Ladyboys ( Katoeys) In Bangkok
About Lady Boys
Anyone visiting the nightlife scene in Bangkok and around
Thailand most likely is familiar with the presense of many
(relatively speaking) lady boys or katoeys (in Thai
I think the generally accepted term for this third sex is
transvestites. Most of them in daily live have upgraded
themselves with female attributes like hairdo, prominent
breasts, fancy dresses, a lot of make-up etc. In Thailand there
is also a well established prevalence of gender surgery where
the male sex organs are removed and remodeled through plastic
surgery into female sex organs.
surgery is performed rather frequently. One supposed reason
being that there is less importance given to psychological
evaluation before surgery as done in the West. The prove
that some of these persons have psychological problems is
clearly found in the fact that a lot of them end up in the
sex trade, rather than leading an otherwise normal
There used to
be a time when most of the larger bars at Nana Plaza (and
some at Soi Cowboy) had a contingent of lady boys. Possibly
they were kind of liked by management because they were
rather agressive in promoting themselves with the customers,
thus generating income for the bars. On the other hand, they
were more likely to generate trouble in and out of the bars.
Some customers probably got more than they bargained for,
when seeing their 'lady' emerge from the bathroom in the
hotel. So nowadays lady boys have mostly disappeared from
the regular a-go-go bars.
problem with lady boys in the bars was deception. While some
customers may prefer their presence and services, a lot of
first time visitors somehow fail to distinguish between them
and 'normal' women. And the lady boy will certainly not tell
them what they are.
But for those
who prefer their services, the three floors at Nana Plaza
have bars that solely have katoeys working in them. The
longest established bar is Casanova on the second floor. At
present also Obsession on the ground floor, and Cascade on
the third floor, have lady boys in abundance.
Many lady boys are working the
streets around Nana Plaza. Quite a few position themselves at
the entrance to Nana Plaza itself, looking mainly for drunk
males, about to leave Nana Plaza without a companion yet. In
the evening and at night, the Sukhumvit section between Soi 3
and Soi 5 ( Foodland) has besides a lot of street prostitutes,
also a big bunch of lady boys working the field.
At Soi Cowboy,
lady boys are less prevalent. However, there are a few of
them working at the Soi 23 end of the soi. If you leave Soi
Cowboy from that corner alone, you should not be surprised
when followed, touched, by lady boys, wanting your
recognize lady boys or katoeys. The answer : It is like
distinguished between men and women, or between cats and
dogs. You know what is a cat or a dog, when you see it,
without needing to go over their different body parts before
making a decision.
It is a given that MANY male customers visiting the nightlife
scene lack an ability to figure out the katoeys though.
Long-time residents usually can recognize them from a distance.
(But one should never assume one is a total expert, since some
lady boys are well 'done' indeed)
Most strictly speaking 'male' attributes can be corrected
nowadays by surgery. Breast, sexual organs, buttocks shape,
Adam's apple can all by adapted, removed or added. General
physical appearance usually is more difficult to change. Big
muscles, wide shoulders, large hands and feet can give a good
Besides physical characteristics, general behaviour of katoeys
can be a give away. It can be summarized as : They try to hard
to look and behave like females. Their body movement are
frequently exagerated. On the other hand, if you have an
argument with them, you will see the 'male' part get out of its
As an added
precaution : Most of the katoeys working the streets do so
in groups. So while you may be talked to by one person, more
are observing you all around, and may try to join the
action. The katoeys close to Nana Plaza reportedly also have
been known to be good pickpockets.
The return of the ladyboys