Part of the mystique of Thailand and Phuket in particular is the notion of a third sex that is accepted all around the country. Known locally as katoeys, these are men who feel they are really women trapped inside the wrong body.
All of them dress as women with many taking hormones to change their appearance to appear more feminine. Some have had breast implants whilst a few have gone the whole way and are nearly impossible to distinguish from men.
Often the voice is deeper than a woman’s or has a strange tone to it. Ladyboys often dress and act flamboyantly, tend to be taller, and if they have had implants, larger breasts than genetic Thai women. The usual rule of thumb is if you are not sure if the person you are talking to is male or female it is better to be safe than sorry.
There are areas where ladyboys gather with the most popular of these being Bangla Road and in particular in the bars in Soi Crocodile which is commonly referred to as Soi Katoey. Here you will find ladyboys dancing provocatively on the tables at the entrance to the Soi and enticing people to go in to the bars for a drink.
Also at the entrance to Soi Crocodile you will often find a number of ladyboys dressed in Las Vegas style costumes and offering to pose with you for photos for which you are expected to tip them.
Ladyboys are fascinated with western women and will happily sit and discuss their treatments with you and your partner in exchange for a drink or two. Chatting with them can be highly entertaining, if not a bit eye opening as they are very proud of how they now look.
There are a number of ladyboy cabaret shows in Phuket of differing standards. In Bangla Road there is Moulin Rose in Soi Crocodile, and Cocktails and Dreams, which is at the top end of Bangla Road near Seduction Discotheque, where the staff perform a short cabaret show a few times a night.
For ladyboy cabaret shows with more extravagant sets and costumes head to Simon Cabaret on the outskirts of Patong, Aphrodite Cabaret or Simon Star Cabaret, which are both near Tesco Lotus on the edge of Phuket Town.
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