When spending time in Thailand, or any other place in the world, you’re bound to get romantically involved with a local at some point. Regardless of the scorn you might see on a few faces passing you by, it’s only human nature to want to fraternize with beautiful women who are different than you in so many ways.

Besides scornful faces are typically worn by people who just made a complete judgment call on you and the woman you’re with based on your relative ethnicity alone—who cares what people like that think?

But I do encourage you to avoid the drama that comes the atypical relationship between a Thai woman and a farang man—as many Western men make extremely poor choices in this department.

The best advice I can give is get out of the lady bars and meet women more well-matched to you. Here are some tips on meeting women who are more likely to have a relationship without ulterior motives.

1. Shopping Malls

Shopping malls, especially the high end ones, are a great place to meet well-educated women with their own money. At the very least, you can often tell a bar girl from a middle class Thai just by the way they dress and carry themselves in public (a bit more challenging if she is a high-end freelancer).

Don’t be too forward in a place like this as Thais are quite conservative in public; try starting a conversation about something situational, like what she’s eating or the model of her cell phone to find out if she knows English, and if she does, just try to get to know her a little.

There are also many beautiful, ambitious women working in the department stores who speak excellent English. Some come from poor backgrounds but rather than work the bars are striving towards a future.

2. University Coffee Shops

University coffee shops offer another place to meet well-educated women who have their own money, and indeed a great place to meet well-educated Thais of either sex. Tehse mellow cafes where people take a break from their busy day offer a relaxing atmosphere for working on your laptop or enjoying a fine cup of joe with gentle music playing in the background; you are sure to meet people eventually if you spend your time there.

3. Bars and Restaurants

There are plenty of upscale bars and restaurants in any Thai city for the growing middle class, and these types of places can keep life interesting without the chaos of the girly bars. Think fine dining (at still very reasonable prices), trendy décor, and a Thai band playing soft music in both English and Thai.

I strongly finding these places rather than spending all your time in tourist centers, and while you’ll feel a bit alien at first, most groups are rather welcoming if you take the time to start a conversation—often, big groups will send someone to approach you first (knowing some Thai will help a lot here).

Not only do beautiful women dine at these places but work there as well—employees will most often be English-speaking university student, though many will be to shy to put their language skills to use. Whether or not you’re looking for a date, you will certainly find the farang/Thai dynamic is a lot different in places like this.

4. The Community

Westerners who settle here for the long-term usually add little more to the community than their presence—an unfortunate truth that only adds to a tension lurking below the surface of expat relations with locals. But there are many different ways you can bring yourself a little more “down to Earth,” which not only instills you with different priorities for your life abroad but opens up a lot more dating opportunities.

Consider volunteering, join a multi-cultural club, take Thais up on party invitations, start a business (outside the bar industry), or take some courses. As you get to know more conservative Thais and they see you are a decent guy, they’ll often be anxious to set you up on a date with a nice girl.

5. Meet an Exotic Foreigner

Finally, you might just accept that you will always be a foreigner in the Land of Smiles. So, how about dating another foreigner? There are plenty of people living here and just passing through who share your values, many of them fascinating people who have been all over the world.

Not to mention the expectations of a Thai woman, especially a stand-up girl, can quickly overwhelm a man from the Western side of the world.

There is much to be said about a woman with her own money and ambition in a country like Thailand—not to spread disdain for women born in less fortunate situations, but it just makes more sense for a sensible Western man looking out for his own interests. Some bar girls have their own money and ambition, to be sure, but with her lifestyle comes a host of problems.

The decision is of course yours, and your lifestyle choices are your business, but you can’t say you haven’t been warned.