Ladyboys (or katoeys) are the famous third sex of Thailand; effeminate men who dress up as beautiful women to entertain locals and visitors alike.
Ladyboys are an accepted part of Thai culture – and are often so beautiful as girls that it’s hard to imagine otherwise.
Ladyboys in Koh Samui
There is often a stigma attached to Thai ladyboys - that they are looking to hook up with handsome foreigners and charge a fee for their company. In some cases this is true however most ladyboys are adorned with fabulous costumes in the hope of entertaining visitors to the island.
Where to Find Ladyboy’s in Koh Samui
Ladyboys can mostly be found in Lamai and Chaweng, where there is and a lively entertainment scene. Some work in standard jobs such as hotel receptionists, waitresses and bar servers and will be happy to talk to tourists about the best places to visit. There are a few bars that will be staffed only by ladyboys; freelancers can also be found hanging outside bars or the cabaret shows.
How to Spot a Ladyboy
Most ladyboys are so pretty that it’s hard to tell them apart from women. In most cases, a ladyboy’s hips will be narrower, their hands and feet larger and their voices a little more forced into a feminine pitch. Some have had their breasts surgically enhanced and are easy to spot by their overly feminine persona and keenness to talk to tourists.
Chaweng Beach has some of the best ladyboy shows outside of Bangkok. The Starz Cabaret is a comical show featuring them poking fun at each other and on an unsuspecting member of the audience; it’s an uplifting evening with reasonably priced drinks. The Moulin Rouge Cabaret features ladyboys lip synching to songs such as classic Madonna tunes or more modern anthems. Some of the performers may expose their breasts which may not be suitable for children. The Moulin Rouge is the only free entry cabaret show in Koh Samui. Finally, there is Christy’s Cabaret, the oldest and most popular cabaret on Koh Samui. This Vegas-themed club features glamorous performances every night and a dazzling dance floor for everyone’s enjoyment.
These bars are a popular attraction in Koh Samui, usually jam-packed with revellers, go go dancers and Thai ladyboys. The atmosphere can be slightly flirtatious but it does make for an entertaining and memorable evening. The majority of these bars are in Chaweng and Lamai offering small, open-fronted rooms consisting of poles, stools, a bar, a pool table and an array of girls and ladyboys. In lower scale bars the girls will challenge you to a game of pool, and in more upmarket bars they will dance for you instead. The GB Lounge on Soi Mango Street is the oldest and most popular Go-Go Bar in Chaweng, and the women here have been deemed the most attractive on the island.
If you meet a Ladyboy in Koh Samui the polite thing to do is be friendly but firm. Often ladyboys will be friendly and helpful, however sometimes they may offer entertainment for a fee. Visitors should be advised that although ladyboys are a popular part of the cabaret scene in Koh Samui, they may offer private services such as massages, private dancers or more.