitudes in general are a little different, I doubt that your typical Thai is overjoyed by the current state of affairs.
There’s no doubt that Thailand is an extremely tolerant country, but what annoys many Thais is the brazen, in-your-face displays that go on in the tourist nightspots. The traditional Thai way of going about this sort of business is to keep it all undercover, in much the same way that westerners keep it undercover in their own countries.
As far as the importance of the sex trade industry to the Thai economy is concerned, the surprising truth is 'not very'. The Thai economy is very much driven by its export markets.
Tourism as a whole is much smaller and, within that, sex tourism is only a small part of overall tourism. Obviously there are certain local areas where it is more popular and therefore more important to the local economy, but even in Pattaya the authorities are trying to move away from it.
The last thing to consider is technology. Many of the working-girls greatest fear is that their profession will be discovered by the good folk back home in the rural heartlands.
No doubt the neighbors back home will already have their suspicions about what is going on, but Thai girls can live with suspicion easily. Confirmation of their activities is another matter and these days the probability of being found out is much higher. Mobile phones (and their cameras) are everywhere and the images/videos that they capture spread like wildfire on social websites such as Facebook and YouTube.
At the same time, growth in online dating sites and escort agencies have provided would-be-bar-girls with an alternative way of discreetly finding customers, and lots of them have seized that opportunity. These days you’ll find plenty of the best looking working-girls plying their trade on my recommended dating site, as well as regular ladies looking for love.
For me, technology is the biggest threat to the bars and nightlife in Thailand’s naughty areas, many bars are reporting falling trade year after year and the main culprit is the difficulty in recruiting female temptresses to work for them and draw customers in.
Some argue that economic development has provided would-be-bar-girls with alternative ways of earning a living and, whilst that may be true in a few cases, a quick online search of GDP per capita in Thailand compared to western countries will show you that the income gap is still very wide.
Real poverty is still a huge problem in the poorest areas of Thailand, and prostitution remains the only viable means of earning sizable amounts of money for a huge section of the female population.
The pay-for-play industry today is certainly a very different thing to what it was in the 80s & 90s, and most of the difference is due to good old fashioned supply and demand. Whilst the naughty bars are struggling to draw Thai girls to work for them in the number seen in previous years, the number of tourists heading to Thailand has grown significantly.
This will inevitably change the nature of the pay-for-pleasure industry as time goes by, most notably in the form of higher prices asked by bar-girls.
I do think that the current situation is as much fun as it ever was.
It's more expensive now, but it is still easily affordable for most Westerners. In some regards a Thai sex vacation is better than ever now; the cleanliness and overall quality of the bars/restaurants is much higher and there’s plenty of really classy places these days.
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