It is a complicated issue so we only try to describe it to give you an understanding of what is going on.(See our nightlife page for information about Phuket's non-naughty nightlife). For others it is all part of the colour and vibrancy of the nightlife scene, while for some it is the main reason for coming to Phuket.There are many influential business figures involved and of course, many poor girls reliant on the money they make from the industry.
If you want to reward them for their time, then buy them a drink or give a tip. However, the Thai government was never keen to criminalise a profession that has flourished in the country for centuries and they only did so under political pressure from the UN and US at the time.
The 1960 legislation was replaced in 1996 by a new piece of legislation called "The Prevention and Suppression of Prostitution Act".
They may also use Thailand as a transit point for girls from neighbouring nations such as Laos and Cambodia.
The girls working in Phuket are mostly Thai and mostly working by choice - although certainly through force of circumstance.
This gives the authorities leeway in allowing what is clearly a thriving business to operate while still having the legislation to control it if they think anyone has crossed the lines.
Clearly they are happy with most of what happens at the major tourist destinations as it is so openly on display.
There is no denying that the go-go bars, girly bars and sex shows are a very visible aspect of the nightlife scene in Patong and to a lesser extent Karon and Kata.
In this section we will not attempt to judge the sex industry or the people involved.
The fact is, it is a big money earner for Thailand.