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Sex in Thai Culture - Some things you should know



Straight or gay or lesbian

Straight or gay or lesbian - the distinction isn not made in Thailand as it is in the U.S. In this largely Buddhist country, sex and sexuality come without the guilt and other baggage that accompany them here. Many Thais engage in sex with both men and women, without worrying about how to label themselves.

For example, Thailand does have a gay culture, but much of it has been created by Westerners. As a visitor, looking for nightlife, for sex, or for gay friends, this is largely the culture you'll most readily find. Here you will meet outgoing and friendly Asian men and women who are interested in meeting Westerners.

This can give the impression that most Thais are looking for Westerners. That is definitely not the case. But those you meet in such Westerner-created venues will often be interested in meeting 'farang', the generic Thai word for a Westerner.

Thai culture does not place a premium on youth in the way that western societies do. If you are over 35, you probably feel over the hill in the U.S. or Europe, you can still be quite desirable in Thailand. This comes as a pleasant surprise to middle-aged and older Westerners, gay or not!

The sex scene in Thailand is maturing and moving away from a mere sex-for-money, as one can see best in the gay scene. Until quite recently, the visible, public gay establishments in Thailand were almost all commercial: bars, go-go clubs, saunas, and massage parlors. These still account for the majority of gay spots, and you would not really have seen gay Thailand until you visit a go-go boy bar (what is indeed recommended to anybody, gay or not - they have the best midnight shows). But the largest cities now have a few discos, bars, or coffeehouses that lend themselves to non-commercial encounters, as well. The largest cities have gay karaoke bars and other establishments just for local gays. The best way to find them is to ask some locals.


Public discretion continues briefly in the bedroom. "I came out of the bathroom, and my date was already under the sheets," recalls a gay American visitor to Bangkok. "I peeled off my shorts, got in with Chai - and discovered he was still wearing t-shirt and underwear! I thought he must have lost interest somewhere along the line." A common experience in Thailand with both genders, by the way.

No - Chai was just being Thai. "A few kisses, a little cuddling, and that underwear was quickly gone!"

Public nudity is forbidden in Thailand. The country's few nude and gay beaches are created, and largely populated, by Westerners. Even in the same-sex locker room at a gym, men often change clothes under a towel, and shower in private.

If you bring home a date, you may not see her/him naked before she/he gets under the sheets. But once things get started, anything can happen.

Well, perhaps not anything. Few Thais are interested in S/M, B/D, water sports, or much of anything beyond vanilla sex. Many are interested in being only a top, or only a bottom. If you're versatile, you're pretty sure of having a fun and uninhibited time. If you have specialized interests or expectations, discuss them in advance to avoid disappointment all around. Almost any go-go bar has 'specialists' for such guests.

Public discretion

"In America, you can say anything but you can't do it. In Thailand, you can do anything but you can't talk about it," noted one observer.

What two adults do in private is their own business in Thailand - as long as the door is closed. Public displays of any sort of sexual affection, however, are considered highly inappropriate. Kissing in public is frowned upon. By the way, the thumbnail photograph above exhibiting a kissing Thai couple was taken at the 2011 kissing contest in Pattaya that resulted in a new world record of over 42 hours.

This is not an anti-gay prejudice, however: Heterosexual kissing is equally unacceptable. In fact, it's amusing for western visitors to see two Thai men walking down the street arm-in-arm, when heterosexual Thai couples never do so. What's going on? The two men are non-sexual friends, and thus aren't crossing the line.

If you are seen walking arm-in-arm with a Thai girl- or boyfriend, people can figure out what is going on. Your friend may not mind, so if she/he takes the initiative in this direction, go right ahead. It is better for you not to initiate any public displays, however: You could put her/him in the uncomfortable position of having to choose between either offending you, or acting in a way she/he feels inappropriate and embarrassing.

ladyboysKatoeys (ladyboys)

Cross-dressing is far more accepted, and publicly widespread, in Thailand than in any other country. Males who cross-dress are referred to as katoeys, or ladyboys. Drag shows are popular at gay clubs, and also in many establishments catering largely to a straight clientele. Internationally well known are, for example, Alcazar and Tiffany in Pattaya. 

For Thais themselves

While Thais do not, by and large, make moral judgments about being gay, there remains a strong pressure to marry and have a family. Since they are not into labeling themselves, it is common for Thai men to have some same-sex relationships while in their twenties, then to marry and have kids, without feeling like they've switched from gay to straight.


Theft is rare, violence even rarer. But of course, there are no guarantees in life. It is always wise to keep valuables in the hotel safe when traveling, and not to tempt fate. Someone who came home with you only for love might reconsider if he sees a wallet on the dresser with the equivalent of a month of his wages - and realizes that to you, it is little more than enough for a night on the town.

The bars know who they hire, so taking home a bar girl or boy creates an extra element of protection. In addition, it is common for hotels to request the ID's of overnight visitors, and your guests should be ready for this (and you should welcome it as well, of course).

A part of the text was taken from Alyson Adventures Inc.


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