Pattaya’s gay scene is alive and thriving, illuminated and friendly. Like the rest of Thailand, Pattaya accepts homosexuality without fuss, stigma, or prejudice and gay people can freely express themselves (decently) anywhere in Thailand. This reflects the liberal and tolerant nature of the country, and makes for an enjoyable time in a welcoming atmosphere where there is a large local gay community.
There is a proportionately-large gay scene in Thailand, thanks to a tolerant attitude among all, while the lesbian community is growing, yet more discreet. As with the girlie scene, many gay boys are simply out for financial gain (or waiting for a wealthy foreigner to take care of them), and can be quite promiscuous. There is also the added attraction of the ladyboys (Thailand’s ‘third sex’) who are numerous and tolerated. They are characters unto themselves that thrive off the gay and bisexual visitors and provide a flamboyant atmosphere to the gay and lesbian scene with their confident, well-groomed appearance.
Pattaya’s (mainly male) gay scene is centralised in an area of its own in Pattayaland Soi 3 (Boyztown) and across into most of the Second Road end of Pattayaland Soi 1. Here, male go-go bars and nightclubs invite Thais and foreigners into their neon-lit party dens to join in the colourful excitement. This may be the largest concentrated gay area in Thailand and draws a large crowd on most nights of the week.
The other main gay area is Sunee Plaza, situated off Soi VC Hotel in South Pattaya; about a 10-minute walk from Boyztown. The main difference between the two areas is that Sunee Plaza tends to have Thai employees who are genuinely gay and more effeminate than their more muscular Boyztown cousins. The other main gay area is in the Jomtien Complex off Thappraya Road, where it almost joins Jomtien Beach Road. There is a scattering of other friendly gay venues around town, some of which are mentioned in the recommended list below.
Like the ‘bar girl’ culture, there are a lot of willing ‘boys’ in Pattaya who offer their services through the go-go bars, or on a freelance basis. After an introductory chat and a few drinks, an agreement may be made to leave an establishment with a partner, and, if a fee is involved, this will usually be negotiated beforehand. A lot of gay males use the sex industry as a medium for finding a partner and this may explain why they seem less interested in the financial gain than the bar girls. Also, not all ‘rent boys’ are gay. Since the prostitution scene is a lucrative prospect to many Thais, even straight boys will pretend to be gay to make a living like the girls do. It is estimated by those with experience of the gay scene that up to 30 per cent of the Thai males offering their services to other men are not gay, while another 30 per cent are bisexual.
The same non-issue of homosexuality applies to lesbians who are welcomed everywhere, be that in a straight pub or transgender venue. Thai people usually don’t show their affections in public, though, so kissing and cuddling in some places may be deemed inappropriate by law of culture. A number of Pattaya go-go bars are owned and run by Thai lesbians (What’s Up in Soi 15, for example) and there are a number of bars where some of the go-go girls are lesbians and just go with men for money. Usually, lesbian visitors need to be more persistent and patient in finding suitable venues where they can meet like-minded girls. The lesbian scene in Thailand is much smaller than the gay scene, but there are an increasing number of ‘toms’ (as the Thais call them), or bisexual girls; though they are very discreet.
Recommended gay hang-outs, pubs, and clubs
Boyz Boyz Boyz: Popular meeting place for both foreigners and locals, with late night dancing complemented by a nightly ‘Divas and Dudes Show’. New ‘Bad Boyz’ show at 22:00 following with the midnight ‘Shower Show’. 325/87 Pattayaland Soi 3 (Boyztown), Tel: (038) 424 099, Email.
Le Café Royal: Comprised of a piano bar, terrace bar, restaurant, and coffee-shop with live entertainment from 20:00 nightly. 325/102-105 Pattayaland Soi 3, South Pattaya, Tel: (038) 423 515.
Panorama Pub: Huge, popular, mainly open-air bar in the centre of the busiest gay area in Pattaya. Daily happy hours from 18:00-20:00. 244/10-11 Pattayaland Soi 3, South Pattaya, Tel: (038) 710 597, Email, Website.
Dick’s Café Jomtien: With an established branch in Bangkok, Dick’s Café has a second branch just a street away from the renowned Jomtien gay beach. It’s known for its friendly staff and welcoming atmosphere. Jomtien Complex, 413/29 Tappraya Road, Jomtien, Tel: (038) 252 417, Email, Website.
Gay Passport: For a comprehensive listing information on everything to do with the Pattaya gay scene, including lively bars, fantastic cabaret, plus all the best restaurants, clubs, massage, shops, hotels and sauna. The site features over 120 individually-listed gay venues and bars. At the beginning of 2011 the operators of the website will open Pattaya’s first Gay Information Centre. 325/102-105 Pattayaland Soi 3, South Pattaya, Tel: (038) 423 515, Website.
First-timers to Pattaya will want to know how it all works, and it’s the same as the girlie bar scene. Most bars are informal venues full of cute young guys who are welcoming and have the famous friendly Thai manner. Although (when it’s slow) they tend to aggressively attract people into the bar, they are generally polite and you’re welcome to come in and sit and enjoy a cocktail while you eye up something that catches your fancy. Invariably a boy will approach you, but there’s no pressure.
Drinks for the boys cost a bit more; you can chat and get to know each other and, if you decide you want to take him home, there will be a bar fine to pay (usually between 200 and 500 baht, depending on how classy the place is), and, of course, you privately negotiate with the boy about his fee. Like the girlie scene, there are limits to what some of the boys will do, and for what price.
A lot of them are small, plus there are those who aren’t actually gay, but simply working in the gay bar scene for the money. Fees can either be for ‘short-time’ (a couple of hours) at 1,000-1,500 baht, long time (all night) at 1,500-3,000 baht, or a whole week if you really like him. Read our section on bar girls for a similar description of how the girls operate.