Sukhimvit soi 33 - "the artist bars" (the first bars were named after renaissance artists) and much more (big, pricier)
There are other go-go bars outside of the farang areas (which usually aren't called "go-go" but which are essentially defined by the above 4 rules), but I do not cover them here. You would need to be able to speak Thai at those places, and if you can speak Thai, then you have been here long enough to find those places. They are where Thai guys go.
Freelance Pick-Up Joints
These establishments have the following in common:
- The girls are not employees of the bar, but are allowed to hang out there even if they don't consume food or drink, because they attract farang male customers who do buy drinks and food
- The girls are free to come and go as they wish, any days, any times
- You do not pay the establishment anything for the girl -- no bar fine
- All prices and terms are negotiated solely between you and the girl
The main freelance pick-up joints are:
- The German beer garden on Sukhumvit soi 7, afternoon to approx. midnite
- Gullivers, Sukhumvit soi 5, a nice pub and restaurant with some better dressed ladies
- Thermae, under Ruamchit Hotel near Sukhumvit soi 15, approx. 11pm to 2am
- Angels disco in Nana Hotel, Sukhumvit soi 4, approx. 11pm to 2am
- Bamboo, halfway down Sukhumvit soi 3, starts around 9pm
- Spice Club, under the Ambassador, parking lot entrance, 10pm onwards
- Grace Hotel, soi 3, 10pm to 2am
- Hard Rock Cafe (ground floor has some freelancers), 7pm to 2am
- Vibrations disco (mixed mainstream and some freelancers) under Novotel Siam Square, approx. 10pm to 2am
- Spasso, under Erawan Hotel, has some "hi-class" freelancers in the mix, 7pm to 2am
- Patpong has a few places, beer bar starting early evening, disco from around 11pm to 2am
There are some other places, but the above are the best known and most populous.
You should note that the streets get crowded after 2am when the girls who work at go-go bars get off work, and hoardes of them freelance at that time.
The closing times vary according to the political climate. When I arrived in 1994, many places didn't close until sunrise. As political winds have changed, closing times have occasionally been rolled back to as early as midnight, but as of late 2007 most places close at 1am to 2am, though some fairly hidden ones stay open until sunrise (and allegedly pay off the cops handsomely or are owned by cops).
The main advantages of the above freelance pick-up places are:
- No bar fine to the establishment, i.e., lower overall cost
- If you have a protracted relationship, these girls are not obligated to return to the bar on their daily schedule (especially useful for travelling together)
- If you have a protracted relationship, you wouldn't have to pay repeated "bar fines" for every day she's away, only your negotiated daily rate for the girl
- Some of the girls in freelance places have not been in prostitution for long and have never worked in any other kind of prostitution establishment nor would they (though many others have been in prostitution for very long and have "graduated" to the level of freelancer)
The main disadvantage of these places is:
- The girls are unaccountable if they do anything bad to you, unlike registered employees
The vast majority of cases of theft and druggings come from girls picked up at freelance places. While most girls at these places are safe, and these reports are not common (e.g., most guys who habitually take freelancers never get robbed or drugged), nonetheless, the ones who are thieves generally work at these places, and on any given day there are usually some present. On the other hand, the professional thieves tend to go after tourists rather than take a risk with anyone who lives in Thailand and whom they would have a high chance of running into again in the future.
Typical price is 1000 baht for shorttime, more or less. Sometimes much more. However, some girls will not state a price, but leave it up to your generosity. This does not mean they are free. They may be shy to ask for a price. It is also a custom in some circles to politely leave the generosity up to you.
If you take them longtime, back to your home, you generally should not expect maid service. Some will offer it, and if they iron your shirts, clean your dishes, etc., then you should tip them. Usually, if you want this then you should request it well in advance and negotiate a total fee. Some will be willing, but most won't. This is for freelancers. For bargirls, they would usually refuse.
Massage parlors, or "ab op newut" in Thai, are establishments which have the following:
- The girls are fulltime employees of the parlor and work the same daily schedule
- The ladies are sitting in a show room behind glass ("fish bowl") wearing numbers, and you choose one (no talk in advance)
- The lady takes you to a room inside the establishment for your encounter, not outside
- You pay one established fee for everything, non-negotiable, and typically 1500-2500 baht in advance
- The girls ARE required to go with whichever man who wants them, and cannot choose of their own free will whether or not to go with whoever chooses them
- The room inside where there is a big tub bath and a bed
- The usual routine is the girl bathes you, applies a condom, gives you oral sex and/or gives you a soapy massage with her breasts and/or and slides down to intercourse and/or continues on the bed
These places should not be confused for "traditional massage" places. The latter are real massage, not including sex. The sex-massage places normally do not include a real massage whereby "massage" is a misnomer (except they do massage one particular organ).
These establishments are more popular for Asians than for westerners, though many westerners frequent these places as well.
When you walk in the door, you will see girls sitting together in a central section for viewing behind a large glass window. They may be wearing swimsuits or some special uniform linguerie unique to that establishment. They are all wearing a unique number. You decide which one you want and tell the man who has the microphone. He calls the number and you meet near the cashier. You pay your money and she brings you to the room for the above routine. Note: You do not talk to the girl before deciding to take her.
The slang phrase for these places is "fish bowl", whereby you choose which fish to scoop out of the bowl.
A few can be found in the Patpong area, and there are a few standing alone in scattered places down sois on Sukhumvit. These places are few and far between in the expat / tourist areas because most westerners prefer to chat up ladies first. sex massage places are by far the most popular in the Thai entertainment zones up Ratchadapisek, down Petchburi, and in the Phaya Thai region. However, you can find massage places all over Bangkok, and indeed can usually find at least one in almost all major towns, and many small towns. I've occasionally seen them in the middle of nowhere between cities. Just see a lit up place on the side of the road, and there are ladies sitting there with numbers on, with a shophouse above, apparently appealing to men driving by!
There are many taxi and tuk-tuk drivers with glossy brochures of massage parlors. The selection of girls in the parlors are almost never as nice looking as the girls in the photo in the brochure. However, girls in massage parlors are often prettier than girls in bars, since the massage girls are successful based solely on their looks, whereas girls in bars can interact with customers first and apply their charms. Notably, since Thai men like white skinned girls, then practically all massage parlors that cater mainly to Thai men will have girls with whiter skin on average than bars in farang areas. In fact, most girls in farang area bars consider themselves dark skinned, and many Thai guys think the foreigners get the worst ladies. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder (or in the eyes of the beer holder, as the corollary goes).
These are "street walkers" (but usually just standing or sitting) who simply hang out on the street, usually around bus stops but sometimes outside some discos, along tourist beach fronts, and the occasional strip, and pick up guys on the street. Most are very overt about what they do, but some are disguised prostitutes as discussed elsewhere.
You should view them with the same precautions which apply to freelancers.
In Bangkok, you will see them in the parking lot of Nana Hotel across the street from Nana Plaza, and all along the north side of Sukhumvit Road intermittently between soi 3/1 and soi 19.
Many of these ladies do shorttime for as little as 500 baht, but most are up around 1000 baht. These are the rock bottom prices for Sukhumvit.
If you enjoy this kind of street walker sightseeing, then there is a Thai drive-by pickup zone a short ways from Sukhumvit. Go up Asoke (Sukhumvit 21) to Petchburi Rd., turn right onto Petchburi, and continue along Petchbory for about 200 meters. It starts at the Siam Hotel, bends around the corner at the first major road facing north, then bends around again on the next major road (parallel to Petchburi) going back west towards Makkasan. The third row is the biggest and most extensive. I have no idea what the prices are here, nor do I know any expats who have taken anything from here in about 10 years. (This is an old traditional location.) In fact, the Siam Hotel coffee shop and restaurant used to have a vast selection of women inside about 10 years ago when some Thai co-workers first brought me there. It's comparable to Thermae but much bigger. Being so close to Sukhumvit, it's surprising that foreigners are rare there.
Buying sex - The Rules of Engagement
When you are interested in taking a girl from a go-go bar, you have two choices:
- "Short time", up to two hours at a shorttime hotel plus transit time
- "Long time", i.e., bring her back to your home or hotel overnight
You should know that some high end hotels don't allow prostitutes into the hotel with guests for security and/or image reasons. However, most do allow the girls in, though usually the girl has to drop off her ID card at reception, which she can pick up when she leaves. Hotels which allow prostitutes to go to customers' rooms are called "guest friendly".
Shorttime hotels do not ask for the girl's ID card, and they exist solely for shorttime sexual liaisons.
Short Time Hotels
There are a few shorttime hotels inside Patpong. On Sukhumvit, they are located both inside and outside of the bar complexes. Thai ladies there will know. On Sukhumvit, farang favorites are:
- Playboy (PB) Hotel on "the green route" near soi 3, rooms a little bit stylish but no bathroom door
- Penthouse Hotel on "the green route" near soi 3, a short ways past PB, very plain
- A few down soi Sukhumvit 4 side alleys about 3 or 4 times the distance beyond Nana Plaza, reportedly in poor shape
- Star Hotel on soi 7/1
- A shorttime hotel above Thermae by the corner of soi 15 (Ruanchit Plaza)
- A shorttime hotel immediately outside Soi Cowboy on the soi 21 side
- A very cheap and run down shorttime hotel on soi 22 down a side alley across the street from Queens Park Entertainment Center (named Hotel 22?)
Shorttime hotels are actually located all around Bangkok and Thailand, but most foreigners are interested in only the ones in the expat area. In Thai areas, they are used less by prostitutes and more by Thai people who live with their parents and want some "private time" together, and also for "second wives" and the like (recurrent sexual relationships hidden from home). They are mostly the same everywhere in Thailand, though there are some exceptional boutique and "theme" ones in certain places which make all the shorttime hotels in the Sukhumvit area look really clueless.
Rates vary between 250 and 350 baht for shorttime. The usually allotted time is 2 hours. However, if you want to take all two hours then you should make this clear to the girl beforehand, because many guys have complained that their girl wanted a quick sexual encounter and then to return to the bar. Also, it's been increasingly reported that the hotel people come knocking at the door after just 1 hour, so you should ask them for the time period before paying.
Some bars in Nana Plaza and Soi Cowboy have a place in the upstairs or back of the bar where you can go for a quickie for a few hundred baht (of course not including the lady's fee). The Soi Cowboy bars are all converted shophouses where some of the ladies live anyway, so some bars allow you to go upstairs for a quickie. However, most bars do not have this offer of purely internal service. (I know a guy who was brought upstairs in soi Cowboy, and she took him to a bed right next to her sleeping infant in a crib, move over nanny. Typical story of a deadbeat Thai dad, which drove this lady to make quick money parttime to feed her baby and herself.)
Typical lady price is 1000 to 1500 baht for shorttime, more or less, but I've been reading that girls are now demanding 2000 baht and up. However, some girls will not state a price, but leave it up to your generosity. This does not mean they are free. They may be shy to ask for a price. It is also a custom in some circles to politely leave the generosity up to you. This is more common with freelancers (see below) than bar girls, but occurs both ways. The main point here is that they aren't free just because they didn't state a price beforehand.
In Patpong, you should not go to any second floor places unless you are accompanied by another farang who knows which second floor places which are safe. Many of the second floor places are traps. They will give you an exhorbitant bill contrary to verbal agreements and block the way to the door with big guys. If you ever find yourself in this predicament, do not fight, just negotiate and pay your bill, try to get a receipt, and go straight to the tourist police on Surawongse Road. You might be able to get some of your money back. Again, this is a problem in Patpong, not on Sukhumvit.
Photos of a typical shorttime hotel.
You should know that some high end hotels don't allow prostitutes into the hotel with guests for security and/or image reasons. However, most do allow the girls in, though usually the girl has to drop off her ID card at reception, which she can pick up when she leaves. Shorttime hotels do not ask for the girl's ID card.
There is a lot of discussion on the Internet on the topic of Thai prostitution. This is where I have to leave you to find your own information, as I'd rather not go into more detail, and I'm not an expert anyway. Some of the sources are a lot more knowledgeable than other sources. Many of the guys here seem to like to brag about how cheaply they got a girl (or for free) and how great she was/is. Take all this with a grain of salt, as you will find if you're new here. When you meet those guys in person, you won't believe them.
A popular website that discusses the nightlife is www.StickmanBangkok.com
I recommend the book titled Thai Tourism by the author Erik Cohen. You can find it in Asia Books. It is a white book published by White Lotus, a company which publishes many other fine books on Thai culture. You want to read the last third of the book on "Open-Ended Prostitution". An extract of the book is quoted on the website www.freelancerbar.com/The%20Girls/academic.htm
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