Plastic Surgery in Asia | Quirky Travel Story

Sex change surgery in Thailand.

On a hot and humid afternoon in the cultural hub of Chiang Mai, Thailand, I sought refuge in a shady local cafe specializing in fruit shakes.  As beads of sweat poured down my face, I focussed my attention on a Thai-English newspaper laying adjacent to my table.  As I furiously flipped through the pages while killing time for Mango shake to be made, I suddenly noticed an advertisement for plastic surgery.  It was no surprise to see such an advertisement, as I had known for quite some time Thailand and South Korea are premier destinations for people who undergo plastic surgery treatment abroad.

However, I couldn’t help but chuckle over the fact that ‘sex change’ was listed prominently at the top position.  Other options included less drastic forms of bodily manipulation, such as eyelid surgery, browlift, facelift, liposuction, tummy tuck and the ‘ever popular’ breast enlargement surgery.  I also was fascinated by scale of prices for each treatment option. Transforming from Dick to Jane or vice-versa was less than double the cost of a facelift and less than two and a half times cheaper than liposuction as one could literally have his/her Wee Willy Wonka wacked off completely or attached for quite a reasonable price according to this post.

My mango shake finally arrived at my table and I sipped slowly through the straw savouring it as much as I possibly could.  As time passed, I reviewed photos I had taken for the day on the my dSLR camera deleting most of my shots; however, my mind kept racing back to the quirky advertisement.

Having lived overseas for several years in South Korea, I had become accustomed to hearing stories about others having major or minor surgery done on his/her face or body.

When I taught in Bundang, one of the wealthiest area just outside of Seoul, I heard my privileged Korean adult students talk about the plastic surgery they had done on their face with the same ease one would mention the current weather.  In fact, it is common to find Korean celebrities before and after photos on the internet visibly depicting all of the facial reconstruction they’ve had done over the years.  At times it was staggering as the before and after photo did not at all resemble the same person.

As my mango shake slowly dwindled to nothing but orange stains on the side of the cup, I packed up my camera gear and paid for my most refreshing shake.  Feeling energized, I sauntered back out in the heat and humidity still in awe over the fact one could change sexes for roughly the same cost of a return ticket to Bangkok from anywhere in America.


  • Uptourist says:

    Too many people are no longer happy with their bodies that they resort to plastic surgery. The sad thing is that some people commit suicide if they cannot keep up. It is quite sad indeed.

  • Sarah says:

    I think if you have the money and considering any cosmetic surgery then go for it! If you are aware of the potential risks and complications and you are not put off make an appointment with a surgeon. I recently had a brow lift and I am loving the new me, I feel that I look younger!

  • Elle of Solo Female Nomad says:

    I love how they list it in a Menu format. ” I will have a special fried rice with a brow lift on the side please” Interesting and entertaining post!

  • $1600 for a sex change – that’s so cheap you could give it a try and if you don’t like it pay to go back!

  • Turtle says:

    Can’t wait for the updated post when you try one of these, Samuel! 🙂

  • All those gorgeous lady boys in Chiang Mai probably went through some of the ops in your photo. Great article btw. Loved that you shared your stories about Korean students getting plastic surgery like it is going to the hairdressers. 🙂

  • Wow! I didn’t know it could be so cheap to get liposuction…. GIVE ME ALL THE CARBS!!!

  • Erin says:

    So you know people who have had major surgery there? I’m about to start exploring options in Costa Rica… I don’t need any sex changes or plastic surgery, but I am looking at LASIK eye surgery, some dental work…
    Lipo is really popular here. I know a girl who had it done and then like 2 months later she was fat again. oops.

  • Laurence says:

    Wow. Beats the ads in my local paper anyway 😉

  • Angela says:

    Oooo-kay! Good to see that compared to half Asian population I must look FULL of imperfections 😛

  • Britany says:

    Cheap surgery AND you get to relax and recover in Thailand afterwards… not bad! (ya know, if you’re in the market for that kind of thing.)

  • The bottom line – it’s easier to remove and add parts altogether than make the existing ones you already have look better! 🙂

  • I used to work for a company here in the Philippines that offers surgeries and procedures mentioned in that advertisement except for the sex change part lol. Here in the Philippines, liposuction is the most in-demand procedure that one doctor can do four surgeries a day. It is good as far as medical tourism is concerned. I know that Thailand is quite popular in doing such procedures in a cheaper rate compared to other countries. In Korea’s case, I think media hype on hot celebrities has something to contribute on why some of them wants to undergo a procedure from time to time.

  • Jarmo says:

    Yeah, I remember seeing those price lists quite often when I was staying in Chiang Mai, which seems especially popular location for people to stay for some nip n tuck. I suppose if you are getting some surgery done, you probably don’t want to hit the beach immediately 😉

    @Anette: why did you have to do that?? now I had to google it also, I wish I hadn’t!

  • Having seen Fight Club, I sometimes wonder where the fat really ends up. Maybe in mango drinks? (Couldn’t resist)

    And now I know what an orchiectomy is…

  • The prices are unbelievably low. Mmmmmhhh

  • DebbZ says:

    I also heard that plastic surgery in Korea is as common as people going to dentist. They even do plastic surgery during lunch break then back to work after. And it’s very normal that plastic surgery is given as a gift from parent to their kids as a graduation gift . Wow !

  • T-roy says:

    I have no doubt that this article SEO wise will get you some good traffic but yeah it made me laugh at the price list (esp to compare the cost for each thing)! Asia, where the women look like a man and the men can be one to! lol

  • Maria says:

    Lasik eye surgery to correct vision impairment is about 1/2 the cost in Vietnam. Check out Runaway Brit’s blog for her tale of having it done there.

  • Crystal says:

    Being born without the double eyelid feature has been most commonly associated with men and women of the Asian culture. Having a single lid means there is an absence of a crease on the upper lid.

  • Thailand has actually become one of the premier locations for trans people interested in sex reassignment surgery. It is very expensive in the U.S. (and elsewhere), so a lot of trans people in the Western world opt to have it done in Thailand. Not only is it cheaper, but because it’s more common the doctors have greater experience and the latest technologies.

  • LOL! I had to Google orchiectomy. Now at least I know what that I’ll never need that surgery 😉

  • Vanessa says:

    I’m thinking it’s more of a supply/demand thing. Tourists would generally be more interested in facelifts/nose jobs so the doctors can get away with charging prices that are lower than the US but still more expensive than would be charged normally if plastic surgery tourist didn’t exist. Sex changes, I would think, would be performed more likely to be performed on the locals who couldn’t necessarily afford the surgery if the price was inflated as much as the more routine procedures.

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