My narrow escape from Bangkok Ping Pong Show Scam

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“200 baht, 200 baht! I give you deal. Buy one drink and you see all the acts! You not get this kind price from anyone else.” This is what the skinny Thai man quoted, as he whipped out a laminated menu:

1.  Puxxy shoots ping-pong balls

2.  Puxxy blows balloons

3.  Puxxy writes letter

4.  Puxxy blows out candles

5.  Puxxy sews

The list went on…

I was standing before the door of one of Bangkok ping-pong show in Patpong, staring at a jaw-dropping menu of 25 acts!

A night in Bangkok Patpong ping pong district…

Years ago, Bangkok’s Patpong district got a seedy rap for its sex industry, as age-washed, unattractive male tourists prowl young twenty-year old Thai bodies in exchange for baht. Today, not much has changed. It’s just gotten more commercial. Neon signs blaze over shady strip joints and Thai men openly approach men and women with ping-pong menus.

You see ping-pong show? I give you deal.

It’s all a hard sell.  Meanwhile, inside the club, young girls writhe around a silver pole, naked and dressed only in a thong bikini, looking as bored and lifeless as a grocery store girl, bagging groceries at the end of her shift or a 9-5 office drone, staring at her computer screen all day. It’s the least exciting and un-sexiest thing you can imagine and for them, it comes across as a chore.

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I didn’t have the balls- no pun intended – to go to the strip full solo. 

What gal isn’t a bit curious of women,  who can blow things out of their privates? It’s a rare talent.

I’d been to Bangkok four times within the past two years, hoping to find friends to go with. My fourth time to Bangkok was the charm.  I met three travelers (a Canadian girl and an American expat couple) with matching curiosities at my hostel.


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Puxxy Power: Who knew there was so much untapped potential in my nether regions?

200 baht (around $6.50) and a drink was the deal we took for entrance fee. We walked upstairs to a lonely bar room. One male client, a tourist with a normal Thai girl, was sitting on the vinyl seats as 4-5 G-stringed girls of various shapes and sizes, danced on stage. We each ordered our drinks, but I couldn’t bring my lips to touching the cup.

As tourists, we stood out. We were of the freshest sport.

First act: “Puxxy shoots ping-pong balls“.

The act was straight-forward. It didn’t lie.

Pft! Pft! Pft!

Ping pong balls came flying at our direction, bouncing off the floor and to our booth. We dodged.

After the act, the female performer came up to us to ask for tips and a drink. A ladyboy performer sat next to us, flirting and acting like a curious intermediary, and making us uncomfortable. He seemed shifty, like a secret club guard dog.

Second act: “Puxxy blows out candles on a cake.

A cake was rolled out and lit with 6 high candles. A dancer with reading glasses (she must have bad eyesight) inserted a straw into her privates and proceeded to blow each candle out.

Done with her act, she expected retribution. She walked to us with an extended hand and a demanding, business-like demeanor.  We signaled “No”. She left mumbling rubbish Thai under her breath. We were cheap clients.

Third act: “Puxxy knits

A ball of yarn is in the girl’s cootie and safety pins are pinned to her *owwee* place, as the girl knits with legs spread. Gross!

Though these acts were mesmerizing, by the fourth puxxy act: “Puxxy writes letters,” feelings of vomitous shame and guilt started to set in. Then came self-contempt and humiliation… It was barely five minutes into the show and our group was feeling queasy.


Bangkok ping-pong shows aren’t easy to watch if you’re a woman

The acts began to blur into one opaque wall of demeaning shame. This wasn’t the Las Vegas-type freak show entertainment we imagined it’d be. It wasn’t a fun show.

For ping-pong performers, these shows are a dull, dangerous and degrading job. You could feel the dirt of it, the lifestyle of scabs, regular Bangkok scams and under-aged prostitutes, working for a club boss and meagerly getting by.  As tourists sitting and watching, we realized we were endorsing this kind of livelihood; feeding its existence !

Could we make it through 25 acts? No. The sixth act was our limit. Done!

Read: How I almost got scammed by a Bangkok taxi

What is the Bangkok Ping pong show scam?

600 baht each?!

At the cashier’s counter, the bill had inflated three times the 200 baht quote. A short bullish female manager emerged and pulled an excuse, that the sales guy outside didn’t quote the right price. Secretly, it boiled down to the fact, we hadn’t tipped the performers or bought more drinks.  Our refusal now prompted the manager to put a lean on us by threatening mafia action! Our watchful ladyboy was now, her sidekick.  It was a scam.

My mind raced, Would they bar our exit next? Could they do anything in front of the other club visitors?

We huddled and quickly pooled our money together to decide upon a compromise. Our 6 foot tall token male, Richard, told the manager we’d pay  200 baht extra as a group; afterall, we’d only been there for 5 minutes. Shoving the money into her hands, we all turned for a brisk escape, running down the stairs and out through the shopping stalls.


How common are Bangkok ping pong show scams?

Fortunately, the scams I’ve encountered in past travels haven’t been physically or life threatening. Although I’ve come across my share of close calls and scares, I’ve found most con artists want money and don’t want to resort to violence to get it. Still, you never know…

I hadn’t read warnings about ping-pong scams before to know this was something to beware of. But after returning to my hostel and Googling it on the internet, I found what we experienced was common.

Many people, including two women I met later, have met a “manager with a lady boy sidekick who barred their exit from the club until they paid” the extra money. One girl I met even said the manager locked the door in front of her and pushed her around a bit! Fortunately, no one was ever hurt. I guess I/we were lucky to be in a group of four with a male.

This was the one time I encountered a scam and was glad I wasn’t solo.

 Note:  The flourishing of Bangkok’s sex industry fuels human trafficking and a modern-day slavery. By supporting these sex clubs and ping-pong shows, we’re encouraging this way of life. Interesting article from Pulitzer Center about the reality of these women  (here).

Note: Looking for things to do in this area alternatively, you may want to go to Patpong night market for souvenir shopping, there’s a lot of street vendors. Closer to the BTS Skytrain, there’s also many normal massage shops for tourists and a side street of street food, where you can sit at a stall and slurp on a bowl of noodles. I stay in this area a lot due to the sidewalk food vendors in the morning and tucked away in some of the side streets.

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Ever experienced a Bangkok ping pong show scam? 

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  • “bull dyke”, YIIIIIKES. What the hell.

  • My story is a bit intresting aswell, iv read what you guys been thru and i decided to go and try it out, but first i got educated about how it works and me and my wife took a tuktuk and We were on our way to patong market, one of the sales guys took us to a place where they offered 200 baht and said we would like a cheaper place and so appearly he took us somewhere else, so the show happend we were there for 15 minuts, drank one beer, and they give us a bill for 5000baht (160$), now before i tell you what happend, those girls dont get ur money, even if u personally tip them, they give it to the owners, and they get paid as mich as they attract , so its like they work 9-5 and not by customers..

    After they showed us the bill I switched to my protective mode, i told them 100 each plus drink and nothing else(we tipped the girls abit)

    I gave them 1000 baht and one of the lady boys tried to stop me by holding my hand, i told her to let go with my manly voice and she/he did, one of the owners said just go, i was pissed i was assulted slightly, deff a scam, very degrading jon, super unhygienic, most clubs are dark and u can verly see anything, dont go there, do urself a favor, stay away from bangkok’s scams. Tuktuks will take u for 150 no matter where u go just be presisnent , deff not coning back to bangkok , seriously, besides the land its a comete shit hole

  • This JUST happened to me two days ago! Stayed for two shoes tops, and when we tried to leave after tipping 500 baht, they wanted 4,450 more! TWO shows. Never again! Ridiculous 🙁

  • […] it. The state of the women ‘performers’ can only be described as sad and depressing, and they are a scam. If you want fun night out, check out a ladyboy show instead. -Elephant tourism is a huge draw in […]

  • […] (Manual, I presume, because have you seen the size of those automatic gearsticks? It would require Patpong levels of pelvic floor dexterity to get that into any […]

  • I applaud your honesty in dealing with this topic. Your final note is the most important part. The sex industry most definitely does “fuel human trafficking and modern-day slavery. By supporting these sex clubs and ping-pong shows, we’re encouraging this way of life.” Curiosity will certainly continue to be an issue for some, but I’m glad you are not so desensitized to not recognize the tragedy these shows represent. As another commenter stated, “if there was no market for the ‘products’ of human trafficking, there would be no human trafficking. It’s irresponsible tourism of the worst kind.” The shows are NOT just in fun. Someone IS getting hurt. And women are not there because they want to be. Avoiding the scam part of the show is of course desirable, but avoiding participating in or supporting the sex industry while traveling or while at home is even more important. Better yet, we can seek out human rights organizations and ngo’s working in this area. Hopefully your article will shed some light on this topic for other travelers.

  • I had been very curious about this, but the only time I went to Patpong was with another German blogger, who told me it wasn’t worth it to go inside. I’m glad he dissuaded me. I know I would feel queasy too!

  • For the record, women aren’t the only ones who feel shame and contempt at a ping pong show. And though I’ve been dragged to a few, I’ve never been scammed, hassled, extorted, or threatened. One beer, no tips, and a smooth getaway every time. Then again, I’m not a tourist, so. . . . . . .

  • I’m sorry if you think I’ve taken it to a morally chastising level. That wasn’t my intention, and I didn’t mean to cause offence. This is a subject that I’m really interested in and I meant for the discussion to take the form of gentle debate. I clearly failed in this and should have taken more care to monitor my tone- in retrospect, I fully appreciate why you’ve taken it that way, and how I could have come across as condescending. For this, I apologise.

    Great blog- keep up the good work! 🙂

  • @Christine Sorry the reply function wasn’t working. Thank you for your detailed response. I would like to respectfully disagree with your argument though.

    Agreed that experiences can shape your views on things, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. However, it’s possible that experiences only give you the small picture. For your experience to be truly meaningful, you would have to experience the details. Maybe if you started in Burma, living in the villages from which some of these girls come, examining the reasons they want to leave, asking their families how they feel about their daughters being taken away (or why they ‘sold their daughters, depending on the situation) then that would be a good start. Then you could tour Thailand, interview hundreds of girls working in these establishments, interview the owners of such places and the traffickers. Where would one single visit to a show fit in to this scenario?

    Of course, for most of us, this kind of research is impossible or impractical. That’s why we rely on the research of those with the opportunities, expertise and skills to carry it out. Granted, on many issues, two people can be just as qualified, have done as much research, and have had similar experiences but come to different conclusions on something. We all have different world views and our preconceptions help shape our opinions.

    This is not one of those issues though. I have never experienced or witnessed genocide, rape or slavery but strongly believe they are wrong. Does the fact that I haven’t seen these acts in real life make my opinion invalid? Likewise, views on human trafficking and Thailand’s sex trade are fairly unanimous. The only people with differing views are those without knowledge (e.g. ‘these women are there because they choose to be’) or the traffickers / club owners themselves (even they probably know it’s wrong but don’t care because there are profits to be made). It’s not an untested principle because thousands of journalists and NGOs (of all kinds of beliefs) have tested it, and all come to similar conclusions. If I visit a ping pong show, I’m not adding to that body of research: I’m testing how it makes me feel, and nothing else. It’s a completely self-centric action, ignoring the bigger picture.

    I don’t need to put my finger in a plug socket to know that I may get electrocuted. This reasoning might work if I was a child, but as an adult I’m perfectly capable of making sensible decisions- and I also realise that not all decisions revolve around me.

    Finally, agreed that one of the reasons people vacation is to escape responsibilities. But this tends to mean responsibilities at home- their job etc –not responsibilities towards the local surroundings. The latter is just normal human decency. This is something we exercise at home- we always attempt in our own countries, to behave and interact in a way that’s morally appropriate. This is even more important abroad- particularly in developing countries- firstly, because we are a guest in someone else’s country, and more importantly because that country has different (and often more severe) issues than our own.

    Contrary to your belief that “not everyone feels a ‘responsibility’ in tourism,” most people that I know do. This doesn’t in anyway detract from the experience- in fact it usually enhances it. We should always be sensitive to local issues and try not to perpetuate local problems.

    • @PaulJ_Hunt: I think you misunderstood what I’ve said in my response and are now taking it to a morally chastising level, which I don’t appreciate.

      My “personal beliefs” have been ‘untested’ up until that point. (is what I meant)

      Also, in short, each individual is free to make their own choices in life. I come from different belief/background and I’m responsible for my own life and actions. No one can tell another person how to live, believe or think. To do so would be egocentric, largely hypocritical and offensive. You don’t know me at all to tell me what choice I should’ve made. I’m not you.

      True, I wasn’t looking at the ‘bigger picture’ of my actions at the time. But I won’t apologize for that.

      If you and ALL of the people you know, feel a high moral responsibility towards tourism ‘all the time’ as you’re coming across and you’ve never committed an action, which ‘hurt’ or ‘wronged’ another human being, I applaud you. But I highly doubt that.

      Yes, we should be sensitive to local issues and not perpetuate local problems, but we have no right telling other people how to live their lives either. People must always choose of their free will.

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