Most tourists, when asked why they go to Pattaya Beach, will tell you that the major attraction is sun, sand…or even beer. But, there is one thing for sure, Pattaya Beach would not be Pattaya Beach if it were not for the girls!! There are probably more girls – or ladies - per square kilometer or mile in Pattaya Beach than anywhere else in Thailand. They come in all shapes, sizes and colors, and many if not most are nice looking. And almost all of them are there…to meet men, or at least to serve them - for money, of course. Most of these girls work in bars…and many who work in hotels or restaurants work in bars at night!
The bar girls of Pattaya are a fairly young group, most being no more than 26 or 27. They come mainly from such towns as Roiet and Chaiyabon in Thailand’s poor northeast, although many come from the north, the Chiang Mai area, and from Bangkok. They come because of stories they have heard about the money to be made – enough young ladies have made money in Pattaya so that there are many ladies to spread the stories and give first hand accounts! They also come for adventure, to get away from home, to learn about foreign cultures, maybe to meet a husband, to make new friends and to have fun. Many are recruited by friends and by people in their areas who are married to foreigners. Most come to Pattaya eager with expectation and a little fear of the unknown, but with a pretty good idea of what they are getting themselves into. Not all succeed in their dreams, but many do, Most do, however, want to finish with Pattaya by their late twenties as this sort of thing is considered to be okay in Thailand for “young” ladies but not for older ones.
What is the life of a bar girl like? Well, the surprising answer is that while life is sometimes stressful, it is usually just… boring. Most ladies who work in bars spend a lot of time just sitting – or maybe dancing – and talking to people they aren’t very attracted to and can’t understand very well, as most can’t speak foreign languages with any degree of fluency. They spend their non-working hours, which can be fairly short, sleeping and doing chores. At least some are happy to go home with male customers since it breaks the monotony of daily life. To some degree the life of a bar girl is dependent on what type bar she works in and whether she is a part-time or full-time employee, and whether or not she lives in the establishment she works in or has her own room or place.
Ladies who work in the A Go-Go bars have the highest prestige jobs in the world of Pattaya bars, and they earn the most money. Selected for their physical appearance, and perhaps for fitness, they are nicer looking and perhaps a little younger than the ladies that work in the beer bars and other clubs. They are able to charge higher fees when they go with male customers for “short times” and “long times.” They are usually not required to help out with maintenance chores in the club and more often than not, live off premise, either living alone or sharing a room with from one to three other young ladies. Sometimes, the A Go-Go helps with the rent. In return for their higher incomes and relatively high level of independence, they are expected to punch a time clock regularly and dance erotically. They are usually expected to secure a certain number of customers every month who are willing to pay a “bar fine” to the bar to take the lady for a “short-time” or a “long-time.” Those who do not meet the quota are “fined”…a certain amount of money is taken out of their salary. Thus, working in an A Go-Go club can be stressful, and a major assumption of the job is that that the ladies will have sex a certain number of times a month. Most girls that work in A Go-Go bars do not object too much as the payments they receive from customers usually add up to much more than the salary they get from the bar. Aside from this, however, their daytime hours are their own to do with as they would. Most choose to sleep most of the day.
Working in a beer bar as a regular bargirl is probably less stressful than working in an A Go-Go club but can be more confining. It can also be very, very boring because ladies spend a lot of time sitting and waiting for customers. And, of course, customers can be boring, too. Many of the ladies working as regular beer bar girls live in a room in or over the bar. They are often expected to get up everyday and help with the cooking and the cleaning…although they can usually sleep late by normal standards!! They are usually free to roam around town as much as they want after they do their chores as long as they report for work at the correct time, which is usually around 19:00 but often earlier during busy times. They are, of course, required to be good and fun companions to the men who come to the bar. Usually, the ladies become very good at playing a variety of games, including pool or billiards. Working in a beer bar actually gives bargirls a better way to get to know customers than working in an A Go-Go bar. Catching men and getting them to pay a bar-fine is encouraged but not usually required. Many of the ladies are young and thus, have little sexual experience, so there is real danger of customers being disappointed when taking them for a night. Many ladies work at beer bars part-time, which means that come on the days and at the times they want to come. This is very convenient for ladies who have regular day-time jobs. When they secure a male customer who wants a short-time or a long-time, the customer must still pay the club a bar-fine.
Many men who come to Pattaya rightly ask if the bargirls are honest. Generally, in their “professional” working lives the girls are quite honest. Men who entertain the ladies in their rooms can generally relax. Most girls do not steal and will accept whatever tip the customer offers, although the matter of payment should always be discussed beforehand. Men have a lot of power in their relationship with the bar girls. They can report dishonest bargirls to the bar owner or the police, and the girl can usually be located… and the girls know this!! While reporting a girl to the police or the club manager might not always result in a settlement to the customer’s satisfaction, a bargirl does not want to become known as a thief to the police or the bar owners, and bar owners do not want their employees stealing. On the other hand, if one takes a lady one meets on the street or in a discotheque to their room, they will have much less protection as they will only be able to complain to the police that “some lady” has stolen from them.
As to whether bar girls are honest in the personal lives – and in their personal lives with men – is much more problematic. Generally, all the rules of love and romance apply here, which means the odds of finding true love and honesty are about the same with bargirls as finding love in one’s own country, although probably somewhat less. One must be very, very careful in these matters because many of these ladies have unrealistic expectations of Western men, in that they simply assume all Western men are rich. Others will simply try to get as much money from men as they can possibly get. One must take stories about sick mothers and the water buffaloes having just died with a grain of salt and suspicion. There are also many language related problems…and sometimes two people actually are speaking two different languages and have different sets of understanding of linguistic meaning. The result can be tragic.
Most ladies who come to Pattaya Beach to work in the bars do not intend to do it forever. They hope to save enough money to do something else or to buy a house, which in northern Thailand is fairly easy to do. At some point in the age range of 24 to 26, they become very determined to escape the bargirl life and become part of acceptable Thai society again, which is also fairly easy to do. Many girls are open to marriage with foreigners, but many aren’t Of those Thai ladies that do want to marry foreigners, it is quite interesting that most of those do NOT want to go to the foreigner’s home country…they want to remain in Thailand. There is certainly a good side to this from the foreigner’s perspective but a foreigner who marries a bargirl will find themselves being pressured to buy her a house or a business. This is quite risky to do because it is prohibited by law for foreigners to own land in Thailand. And, it is becoming more and more difficult for foreigners to simply stay and live in Thailand everyday as the immigration rules continually change.