Go-Go bars, girlie bars, beer bars, ‘hello, welcome’ bars or whatever else you want to call them, are a well known and often popular part of the tourism industry in many areas of Thailand, particularly in those frequented by foreigners. Koh Samui is certainly no exception to this, and in the popular destinations of Chaweng and Lamai, girlie bars are a prominent fixture.
For many, being able to visit a bar of this kind is one of the main attractions of Thailand and is generally, much more harmless than people would otherwise think. Even for none customers, curiosity can often get the better of them and it can be somewhat of an interesting experience to visit a girlie bar in order to see what goes, rather than to participate in anything that could be deemed as sleazy. In fact, some people just prefer the flirtatious and lively atmosphere that can be found in these types of bars, which is the main reason why they choose to drink there.
“Hello, Handsome Man”
The vast majority of the girlie bars in Chaweng and Lamai are nothing more than a small, open fronted room with a few chairs or bar stools, a bar, a pool table and lots of scantily clad women, who try to grab the attention of passing men by shouting a range of different phrases such as “hello, welcome”, “hello, handsome man” or “hello, massage”.
At first this can be quite comical to hear; just as you walk past a bar you have a cacophony of Thai girls, wearing next to nothing, shouting “hello, welcome” at the top of their voices, almost perfectly in sync! However, after a while, you could be forgiven for thinking that you have changed your name to “welcome” or “massage” due to the number of times you here these shouted at you during the night.
Also, bar girls on Samui, and throughout Thailand, will shout “handsome man” to just about any bloke who walks past their bar. Whether the guy looks like David Beckham or not is irrelevant (let’s face it, he often doesn’t!). To the bar girls, he is seen as a potential customer and by calling him ‘handsome’, the girls think that this is the perfect way of getting his attention.
Throughout Chaweng you will find girlie bars, although the main concentration of these can be found around Soi Green Mango and Soi Reggae. In Chaweng you will also find a couple of more upmarket and trendier girlie or Go-Go bars, most notably Dream Girls and GB Lounge.
Generally speaking, the girls in the more upmarket Go-Go bars tend to be a little sexier and classier and in some of these places there is even European or ‘farang’ women working. Inside, rather than being an open bar, you will have girls dancing and putting on a show, instead of challenging to you to game of pool. The drinks here are generally more expensive but then again, this is a relatively higher class of venue.
In Lamai, you will find arguably the largest selection of girlie and go-go bars on the island, just head for the centre of the main street and it is here where you will find most of the action.
Girlie Bar Etiquette
Many of the bar girls that work on Koh Samui will be readily available for you to take back to your hotel or bungalow for the evening. Some of the bars, and even some of the girls themselves, will have an often pleasant and comfortable room available upstairs, which can be used for short term use. The whole arrangement is very casual and nothing at all like the famous ‘windowed women’ of the Amsterdam Red Light district.
However, for first time visitors to a girlie bar on Koh Samui, the whole experience might seem a little strange and you might well wonder how it all works.
The first thing to remember with bar girls is that they are working and they are there to make money. Therefore, when you enter the bar, you won’t have to wait around too long before one of the bar girls come over to you. However, if you would rather be left alone then just say and that is fine too, just make sure that you buy a drink.
If you do decide to sit with a girl, make sure you buy them a drink too, there’s a good boy. Whilst sitting with the girl, she will probably ask you all the usual ‘bar girl chat’ such as “where you from”, “what your name”, “where you go”, “how you like Samui?” that sort of thing. A nice ice breaker, it gives you the chance to chat away whilst sinking a couple of beers. After the idle chit chat is out of the way, the chances are the girl will ask you about anything she can do for you or if you want to take her back to your hotel.
If you do decide to take the girl back to your hotel for the evening then you will be expected to pay what is known as a ‘bar fine’. This is paid to the bar owner or supervisor, who is known as a ‘Mamasan’, and is usually in the region of about 500 Baht. On top of the bar fine, you will then also need to negotiate a price with the Mamasan for the girl you want to take back with you. This can be anywhere in the region of 1500 to 3000 Baht, depending on several different factors.
First off, if the girl is really hot and the Mamasan considers here to be one of her ‘best’ girls, chances are she won’t want to see her leave the bar as it is likely that she will be able to attract other punters in for a drink or two. Secondly, the price will also depend on how long you want the girl for, either a couple of hours (short-time) or all night. Thirdly, the Mamasan will also be thinking about how busy bar is and probably won’t want to see one of her girls leaving for the night. Therefore, the busier the bar, the more you are likely to pay.
When discussing a price for the girl, it is usually the case, as bad as this may sound, that the younger, better looking guys tend to have more look when it comes to negotiating. However, don’t pay too much attention to this and whatever you do, do not be tempted to offer a ridiculously low price for the bar girl in question. If you do this, it is likely to cause great offence and could be seen as something which makes the girl lose face (or cause embarrassment), something which is a big deal in Thai culture.
Once you have agreed a price you are ready to go.
One final thing to consider is with regards to taking the girl into your actual hotel. Some places do not mind you bringing a girl back to your room, as long as you keep it discreet; whereas others will point blankly refuse to even entertain the suggestion! Some may allow it but you might have to pay an extra charge on top of your bill. Either way, you might want to check first with the hotel, in order to save you any embarrassment.
When the morning arrives and if the girl has shown you a good time and lived up to all you expectations then it is very much bar girl etiquette to tip them accordingly.
Girlie/Go-Go Bars on Koh Samui
If you are looking to visit a girlie/Go-Go bar on Koh Samui then head to Chaweng or Lamai and it won’t take you very long to find one! Failing that, here is a selection of some of the many girl bars that can be found on the island:
Nida Massage and Bar
Nida Massage actually has 3 sites in central Chaweng but two of them are only massage shops. Nida’s beer bar is located on the road opposite the branch of Kasikorn Bank, just off Chaweng Beach Road in central Chaweng. Just walking past the bar you’ll hear no doubt hear “handsome, man” being shouted over to you! Inside, you’ll find the music blaring, lots pretty girls and a pool table.
Open: 10am to 2am
Where: 191/8-9 Moo 2, just off Chaweng Beach Road, Chaweng, Koh Samui, 84320
Tel: 089 053 6034
GB lounge is probably the oldest Go-Go bar on the island and certainly one of the most popular. The bar itself is very comfortable with air conditioning, comfy seating and a good selection of drinks available. The girls here are considered by many to be some of the most attractive on the island and will definitely be able to keep you entertained until the small hours.
Open: 6pm to 2am
Where: Soi Green Mango, Central Chaweng, Ko Samui
Also located on Soi Green Mango, Dream Girls is another popular Go-Go bar and considered by some to be a little smarter than GB Lounge. Also offering comfy seating and air conditioning, Dream Girls claim to have the finest dancers on the island. Why don’t you go and see for yourself?
Open: 6pm to 2am
Where: Soi Green Mango, Chaweng