How Pattaya Bars Work
For the bar owner bars work in the same way as at home. The owner is out to make a living. In Thailand there are Thai owners and farang owners. The aim of most farang owners is to support their lifestyle in Pattaya. Some succeed but most don’t in the long term. It is often said that to make a small fortune in Pattaya from a bar you should start with a large fortune. Anyway for a visitor this is not important.
Because bars in Pattaya employ prostitutes they don’t work in the same way as at home. For a start you don’t have to make any effort to have a young attractive lady to give you some attention. On the contrary you may find yourself fending them off.
Role of the Ladies
If you ask most farang bar owners if they consider themselves to be pimps they will tell you that they are not. This position is debatable but in effect that is what is being provided in bars.
For the bar owner the ladies are there to earn them money. They do this by attracting customers to the bar. This is achieved by them being present in the bar (if they are attractive) or through gentle (or sometime playful aggressive) persuasion. Once in the bar they then encourage customers to stay as long as possible and buy them drinks. This is achieved by them entertaining you using their womanly charms.
For the ladies their aim is also to earn money. They achieve this through you buying them drinks, tips, bar fines, possibly monthly income from the bar and from providing escort services. Some of these will be explained shortly.
Something that you will notice very quickly is that you are not required to pay for each drink as you get them. Instead bits of paper are place in a small pot in front of you. This is called a check bin. They are very convenient but not without risk.
Some bars will try to put extra drinks in your check bin, or bin for short. This is called padding. You should not be paranoid about this as it is not overly common. You’ll quickly get to know where you need to be more careful. It is acceptable, and advisable, for you to check what has been put in your bin from time to time.
As touched on in an earlier section bar girls derive part of their income from drinks bought for them by customers. These are known as lady drinks. How it works is that you buy the drink and the bill is put in your check bin. The girl also gets a receipt for the drink which she later exchanges for cash from the bar.
What sort of drink she gets depends on the bar and what she likes to drink. The drink may be in a small glass (a thimble would be a better description!) or the same drink that would be supplied to any customer. Gogo bars tend to be less generous with the size of the lady drink. Be warned that in general lady drinks cost more than your own drinks. A ball park figure would be about 100 Baht per drink depending on what she drinks.
In some places the ladies can be very pushy when it comes to lady drinks. Just remember that you are not required to buy them. A simple rule that a lot of people follow is that if a lady asks for a drink she doesn’t get one. The better places to spend your time are those where the ladies do not ask for drinks.
Buying lady drinks is a good way of having fun. You will get attention from the lady that you are buying them for. You can have a harem of girls surrounding you if you don’t mind spending a bit of money. In gogo bars you can have more fun with a lady for the price of a drink than with a lap dancer in our countries.
Be aware that buying a lady a drink in a gogo bar does not free her from her dancing duties.
Another way that the ladies make money is from tips. Tips are expected for service and should be paid when you pay your bill. Generally not a lot is required and between 10 and 50 Baht is enough, depending how long you spent in the bar. These tips are spilt amoungst the ladies in the bar at the end of the night.
Some guys give tips directly to the girls. The tips are for various reasons and probably the most common one is that she gave some good attention to a guy while he was in the bar. Other guys will give tips to ladies in gogos who put on a good show or just because they want to get her attention.
You may see people giving tips as high as 500 or even 1000 Baht!! You should avoid giving this much. To put things in perspective a girl working in a shop in Thailand is lucky to earn 1000 Baht for working one week. The result of guys giving large tips is that the girls receiving the tips will be less likely to want to be bar fined. Why would she go with a guy if she can earn more collecting tips?
Up a couple of grades from buying lady drinks is ‘ringing the bell.’ In every bar you enter you will see a bell. This has a special purpose and no doubt has cost many newbies more money than they would like to have spent.
When a bell in a bar is rung it means that the bell ringer wants to buy everyone in the bar a drink. This includes all the customers and all the ladies. You'll be surprised how many ladies can come out of the woodwork once a bell has been rung!!
In gogo bars it can be a little less simple. Many have more than one bell. Usually they are marked as to what they are for. A bell that only buys all the dancing ladies a drink is probably the most common extra bell.
So you have spent some time in a bar, bought a few drinks for yourself and a lady. You decide that you like her and would like to spend some time with her away from the bar. This is the time when a bar fine is required.
What a bar fine is supposed to do is to compensate the bar for the loss of one of its workers. It’s not really important if there is more to it than that as it is a requirement if you want to take her away. In most cases the bar find is not open for negotiation. If you do get a discount on the bar fine (that you agreed with the lady) you are probably taking money out of her pocket. That is probably not a good way of getting a good performance from her.
In a beer bar the bar fine is added to you check bin. You can either pay up then and leave with her or stay around for some more drinks. It is up to you (you will here this expression a lot in Pattaya.)
Usually in a gogo bar you are required to pay bar (ie pay the bar fine) for a lady as soon as you agree to do so. She is then free to change into her street clothes.
Beer bars tend to have bar fines around the 300 Baht mark. Gogo bars are a bit more variable with most charging 500 to 600 Baht. Many gogo bars have ladies who do special shows and the bar fine tends to be higher. Also during the peak season many gogo bars raise their bar fines.
What to expect from a lady you have paid bar for will be discussed in a later section.
There is one position in a bar that you should be aware of. The role of a mamasan is to manage the ladies. This is more onerous in a gogo bar as she has to manage the dancers effectively. She will know all the ladies so she is a good person to seek if you have any special requirements that you are looking for on a particular night. An example of this is if you are looking for two ladies as she will know which ladies are prepared to do this. It is a good idea to compensate her for good service (eg buy her a drink.)
Hours of operation
You will always find bars open in Pattaya. The beer bars are open 24 hours a day. The only exception is on special holidays, election days and other special events. Even during these times you should be able to find somewhere to drink.
The gogo bars are a little different. They close at about 3am every night.
Some discos close are about 4am but then others don’t get going until 3am. These are great places to meet ladies without the need to pay a bar fine. This will be explained further in a later section.
If you are interested in how a beer bar complex looks here is a short video. It was shot from the Cherry Bar in Soi 8 and gives a 360 degree view from there It is a Wndows media file.
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