Welcome to the bustling Patong night life!
Patong, once known as the red light district of Phuket, has undergone a period of transformation in recent years. The area’s once notorious nightlife has been tamed somewhat to make it friendlier to women, couples and families and Patong now has something for everyone. That’s not to say that you can’t find some wild action anymore – you certainly can – but it does mean that a much wider variety of entertainment options exist to make your nights in Phuket as much fun as your days.
Patong Discos and Dance Clubs
Patong plays host to several nightclubs and discos where those so inclined can let their hair down and get their boogie on. While not featuring top DJs (indeed, most clubs play the exact same music every night, sometimes more than once a night) they do have heaving dance floors and a lot of energy. Most discos in Patong charge a 100 baht admission fee but rather than being a cover charge, this is actually a drink minimum since you get a voucher and most clubs charge 100 baht for almost all drinks.
Tiger Disco is located on Soi Tiger, off of Bangla Road. This place is happening almost every night of the week and is often full of ‘freelance’ bar girls. Tai Pan is located at the intersection of Bangla and Rat-U-Thit road and has long been a favourite Patong hot spot. Although the laws now force it to close at 02:00 instead of sunset it still gets pumpin’ every night.
Next to Tai Pan you’ll find Baya Beach, a more mellow place with a tropical theme. On the beach road look for Banana Disco, popular with young people for its two level dance floor and hip lighting. Safari Club is located on the hill that overlooks Patong from the south. This is the main late night venue and has an indoor and an outdoor club, both open until dawn.
Go-Go Bars in Patong Beach
This is the reason why many people come to Patong in the first place – sexy young girls barely wearing bikinis swaying seductively to the music. Go-Go bars aren’t the raunchy circuses they used to be but they still provide plenty to look at. According to the law, there is no actual nudity anymore but these rules are often ignored.
Drink prices tend to be higher in Go-Go bars but this is offset by the fact that many of the girls in them are free to come and go as they please, with no bar fine involved. Soi Seadragon has the most go-go bars in Patong, with Playschool, Showgirls. Above Club Rio, which has (some say) the sexiest dancers around. Dragon Club is also popular, but some think the music is a little on the loud side.
Phuket Beer Bars
The quintessential Patong entertainment, a beer bar is one of the countless little places that are jam-packed together on the bar streets and sois of Patong. These places employ numerous pretty hostesses whose job is to make bar owners revenue. The most common phrase heard is repeated over and over again; “Hello, welcome” said to anyone who walks by.
Once you’re in the bar, expect to be surrounded by these girls who will lavish attention on you like you’re Hugh Heffner and entice you to play a game of connect four or hammer-the-nail-into-the-block-of-wood.
Be wary if a girl wants to bet on one of these games; they have little else to do during the day time and spend lots of time practicing. The day you beat a bar girl at connect four you’ve been in Patong way too long. The games are just a diversion, however as the real entertainment is the girls themselves. For a modest fee you can relieve her of her bar duties for an evening on the town.
If you’d like to spend a little more time with her that can usually be arranged as well; for that you and your new friend will have to come to your own arrangement. Beer bars are ubiquitous in Patong and there’s no shortage, just head to one of the many sois off of Bangla and you’ll be hip deep in them. A few of the better ones are The Point, Sharky Bar and Black Cat.
Sports Bars in Phuket generally divide into two concepts: Those with large TV screens and pool tables along with a darts board and those with just large TV screens. You will be informed ahead of time about sporting events by announcements – generally outside the bar. If the match you were hoping to see is not on in one, just keep on looking and you’ll find it.
If you’re all about the music then you have plenty of options in Patong. There are quite a few places where the most important thing going is the tunes. For die hard rockers there’s Rock City on Rat-U-Thit road, which features AC/DC and Metallica tribute bands. It may not really be Angus Young or James Hetfield, but it’s a good substitute.
Molly Malone’s features Celtic music nightly, Banana Club (below the disco) also features live bands, as does Margaritas, at the Rat-U-Thit/Bangla intersection.
Upscale Bars/Cocktail Lounges
Its not all girlie bars and go-gos in Patong. There are some more refined places with style and class where you can sip something sexy in trendy surroundings. Club Rio is a cool place to check out some latin jazz and dig the scene on Bangla Road.
The Patong Bay Garden Resort has a lovely and quiet cocktail lounge, located right on the beach, while Joe’s Downstairs also features a hip piano bar overlooking the rocky headland at the beach’s north end. La Baia has lots of comfortable seating and a sophisticated vibe and The Sofa is filled with plush sofas and armchairs in which to recline and enjoy a martini.
Cabarets & Transvestite Show
Once upon a time if you wanted to see boys who pretend to be girls (so well that it’s hard to tell they’re boys – if they still are) then you had one choice: Simon Cabaret. Combining glamour, song, dance, comedy and elaborate staging, this was a one of a kind experience; the sort of thing you could only see in Phuket.
Although Simon Cabaret is the first (and some say still the best), a number of other ladyboy cabarets have sprung up in recent years, such as Sphinx, My Way Cabaret and Moulin Rose. The shows, costumes and performers get more and more extravagant every year as each theatre raises the bar and dares the others to match them, but one thing remains the same: it’s the kind of thing you can only see in Thailand.
The beer bars account for a majority of the hangouts along Bangla Road nightlife hub, and its numerous side streets (like Soi Eric and Cocodrile). The hostesses always say “Hello, handsome!”
Because no drinking scene would be complete without construction tools, beer bars like to keep hammers, nails, and large chunks of wood on hand. The game: competitors see who can be the first to drive a nail into the tree trunk. Not only is it a good lesson in the inverse relationship between alcohol consumption and coordination, but it’s also the ideal place to make bad puns (getting hammered, getting nailed, insert your own here).
There are plenty of pool tables in Patong for those that like more traditional games.
Most beer bars hang a bell within easy reach of patrons. Grasp the rope, give it a good ring, and bask in your newfound popularity: you just bought a round of drinks. The details of who benefits from your generosity varies from bar to bar – in some you buy only for the girls, in some you buy for all the staff.
While not as prevalent as many people expect, Patong does have its fair share of go-go bars (try Soi Sea Dragon). Fun loving people, whether guys or girls, singles or couples, gay, straight, or ambiguous, flock here to play in the moonlight. It’s an all night party with something for every taste. Scantily clad girls (or guys, if that’s your thing) stand on stage, six or eight at a time, bending their knees to the music and wondering what television shows they’re missing. (Actual experience may vary – some places are quite lively.) When the girls aren’t dancing, they’ll let you buy them drinks in exchange for conversation, sometimes more. With names like Crazy Girls A-Go-Go, Bottoms Up Club, Coyote Bar, and Playschool A-Go-Go – well, you can imagine.
Bangla Road Hot Spots
The heart of Patong nightlife is surely Bangla Road, or more properly, the arcades of bars known as ‘Bar Sois’. Each one has its own unique character and style, from clean and organized Soi Eric to loud and bright Soi Tiger.
The intersection of Rat-U-Thit and Bangla is a happening spot, with nightclubs like Tai Pan (FBI), VIP and Baya Beach attracting large crowds. There are quite a few interesting spots popping up on Rat-U-Thit, as well as long time favourites. 2 Black Sheep is a popular place for locals to go and watch the game, have some grub or just enjoy a beer without all the hassle and hubbub of Bangla Road.
The biggest attraction of Rat-U-Thit Road is the Paradise Complex. Thailand is very tolerant of different lifestyles (just take a look at the blatant transvestites if you doubt that) and the Paradise Complex was purpose-built to be a gay playground.
In Bangla most bars don’t open before nine o’clock in the evening. The official closing time is 1 am for bars/pubs and 2 am. for discos. In recent years the authorities have cracked down on places operating later, but it’s still possible to find places open until 5-6 am. Just ask around at the bars to find the late night venues. Just remember that these places are circumventing the law, so there is a small chance that they will be raided by police, with patrons facing ID checks and urine tests for drugs.
Bar Girls in Patong
Girlie bars in Patong (mostly bar beers are girlie bars) have up to 10 “bar hostesses” willing to go with tourists for money. Many girls are looking for a boyfriend, some for a short time, others longer term – mainly as a financial asset. If you get on well, she may well accompany you on trips around Thailand, providing fun company and a local insight among the general services, but you will have to negotiate a rate first. You will also have to pay a “bar fine” each time “for a date” After that, it’s up to you!
Bar fine – This is the fee to cover a bar’s ‘loss’ when taking a girl out of the place for a ‘date’ and can vary with each establishment. Usually 200 -500 Baht for the evening. If you’re planning to spend a few days or longer with the lady, you’ll need to negotiate the fine with the bar. This does not cover her fees which would be discussed directly.
Bar Girls in Patong – Some Tips
It’s generally good advice to stay with a girl for only one night. This avoids the situation where after two nights, she considers you her boyfriend. This can produce jealous if you look, or are tempted by other girls – even if you are paying!
If you decide to take her on trips etc., be prepared to pay for meals, tickets and extras. A gift will be expected, usually anything gold bracelet, necklace, etc.,
You can be sure you’ll be asked for your Email address, so she can keep in touch with you, in case her family needs money. She will keep in touch with you, but be aware she may get help from friends or other visitors to write back, so don’t write anything you don’t want others to read. Sooner or later you may receive an e-mail requesting financial help because her mother is sick, or the family buffalo has died. The same Email will reach several boyfriends – not just you. And that’s the start…
The above is general advice based on general experience, not every working girl is the same. You can have lots of fun and a great time!
Getting Around at Night
At night Soi Bangla turns into a pedestrianised walking street with Tuk Tuks and motorcycle taxis at both ends to provide a ride home. Prices are negotiable and tend to increase with the number of passengers, the distance and the lateness of the hour. Many Tuk Tuks charge excessive and inflated rates so it’s best to check with other visitors and locals first. ALWAYS agree the price before you get in as it’s difficult to negotiate after the journey.
Both motorcycle taxis and Tuk Tuks can be flagged down anywhere along any of the streets. Head for Banana Disco on the Beach Rd (Thaveewong Rd) where most of the Tuk Tuks and motorcycle taxis stay. Or at the other end of Bangla (near Tai Pan.)
Dangers & Annoyances
The streets of Patong are quite safe at night. In fact, safer than in many cities in western countries. Incidences of violence against tourists are very rare, but there have been cases of pickpocketing.
Ussually it have been made by friendly Katoeys (ladyboys) that are famous for lifting wallets and having sudden bursts of nasty behaviour, so be extra careful around these ‘ladies’. Just use your common sense and make sure your belongings are secure. If you take photos of the Katoeys, be prepared to pay or they can get angry.
The most common complaints from tourists visiting Patong is caused by aggressive behavior of some people trying to sell of offer something; from Indian restaurants to timeshare presentations, from tailor shops to Tuk-Tuk tours. Ignoring these characters usually does the trick. Women are generally safe to go out at night, though care should be taken when travelling alone in Tuk Tuks and motorcycles.
Tourist Police Station: there’s a Police Information Centre on the Beach just where starts Bangla Road.
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