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Where are Thailand’s bar girls? Up to a million people out of work | VIDEO




We know about the challenges in Thailand’s hotel industry. We know about the grounded planes and the problems with aviation. We know about the vendors and the tour company employees who have survived on a steady flow of tourists for decades.

But there is another hidden victim of the lockdowns and border closures, an industry which is the largest contributor to Thailand’s underground economy – the sex industry.

On one level Thailand’s walking streets look bright and glossy with the flashing neon signs and the leggy ladies hanging around the front of their establishments luring in the passersby. It’s all a big game.

Whilst prostitution is not strictly illegal in Thailand, soliciting sex is. But a billion baht industry has thrived in the past with a nod and a wink from local officials whilst an elaborate network of human trafficking, drugs and exploitation of young ladies, and men, thrived.

Everyone knows what’s going on, from the bar owners, local police, landlords and, of course, the hundreds of thousands of workers in this intricate game.

But the industry is also largely unregulated with the word ‘freelance’ much more likely than ‘employee’.


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  1. Avatar

    Roger C

    Friday, February 5, 2021 at 8:53 pm

    I’ve got one in my bed sa-leeping now.

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      Saturday, February 6, 2021 at 7:49 am


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      Saturday, February 6, 2021 at 12:59 pm

      “Sa-leeping” hilarious

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      Beng Beng Franklin

      Sunday, February 7, 2021 at 4:33 am

      It is truly noble you provide her a salaly.

  2. Avatar

    Christopher Strawbridge

    Friday, February 5, 2021 at 9:23 pm

    Never mind bar girls where are all the bar boys gone

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      Saturday, February 6, 2021 at 10:02 am

      Christopher Strawbridge – The bar boys are mostly Shan – Some have enough accumulated wealth that they can ride it out, and or have a existing local (mainly Thai) customer base. If not, there’s a shortage of building site workers so off they go and do that instead – usually its an easier help their friends out job like dry walling or painting. When Clubs/ massage places open up again they’re on the plane back to do the “lazy job”.

  3. Avatar

    David Henderson

    Friday, February 5, 2021 at 9:23 pm

    This article asks the question but doesn’t answer it. My assumption would be that they are
    1. Doing other jobs – like working in 7/11 or cafe etc
    2. Have headed home/upcountry where expenses are cheaper and are watching the rice grow
    3. Doing online gig like cam shows etc.
    Not that I’m an expert in this area but at least that’s an answer. Don’t forget there is also a huge sex industry catering towards local demands. Even that seems to have been impacted with Posiedon hitting the wall.

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      Saturday, February 6, 2021 at 12:12 am

      Yes, David, you are most probably correct on all three counts but I fear that others will be too cynical.
      Ho hum but never mind.

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      Saturday, February 6, 2021 at 3:08 am

      I don’t know if you talk about the article only, but the nice video associated with it is rather informative and does have some answers.

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      James Pate

      Tuesday, February 9, 2021 at 5:28 am

      1. Too lazy to get a 7-11 type job and probaby not qualified. 2. Sending bulk emails to every Tom, Dick and Harry she ever dated for sa-port. 3. Freelancing in Bangkok with retirees. 4. Too proud to work on the Thai side of this industry. Doesn’t pay well. 5. The educated, cream of the crop were already doing internet and outcall before Covid and will be fine. 6. Sell meth with her boyfriend. 7. The most likely of all- sit at home in Nakhon Nowhere until this passes and bars reopen.

  4. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Friday, February 5, 2021 at 9:44 pm

    Love will find a way . . .

  5. Avatar

    Mr cynic

    Friday, February 5, 2021 at 10:02 pm

    Many will weather the storm comfortably using remittances from their gullible overseas sponsors.
    most will return to their home villages if they have not done so already and the cash will go a very long way girls worldwide are quite used to feast and famine and are very street wise,they will be fine.

    • Avatar


      Friday, February 5, 2021 at 11:31 pm

      Compliments!!! One of the best comments I’ve read here in this newspaper

    • Avatar

      James Pate

      Saturday, February 6, 2021 at 4:32 pm

      100% correct! Back home and, hopefully, getting some support from the family she’s been supporting.

  6. Avatar


    Friday, February 5, 2021 at 10:47 pm

    Little Johnny from issan is keeping them all fed and watered

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      Friday, February 5, 2021 at 11:14 pm

      An intellectual and a hero mind you.

      • Avatar

        Jowen Yu

        Sunday, February 7, 2021 at 12:45 am


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      Pattaya Lover

      Saturday, February 6, 2021 at 2:40 am


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      Saturday, February 6, 2021 at 7:33 am


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      James R

      Saturday, February 6, 2021 at 10:09 pm


      Very funny.

      I notice there is no comment from Issan John on this subject, too close to home I think. ?

  7. Avatar


    Saturday, February 6, 2021 at 1:00 am

    They are all back home farming rice texting their farang boyfriends asking for money

    • Avatar

      Toby Andrews

      Saturday, February 6, 2021 at 11:22 am

      For sick buffalos.

      • Avatar


        Sunday, February 7, 2021 at 12:04 am


  8. Avatar


    Saturday, February 6, 2021 at 1:03 am

    even a bar girl would regect ij and rather starve I’m sure he must have married the local ugly babe 555 as nobody wants him in UK

  9. Avatar

    Buster Hymen

    Saturday, February 6, 2021 at 2:57 am

    Up Country if their families, selling noodles or soap dishes to Thais if they stayed in Bangkok or Pattaya, doing online sex cam shows to gullible customers especially the Arabs and Indians and finally for the lucky few to have a foreign sponser gauge them for as much as you can.

    • Avatar


      Monday, February 8, 2021 at 8:40 am

      Arabs and Indians are gullible? Try living in their countries, and soon you will understand who the real suckers are!

  10. Avatar


    Saturday, February 6, 2021 at 9:15 am

    One day, when this is all over, we must get the Thaiger to arrange a big party and invite a selection of the more famous contributors like IJ, Slugger, Toby, Peter, Ian, in fact all the usual suspects, and top it up with some of the above mentioned currently unemployed ladies (and gentlemen for Mr Strawbridge if I have read his preferences correctly but my apologies if I got it wrong), where they can cure all the ills of world in general, and Thailand in particular, in one good go. Anyone know of a good place where to hold it?

    • Avatar

      Toby Andrews

      Saturday, February 6, 2021 at 11:25 am

      No, bad idea. It is bound to end up in a punch up. lol

      • Avatar


        Saturday, February 6, 2021 at 4:55 pm

        Exactly. I could sell tickets for a new variety of Thai Boxing )))))

    • Avatar


      Saturday, February 6, 2021 at 5:08 pm

      haha that’s pretty funny, would love to see what all these people look like

  11. Avatar


    Saturday, February 6, 2021 at 9:48 am

    Well I’d imagine only the ones who are in higher demand still have that sorta “work” via in-home service calls, private events etc. None of that is my cup of tea, but understanding supply vs demand makes it easy to understand what’s played out for those working in the “entertainment” industry.

    • Avatar


      Tuesday, February 9, 2021 at 3:41 am

      The higher end usually only work with rich foreign tourists, which there are none. From speaking to a couple of them, they have enough money to ride it out without doing anything else, and won’t sell themselves at a discount.

  12. Avatar

    brian mc

    Saturday, February 6, 2021 at 10:15 am

    I wonder whose idea it was to send Tim to soi cowboy looking for barboys and bargirls wearing that shirt?

  13. Avatar

    Gutes Leben

    Saturday, February 6, 2021 at 10:57 am

    Prostitution isn’t necessary when the internet is so easy to lure the imbeciles out of their finances. The majority that were in the bars have understood that this business is passé. So easy to create luring videos and so the income comes quickly without much effort.

  14. Avatar

    Issan ron

    Saturday, February 6, 2021 at 11:45 am

    One contacted me last night on She said her grandma is sick and she needs 15000 baht to help her. And also she loves me too much although she has never met me. I’m in love already.

  15. Avatar

    Eurotrash dispenser

    Saturday, February 6, 2021 at 12:03 pm

    A lot of eurotrash on this site from the caves

  16. Avatar

    J West

    Saturday, February 6, 2021 at 1:43 pm

    The desperate who want an instant return to ‘ the bad old days’ so they could fall back into lechery and easy money have been regretting thier choice.

    New Zealand, Europe, Aus, Canada, Vietnam Japan S Korea Maldives, wherever you name it. All gunned down by wave after wave of Covid. Wherever you go it’s the same. Dubai is another victim of short sighted self interested arrogance.

    Regarding the video: Same old denials. “Another crop of eager sex workers ready” for the HiSO and Mafia to exploit. What if that doesn’t happen? Wouldn’t it be nice if it didn’t.

    Here’s something to mull over. It will only be when another video is shot, sometime after 2024 / 5 when all those bars are closed permanently and reverted to warehouse space will “normal” become a new word in our lexicon. Let’s hope that’s over in Thailand and the perverts have moved along.

  17. Avatar


    Saturday, February 6, 2021 at 2:44 pm

    “whilst an elaborate network of human trafficking, drugs and exploitation of young ladies, and men, thrived.”

    The bargirls are not “trafficked”, if there is a case of trafficking then its rare and an exception too the rule. Journalists use the term “trafficking” in a very sloppy way. It has given many people the false impression that a majority of prostitutes around the world are some sort of slaves.

  18. Avatar


    Saturday, February 6, 2021 at 3:11 pm

    Thaifriendly, Tinder, Bado, etc…. they are here..

  19. Avatar

    James R

    Saturday, February 6, 2021 at 9:54 pm

    They have all gone back to Issan, they can still receive the monthly bank transfers from the three or four old farangs who are sending them money each month, the three/four loves of their lives.

    Miraculously their parents are still alive, as is the buffalo who had died three times already in order to extract more money from the gullible farangs.

    What makes me laugh is Thai couples are always roughly the same age as in most places in the world, but the farangs believe these young girls really love old men, it is funny to watch them walk hand in hand down the street.

    I see ‘normal’ Thai people laughing at them.

  20. Avatar


    Saturday, February 6, 2021 at 11:22 pm

    The sad way the story goes is like this. In Thailand there is no pension, most of jobs are paid the misery of 300 baths a day and as a couple splits the husband won’t have to pay money for food and school to his former family. Once the young lady parents won’t be able to work anymore, the three hundred baths earned by the lady herself won’t be far enough, so what the hell else can they do ? You all understand that in Thailand most of the girls, ladies and women are forced to sell their body and all this is really mean. So guys please respect these ladies and dont tease them.

    • Avatar

      James R

      Monday, February 8, 2021 at 1:12 am


      That is a standard story the bar girls give out in order to fool people like you to get money from you.

      How come the poor women outside of Issan do no work as bar girls?

      If they can do it so can Issan girls.

      If you are ever in a bar anywhere in Thailand ask each girl where they are from and 99% will say “Issan”, plus you can tell from the Laos language they are speaking to each other.

      • Avatar


        Tuesday, February 9, 2021 at 3:47 am

        Sorry, what is your theory relating as to why this is the case with Issan girls specifically?

      • Avatar


        Friday, February 12, 2021 at 7:11 pm

        James, what l meant concerns prostitution in Thailand not only bar girls. Poverty and desperation are the main reasons and ain’t so stupid to go to such bars. Anyway the are also many girls from the north of Thailand

  21. Avatar

    Issan John

    Sunday, February 7, 2021 at 1:14 am

    So the story goes … and some still believe it.

  22. Avatar


    Sunday, February 7, 2021 at 6:46 am

    Actually, this is a relatively good piece of journalism. The Thaiger is to be commended on upgrading its standards.

  23. Avatar


    Sunday, February 7, 2021 at 1:08 pm

    Do people really think prostitution is for forigners in Thailand. The main markets for forigners are the tourism areas only. The main prostitution is with the Thai men. Sapphon Kwai in Bkk is a perfect example. Thailand is a big place, prostitution is not just for forigners, the majority is to the Thai themselves.

    • Avatar


      Sunday, February 7, 2021 at 1:52 pm

      Spot on, Steve. I`ve been to Thailand many, many times and not even once been to a bar or any other so called “red light” facilities. It`s just not my cup of tea, not what I consider fun. As to the future of the sex industry in Thailand, I couldn`t care less. It will surely survive, albeit downsized.

      • Avatar

        James R

        Monday, February 8, 2021 at 1:18 am


        It is not compulsory to visit a red light bar as can be seen from the 40 million tourists who are mainly couples or families but the bar girls in the farang red light areas are for farangs.

        But as we know, these areas are only a tiny percentage of what Thailand has to offer to the tourists and can be easily avoided.

    • Avatar


      Tuesday, February 9, 2021 at 4:02 am

      The “tourism areas” are massive and many though; pattaya, patong, nana, soi cowboy, patpong. They have all been dead as the borders have been closed.

      I don’t think Sapphon Kwai outweighs the 3 tourist areas I mentioned in BKK in terms of numbers, let alone in monetary terms. Local prostitution surely exists but to say it’s a majority is something I really doubt.

      • Avatar

        James Pate

        Wednesday, February 10, 2021 at 5:59 am

        I guess you’ve never been to Ratchada or New Phetburi Road. Suphan Kwai used to be my go to place for a quiet, relaxing evening away from native English speakers, but that was 20 years ago. A bit gentrified now.

        • Avatar


          Saturday, February 13, 2021 at 1:00 am

          Ratchada is also extremely quiet VS before covid. Not sure what point you’re trying to make. Thai people exist? and there are areas with fewer tourists?

  24. Avatar


    Sunday, February 7, 2021 at 2:30 pm

    plenty would be dead of STDs and aids if you read the stats and exported to the tourists homelands
    unfortunately covid and joblessness brings on more desparation to be exploited. another hub.

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