Naughty Nightlife in Phang Nga
We do choose to cover this subject on our sites for the simple reason that some people want to know. There is little point in brushing it under the carpet. Sex tourism is one of the many things for which Thailand is renowned. However there really is not a naughty nightlife scene in Phang Nga.
Pattaya and Bangkok have large areas specifically devoted to this market. Many other tourist locations such as Phuket, Koh Samui, Hua Hin and Krabi have smaller areas that provide for the sex tourists. Phang Nga does not. It does not have go-gos. It does not have beer bar complexes. It does not cater for sex tourists. The local authorities have long recognised the appeal of Phang Nga is its natural attractions such as the beaches. Their target markets are couples, families, divers, trekkers, etc. They have actively suppressed the sex industry and you will not see girly bars operating in the open.
That is not to say that the girly scene is non-existent. Just that it is discreet and difficult to find. So we will give a bit of background info and a quick run through of what happens in Phang Nga but really there is very little to tell.
Prostitution was made illegal in Thailand in 1960. However, the Thai government was never keen to criminalise a profession that has flourished in the country for centuries and they only did so under political pressure from the UN and US at the time. The 1960 legislation was replaced in 1996 by a new piece of legislation called "The Prevention and Suppression of Prostitution Act". This legislation has a vaguer definition of what constitutes prostitution. The new act includes the proviso that it is only prostitution if the participants act in a 'promiscuous manner'. This gives the authorities leeway in allowing what is clearly a thriving business to operate while still having the legislation to control it if they think anyone has crossed the lines.
Prostitution in Thailand has never been limited to the tourist resorts. In fact, this is a recent development. Almost every town in Thailand has brothels, although much more discreet than those in the tourist towns. The majority of prostitution in Thailand takes place between Thais. The emergence of sex tourism in Thailand started with the arrival of American servicemen from the Vietnam War in the 1960s. Pattaya became a favourite destination for the GIs. They soon discovered the charms of the local girls and a new industry was born in Thailand.
How it Works in Khao Lak
It is common across Thailand for Thai men to visit prostitutes and in that regards Phang Nga is no different to any other province. However the Thai sex scene is much more discreet than the tourist one. Thai men will visit karaoke bars with dark tinted windows or backstreet brothels. There is no comparison to the garish flashing lights and full on brazenness of Pattaya, etc.
There is no such scene in Khao Lak. There is no area specifically designated as a girly bar zone. There are plenty of lively bars and there may be Thai girls in those bars that are willing to go with men for money. However, please do not make the horrible mistake of assuming that any attractive Thai girl in a tourist bar must be available. It may seem strange but Thailand is actually still a very conservative country and most girls will be deeply offended to be treated in such a way. If a girl is available she will make herself known.
As far as we know there is only one bar in Khao Lak that could be considered as strictly a girly bar. The Tha Bar is on the main road in Bang Niang. It is not brazen, there are no girls wrapped around poles and no girls dragging men in off the street. However if you go in then girls will approach and make themselves available. They have rooms, the bar fine is around 500-baht and the girl is around 1,500-baht.
Lady Drink - a drink that a customer buys for a girl. These will usually cost 50-100 baht above the normal bar price. The bar pays the extra to the girl as reward for selling the drink. Effectively, you are not only buying the girl a drink but also giving her a tip.
Bar Fine - the fee charged by a bar for taking a girl from that establishment. At the Tha Bar it is 500 -baht. This money is for the bar - seen as an introduction fee and recompense for the bar losing a worker for the night. The bar may pay a percentage of the bar fine to the girl but the customer still needs to pay the girl for her company.
Short Time - the customer takes a girl to a nearby room for a 'short time'. The Tha Bar has short time rooms upstairs. The customer will pay a bar fine, a charge for the room and an agreed price to the girl for her services (around 1,500-baht). When they are finished, the girl will return to work while the customer moves on to his next port of call.
Long Time - the customer will take the girl for the night (a 'long time') usually back to his hotel room. The payment to the girl is normally 2,000-baht. However most of the major hotels in Khao Lak will not allow overnight guests. If you want to take a girl back to your room you will need to book in at one of the smaller independent hotels and ask what is their policy.
For those participating in sex tourism - caution is advised.
Always wear a condom - it is just not worth the risk. If you do not have a condom then the girl should have one.
The Thai authorities will take a very dim view of anyone caught having sex with an under-age girl. This is treated as a serious offence. The age of consent in Thailand is 15. However, in one of those strange Thai contradictions, although prostitution is vaguely illegal, the 1996 act still defines the age of consent for prostitutes as 18. If you have any doubt, ask to see the girls ID card. You can check her date of birth by subtracting 543 from the Thai year, e.g. the Thai year 2533 is 1990.
Remember no matter how lovely the girl may seem, she is working in an industry that is likely to corrupt. They very quickly learn the tricks of the trade and above all else, they are working for money.
If you take a girl back to your hotel then many hotel receptions will ask to see the girls ID card. They do this to ensure the girl cannot get away with committing a crime against you. Theft is the main danger.
Theft from customers is not the most common scam. The girls know they can make much more money if the customer gives it voluntarily. The sob stories the girls tell their customers are brilliant heart-tugging tales of woe designed to elicit sympathy. The punch line will invariably be that she needs to make big money to pay for someone's hospital care or to save her family from starvation. The old-hands call them sick buffalo stories and treat them with great scepticism. In fact, there is often an element of truth to the stories. The girls do come from poor backgrounds and their families are often suffering hardship. That does not mean the final punch line for money is true or that you have any responsibility to pay for it.
Another common scam is the girl will tell the man she will stop working in bars and be faithful to him, if he can send her money. The man will then go home and send the girl regular payments thinking he is keeping her out of the bar. Many of the girls have several western boyfriends on the go at the same time sending money and they are still making more money from new customers in their bars.
It is not fair to portray all the girls as scam masters. Many are honest, hard working girls trying to make a living as best they can. Lots of western men have married Thai girls they met in bars and are very happy. However, the sex industry is a corrupting influence and you should be on your guard. There are no hard-and-fast rules - every girl is different and should be judged individually. A good dose of cynicism is sensible.