Written some time ago, this post is still one of the most popular on Thailand Musings so I thought I would resurrect it from the archives for your enjoyment and comments.
Have you heard the term katoey or ladyboy before? These creatures have been encountered by many first timers (and even some second and third timers) in Bangkok, Phuket and Pattaya, much to the chagrin of the unsuspecting mark. What is a katoey? It is quite simply a transsexual or transvestite and they are quite common in Thailand.
The thing is that many of the Thai ladyboys are actually quite beautiful and unless you know what to look for can be easy to miss, even if you are close up and personal with them. Of course copious amounts of alcohol doesn’t help matters, so here I’ve put together the top 10 ways to spot a ladyboy or katoey when you’re in Thailand. Avoid reading this list at your own peril.
1. Look at your new friends hands and feet. Thai girls typically are small and their hands and feet are very small and petite to match. If the girl has lumberjack hands or size 12 heels on there is a distinct possibility she is a he.
2. Look for an Adams apple. Girls don’t have them, not ever.
3. Too much makeup. Thai girls generally wear very little if any makeup. If the girl has a thick layer of foundation on and enough makeup for a Vegas dancer then she is probably a ladyboy.
4. Tall. Thai girls are generally short, 5′ 4″ or less. If the girl is near to 6′ tall then either she is a model or a katoey. If she’s flirting with you (a foreign tourist), then the odds are she is NOT a model (unless you look like Brad Pitt), you are very likely being targeted by a ladyboy.
5. She is more beautiful than you can believe. If the girl is tall and beautiful and is NOT a model then it’s a good bet she is a ladyboy. Katoeys work very hard to make themselves as beautiful as possible, even going to the length of having surgery done. Eyes, lips, breasts, and even the cut and tuck, though from all accounts most katoeys are cross dressers without the final surgery.
6. If she has facial hair she is a katoey. Don’t laugh, I’ve actually seen guys dancing with girls that have a 5 o’clock shadow. Thai girls are for the most part hairless, even on their arms and legs and certainly on their faces.
7. Thai girls are very feminine, quite likely some of the most feminine women on the planet. If your girl is muscular or has a hard athletic body there is a chance that she is a katoey. This can be sometimes confusing because Cambodian girls are typically more muscular than Thai’s, but they are also generally very short and dark skinned.
8. If the girl has a penis (not TOO hard to figure out is it) then she is a ladyboy. Many katoeys will go for a grope of your crotch shortly after meeting you and this is the perfect chance for you to return the favor. Sometimes it isn’t as easy to tell if there is a bulge there or not as some ladyboys will go as far as to tuck or even tape their privates up underneath their crotch.
9. If she won’t undress in front of you or wants to have sex in the dark all the time she may be a katoey. Thai girls are shy in public, but can be quite forward in private and most have very little shyness when it comes to sex. I’ve heard stories of guys who had no idea they were with a ladyboy until the next morning which is actually believable if the girl wants to suck you off all night or do it from behind or if you’re that drunk. If there is a question in your mind do a quick grope or throw some surprise light on the subject, it may be YOU who ends up with the bigger surprise.
10. Take a look at her friends. Ladyboys tend to run and hunt in packs like wolves. If her group of friends are obvious katoeys themselves then your little lady may be one as well.
I’m sure this list isn’t comprehensive and there are other ways to tell if your prospective hookup is a katoey or ladyboy. Please leave a comment if you have other ways that you use to figure out if she is really a he or if you have some interesting or fun stories about the katoeys and ladyboys of Thailand.
If ladyboys aren’t your thing then check out this site dedicated to Thai girls.
Special thanks to Conan Stevens for providing the inspiration for this ladyboy article.