Women in Thailand: A Changing Reality
Women in Thailand are famous for their good looks and good nature. Thai women are famously slim and graceful and–at least in the North, where I live–are extremely friendly towards foreigners. Extremely. Thailand’s women are also much, much smarter than the men. They run everything and handle problems while the men hang out and drink beer. Lucky men!!
A survey has revealed some interesting data about whether it is acceptable to have a Thai Mia Noi (minor wife). The survey asked 422 people but did not specify whether spouses were Thai women or foreigners. Some 15% of respondents said they had sex 20 times a month, but 12% said never. Some 23% of those who thought having a Mia Noi was OK reported having sex 20 times a month. Overall about one in 5 thought having a Mia Noi was a good thing but this went up to 26% for people based in Bangkok. A quarter of people claimed that having a mistress was about companionship not sex. In the under thirties only 8% thought a Mia Noi was acceptable. In general half of respondents said that their relationship was based on true love. A total of 27% said it was companionship and only 5% mentioned passion as the main reason.
A fellow expat gave me some excellent advice: if you’re looking for a Thai woman as a partner, marry a Thai civil servant. The benefits, he explained, are many. Your partner will be educated, have a steady income so money will never create problems beween you. Your partner will also have health insurance that will cover you, satisfy your compulsory insurance requirements, and relieve you of anxiety and expense.
Women in Thailand are a constant source of fascination. After photos of a Bangkok man with two beautiful wives got attention in social media over the past week, the trio and their nine children have given lots interviews to people asking their secrets for a happy marriage. It started when his second wife, Warissara Poksrichan, 32, posted photos of them on Valentine’s Day that got 6,000 shares, “I got tired of people bragging about their husbands on Facebook. Well, my husband happens to have two wives! Beat that!”
The husband, Manop Nuttayothin, 42, says he originally had three wives, but his first wife “Dear” passed away after they had three children. He had been living with Warissara ten years and, at some pointt, added Nattaya Tongpan, 26, to the mix. He has three children with each of them. The two ladies help with his business, selling car parts at major racing events in Thailand. Manop said that he pays them a salary but Nattaya said it’s not about money, “He mostly invests in the kids.” Warissara agreed, “That’s true. He gives them 100 percent. For us, if we ask him for THB1,000, he’ll only give us 200,” she smiled.
For Manop, he admits he’s a lucky guy to have had three wives, and the secret to a happy marriage is that he immediately shuts down conflict it arises. “Whenever there’s problem, I talk to them about it on that same day.”
He added, “Sometimes it happens. I’ll overlook something and realize that I treated one wife better than the other. When I understand that’s a problem, I make sure I treat the two of them equally. We do the same things. We do everything at the same time. It’s the best.”
Women Tourists in Thailand
Last year, for the first time, women in Thailand became the majority of tourists as a surge in female visitors–mostly college girls on graduation trips–outweighed men drawn to the world’s sex capital.
The shift is welcome news for Thailand’s tourist authority who have tried to promote the country’s shopping, beaches and temples and to minimize sex tourism, which thrived after Thailand became an R&R hotspot for US troops in the 1960s and 1970s. Finally, their efforts are paying off. Tourism ministry figures showed 52 per cent–of more than 32 million visitors last year–were women.
That compared to 48 per cent in 2015 and only 42 per cent in 2012. No earlier official data were available, but research from as far back as the 1980s shows a ratio of about 60 per cent male to 40 per cent female visitors. “Not as many women visited Thailand because they thought we were a cheap destination with too much vice, but now more are coming, which means our image accommodates them,” Tourism Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul explained.
Tourism accounts for around 12 per cent of ASEAN’s second-biggest economy and the Tourism Authority of Thailand started a “Women’s Journey” campaign last year, with a website and mobile application offering discounts for hotels, spas, malls, and restaurants.
But the biggest factor has been tourism from China, which has reshaped the industry around the world.
The number of Chinese visitors rose from nearly 12 per cent of Thailand’s visitors in 2012 to 27 per cent last year. The number of Chinese women visiting Thailand nearly quadrupled over the same period to more than 5.3 million.
“When Chinese men make a lot of money, they tend to take their wife, daughter, and mother to travel, making the ratio heavier on the female side,” said Mr Virat Chatturaputpitak, vice president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents.
Major Chinese travel website Tuniu reported that 62 per cent of its customers last year were women, Chinese media reported.
“I chose to come to Thailand because it’s close by, there are many flights, it’s cheap to travel and easy to get a visa,” said Ms Man Na Zhang, 24, at Bangkok’s Erawan Shrine, a favourite spot for Chinese tourists despite a deadly bombing in 2015.