If this sounds familiar, read on. This guide will take you through the entire process, from deciding when to go to your first barfine.
Before you leave
The first order of business is deciding when you will go. The two main factors in when are the weather and the amount of tourists. The best time with regards to the weather is Nov-Feb, this is the 'cold' season in Thailand. Of course this is also the period when most people come, which makes it the worst time with regards to the amount of tourists as well.
The opposite is true for the period Mar-Jul, hardly any tourists, but very hot weather (35-40 Celsius). The third option would be to come here in the period Aug-Oct, the rainy season. I know this sounds weird, but don't be discouraged by the fact that it is the rainy season. Yes, it rains, but not nearly as much (or as long) as you would imagine. It is usually an occasional downpour that last for a few hours, nothing that would ruin a vacation. Anyway, this option is probably the 'middle of the road', fairly nice weather and not too many tourists.
To be honest though, you will have fun regardless of which time of the year you come here.
OK, the when has been decided, on to the where. The deciding factors in the where are what you want to do whilst in Thailand, do you just want to enjoy the nightlife or would you like to relax at the beach as well. Please check out the pros and cons of the 4 main tourist destinations:
- Bangkok : Bangkok is well rounded, it has a lot of nightlife and plenty of sights (either in the city or a small trip away). Unfortunately there is no beach and the city is fairly crowded and polluted. Nevertheless I would recommend a few days in this city at least.
- Chiang Mai : Chiang Mai is the provincial version of Bangkok. There is some nightlife and some really nice sights, add to this a climate that is a bit cooler and you can probably understand why this is one of my favorite destinations. However, if you are just interested in the nightlife, don't bother coming here. Especially if you are in Thailand for only a week or two.
- Pattaya : Pattaya is the ultimate nightlife city, it is often referred to as the 'adult version of Disneyland'. Unfortunately Pattaya does not have much other things going for it. Still, since it is only about 2 hours by bus, it is a great city for getting away from Bangkok for a few days.
- Phuket : If you are into great beaches and watersports, this is the place for you. Be warned though that Phuket is very expensive (as is the nightlife here) and in the peak season (Nov-Feb) it gets really crowded here, mainly with western families.
So, where should you go? Well, like they say here 'up to you'. My suggestion would be to make your base in Bangkok and make sidetrips to one or more (depending on your time & budget) other cities.
Your final decision before leaving is regarding accommodation, which hotel(s) should you stay in?
Besides the obvious criteria of your budget, there is not really that much difference as to where you stay as long as you make sure your hotel is close to the places you think you will frequent.
One big issue though, if you expect to be taking 'guests' back to your hotel, is the hotel's guest policy. Whilst most hotels don't care, some will charge you extra for any overnight guests, whilst yet others will even forbid it. Charging for guests is especially commonplace in Phuket (guest charges can be as high as 1,500 Baht!).
To help decide on a hotel, check the maps section and the hotel reviews.
As a small side note I think a few words on a required budget are in order. It is obviously very difficult for me to tell you how much you should budget per day, since this is dependent upon several factors (your spending behavior, amount of drinking/partying you intend to do, eating habits, etc.). I will, however, try to give you some rough ideas which might help you budget your trip a bit more.
- Food: Food can be very cheap in Thailand, and just about anything is available. I would recommend you budget around 300-500 Baht a day for food. This includes an occasional meal for 2.
- Girls: Expect to pay ~1,500 Baht per long time, and 500-1,000 Baht per short time (Pattaya beerbars are cheaper, say 500-1,000 Baht long time). Barfines are not included in this amount. Prices for massage parlours vary a lot.
- Hotels: Prices for hotels vary greatly, but expect to pay around 1,000-1,500 Baht a night in Bangkok and Phuket, Pattaya and Chiang Mai are a bit cheaper (say ~400-800 Baht a night)
- Partying: This obviously depends on how much (and what) you drink and on how generous you are buying ladydrinks, a (very) rough estimation would be 500-1,000 Baht a night.
- Transportation: In Bangkok you will most likely move around using either taxis and/or the skytrain, I would say 200-300 Baht a day would be enough for transportation unless you plan to do a lot of traveling. Again, transportation in the other cities is a bit cheaper. Please check out the Transportation-page in the guest area for more info.
- Miscellaneous: Add some money for miscellaneous (souvenirs, etc.) and unexpected costs as well.
There are a few ways to get from the airport to your hotel. If you don't have much baggage, and your hotel is in one of the tourist areas (it should if you paid attention when I talked about hotel selections), I would recommend taking the airport bus. For only 70 Baht this is a cheap & comfortable way to get into town. After you get in you tell the lady which hotel you are staying and she'll make sure you will be dropped at the nearest busstation to it.
Your other option would be to take a taxi. You could of course go to the counter near the exit and get one from there, but then you will have to pay the 50 Baht airport fee. A better solution is to walk up to the departure terminal and use one of the taxis that just dropped of someone, no airport fee. Fare into town should be around 150-200 Baht plus express way fees (~40 Baht). For more information on transportation in Thailand please read the Transportation page in the Guest area of this site.
The nightlife in Thailand catering to farangs (=westerners) consists mainly of GoGo bars, beerbars and discos.
First night out
Note: This is written with Bangkok in mind, however it applies to other cities as well.
It is smart to clean yourself up before going out (take a shower, dress nicely, etc.), because, even though some people will tell you otherwise, the girls do care about your appearance. This does not necessarly mean your looks, but more how you dress, smell (very important to Thais) and behave. I'm not saying you need to hit the bars dressed in a 3 piece suit, but don't go in shorts and slippers either. Casual wear is fine (jeans/slacks and a shirt for instance).
The best tip I can give you is try to hook up with a regular on your first night out. The easiest way to do this is to have a drink in one of the outside beerbars first, strike up a conversation with some of the guys around you, tell them it's your first night and more often than not the guys will be more than happy to explain things and maybe even take you under their wing for the evening. You could of course also try arranging something with a person from the message board before you leave.
Believe me, for regulars and locals it is usually more fun to see a newbie's reaction on his first visit to a GoGo bar. You will be surprised and experience a kind of sensory overload. Can't really help you with dealing with it, nor, do I think, should I. Just go in and let it happen.
Ok, so what is a GoGo-bar and how do they work? The bar will usually consist of a stage with girls dancing in various stages of undress surrounded by chairs and/or booths. There are girls everywhere, dancing on stage, sitting around talking to customers and each other, fixing their makeup or just walking around. Don't be surprised if they don't bother dressing when coming of the stage to talk to you.
The girls walking around in uniforms are the waitresses and there is usually an older women (or a katoey) who is the mamasan. I'm sure you can figure out what the waitresses are there for, the mamasan might be a bit more of a mistery. The mamasan acts like a 'mother'/manager to the girls, she looks after them and can (and sometimes does) negotiate between you and the girl. They are also very useful if you have any special requests (no need to be shy, she has heard everything before) as they know all the girls and can usually tell you which ones would do what you request. You can get pretty specific, if you want a small, dark-skinned girl with big tits that give good blowjobs, tell the mamasan and she'll probably find you exactly what you want.
So, what do you do when you see a girl you like? Try making eye-contact and smile at her, if she's interested she'll come over either immediately or, if she's dancing, after she finishes dancing. Talk to her a bit, buy her a ladydrink and get to know each other a bit. If it clicks, ask her if she wants to go with you. If she agrees pay the barfine and head for the hotel. Make sure you agree upon short or long time beforehand though.
Freelancers & After hours places
The deal with the freelancers in the after hour places is basically the same, smile, make contact, talk a bit and return to your hotel for sanuk. It might be a bit more of a challenge though.
The places I am talking about here are:
- Thermae, the ultimate after hours place to pick up freelancers. You will be able to find anything here, from underage students trying to make some extra money to bargirls that have finished work or are looking for seconds to freelancers that were over the hills 10 years ago. Be aware that this place doesn't get going until after midnight and is at it's peak around 3-4am. It closes around 6am or so.
- Angels, the disco in the Nana Hotel. Besides lots of freelancers, a lot of the bargirls from Nanaplaza gather here after work to dance, ... and if they can make some extra money...
- German Beergarten. This restaurant/beerbar is always packed with freelancers from late morning until around midnight. New Wave (opposite of the Beergarten) and Busstop (on Soi 4) are similar places.
Let me start by saying that these girls have NOTHING in common with the hookers in the West. I wouldn't even call most of them hookers, a far better term would be 'rented girlfriends', you rent them for a few hours, a night, a couple of days or even longer. You will not often encounter the "haven't you finished yet?" attitude here, more common is girls waking you up at 5am, because they want seconds (or thirds :) ).
Having that out of the way I suppose a little more information on these girls, and on how to interact with them, is probably in order. (I guess I dont' have to tell you how beautiful they are, right?)
One of the first things you will encounter is the lack of English most girls have. This however shouldn't deter you into trying to have a conversation with them, we're not talking rocket science here so you should be fine (bringing along a phrase book can be very useful!). I would recommend though that if conversation is a real problem, it might be better to find a girl whose English is a bit better (which shouldn't be too much of a problem).
The second thing you will probably notice occurs when you return to your hotel room, shyness. Even though your 'friend' might have been dancing on stage topless or even naked, lots of them will insist upon showering alone and will come out of the shower with a towel wrapped around them. Forget about leaving the lights on either. Obviously this is a generalization and the other side of the spectrum also exists (although they are less common), girls that start raping you as soon as you enter the room :)
An uncomfortable moment for most is usually when the girl leaves and it is time to pay her (NEVER pay in advance!). Obviously you could just hand her to money, but if this feels uncomfortable, tell her it is 'cabfare' or that she should use it 'to buy something nice for herself'. With regards to how much you should pay her... Well, basically this is up to you, but for some guidelines I would say ~1,500 Baht Long time, 800-1,000 Baht Short time.
Some hints & tips:
- It is very common that guys get the urge to barfine the first girl that shows any interest in them. Don't! I would recommend you spend a few hours getting used to the bars first, there are plenty of cute girls anyway.
- Try hooking up with a regular. There are plenty of guys around that won't mind showing you around (buy them a beer every now and then!) and you could pick up a lot of good info this way.
- Even though the GoGo bars don't open until around 8pm, most of the beerbars open around 2am (some even earlier).
- Never pay the girl in advance.
- Have FUN! A good attitude is contagious, you will enjoy the bars a lot more if you go in with a smile on your face.
Trust me you will regret the day you leave here, and will almost certainly start planning your next trip within a few weeks of coming home. Chances are also great you will be hit by, what regulars call, the Bangkok blues (or Thailand blues). This is one of the symptoms of the 'sickness'. I know it sounds weird, but the vast majority of men that come here for the nightlife get hooked on it and keep coming back time and time again. Chances are great you will be one of them within days of arriving here.
BTW, don't forget that you have to pay 500 Baht airport tax on departing Thailand. So, make sure you have some Baht left when leaving.