Thailand travel is popular  for many reasons: the warm weather, beautiful beaches, friendly smiling people, good value for your money, interesting culture – and last but not least –  WOMEN!

Thai women have a reputation among foreign men of being beautiful and ‘easy to get’. How justified is this reputation?

Most men would  agree that many Thai women are attractive. They generally have soft facial features, slender bodies, and a graceful appearance combined with natural and beautiful smiles. You won’t find many men arguing with this statement.

Are they easy to connect with? There are several factors to consider. Thailand is a free country compared to some of its neighbors. Burma has recently come out of a military dictatorship with severely restricted personal freedom. Relationships with foreigners are still very difficult.

Laos has a communist regime and relationships with foreigners are restricted by law. Malaysia has a largely Muslim population and relationships with foreigners can be subject to religious rules.

In Thailand women are free to enter into any relationship they want with Thais or foreigners and the government does not interfere with restrictive laws, and neither does religion.

From this perspective Thai women are easier to connect with simply because they have freedom in this regard unlike the Asian women of some neighboring countries.

Let’s consider another angle. There are more women than men in Thailand. Many of the men are not available. There are three main reasons which reduce the availability of male partners:

1. Gays:  Thailand has a high percentage of gays. Homosexuality is not seen as immoral and is not stigmatized socially.

2. Ladyboys:  “Ladyboys” (The English term most commonly used in Thailand. The Thai word is “Khatoi”) are a very common phenomenon in Thailand. These are men who want to be women and who are undergoing a gradual process of operations and hormonal treatments until they look like women.

3. Monks:  It is a tradition that Thai men become monks for varying lengths of time. Many men remain monks for many years or for life. Thai monks are celibate.

Add all those factors together and you arrive at a serious deficit of available men in Thailand.  Here is another aspect. Thailand  is very open to the western world and especially America is often seen as a cultural idol, as the land of unlimited money and opportunity.

So in a sense the foreign man steps into a partial vacuum in a relatively free country where there is no governmental or religious interference with women’s rights to choose partners, and where the west is seen as a desirable destination.

The focus of this article is voluntary relationships, not outright prostitution which is of course available in all Asian countries and all over the world. In many cases it is not so easy to draw the line between relationships and prostitution in Thailand.

Anyone who has spent some time in Thailand has seen older Western men with Thai girls several decades younger on their arms. The question is if this is prostitution, if it is exploitation of poor women by men, if it is clever manipulation by cunning women, or if it is a mutually beneficial arrangement.

There are proponents of all those theories in various corners of the opinion spectrum. There is no one clear and easy answer. In the next part of this series we will go more into depth and address all those issues.

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image of the the author, Shama KernThe author, Shama Kern, has been living in Thailand for well over a decade. His wife is Thai and they have created a successful cross cultural relationship. You can reach Shama at shama@shamakern.com