PHUKET ISLAND GUIDE

Phuket Island (pronounced puu gèt) (ภูเก็ต) , is Thailand‘s largest at 48km in length and 21km at its widest. It’s in Southern Thailand, on the west-facing Andaman Sea coastline, suspended from the southern tip of Phang Nga Province by a pair of short but substantial road bridges. Aside from visiting the fantastic attractions of Thailand’s biggest island, you can take an exhilarating speedboat trip to the many nearby tropical paradises, including the famous Phi Phi Islands, or enjoy a serene cruise around the mystical Phang Nga Bay. Phuket is blessed with more than 30 amazing beaches to choose from. Patong Beach, Kata, Karon and Kamala have always been the most popular, but the north of the island reveals some hidden gems for travellers searching for a more romantic atmosphere. 

Western Phuket (Bang Thao, Kamala, Karon, Kata, Laem Sing, Mai Khao, Nai Thon and Nai Yang, Patong, Surin)

This region is what Phuket is known for the world over. There is a wide variety of beaches, some calm, some totally ruined by millions of visitors each year. Patong is one of the party capitals of Asia.

Southeastern Phuket (Chalong Bay, Cape Panwa, Nai Han, Rawai, Ya Nui)

Slightly off-beat beaches that are worth the trip. Chalong Bay is the largest town that acts as a harbour for outgoing boats to Phi Phi island and others south islands.

Interior Phuket (Bang Rong, Ko Sire, Phuket Town, Phra Taew National Park, Thalang)

Besides Phuket Town, the interior of Phuket is pretty much unvisited by foreign visitors. This fertile hilly expanse consists of mangrove forests, fishing villages, rubber and pineapple plantations, small Muslim communities and shrimp farms. The Phra Taew National Park is a nice escape from the tourist crowds, as is the Gibbon Project.

Small islands southern-eastern Phuket and Phang Nga Bay (Ko Bon, Ko Hae, Ko Lon, Ko Mai Thon, Ko Racha, Ko Maphrao, Ko Naka, Ko Yao, Ko Panyi, Ko Tapu (James Bond Island))

Famous for its beautiful beaches, clear water, coral forests, pearl farm, limestone cliffs, caves, mangroves, fishing villages and national park.

PATONG BEACHPatong is the most famous beach resort on Phuket. With its wide variety of activities and nightlife, Patong is an ideal place to party and play. By night the town has a bustling nightlife which includes literally hundreds of restaurants, beer bars, Go Go Bars and of course night clubs. The nightlife is centred around Soi Bangla (Bangla Road) however there are quiet parts of town. Visitors hoping for a glimpse into the exotic East might not find it here, though the steaming hot streets, neon lights and chaotic atmosphere of Patong can be overwhelming for the new arrival. The key to full enjoyment of the place is to pace yourself, drink lots of water and learn the meaning of ‘mai pen rai’ – which translates roughly to ‘It doesn’t matter’ or ‘Don’t worry, be happy’.


Patong is the largest beach resort on the island of Phuket. Patong is a party capital of Asia, with a world famous night life and a great beach. Mostly made up of hotels, world class restaurants, nightclubs and various tourist attractions, this is a hedonists’ heaven of night life, with numerous entertainment complexes and countless bars clustered together in and around Bangla Road and the beach road. The town has a very obvious female, transgender and male sex industry to cater to every taste, however to only view it as this is a mistake, it offers so much more, for families and couples too.


Massage parlours of the erotic as well the therapeutic (Nuad Thai) genre provide less alcohol/drug infested venues for punters and wellness seekers. One can even find masseuses practising this medical art atop bamboo mats on the beach sands (100 baht and up).


Prices are higher than in Phuket Town, but there’s more budget accommodation here than at the more southerly beaches. In Dec/Jan is high season so prices are at least double for hotels.You will be lucky to get anything decent (aircon) under B1000 at this time. This may not be a good destination for the average backpacker, except in the rainy season when prices are far lower. However this is not Patong’s stated market, it is fairly and squarely aimed at holidaymakers and does it rather well.

Rooming houses (‘mansions’) a few blocks inland provide nice, clean air-con rooms and suites as cheaply as 300 baht/day (less without air-con), or 3,000-10,000 baht/month. However Patong has every type of accommodation imaginable, from home stays to 5 star palaces.

The best time for visiting Patong beach may be during the winter, from November until March. The weather is cool and comfortable. The average temperature is around 24°C to 32°C. On the other hand, the hottest time is from April to May and the average temperature is around 27°C to 36°C. The weather is hot with heavy rain.


Phuket International Airport is 35km to the north of Patong. “Limousine” taxis from the airport to Patong are a steep 800 baht (45min); meter-taxis 700+ baht (from the meter-taxi stand at the airport: ignore the touts and turn right as you exit the terminal); shared minibuses limit the damage to 180 baht (and on the way the driver stops to “get information about your destination” at a shop, where you will be sold tickets for activities. It’s a scam. Don’t buy.) All the drivers at the airport seem to be working in collusion making negotiating a cheaper price impossible.

An even cheaper (however, also more time consuming) option is to take the comfortable air conditioned airport shuttle bus to Phuket Town (85 baht, 1h), and switch there to a local bus to Patong. Alternatively, if you know the right road, you can get off the bus after you pass the Big C shopping centre on the right (the airport bus goes to the left there, and the road to Kathu and then Patong is to the right from the same intersection), and try to catch a local bus to Patong there, which also passes that intersection. Local buses to Patong are clearly marked in English and in Thai. Recently Airport bus to Patong town has also started service with fare of 130 Bhats. Bus leave from Airport Bus Terminal every hour.

If you are preparing for your first time in Patong, it can be tough to decide where to start in this bustling beach town. This page is meant to make your decisions easier as you can see, at a glance, all of the finest things to see and do when you first step foot in Patong. This 2.5 km beach destination is famed for its vibrant shopping and nightlife as much as its soft-sanded cove, which is popular throughout the year. Nowhere else in Phuket has so many attractions or restaurants. Although exploring for yourself is part of the fun of visiting a new place, sometimes you want a few recommendations to help you get started.


The star attraction of Patong is, undoubtedly, the beach. The lovely sandy shore is easily accessed and is home to a great selection of activities and a number of sun loungers and beach umbrellas. It’s a busy and popular place, but there are smaller, quieter beaches to either side of it where you can find a bit more peace. There are loads of other attractions to enjoy in the area, making Patong a fun and exciting place to stay.


There’s a great variety of shopping in Patong, from bustling fresh markets and interesting night markets to Phuket’s largest shopping mall – Jungceylon. You can find a range of prices for souvenirs, fashion, electronics and much more, mostly right in the middle of town. Being a popular tourist destination, the prices in Patong are a little higher than you might find in Phuket Town or other areas, but with some skillful haggling some bargains can be found.


Patong is one of the top destinations in all of Thailand for nightlife, with only Pattaya and Bangkok having more to offer. Bangla Road is the beating heart of that nightlife, with quite a wide range of choices available along the 600-metre soi and its off-shoots. This includes first-class nightclubs, live music, go-gos and beer bars. Simon Cabaret – the best of the big shows on Phuket – is also found on the outskirts of Patong.


As with everything else in Patong, there is no shortage of choice when it comes to dining. The main concentration is in Jungceylon, though there is also a lot of choice along Beach Road, ranging from fast food to budget beachfront dining and food courts. Among the finest choices are found on the road heading out of Patong towards Kamala, where you will find amazing (and surprisingly affordable) dishes in beautiful restaurants on the rocks overlooking the sea.Hotel rating provided by TrustYou™ 

NIGHTLIFE

The Patong nightlife scene is the cherry on the cake for people looking for a good time in a tropical beachside environment. Originally, Patong was a small fishing village nestled in a splendid bay in the central area of Phuket Island’s west coast but the tourism development that Phuket has been through in the past 30 years has brought Patong to centre stage and transformed it into a bustling town filled with restaurants, shops, and nightlife entertainment venues. Of course, the genuine and natural beauty of the bay is still one of the main appealing points of Patong, but its nightlife scene is also the reason why many come to Patong.


BANGLA ROAD


Bangla Road really comes to life once the sun sets. The road is closed to vehicle traffic and becomes a 400 metre festival of neon lights, loud music and cheap beer. Jammed most nights of the year, it is quite a friendly and lively place to walk around as bars and clubs compete with each other for customers. If you’re looking for a fun night out in Phuket, Bangla Road should be your first (and, often, only) stop. Almost all of the bars are outdoors or open-fronted, so the music from each one blends into a mess of mixed beats. Beer bars occupy most of the street’s length, with several go-go bars and a few pubs, restaurants, discos and shops rounding out the attractions, both on Soi Bangla and down its side streets. Street performances are also common most nights, which can make dodging around the tailor shop salesmen, leaflet distributors, street vendors and ping pong show touts more difficult, but it is all part of the fun.

The main road itself can be roughly divided into three sections, each with its own particular atmosphere: 

  • The end of Soi Bangla which is furthest from the beach and closest to Rat-U-Thit Road and Jungceylon Shopping Centre is home to most of the biggest and best nightclubs in Phuket, including the Seduction Complex, Tiger Disco and Illuzion. At the entrance to the street, you’ll find great live music at Red Hot and dozens of tightly-packed beer bars in the old and new Tiger bar complexes, which are right across the road from each other, and usually have street performers doing their thing nearby. 
  • Head further west, towards the large LED screen at roughly the half-way point down Bangla Road, and you will find the mid-range part of the street. There are many more touts here and they are often more direct, sometimes blocking your path to accost you and try to convince you to enter their establishment or buy their wares. You will find most of the go-go bars along Bangla Road here (and many more in Soi Seadragon, which splits off the northern side of the road, opposite Soi Patong Resort). You will also find Bangla Mall  home to a spa and a laser tag game as well as probably the best live music bars in the street, including the extremely popular Monsoon and New York Live Music. 
  •  The beach end of Bangla Road – starting from Soi Freedom – is the most easy-going part. The southern side of the road is lined almost exclusively with beer bars, including Moon Bar, Sunset Bar, Kangaroo Bar and Shipwreck Bar. Most have their own unique atmosphere and style, but they are mostly very friendly. Across the road are some of Bangla Road’s most notable establishments, including the huge Aussie Bar at the head of Soi Gonzo and Hollywood Disco at the top of Soi Hollywood. You will also find ladyboy cabaret dancers posing for photos around here, directing people towards the nearby Moulin Rose cabaret show. The beach end of the street is taken entirely by shops, selling suits, souvenirs and fast food. It is also common to find street performances here.

Soi Seadragon 

Soi Seadragon is go-go central – virtually every entrance along both sides of its 100-metre length is such a place, with a line of beer bars right down the middle of the covered street. There is a back entrance, which leads to the KEE Resort and convenient underground parking (for a small fee), but it means running a gauntlet of determined touts to reach Bangla Road. Notable venues here include the famous Suzy Wong’s right at the KEE Resort end and Exotica close to Bangla Road, with the Two Brothers, Crow’s Nest and Mickey Mouse beer bars in between.


Soi Tiger 

Soi Tiger is located opposite Seduction Night Club and the outrageous edifice that is the new Tiger Disco and is home to perhaps two dozen beer bars. This is the old Tiger Disco site – from before it moved to its new signature venue – and it still carries the name and signage (though it is sometimes called “Soi Tiger 1” while the iconic disco building is “Soi Tiger 2”). One of the few bar complexes that is completely roofed, Tiger gets pretty steamy and crowded, but is the best refuge from a sudden downpour. The lines that divide one bar from another are pretty vague here and it sometimes feels like one huge party. Located right on Bangla Road, Crazy Horse is always popular, as is Sin City Bar.


Soi Freedom (formerly Soi Eric) 

A very narrow, beer bar-lined soi, it has – like several of Bangla Road’s side streets – undergone a name change in recent years and may still be known by its old moniker: Soi Eric. Each of the bars follows effectively the same design: plasma TV showing a football match, neon sign with bar’s name, Connect 4 games on the bar and friendly staff to play against. Notable bars include the well-established Smiley and the eponymous Freedom Bar.

Soi Gonzo 

The star attractions of Soi Gonzo are the long-running and extremely popular Aussie Bar complex at its entrance and White Room Nightclub at the end. In between, you will find a modest selection of small beer bars.

Soi Hollywood 

Formerly named Soi Easy, it was renamed following the reopening of Hollywood Discotheque directly over it. Soi Hollywood contains a couple of very cheap beer bars and a lot of pool tables. Right down at the far end is the entrance to The Secret Ago-go, as well as public toilets.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *