A cabaret a day keeps the cultural ignorance away…

In our conservative Western culture ladyboys (known in Thailand as katoeys) are often viewed with a somewhat curious nature, however in Thailand they are mostly accepted and embraced by a highly tolerant society. Because of this foreign curiosity lady-boys have gained an element of prestige in the Thai entertainment business, with shows and cabarets proving to be one of the most successful tourist attractions offered. However it is not just the bright lights and dazzling costumes-or the obvious curiosity of seeing a real-life gender switch-but the unique cultural immersion that comes from witnessing a show like this. Lady-boys are a unique and accepted part of day to day life for the Thai people and, in my opinion, witnessing a show such as this is an important part of understanding the Thai culture.

Calypso Cabaret

When it comes to lady-boy shows Bangkok has a buffet of options; from the cheap and often quite confronting street shows, to the upper class spectacles of dazzling costumes, music and choreography. It is generally recommended by Bangkok locals to steer well clear of those lower class street shows, which often attract unpleasant crowds and can result in theft (or merely a waste of your money). However, by doing some easy research you can ensure that you will be rewarded with a value for money show and an enriching cultural experience.

One of the most renowned cabaret’s in Bangkok is the world famous Calypso Cabaret. There are two shows held each night at the spectacular Asia Hotel (a fitting venue for such an extravagant production).  The shows run for approximately 90 minutes each and audiences can expect dazzling lights, breathless set designs, glamorous costumes, an ensemble of seamless gender-straddling performers and, most importantly, a guaranteed bang for your buck. Audiences are also given the chance to meet the performers at the end of each production, providing a great photo opportunity to show friends and family.

Lady Boy at Calypso (believe it or not)

Tips for the penny pinchers:

When it comes to lady-boy shows it is important to note that saving money may not necessarily be the best option. Granted, the Calypso is one of the more expensive shows in Bangkok and there are cheaper options out there. However these cheap imitations will often be a waste of your money, and we recommend doing your research before agreeing to one of the many lady boys hustling the streets for business. It is also highly recommended to book your tickets before arriving at the venue (depending on which show you are attending) as the prices may differ quite substantially.


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