The Ladyboy Bars of Bangkok

When I first went to Bangkok to shoot ladyboys in 1998, there were no online guides to finding them, the bars aren’t named anything that would specifically lead you to believe there were transsexuals inside and for the un-experienced, even spotting a Thai ladyboy on the street among the plethora of working girls, can be hard (in retrospect – probably most of them were actually ladyboys!). A few dollars, a tout and a ladyboy helped guide me to my first ladyboy bar, in Patpong. The strangely named “King’s Castle III” (the other two King’s Castles were lady bars) in Patpong, where I was fortunate enough to be the first person to shoot ladyboys, specifically for the internet and creating Ladyboy and spawning a new genre of websites. It took me until my second trip to discover Casanova Bar, in Nana Entertainment Plaza (N.E.P.) and for a few years, they were the only spots in Bangkok to find ladyboys.

Afficionados will be happy to know that there are now five ladyboy bars, in and around the Nana area and King’s Castle III, although less wild than it used to be – is still around. Each bar offers something a little different and the girls you can find in each, differ also. Most visitors to N.E.P. enjoy drifting from bar to bar and seeing if they can spot their favourite models, with no cover charge and drinks around $3.50 ($4 to buy a lady a drink) the entertainment value is the best on earth, with no one night in Bangkok, being like another.

I’ve sat at the entrance to N.E.P. when the bar girls start arriving and counted over 120 Thai ladyboys of different looks, ages and styles coming to the bars. Many tourists visit these bars, not just those looking to meet a girlfriend for the night or to start a relationship but men and women that are just interested in the scene. There are also a lot of transgenders from Europe and North America who aren’t able to dress in their own countries but feel more comfortable dressing in Thailand and hitting these bars, and the girls working there are always interested in their foreign sisters. My friend, Alannah Starr visited the Thai bars not so long ago and really enjoyed it, so don’t feel like these bars are exclusive to any one group of people – just go and enjoy.
Here is a current run down of the ladyboy bars of Bangkok:

King’s Castle III – Patpong.

The first bar I arrived in has lacked its zest in current years and due to claims of bill padding (which were mainly true), over aggressive ladyboys and the hassle of getting through the throngs of tourists at the street markets, to get to the bar, many regular visitors have decided to take this bar off their itinaries. Good times can still be had at KC3 though, with many gorgeous ladyboys taking their turns to take the stage and shake their booties at oggling tourists. Try and ensure you are not sat next to tourists who are there more for the novelty value, than to actually meet the girls as many of these can be rude and ornery. Roughly, 50% of the girls working in KC3 are post-op (if you are looking for some of the most stunning post-op ladyboys in the world, cross the road to King’s Corner) and don’t be surprised to see a girl get changed and simply drop her panties to show her surgically created vagina.

King’s Castle 3 is an institution, it’s worth a visit if you can fight the girls off from asking for drinks and bothering you but you’ll find yourself less drawn to it, after spending time in the bars below.

Casanova Bar – Nana

The first ladyboy bar in Nana Plaza and has been open since the plaza started as a bar area. Nicely snuggled in the left corner of the 2nd floor (1st floor for those of us who count the ground floor as a level), Casanova has been cleaned up and re-furbished in recent years and is not as agressive as it was once famous for, although my friend Trevor only has to be in there for 5 mins before some voluptuous, bleach haired diva is feeling in his trousers for his snake.

Casanova is set up more like a lounge than a bar. It’s small with only about 15-20 girls at any one time and a stage with 4 dancers. The sofa’s are low, dark and comfortable. The girls are the most refined in Nana Plaza and all wear elaborate lingerie, manicured/pedicured and well made up. This doesn’t always mean they pass off as well as girls – but they are some of the most stunning ladyboys you’ll see. Rumour has it that guys who prefer to be on bottom would come to Casanova but it’s not something I can confirm. Try walking past the door and I guarantee some beauty will entice you in.

Obsessions Bar – Nana

On the ground level of N.E.P. you walk past the ubiquitous go-go bars with names like Playschool and G-Spot and head straight into a square room with a revolving stage, usually full of the hottest Asian shemales you’ve seen to date. Take the stadium seating around the edge and be in awe at the femininity of these girls, many of whom have been on hormones since their early teens and are more ladylike, than most of the ladies of this beautiful country. Obsessions has probably the best looking ladyboys of N.E.P. but with those looks comes attitude, yes folks, you’ve travelled away from the US/Europe yet the attitude can remain the same. To be fair, it’s only a handful of girls have this attitude and those are the ones that are probably looking for the big pay-off from Japanese/Korean visitors who are notorious for tipping over the top. Sit a while and you’ll certainly fall into a conversation with some of the girls, try and get them out of the typical “What your name? Where you come from?” mode and ask them some real questions about their lives and backgrounds, you’ll find the Thais open and easy to speak to (although often telling you what they think you want to hear).

Twice nightly at Obsessions (and it’s sister bar, Cascades) there are usually some type of show on – and yes, you guessed it again, it’s an elaborately costumed and made up transsexual diva miming to an appropriately annoying song.

Cascades – Nana

Originally built to be the the most elaborate go-go bar in Bangkok, this expensive venture failed miserably when the owners couldn’t attract enough decent looking girls and cut their losses by changing it to a ladyboy go-go. It’s very big but usually has about 40-50 girls here, with has many as 20 on stage at any one time. You’ll rarely get more than 10-15 punters in here so you are going to attract the attention of many super looking transsexuals. Although not quite as stunning as Obsessions, this is my favourite bar as it’s more laid back and the ladyboys working here are cooler, more fun and physically more ladylike and less diva-ish than many of the bars. You can easily enjoy a few hours drinking a beer, chatting to the girls and watch the dancers forever rotating …

Temptations, Nana

The smallest ladyboy bar in the plaza can be entered by going up the moving staircase to your right as you first enter N.E.P. and heading around the walkway – you’ll see Casanova in the distance but take a quick duck into a bar on your right, called Temptations. You may be the only customer in here but there may also be a bunch of guys, as many regulars to the scene feel this is more relaxed and less well known than many of the bars. I always enjoy a drink with the mama-san here, whose a lot of fun. Usually, about 10-15 girls working in here with 8 on stage at any one time and it features all types of girls, you’ll find a few superstars in here (like Eye, in the photograph below) who prefer the quieter, and more intimate settings than the larger bars. Always worth a peek in to see what’s going on – and you might find you’ll stay all night…

Guess Bar – Sukhumvit Soi 1

The newest bar in Bangkok, only three months old and trying something different. It’s just outside the Nana area (cross Sukhumvit at the Marriott, head towards the train tracks and before you get there, you’ll see a mall of beer bars and bars on your right). In the small entertainment mall, Soi One, you head up the stairs to the last bar on your right – open the sliding doors and find yourself in a nice loungey style bar, filled with great looking ladyboys, sitting on fluffy cusions and soft sofas. Find yourself a pew and enjoy the company. They have a few go-go poles around but this bar is trying to be something a little different. Operated by a ladyboy who used to work at King’s Castle 3, it is different in that it opens at 3pm (most of the go-gos start at 8pm), it provides a relaxed non-pushy atmosphere, the girls are all manicured/pedicured, well made up and wearing nice, lingerie and heels and it has the overall feeling of a higher class establishment, yet the drink prices are the same and the cover for the door, the same as the other bars … free.

Try and check out the Guess Bar, it makes a welcome change to hustle of N.E.P. and the girls working here are all very cool.

To find out more about these bars and to see more photos of the girls working there, go to the longest running, most successful ladyboy website, Ladyboy

Other good ladyboy sites:
Asian TS

Published On: February 18, 2007Categories: Uncategorized

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