We describe them as “girls”, but Thai bar girls are adult women. Perhaps a more fitting name for them would be “Thai bar ladies”.
Thai bar girls are far different to ladies that serve drinks in Western countries. The biggest difference is that bar girls in Thailand are usually prostitutes.
Some men do not fully understand their profession before visiting Thailand, which can cause them to form regrettable romances with bar girls. We will try to explain some of the issues surrounding bar girls in this article.
A Thai bar girl is a lady that works at a bar in Thailand. Bar girls can typically be found in Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket, and other touristy areas of the country that have nightlife scenes which cater to foreign tourists.
Bar girls are responsible for greeting and serving customers in the bar. They will typically sit and chat with customers, who will subsequently buy them drinks. Bar girls earn a small commission every time a customer buys a drink for them.
Most bar girls are prostitutes. Customers can pay “bar fines”, which are payments made to the bar in return for taking one of their ladies. The customer will need to pay a separate fee to the lady herself on top of the bar fine.
Some customers will choose to spend prolonged periods of time with bar girls. Many guys visiting Thailand will look for a ‘holiday girlfriend’ and spend 1-2 weeks with the same lady.
Bar girls tend to treat their customers as partners, and go all out with a “girlfriend experience”, which leads many customers into forming relationships with these ladies.
In traditional Thai culture, the daughter of the family is responsible for supporting her parents in their old age. And if you speak to women that are working in Thai bars, you will find that many of them are mothers.
Child support is uncommon in Thailand and so when their relationship with the child’s father breaks down, many ladies will find themselves with the burden of providing for their mothers and fathers, as well as their children.
The minimum wage in Thailand is very low, and not usually enough to support a full family of people. Without a university education or a decent career, many ladies will struggle to earn enough money to support their families and get by.
Working at beer bars, go-go bars, and similar ‘adult entertainment’ venues, is often seen as a means to an end for Thai women. Working at a beer bar can allow the lady to earn good money, whilst she hopes to find a rich foreign boyfriend who will sweep her off her feet and take care of her needs.
Thai ladies will hear stories about their friends or relatives that have started out working in a bar, and eventually found a foreign boyfriend who has built them a nice house and bought a car for them. These stories can motivate many women to start working within the adult entertainment industry, especially if they are in need of money.
Some bar girls enjoy the lifestyle of getting drunk every day and spending time with foreign men. Some bar girls might prefer to have a normal job but have chosen their trade just to make ends meet. Everyone is different and circumstances can vary from one lady to another.
There are several different types of establishment within the Thai nightlife scene, however the role of bar girls generally remains the same in most of them.
Beer bars are prevalent in tourist hotspots such as Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket, and many other places in Thailand. There are indeed several types of beer bar, such as sports bars, girly bars, pubs, and arenas which house dozens of small, separate girly bars. Drinks inside beer bars are generally cheaper than other types of establishment, however the cost of drinks is also highly dependent on the location of the bar.
Inside go-go bars you can typically find a number of ladies dancing on stage, who will work in shifts and rotate between other ladies that are resting off-stage. Ladies working in go-go bars usually wear numbers so that customers can easily identify them and let the waiting staff know which girl they would like to buy a drink for. The dancers will typically be wearing more or less clothes depending on the establishment.
Go-go bars are usually more expensive than beer bars in terms of the price of drinks, lady drinks, and bar fines. You might also find that the girls are more eager for you to buy drinks inside go-go bars.
Gentleman’s clubs are effectively beer bars which are fully enclosed and airconditioned. They tend to have less of a party-atmosphere than beer bars with quieter music.
As gentleman’s clubs are enclosed, they are sometimes favoured by married men, as it allows them to drink and speak to girls outside of the public eye. If you are drinking at a beer bar with an open frontage, then there is always a risk that someone will walk down the street with a video camera – you might find yourself posted to YouTube where your partner could view the footage. Gentleman’s clubs solve the problem of being seen and are effectively more discreet beer bars.
If ladyboys are your thing then you will be able to find ladyboy beer bars and ladyboy go-go bars in most tourist areas. Ladyboy bars typically operate just the same as bars with regular ladies.
Nightclubs and discos are not bars in the strictest sense; however, bar girls often tend to work at these venues as freelancers. Bar girls (and any ladies living in Pattaya), can visit nightclubs when they are not working in order to hook up with customers.
Often is the case that freelancers will also earn a commission on drinks which are purchased for them, however this is not always true.
Most Thai bar girls do not learn to speak English in school. They will pickup most of their English-speaking abilities through working in the bar. Many ladies speak “bar girl English”, which is a form of broken English that some foreigners find hard to understand at first. Instead of saying “Could you buy me a drink?”, for example, a bar girl might say “I want drink. Can you pay drink for me?”.
What follows are words and phrases which you are likely to hear spoken by bar girls:
Butterfly: A butterfly is a client that spends time with multiple different bar girls. Instead of sticking to one girl, a butterfly will spend only one or two nights with each lady. Many bar girls resent ‘butterflies’.
Bar fine: A bar fine is a payment which is made to the bar in return for a lady having time off. We have written more about this in our blog post ‘How much are bar fines in Pattaya?’.
Cheap Charlie: A ‘cheap Charlie’ is basically a cheapskate. Drinking at a bar without leaving a tip, or trying to negotiate a bar girl’s fee down will probably earn you this label.
No money no honey: This is a phrase which is often tossed around in areas such as Pattaya. It is fairly self-explanatory… Bar girls are with you to earn money, and when the money runs out so will their attention. As bar girls will tell you, they “cannot eat love”.
Short time/long time: Another self-explanatory phrase. Ladies will typically offer two different prices, for either ‘short time’ or ‘long time’. If a lady is staying with a customer for several days, then she might offer a different rate or a bulk discount.
Mamasan: Many bars will have a mamasan. The mamasan is usually an elder lady who will look after the ladies and manage any disputes within the bar. If you have a problem with a bar girl, then the first port of call is usually to speak with her mamasan.
Short time room: A short time room is a hotel room which can be rented for a short period of time, usually for around 1 hour. Many beer bars also have rooms available above the bars.
Ring the bell: Many beer bars in touristy areas of Thailand have bells, horns, or even buttons. When a customer decides to ring the bell, he will buy a drink for every member of staff in the bar. In some bars ringing the bell will also purchase a drink for every customer in the bar.
Lady drink: Lady drinks are drinks which are purchased for bar girls. As bar girls earn a commission for each drink purchased for them, ‘lady drinks’ are usually more expensive than regular drinks in the bar. Prices can vary depending on the type of bar you are drinking in and the general area.
Cheque bin: When you visit a beer bar in Thailand, you will normally find yourself being approached by a lady who will ask what you would like to order. The lady will then return to your table with the drink of your choice and a wooden cup which is called the ‘cheque bin’. The cheque bin will gradually fill up with bills for each drink that you order, which you will pay before leaving the bar.
Thai bar girls usually earn money through several different sources, such as:
Bar girls usually receive a basic salary from the bar which employs them.
Bar girls can make money from tips, whether they are receiving a cut of the bar’s pooled tips, or tips which have been handed to the lady directly. Most customers will leave a tip when they are drinking in Thai beer bars.
Bar girls earn a small commission each time a customer buys a drink for them. Don’t be surprised if a lady asks you to buy a drink for her - most bar girls will aim to receive as many drinks as possible while they are working.
When a customer pays a bar fine for a lady, she will usually receive a small cut from that fee.
Bar girls obviously charge clients for their time. The fee which is charged will be up to the lady herself and paid directly to her. Bar girls can charge anywhere from 1,000 to 3,000+ THB.
A main source of revenue for Thai bar girls are their boyfriends and sponsors. Men will often meet with ladies that are working at bars, spend time with them, and send money to them after returning home from Thailand. This usually forms the largest source of income for successful bar girls.
As a detective agency based in Pattaya, we have seen hundreds of bar girl scams over the years. Usually, a man will meet a bar girl, spend a prolonged period of time with her, and start to develop strong feelings for her.
Eventually he will need to leave Thailand and return back home, the lady will then continue to work in the bar but tell him that she “will never go with a customer”. When we are asked to check whether this is true, most of the time the lady is still very much available and leaving the bar with different customers on a regular basis.
Bar girls know exactly what things they can say in order to convince their ‘boyfriends’ that they are not continuing to sleep with other men. A common tactic is to call their boyfriends every night as proof that they have not left the bar with a customer. In reality, the lady might make an excuse to leave her customer for a few minutes and call her boyfriend.
Maybe her “battery died” or she “was tired” and could not contact her boyfriend for a few hours. Bar girls know what excuses they can use and unless you are in Thailand it is virtually impossible to keep tabs on what is really going on.
When guys fall head over heels in love with bar girls, they will always believe that “she is different” and “she really doesn’t go with other men”. The sad reality is that most bar girls are not different. They are working in the bar in order to earn more money to support themselves and their families. The need to earn money is not reduced by having a boyfriend… As bar girls will tell you, they “cannot eat love”.
Sending money to a bar girl so that she can stop working in the bar is another risky endeavour. Many ladies will simply take the money and continue to work in the bar, earning themselves as much money as possible.
Other bar girls will actually stop working in the bar until their boyfriends have sent a lump sum of money or helped to build a house. Once the lady feels that she has extracted as much money as possible, she will start working in a different bar until she meets another boyfriend with the net worth needed to become her next pay day.
You might think that it could never happen to you - many of our clients also believed this until they were confronted with the truth.
Many bar girls start working in bars with the intention of finding a foreign boyfriend and settling down. But whatever her original intentions were, a bar girl’s mentality will be shaped by her experiences working in the bar.
If you’ve found a girlfriend working in a Thai bar, consider how many guys she slept with before you met her. She may have been with hundreds or even thousands of men before you stepped into her bar.
How many foreigners made promises to her which they didn’t keep? How many ‘boyfriends’ has she had which never sent her money? How many of her boyfriends broke up after returning back to their home countries?
On the flip side of that, consider the information she has received from friends and other ladies working in the bar. Maybe one of her friends has 6 different boyfriends and is earning a lot of money. Perhaps she knows a lady that scammed her boyfriend for several millions of baht.
The bottom line is that you do not know the lady’s history and the type of experiences she has previously had while working in the bar. She will sugar coat as many details as possible in order to help convince you that “she is different”, but the bottom line is you cannot read her mind or find out what she has been through.
While there are bar girls who will stop working in bars if they are supported by a foreign boyfriend and given enough money, there are plenty of other women who are simply trying to earn as much money as possible by scamming their customers.
If you would like us to investigate a lady that is working in a bar, then feel free to get in touch with one of our experienced team members for help and advice. Our service is 100% confidential.