What is Living in Thailand REALLY Like?

Soi Katoey – Patong Beach

What is a Katoey?:

Katoey is the Thai term for shemale. English speakers have coined the term, “Ladyboy” to mean the same thing. Europeans have used this word for years and recently Americans have picked up on it.

A Thai katoey is a Thai boy that either dresses like or acts like a Thai girl. Ladyboys that can afford it often have gender reassignment surgery, but most have not. Many ladyboys take estrogen and other hormone pills to accentuate their curves and femininity. Some ladyboys choose to have breast enlargement surgery, this is a very common practice. Some ladyboys appear exactly like other Thai girls, others do not. There is an infatuation in the international community for Thailand’s “beautiful” ladyboys and the sole reason for many visitors, men and women alike, coming to Thailand.

Where is Soi Katoey?:

Soi Katoey is a small street (soi) off the main nightlife drag in Patong Beach called “Soi Bangla”. The official name of Soi Katoey is, “Soi Crocodile” but you won’t find any crocodiles there. The soi is more affectionately known by ladyboy-lovers across the world as “Soi Katoey”.

What Happens at Soi Katoey? :

Eating, drinking and people watching mostly. Most visitors sit and watch impromptu ladyboy dance shows take place as amateur dancing ladyboys vie for as little as a square foot of dance space on the very small triangular raised stage at the front of the soi. There are also many gay bars in the soi toward the back and the restrooms are back there so inevitably you’ll see the entire soi.

Soi Katoey is usually the most crowded street in town, and there’s good reason for that. It’s just good clean (as clean as you want it) fun that you should experience at least once during your trip to Patong Beach, Phuket.

How many ladyboys are there on an average night? In Soi Katoey I’ve never seen less than fifteen ladyboys and I’ve seen more than one-hundred. It depends on whether it’s the tourist high-season or not.

In addition to the group that stays around the dance stage there are ladyboys walking up and down Soi Bangla that stop and chat with their friends or sit for a drink at one of the bars. With all the people coming and going it’s quite a fun night to just sit at “Tequila Bar” at ground level or “Happy Night Bar” if you prefer to sit on their second floor landing and look down on the action.


  • Ladyboys are not shy, you may be stared at, talked to, brushed up against, smiled at, flirted with, groped or flashed. Try not to be offended… it’s what they do here.
  • Remember, don’t get into a fight with anybody, even an aggressive ladyboy, because you won’t win when thirty of her friends join her.
  • There are pickpockets here that you should be aware of. Be careful to keep your main stash of cash in a money-belt around your waist and not in your pockets as they work in teams and can distract you quite easily.

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