The famous Thai ladyboys are a bizarre and unusual attraction and you’re sure to run into a few while on holiday here. Many are very convincing transsexuals, and they sometimes dupe straight tourists into taking them home. Others can be found working in restaurants, hotels and tourist services.
Ladyboys are common in Thailand because Thais aren’t really bothered about gender changes, but also because there’s a feminine touch to Thailand and men born with female aspirations can quite easily cultivate a lady-like appearance. Most ladyboys in Phuket take hormones and have had breast enlargement, but few can afford the full sex change and remain as gender benders.
As with other tourist areas in Thailand, many Phuket lady boys turn to the sex industry to earn money; mainly because they look beautiful, like to get attention from handsome foreign men, and find that some visitors fancy some kinky ladyboy sex. Quite how this works is a mystery, but most do a brisk trade giving blowjobs.
It’s not difficult finding ladyboys; in Patong’s Bangla road there are whole girlie bars specialising in kathoeys, obviously with a steady demand, while other freelancers ply their trade on the pedestrianised street. In beach areas, a few ladyboys work among the bars, or giving massage.
Not all ladyboys are ‘working girls’, though most of them are on the look out for a boyfriend (Thai men mostly don’t date ladyboys) – often a difficult task for them. They can be quite forward, which is a sure sign they aren’t a true Thai lady. If the adam’s apple doesn’t give it away, nor the slender hips, perhaps the oversized feet will. Ultimately ladyboys give themselves away by trying too hard to be overtly feminine, and that deep voice is a dead giveaway!
For the most part, ladyboys are just harmless souls trapped in the wrong body, but lucky enough to live in a country where they are accepted. Some can be quite pushy, and might pester you on the street, while others tend to pickpocket and steal from their customers, sometimes even drugging them.