Thailand At Work – Pattaya Bar Girl

Thai bar girls Pattaya

Thailand At Work is a mini-series that looks at the working lives of three Thai women striving to better their future in three very different industries within Thailand. The first of these posts look at a woman who is trying to snare a rich foreigner to secure a better future for herself and her three children by working as a Pattaya bar girl.

Pattaya Bar Girls – Dawan’s Story

Thai bar girlIf you asked a cross-section of bar girls in Pattaya how long they had worked there, you would quickly become accustomed to the answer – one week.  Most bar girls know almost every western man wants a girl who’s blind to the artful ways of Pattaya’s stereotyped bar girls – they want one who has little experience working the bars, and as a rule-of-thumb, that’s what most westerners wish to.

To a Thai bar girl, inexperience is a better barter tool than five years treading the boards because when they’re face to face with a customer loaded with money for honey, a small white lie may get them a ‘higher price’, a better restaurant meal and possible relief from the mundane life many of the bar girls live.

Dawan has only worked in Thailand’s wild child resort for one week – I can only report what she told me. Her English language skills were fundamental, but my basic instincts told me she’d done the rounds a little longer than she admitted she had. Our interview took place at the Shark Rider Bar in Soi Buakhao and was aided by the bar owner’s Thai wife whose English was much more polished than her employee.

Shark Rider Bar,PattayaThe Shark Rider Bar in Soi Buakhao is one of those ‘same same’ type of bars that blend in with the many ‘businesses’ and other bars that are currently struggling in this sex tourism city. If Pattaya’s streets are paved with gold, then Soi Buakhao’s road is peeling, and a nasty green rash has started to poke its head above the surface. Pulling punters must be a challenging task for most of the bar girls who work there.

The road from Ban Lad Ya in Kanchanaburi Province to Pattaya is one that Dawan may have helped to lay when she previously worked in a road gang earning 200 baht ($5.50 US) a day. Dawan quit working the roads a few months back when the lure of Pattaya boulevards overpowered the smell of hot steaming tar, and she headed for the coast.

Dawan is separated from her Thai husband and with three children to school, clothe and feed, she’s traded road gangs for bar life in the ‘Theatre of Teens’. At 41 years of age, Dawan has to overcome serious competition from fit, lean youthful bar girls, and more so, from their slightly older and vastly experienced peers.

Low Wages and a Tough Life

Darwan’s work duties read bar cleaner and hostess – all for the princely salary of 2,000 baht ($55) a month. Customer tips may add 500 baht, but that’s hardly enough to keep the wolf from the door – a door that’s hungry for a ‘bang’ from a baht-laden westerner.

Soi Buakhao bar girl

PattayaDawan gets two days holiday a month which give her little time to visit her children who are currently being taken care of by her elderly parents in Ban Lad Ya. Dawan realises she needs to quickly improve her necessary English skills to ‘bump’ her salary and better fund her children’s education. She smokes and enjoys an occasional shot of lao khao rice whisky – luxuries low-income Pattaya bar girls cannot afford to abuse.

Dawan misses her two boys and daughter, she also freely admits to being a staunch yellow shirt supporter, and would you believe, her dream is to marry an Englishman. My basic instincts kicked in once more, and I knew, if I was German, Dawan would have pidgin-toed about Munich, Jurgen Klinsmann and flushed at the thought of writhing on the back seat of a BMW. Pattaya’s seven-day cycle has some fast learning curves.

Beyond The Mango Juice wishes Dawan all the best in her quest to find the perfect western man but somehow I think on my next visit to Pattaya, Dawan will have swapped the smell of city’s sewers for the sweeter scent of burning road tar. It’s a tough life in Pattaya for an inexperienced ageing bar girl.

Good luck, Dawan.


I'm a sixty-year-old Englishman living in the town of Swindon in rural Wiltshire and I have a real deep desire to retire in Thailand one day. If you don't have a dream then you won't have a dream come true.

11 Responses

  1. Catherine says:

    ‘Thailand At Work’ is an excellent idea. At first I thought you were reviewing an actual TV program, but the kudos are all yours!

    With only 2000 baht coming in each month, I have to wonder just what Dawan is smoking.

    Catherine’s last blog post..Interviewing Myke Hawke: Quick and Dirty Guide to Learning Languages Fast

  2. Mike says:

    Martyn, sort of puts things in perspective doesn’t it?

    Mike’s last blog post..Thai Visa Retirement Extension Application

  3. Hoo Don says:

    Thanks Catherine, 2000 baht is the low end of the bar salaries but it’s about right for a small bar like the Shark Rider. Dawan has to find a tourist or two to up the bucks and the way Pattaya is right now I really do fear for her.

  4. Great topic for a series of blogs – and there’s plenty of subject matter. That’s at the lower end of salaries for Chiang Mai too, 3000 is more common, a little more in the top bars. Hopefully Dawan’s dream may not be in vain, although you have to think the odds are against her. In the Number One bar in CM, there were two girls in their early forties, and really looked it too. Not particularly physically attractive but really nice, warm-hearted, cuddly people. Both struck lucky last year, finding a couple of loving, if elderly farang husbands – so it’s not impossible. Perhaps Dawan should move away from Pattaya to Chiang Mai… or is her family down that way…

    It’s a tough world. When ‘Thailand Girl’ made that comment over on my last blog that boiled down to, essentially, the claim that the girls turned down ‘proper’ jobs because they loved partying and having a good time, well, that’s hardly true – to put it politely. Many of these girls have barely been to school, what sort of employment does TG think they are going to get? Husbands can b*gger off with impunity, never pay a penny in maintenance. The state doesn’t help. A mother is going to try to do what’s best for her children, will want to earn money so that they can get an education and don’t end up like their mother, tarmacking roads, or in the bars. In a way it’s the ultimate in self-sacrifice.

    Enjoyed that Martyn, one of your more wistful contributions, perhaps in line with the mood of the moment. Look forward to hearing about Ying.

    Pete, frogblogger’s last blog post..Brash Bangkok, culture-hound Chiang Mai, pornographic Pattaya, innocent Isaan – which one is your Thailand?

  5. Hoo Don says:

    Mike – It’s a tough world out there in Pattaya and I don’t think the girl has a chance, purely because of her age.

    Pete – As with Chiang Mai there is always a chance that an older chap might come along but Pattaya is dead right now, Dawan would have been better sniffing the tarmac until November time. As far as Thailand Girl goes then it’s only the top real good lookers who take that attitude the rest are those working for their future’s and dreaming about life back in the village, they really hate Pattaya and all that it stands for. The mood at the moment is pretty low but I will Gloria Gaynor.

  6. “I will” … never say goodbye? Reach out and be there? Walk on by? Do it myself? 😀

    Pete, frogblogger’s last blog post..Farang, fat and ugly, from England? An Isaan girl’s dream man

  7. Talen says:

    Great read Martyn. I can’t imagine how hard it is for some of these women who have children at home that they really don’t want to leave.

    It isn’t easy for the have nots in Thailand and I’m sure there are thousands of similar stories in Pattaya.

    Talen’s last blog post..David Carradine Murdered?

  8. Catherine says:

    And now for an important announcement…

    Beyond the Mango Juice is in the top twenty.

    The Thai Pirate is close behind.

    Congrats guys 🙂

    Catherine’s last blog post..Baby Bird Watching in Bangkok

  9. Hoo Don says:

    Talen there is undoubtedly even worse stories in Pattaya. Dawan came over as a decent women but you have to question the timing of her move to Pattaya.

    Catherine – Thanks and congratulations on your continuing rise up the charts. Mine was aided by my page rank being recently upgraded to 3, I think I may slip down a bit next time. My aim was to one day make it into the top 20, I didn’t expect to do it anywhere near so soon.

  10. Cable Problem says:

    It is very sad to see situations such as this, but congratulations on this Thailand At Work series, it is very interesting. Keep up the good work.

  11. Thankyou very much, I have found this extremely nice!

Copyright © 2023 All Rights Reserved.  WP Premium Plugin

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap