Commercial Gay Scene – Go-Go Bars, Karaoke and Massage
With high season kicking in this week in Chiang Mai, and Loy krthong only days away, this is part two of our series about where to find gay sex in Chiang Mai, and what to expect if you are a first time visitor here. This part looks at the commercial gay sex scene: Go-Go bars, Karaoke and massage. The final part will cover freelance hustlers.
So, what’s available for the horny gay visitor, with high expectations of a vibrant commercial sex scene? Chiang Mai’s four Go-Go bars, Adam’s Apple, Free Guy, New My Way and Circle Pub, are best described with the cliché “same same but different”. Though none are real Go-Go bars, but rather host bars with shows, they all have similar types of guy working there, who are almost exclusively Shan from Burma (see later), and prices are similar”. Hosts are dressed in street clothes (Jeans, T shirt) or shirt and tie style uniforms rather than skimpy underwear. The shows run for an hour or two. Quantity and quality depends on the number of customers and available guys so can vary a lot from night to night. There are no live sex shows though most include some nudity and some Lady Boy cabaret acts: typically sequined frocks and lip syncing to big diva songs.
But there are differences:
Chiang Mai Male Go-Go Bars
Adam’s Apple Club
Chiang Mai’s oldest host bar, originally conceived by Mohammad, a charismatic and worldly wise Lebanese entrepreneur, who put gay bars on the map in Chiang Mai. He is still proprietor of the gay “Lotus Hotel” across the road, with its popular “Garden Bar” and restaurant.
After being closed several years for a complete rebuild and makeover “Adam ’s Apple” is now owned by Todd, an outgoing American from L.A. who’s personality defines the club. It’s smart, with a modern, almost clinically clean environment and atmosphere, state of the art light and sound systems and smooth service. The show includes several cabaret routines with some of Chiangmai’s better Katoey acts, some nude go-go, with one or two boys dancing, and erotic dance sequences with nudity. It’s always been popular with tourists given its long reputation and foreigner ownership. But, Thai customers like it too, especially weekend visitors from Bangkok
For Thai customers this is Chiang Mai’s premier club and has several muscle boy staff that appeal to both the Thai Gays and Thai ladies who flock there at weekends. Although smart and clean, the décor is rather chintzy. Professionally run it has a slick show with two performances a night, but the prices are on the high side. It is possibly the least appealing bar for foreigners unless you want muscle guys.
“Free guy” is the most laid back club, replacing proficient management with fun and smiles. Their biggest claim is “no ladyboys” and the show is all boy next door types, with almost every act being a more or less imaginative scenario for the participants to remove their clothes and demonstrate what they have to offer! The catwalk style stage makes sure everyone gets a great view and between acts they have three boys Go-Go dancing in sexy underwear.
“Free Guys’” Show now starts at 10:00 p.m. and recent reports all say it’s fun with lot’s of new bar boys.
New My Way
Re-modelled for last year’s high season, performers now descend down some stairs onto the stage, “New My Way” is always a lively place. The show is long, from about 10 p.m. to midnight, and has a variety of cabaret, erotic nude acts and dancing. The show also has a couple of new surprises. “New My Way” is quite compact which makes it always seem full and adds to a good atmosphere.
Chiang Mai Male Karaoke Bars
Another choice which is open later than the go-go bars is Karaoke. We recommend Barocco or Relax where the drinks are at normal prices, though the drink selection is very Thai: limited to large beers or whiskey bottle/mixer sets. Both have a large selection of waiters you can “off”; they also have many gay Thai customers some of whom are keen to meet foreigners. These places don’t get busy until after midnight. You can read more about Relax – the most fun gay bar in Chaing Mai here
Bar Boys and the Shan State
One surprise for visitors to Chiang Mai, which makes the commercial sex scene stand out from places like Bangkok and Pattaya is that there are very few Thai guys working in Chiang Mai’s bars. Nearly all the bar boys are Shan refugees from nearby Burma (Myanmar), in particular from the Shan state, the South Eastern part of Burma bordering Thailand, Laos and China. If you plan to meet guys from Chiang Mai’s commercial bars it is worth taking some time to understand about Shan people, as you’ll soon find out, they are not the same as Thais, and we mean that in a good way.
Ethnically the Shan people are part of the Tai group which has origins spreading from Yunnan province in China. They are also known as Tai Yai (Meaning Big Tai). They Speak their own language, Shan, and have a rich culture which is quite different to Thai. They seem more muscular, with harder more masculine facial features when compared with the softer, sometimes almost effeminate appearance of the classic Northern Thai male.
Part of the Golden Triangle, the Shan state was for years under the control of Opium Drug Lords, such as Khun Sa, and remains one of the most lawless and dangerous parts of Burma far from Yangon (Rangoon) and Napyidaw (the new capital). Military forces of the ruling Junta have renewed clashes with the Shan State Army and the United Wa State Army. A common tactic of the Junta is to destroy whole Shan villages killing those who can’t flee, or detaining them as forced labour. The result: a mass influx of Shan into Northern Thailand, with a steady migration to refugee camps along the border and then to Chiang Mai, the nearest urban centre, in search of work.
Their persecution doesn’t end here as they are tolerated but not welcomed or appreciated by the Thai authorities. A source of cheap labour for Chiang Mai’s virulent construction industry, many are paid only 150 Bt ($5) for a day’s hard labour, and are constant targets of Police harassment. No wonder scores of young Shan males try to make a living in Chiang Mai’s gay bars, even though most are straight and gay people are not accepted by Shan culture in the way Thai culture embraces them. Few speak any English so it’s hard to ask those you meet in the bars about their backgrounds and personal stories, many of which are quite horrific.
Massage for Men by Men
If host bars and Karaoke aren’t your thing an alternative is gay massage parlours, of which there is an abundance spread across town so there’s plenty of choice. See our guide for details www.radchada.com this currently lists seventeen venues that are good for a massage with the all-important Happy Ending .
You can also check out our other articles on the male massage scene in Chiangmai here. Compared with the host bars, you will find many more gay Thai guys working in the massage places and they are very willing to please you. Local gays are quite shy about working in host bars where they may be spotted by friends and peers, whereas massage places are discreet with lower visibility.
That concludes the second part of this series. The final article will look at where to find freelancers and the risks involved.
Please be aware that prostitution is illegal in Thailand in accordance with the Prevention and Suppression of Prostitution Act, B.E. 2539 (1996) This article is for information purposes only, it is not an incitement to commit illegal acts and readers are responsible for their own actions. Please refer to the terms and conditions of use for this website. Please also note that, in Thailand, the penalties for foreigners having sex with someone under the age of eighteen are severe.