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Red Light District In Bangkok – Everything You Need To Know
Whether the government likes it or not, the sex tourism industry in Thailand produced about $6.4 billion in 2015 and numbers seem to go up – despite being an illegal activity.
The industry has been tolerated for years, so shutting it down is impossible. It is only a matter of time until it becomes perfectly legal – maybe regulated too in the future for a better control. After all, random restrictions will not eliminate it, but move it underground. At that point, the risk of fraud and disease becomes too high.
At the end of the day, none of these things really matter for the foreigner who gets there and enjoys being approached by hot babes in bikinis down the street. In fact, while unofficial, Thailand – and especially Bangkok – has its own red light districts as well.
Whether it comes to sex tourism, history or beautiful landscapes, all roads will lead you to Bangkok – the main hub if you are after some red light district entertainment.
History of the red light district in Bangkok
Prostitution is the oldest job in the world, they say. Over the past few centuries, most countries have made it illegal – maybe because it was hard to regulate or control everything. All in all, it does not mean it died. In fact, the only difference was it went underground. These days, while still illegal, it is quite open in Thailand’s capital and draws millions of tourists every year.
Until 1960, prostitution was legal in Thailand. Girls from all over the country used to go to Bangkok and islands full of tourists in order to make money and support their families in poverty. During the 1950s, Thailand had to face plenty of pressure from the United Nations. Many civilized countries made it illegal, so the organization wanted Thailand to join as well.
Although it went illegal in 1960, this move has not changed too much. In fact, the law is quite confusing and there are plenty of back doors should someone get arrested. Authorities seem to ignore it, walk by and see half naked girls in the streets without actually caring. Things become serious if there are suspicions of kidnapping, trafficking or child prostitution. Other than that, everyone is happy.
Prior to 1960, Thailand has the exact same reputation. Somehow – it could be the pretty girls or the laid back attitude towards prostitution, Thailand has become a sex hub in Asia and its popularity grew beyond the continent. For trade merchants during the Ayutthaya Kingdom (1350 to 1767), Thailand was the most relaxing place on their routes – lots of sex and a chilled atmosphere.
Things have not changed too much later on either. Thailand was just as important during the Vietnam War (1955 to 1975). Although it was already illegal by the end of the Vietnam War, no one actually cared – girls were still out and foreigners and locals were still paying for sex. It was a normal thing that can no longer be reversed.
These days, the red light district of Bangkok is famous for ping pong shows (women doing tricks with their vaginas), go go bars (some sort of stripping nightclubs), blowjob bars, cabaret venues, girls waiting to be approached everywhere, as well as girls approaching all walkers for sex.
Current state of sex tourism in Bangkok
Nothing has changed in terms of sex and prostitution in Thailand over the past 50 years – perhaps girls are more “aggressive” in approaching people now, but this is pretty much it. Back then, they would just wait down the street, wave and say hi. Today, they will literally grab someone who walks too close, feel their bodies and invite them inside.
There are no doubts about it – prostitution is illegal in Thailand, but it is everywhere. Girls do not even have to hide. There will be blowjob bars close to restaurants, as well as girls in bikinis approaching foreigners in front of stripclubs. Everybody knows about it, but nobody does anything, hence its worldwide popularity.
There was an attempt to legalize prostitution in 2003. Nothing would have changed anyway, but perhaps a new set of rules and some attempts to regulate it. Every few years, the police raids particular areas – such as bars or parlors known for prostitution. But at the end of the day, nothing happens. Prostitution is illegal and everybody in the red light district does it without even bothering to hide.
According to massage parlors and stripclub owners out there, even police officers, politicians and important figures in Thailand visit such places every once in a while to relax. Plus, there are millions of foreigners coming over – whether they want to have fun with a sexy girl or just out of curiosity.
Going strict against prostitution will not clear it, but turn it underground. At the same time, the country would lose millions due to tourists moving somewhere else.
Where is the red light district located in Bangkok?
Bangkok’s red light district is basically an amalgam of streets. Patpong in Silom is probably the main place to start your exploration. It started gaining popularity during the Vietnam War, when lots of foreigners came over to relax.
It spreads over a couple of streets – Soi 1 and Soi 2, but it features everything you might need.
You will find lots of go go bars, cabarets, fetish clubs, massage parlors and bars. You will find both pricey and inexpensive bars, but most importantly, you will see hot girls in bikinis approaching men and inviting them in.
There is something for everyone out there – including single girls waiting and making eye contact. They are often referred to as freelancers and for the right amount of money, they will do anything.
Nana Plaza is not to be overlooked either. While not as old and popular as Patpong, it is one of the leading areas of the local red light district. It was established in the 1990s as a night market. It was a family friendly area until a large adult playground complex kicked in and changed everything overnight.
You will find ladyboy cabarets, go go clubs, hotels that rent rooms by the hour, shows, an amazing atmosphere, alcohol, food, sports broadcasts and – most importantly – girls everywhere. Again, you can find girls inviting you inside blowjob clubs, as well as girls smiling to everyone and waiting to be taken over to a hotel.
Since anyone can find some exciting around the red light district, the gay market could not be overlooked either. Whether you are gay, curious or looking for some fun, Soi Twilight is where you want to be. You can have swimming shows, dance performances, drag comedies, lots of gay love and wild parties. You do not necessarily have to be gay to hang around though.
Finally, Soi Cowboy should not miss from your red light district exploration. Established in the 1970s this place gained popularity in the 1990s, as more and more bars and clubs popped up.
It is a relatively short road with over 30 bars and lots of neon lights and energy. There are girls everywhere in ll kinds of bikini. The area has a good reputation in terms of safety and security, but you better get ready to be approached and touched by dozens of girls while walking around.
Average prices and services
Prices for sex vary widely in Thailand. For example, go go girls with nice curves will charge anywhere between 2,000 and 3,000 THB for a quickie and around double for a good hour. Thai bar girls will cost half – they hang around bars and they try to get you to buy them drinks, which cost more than regular drinks. However, while not as attractive as go go girls, they will do you for half.
Blowjow bars are different – drinks are cheaper and you can get a blowjob by the bar or in a private room for around 800 THB. Interested in sex? Ask for it and most girls will double up the price. You can also find happy girls down the street – sitting on a bench or just standing and smiling at everyone. They go for around 700 to 800 THB.
When it comes to massages, it is the additional service that you are interested in – handjobs for about 400 THB, blowjobs for about 750 THB and sex for about 1,500 THB. Other than that, you will find sex in all forms – online prostitutes, monthly rates (pay a flat rate and call her whenever you want) and so on. Just ask for it and you will get it.
How to stay safe
Just like in any other red light district around the world, try to avoid showing off. Do not wear expensive clothes or jewelry – even if you have replicas. You do not want to be targeted by pickpocketers because of a fake watch, do you?
The same rule applies to money. Keep them in more pockets and do not flash high amounts of money. Just use common sense. Keep your hands in your pockets if something looks fishy and make sure you pay attention to what is going on around you.
Generally speaking, clubs and bars in Bangkok’s red light districts are safe. You will find lots of tourists and foreigners, so you are less likely to find trouble. Even late at night, using common sense will keep you out of problems.
The most common scam in the red light district involves strings attached. Keep in mind that the shows are less likely to be free. If girls try to lure you in promising a ping pong show as long as you buy one drink only, this is not going to happen. That drink will either cost a fortune or you will be charged for everything – even for that cute girl who talked to you for five minutes.
For this reason, avoid bars and clubs that are not in the main area. It is safer and better to go into slightly more expensive places full of foreigners. You know you are less likely to get scammed there and what you see is what you get – no strings attached.
What comes next for the red light district in Bangkok?
Prostitution will never disappear – not just in Thailand, but everywhere else. Thailand has a sex tourism reputation and is less likely to lose it too soon, despite prostitution being illegal. For this reason, raids on such establishments are quite normal these days, especially in Bangkok.
They are not too harsh though. In other words, no place gets closed and no mass arrests are made. Instead, these raids are mostly done to identify illegal workers, drug trafficking and underage workers.
While political developments stagnate and focus on other things rather than sex (great for the foreign tourist), red light districts make more and more money. They thrive and expand, so new places will pop up every once in a while. Sure, some of them are there for decades, so they are less likely to lose their popularity, but there is always room for something new.
Most of these places are registered as entertainment places – which is exactly what they are.
When it comes to actual prostitution, it is tolerated and visible. The pressure on the local government keeps growing, so things might change a bit. Always double check the situation before heading over, as you should follow the rules. There is nothing to worry about though – there will always be hundreds of girls selling their bodies around.
As a short final conclusion, the red light district in Bangkok is basically a set of streets covered in go go bars, nightclubs, stripclubs, blowjob clubs and freelance girls hanging around and waiting for the right person. The industry thrives, despite being illegal, so things are less likely to change too much in the close future.