Mixed Thai-Western Marriages

Published: 7th May 2007Author: Know Phuket

Here in Phuket, there are now a great number of mixed Thai-Western marriages. It really is turning into quite a phenomenon. Around Phuket's schools and playgrounds it is common to see mixed-race children happily mingling with the 100% Thai kids. They are often easy to spot with fairer skin, western features and non-black hair. A whole generation of culturally diverse, multi-lingual children is growing up and will soon be quite an asset to Phuket's tourist industry.

Why has the number of mixed marriages in Phuket exploded over the last decade? Of course, the major reason is the expansion of Phuket's tourist trade. When you have more than a million western visitors a year it is natural that some of them will meet and fall in love with locals. Especially when the locals are so appealing.

But there must be more to it than that. The tourist resorts around the Mediterranean, Caribbean and US also receive millions of foreign visitors a year. There are mixed-nationality marriages at these resorts but not thousands in the way there are in Phuket.

One thing stands out when you look at Phuket's expat population - the vast majority of us are men. Probably around 90% of the local expat population is male. That is not the case when you look at the breakdown of tourist visitors where the split is only 60-40 in favour of males.

So while there are many women visiting Thailand, only a small percentage of them decide to settle here. It is probably a similar percentage to those that settle at other holiday resorts. But the men - they are marrying Thai women and settling down here in great numbers. A much higher percentage than would be typical elsewhere. There seems to be an obvious conclusion to draw. There are a lot of men coming to Phuket to actively seek wives. They are not just falling in love while on holiday - they are coming with the pre-planned intent of finding a doe-eyed Thai beauty to be their spouse.

Many men seem to be dissatisfied with their experiences of women in their home country. Society has changed rapidly in the west over the last few decades. Women are more confident and assertive. They can be intimidating to approach and fast with a withering put-down. They are much more demanding in their relationships and expect a lot of concessions from their partners. Many men do not like it. They still want the fifties ideal of a feminine, doting wife.

So they come to Thailand in search of the answer to their problem. Here, they believe they can still find women who will be beautiful, feminine and attentive to their husband's needs.

It is dangerous to generalise too much about the men who marry Thai girls and settle in Phuket. They all have their own story. Just the same, there are common patterns. You can broadly group these men into three groups:

Group 1. There are those that come to Phuket for 'normal' reasons such as work or a break from work. It is natural that some of these people will meet and fall in love with locals. It happens all over the world. There is no doubt that Thai women are very charming so perhaps it will be more common here than elsewhere.

Group 2. Then there are those who fall in love with their bargirl. These girls are good at selling themselves, it is their job. It is not usually the hardened sex-tourists that fall. They tend to pick up a new girl every night with no emotional attachment. It is the new guys. The ones who come to Phuket for the first time, not quite knowing what to expect. They probably have an idea that they are going to pick up a prostitute but they don't know how it works. They end up doing the GFE (girl friend experience). That is picking up a bar girl and then keeping her for the entire length of the holiday. They act as if they are boyfriend-girlfriend. The girl gets plenty of time to weave her magic. She tugs the guy's heartstrings with her life story until he is brimming with sympathy. She gives him lots of affection and by the end of his holiday, he is in love.

Group 3. Then there are those who come with the pre-planned intent of finding a wife. They have thought about it and come to the reasoned conclusion that a Thai wife would make their life better. Some of these guys will look for their new wife around the sex venues of Patong. Others want to stay away from the sex industry girls. They may try dating agencies or internet matching services. Some of them will try to meet 'good' Thai women away from the tourist resorts. Their approaches may vary but the conclusion is the same - they think a life in Phuket with a Thai wife would be better than their current life back home.


Whatever the reasons, the mixed Thai-Western marriage is now an established part of Phuket's scenery. Not all of these Western men find their dream wife. Many of these marriages have problems but that is true of marriages the world over. There are specific problems related to marriages between people from different cultures. Still a lot of western men are very happy with their choice.


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