Bar girls and the business of love

Bar girls

In the course of this piece you will see the term “Ferang or Falang” mentioned. Now nobody really knows where this term originated but it is something you will become very familiar with if you have anything to do with Thailand. The word is used to describe a white skinned person not from Thailand. It’s not an insulting word it’s merely the word used to differentiate us from the natives. I have asked many Thai girls why they use the term and the only explanation that made any sense was the one that I heard from a bar girl.

She said that because many Thai people mispronounce their “R” that when they try to say foreign it comes out as Foleign. Now because the word phonetically would make a “G” sound Thai people pronounce it Folang and over the years it just stuck. Some try to pronounce the “R” and that then brings it back to Farang.

In any discussion involving Thai-farang relationship, sooner or later the subject of bar girls is bound to come up. So deep are these notions that many assume all Thai-farang relationships are automatically assumed to be of the “convenient” kind, with the women often being judged as nothing more than gold-diggers.

While indeed there is some truth to these notions, it is important to understand that these are often due to the actions of a few and usually limited to those practicing a certain trade. Yet, these generalizations often get extrapolated to the general population quite often, all Thai women get unfairly painted with the same brush. It is therefore important that we address this issue upfront.

For the uninitiated, the term bar-girl is used to refer to women who work in bars, nightclubs and other related establishments often located in Thailand’s red light districts.

A brief history

During the Vietnam War, the United States set up several military bases in Issan – a province in north-east Thailand. Many men in uniform fell in love with Thai women from Issan and some of them ended up marrying them as well. A navy base was also set up in the southern part of Thailand, near Pattaya and sure enough, this Thai-farang relationship came into being there as well.

Even after the war ended, military personnel from all over the world continued to visit this region by way of joint military exercises between Thailand and other countries, and women from Issan looking for a foreign husband continued to flock to Pattaya. Soon enough Pattaya became a world renowned tourist attraction and gained the reputation of being a convenient place for foreign men to meet Thai women. It has often been called Adult Disneyland for obvious reasons.

Ever since then this region has seen a permanent influx of Thai women especially from the north looking to marry foreign nationals, often in hope of financial and economic stability.

How do women end up as bar girls?

There are several reasons indeed, but several studies have found that in most cases it is the underlying need for financial stability and/or peer pressure. Contrary to what you may have heard, it’s very rare to see a woman forced into this by violence.

Poor employ-ability

In most cases, it’s just pure economic survival that leads women down this path. Thai families are usually very close-knit, and adults are often expected to take care of the older generation. While most women with a university degree are able to find a stable job. Others, who are able to garner some degree of financial support from family start a business of their own or simply join the family business, however, those with neither of these qualities or family support are often compelled to take this route.

Weak child support laws

Unfortunately, Thailand does not enjoy the same degree of child support laws that exist in the west. Recently divorced moms who do not have the adequate educational background required to get a stable job and no child support from the ex, are often left high and dry. Thus, the onus to support herself, her kids and her aging parents (who by the way are probably already disappointed in her for the failed marriage) falls upon the girl.

Determined to save face in the family and to give her family a better life, the girls then ends up taking the (apparently) easy route by joining a bar.

Given the fact the western men seem have the general reputation of being more faithful than their Thai counterparts, further strengthens her decision. This is especially true if the separation was the result of the man falling for another woman.

Peer pressure

On occasion, a girl working in a bar is able to find herself a man who is able to support her and her family, showering them with expensive gifts, cars, building houses and even cash for the family. The families are able to pay off debts (often a result of gambling) and generally have a better lifestyle which elevates their status in society. This inspires others to follow suit and daughters are (sometimes) encouraged follow the path of their peers.

Why so many horror stories?

Well according to many, the single biggest mistake men make while looking for a Thai wife or partner is that they look for it in the wrong place – the bar. You hear it all the time.

A quick search on the internet will result in an endless stream of horror stories of Thai-farang relationships gone badly.

Girls who have spent time at the bar, are sure to have come across countless men who may have promised them a better future. New girls on the scene believe these promises and sometimes go back to the village leaving behind the job only to realize she has been lied to. When the money stops coming, she returns to the bar, this time with a vengeance.

It’s only a matter of time before the victim becomes a seasoned offender returning the favour to unsuspecting clients. In some cases, the girl gets accustomed to such a lifestyle and given the irreversible social stigma continues working at the bar even though other opportunities opens up for her.

An oft repeating pattern here is that a man falls victim to the lies of a seasoned bar-girl, losing his emotional investment and money. When this happens, a period of anger follows and they take to the internet to voice their story. It is natural human tendency to be vocal about their negative experiences for two reasons,

  1. It allows them an opportunity to vent their anger and frustration

  2. Well-meaning people would naturally like to alert and help others avoid the same situation

Now what you’re just read above is the typical internet story and it’s all true right? Well yes, but there is one major flaw with the mathematics. One giant factor that is never taken into consideration and it will totally change the way you perceive not only bar girls but Thai girls in general.

There are and will always be, and by far one too many hands have been burnt already. However, if you take a step back to analyse these reports, you’ll soon realize the most of the negative incidents you’ll read about online have a repeating pattern – one involving a bar-girl, and these reports are not necessarily representative of the general population.

Ask yourself this, When you have been wronged in the past, what did you do? Did you stay quiet about it and hide away in your room or did you make a fuss and tell everyone that would listen?

Of course you didn’t. You put it on Facebook, you texted friends about it; you told your mates all about it.

Now, I have another question for you. When you last had something go right for you did you have the same reaction?

Think about that for a minute.

I will give you an example. You had a terrible meal in a restaurant. The first thing you do is complain to the staff. You then tweet about it while you’re still eating. You then post about it on Facebook on the way home. When you get home you tell your brother and then later the next day you tell your work mates.

Now roll it back. This time you have a good meal… then what?

You go home. You sleep and forget all about it.

Well the same principle applies to bar girls in Thailand

You meet a bad one and the first thing you do is tell the world. You go on the forums that persuaded you to go to Thailand in the first place. You want to tell your tale of woe to everyone because it makes you feel like a hero that has just taken the fall to save his fellow lonely traveller. But when you meet a good one you are so content, that you aren’t bothered writing about it on the Thai forums or chat rooms that led you to Thailand in the first place. You don’t have time to waste on trivial things like that.

So begins the internet’s propaganda machine and so begins the perception that all Thai girls that work in bars are nothing but gold digging heart breakers when in reality they are simply normal hard working women trying to make a living and hoping to spend as little time as possible in that bar. None of them want to be there. They just don’t have very many alternatives. Do you honestly think that they enjoy the daily routine of sitting in a bar wearing uncomfortable clothes and full make up in 40 degree heat. Then having to talk and listen to the same boring crap being droned on over and over. “Hi how are you, what’s your name? Where you from?” blah blah blah. Then comes the constant alcohol intake as it’s the bars rule that you must get the customer to buy as much booze as possible and drink it quickly so they can order another and another. Then after all that they are expected to entice the guy upstairs for sex. This is then followed by a trip back downstairs where the task starts all over again. Yes a life of luxury and fun. (That was sarcasm for those that didn’t pick up on it)

These girls can’t wait to get out of the game and all it takes for you to end up with a beautiful, smart, caring Thai girl is to be a good guy. A decent human being that can take care of them and love them for who they are. That’s it…simple.

Can one have a normal relationship with a bar girl?

Of course a bar girl can have a normal and happy relationship past her life as a bar girl.

Unfortunately, there are no definitive statistics to conclusively pin the success rate of such relationships and answer this question once and for all due to the reasons I have given above but believe me when I tell you that I personally know plenty of guys that met “the one” in Thailand and ended up very happy.

Some things you will find in Thai culture may put a strain on a relationship but try to see the big picture and you will find those strains becoming less of an issue.

In Thai society, it’s quiet normal for adults to support (financially or otherwise) the elderly. Family bonds (especially between the daughter and mother) are extremely strong in Thailand and this realization often comes as a shock to those from other parts of the world. Some men fail to understand this and often struggle with their relationship but put yourself forward a decade and think about that for a minute. Wouldn’t you like your kids to take care of you when you get old?

It is also customary in some situations for the man to pay sin-sod (dowry) to the girls family at the time of marriage.

This practice was the same in the West for decades and realistically is not as bad as it sounds. What most people don’t know is that the Sin-sod is usually just for show. Gold and cash is placed for all to see during the wedding ceremony but as soon as everything is over some of it is handed back to the bride to do with as she sees fit. The rest usually goes to the parents to pay for the party that has just been had. Also the amount that is paid is based on a few important factors.

  1. If the bride has children form a previous relationship the Dowry goes down.

  2. If she is a known bar girl and therefore not virginal the Dowry goes down.

  3. If she has been married before the Dowry goes down.

So you get the idea. It’s not so big and scary once you know the facts. The real facts not the ones that the bitter guy blasted all over the internet that I mentioned earlier.

There are factors that can take a toll on a relationship but they are no different to factors you will come up against in any relationship with any woman anywhere in the world. The level of education, maturity, willingness to accept a lifestyle change, personality and integrity all play an important role in the outcome of any relationship.

How do I tell a good bar girl from a bad bar girl?

While not an exact science, here are some common behavioural patterns you should be watching out for.

First, make sure you have read our guide on online dating safety and that her behaviour does not trigger the common red flags listed there.

Second, watch out for these behavioural patterns:

  1. Constant requests for money or expensive gifts?
    Stop all communication with her. Like RIGHT NOW! We don’t even want to know the reason she’s asking for the money.

  2. Too eager to please you?
    No, you are not as handsome as she claims to be. Stop communicating immediately.

  3. Is her phone switched off frequently?
    Barring the occasional network issues or battery drain, you should expect her phone to be generally active just like your own phone is. If it’s off a lot then it’s likely she is working the bar and if you are in a relationship at this stage then it’s time to leave.

  4. Does she accidentally refer to you by another name?
    You’re probably not the only person she’s been talking to. You know what that means.

  5. Is she where she claims to be?
    thisDating uses the phone’s in built location tracking system to approximate users location. If your partner is several hundred kilometres from where they claim to be, you might want to re-evaluate your relationship with this person. Do note that, in order to protect the privacy of our users, we do not reveal the exact location of the user. In most cases, the user’s location will be approximated to the nearest town or city.

  6. Does she disappear for long periods without good reason?
    Another reason, you should probably start looking for someone else as your partner.

But my girl is different

Bar girls are humans too, and the only real difference between a bar girl and any other women is just the circumstances life put her in. Given a choice, many bar girls would pick a regular job over her current job any day. Many former bar girls have found a suitable partner and left their profession for good turning into loving partners, loyal wives and caring mothers. Like with any scenario though there are good and bad everywhere so when you are sure your girl is different just take a step back and read through our articles and apply the tips to your relationship. If you are still happy then go for it. You will be glad you did.


The Thai society is really not much different from the rest of the world with honest, hardworking and friendly people going about their daily lives. From the moment a Thai girl is born, she is taught to be a good daughter, wife, mother and a good, upstanding human being. She grows up aspiring to get a job and do her family proud someday, but sometimes she falls victim to societal pressures and its obligations and is forced to do take up this profession in order to support herself and her family.

Every time you read about a failed relationship, bear in mind what I said above and ignore it.

So any time you read statements like “Thai girls only want your money” or “Thai girls are so unfaithful” or “Any relationship with a Thai girl is doomed for failure”, they are in most cases representative of the few horror stories done to death by the bitter keyboard warriors and do not represent the entire Thai girl population.

Also keep in mind that bar-girls represent less than 0.6% of the female demographic (according to a WHO study) and therefore hardly representative of the entire female population of the country. Thailand, by and large is a country of conservative values and a large portion of the country do not even deal with western men on day to day basis.

Similarly, it would be incorrect to automatically assume that every single bar girl who has entered into a relationship with western man has done so with ulterior motives. While it is indeed true in some of the cases, it is not always the case. Some women in the nightlife area come to the point in their lives where they meet someone they genuinely have feelings for and are ready to settle down and enter into a faithful and committed relationship with them.

These women and relationships exist in abundance. So as I said already while reading online forums, keep in mind that negative experiences and stories have the tendency to travel further than positive stories.

Despite the challenges discussed here, when you find the right Thai woman she can be the best companion ever. Indeed, countless men from all over the world have forged successful relationships with wonderful Thai women. However, it’s important that you wipe out any preconceived notions out of your mind about Thailand in order to fully appreciate this country and its amazing women folk.

8 thoughts on “Bar girls and the business of love”

  1. I’ve got some bad experience in Thai bar girls in the past. One girl even scammed me and I lost couple of thousand bucks because of that. However, I wouldn’t say that all of them are in the “dark” side, though. However, I strongly advise against getting a close relationship with a bar girl though.

  2. A bar girl in Thailand? I’m not sure that is the right place to look when trying to get a true and decent love. Most girls there are money-oriented. All they want is your money. Though we do have some few that are actually good, but getting such is an ultimate search.

  3. Many men have fallen in love and married Thai bar girls. Most of them have lived to rue those decisions. Most people think bar girls are bad women. I don’t think so. They are just not marriage material. They make more money on the bar scene. Why should she want to be trapped in a home with a seventy year old who is stingy with grocery money. If she stays she will have a game on the side. If she doesn’t stay you have a seventy year old who has just dodged a bullet.

  4. I love bar girls. They are beautiful and never have headache .
    Of course you can marry a bar girl. I am happily married since many year with a former freelancer. You just need to know how to handle it.
    We had a lot of fun together.

  5. I agree with the author. They are women who work to support their family. They have feelings like all women. Some cover their feelings with a hard shell to protect themselves. I believe, like the author, given a chance, they would prefer to do something else with their lives. They meet men all day long, from all walks of lives, from all over the world. Somewhere in all that, they are entitled to fall in love, settle down and start a family. They could find true love from a man from some other part of the world, go to school, get a better paying job that she could get over there, and send it home to the family. She’s a free agent to marry whom she wishes. If she marries a 70 year old man, she found something good in him. Chances are though, she’ll more than likely choose someone that she finds attractive enough to her.

  6. Probably the most balanced piece of writing relating to the bar girl farang relationships I have come across..Well done !

  7. As a westerner, I find it disappointing how many of us are shallow of mind, and especially of spirit. One would think affluence and higher education would lead to enlightenment, but this is often not the case.

    On my first time in Thailand, I met a woman working in a bar in Phuket one quiet afternoon. The bar was virtually empty. I was a little shocked when I settled my bill after spending a couple of hours talking, laughing, and playing pool. The bar owner says you can take her with you if you want for 500 baht.

    The next afternoon she was off, we went for lunch, and have gone on to have a wonderful loving relationship. She is smart, honest, loving, and kind. Her daughter and mother, the same.

    In Thailand, many good women find themselves in impossible circumstances. With no good choices available, they make the best (not to be confused with easiest) choice they can.

    In every walk of life, there is good and bad – this is no different.

    My thanks to the writer of this piece.

  8. I have mixed reviews when it comes to bar girls. I guess I am good at picking the girls. They know why I am paying the bar fines and what is expected.

    I like what you say about treating them well. Just because you are paying for sex doesn’t mean they aren’t human. I always talk to them once we are out of the bar as I want to know more about them. Some are open and some just want to do the deed and return to the bar. Fair enough.

    I will say what brought me to this site is I didn’t expect to really connect with a bar girl on my last trip to BKK. We clicked really well, and I think sometimes that can happen. You are right about emotions. When I had to say goodbye, I could see in her eyes she was holding back her emotions but she was sad. You can’t fake that.

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