Thai ladyboys are one of the more curious aspects of Thailand and there’s plenty of them in Chiang Mai. You can meet them in bars, loitering on streets or serving you in restaurants. Ladyboys are always looking for a man, so expect them to take an interest in you, and sometimes you might not even realise you’re being hit on by a boy.
Thai people really aren’t fussed about transsexuals, so you’ll see ladyboys in Chiang Mai often, and all over Thailand actually. Some Thai boys are able to successfully pass off as ladyboys with their feminine features, and can look sexier than a girl. Some have had a full sex change but most can only afford the breast enlargement and live on hormone supplements.
It can be quite difficult to spot ladyboys in Chiang Mai, but usually you notice their hips are too narrow, or feet unusually large, or else their adam’s apple gives it away. But by far the most obvious sign, though, is that ladyboys try too hard to be ladies and you won’t find a real Thai girl coming on to you quite as aggressively, unless she’s a bar girl.
Many ladyboys work as prostitutes, which may seem a bit odd but they are out on the streets and in the clubs or bars, which suggests they get a regular clientele of curious customers. Mostly they offer blowjobs, but some men seem to find it kinky taking one home for some ‘unusual sex’. Ladyboys just like to get attention from men and try to earn a living being sexy, but they can be pushy, unlike girls.
After a few weeks in Thailand you would have come across a few ladyboys working in tourist services. They are generally professional and pass it all off well; no one is fussed in Thailand about gender changing. However, ladyboys in Chiang Mai working in the sex industry have a reputation for pick-pocketing and occasionally drugging customers, so be weary of them.
You can meet ladyboys in selected bars on Loi Kroh Road (just east of the moat), as well as the girlie bars in the Chiang Mai Entertainment Centre – an arcade dedicated exclusively to adult bars near the Night Market. You’ll also notice them loitering on the street and along Kotcharsarn Road (alongside the moat) waiting to be ‘picked up’, at which they can be annoying. Some of the massage shops also have ladyboys working inside. Their aggressive ‘male side’ tends to show itself when they are slighted, confrontational or angry.
Ladyboys are a curious, but generally harmless, feature of Thailand and an added surprise to those seeking some kinky sexual encounters while here. Ladyboy cabarets are also common, either in nightclubs or as big shows, for a ladyboy loves nothing more than dressing up extravagantly.
Read more about Thailand-a-go-go ladyboys guide.