Phuket Tourist Guide
Phuket is Thailand's largest island, approximately the size of Singapore. Phuket is nestled in balmy Andaman sea waters on the Indian Ocean, it is blessed with magnificent coves and bays, powdery and palm-fringed white beaches, sparkling island-dotted seas, sincerely hospitable people, superb accommodations and seafood.
Phuket's great advantage is that there's always something to do on and off the island whether it's raining or shining. From the sublime to the seemingly profane, the range of activities and places to visit is remarkable for a destination of this size.
Phuket - Top 5 Attractions.
Phang Nga Bay
A distinctive feature of Phang Nga Bay are the sheer limestone karsts that jut vertically out of the emerald-green water. James Bond Island and Koh Panyee are just two of the more famous spots in this bay.
Old Phuket Town
Unlike many Thai provincial capitals, Phuket Town fairly shines with personality and nowhere more so than its Old Town. In this historically rich part of town you will find shrines, temples (Buddhist and Chinese), ornate and beautifully preserved 'shophouses', quaint cafés, tiny printing shops, impromptu private and public museums and even a mini ex-red light district.
Soi Bangla Nightlife in Patong Beach
Soi Bangla awakens when the sun sets. Patong's liveliest party zone becomes closed to traffic and gets ready for action! Soi Bangla is famous for its raunchy nightlife, entertainment girls, beers and music that increases in volume as the moon rises.
The place is Jammed most nights year round, it's actually totally unthreatening and lively place to walk around as bars compete for customers. The phuket girls aim to please - dancing around poles, engaging in banter, or coaxing customers to play simple bar games like "Connect" or "Hammer the nail" to break the ice. The objective is to entice customers to buy drinks and hopefully, take them away for the evening.
Almost all of the bars are outdoors so the music from each one is deafening! Beers Bar occupy most of the street's length, with several a-go-gos and a few pubs, restaurants, discos and shops rounding out the attractions both on Bangla and down its side streets.
Phuket Simon Cabaret
It’s a spectacular display of colour, originality and fun. Phuket’s Simon Cabaret has become one of Southeast Asia’s outstanding entertainment attractions drawing a thousand enthused visitors from around the world each evening. A single show runs the entire range of musical theatre from cultures around the world. Extravagant costumes, make-up and sets take the audience from Egypt to Latin America to China and back to Thailand in themed displays of classical dance and song.
Wat Chalong in Phuket
Wats - or Buddhist temples - are among the most important symbols of Thailand, partly because the majority of Thais are Buddhist and partly because they are so beautiful. In Phuket alone, there are 29 Buddhist temples spread around the island.Wat Chalong has been extending a warm welcome to visitors for over a century. Locals come to pray and Westerners come to learn something about Buddhism. The temple is open from seven in the morning to five in the afternoon.
Phuket Big Buddha
Phuket's Big Buddha is one of the island's most important and revered landmarks. The huge image sits on top of the Nakkerd Hills between Chalong and Kata and at 45 metres high it is easily seen from far away.The lofty site offers the best 360-degree views of the island (think sweeping vistas of Phuket Town, Kata, Karon beaches, Chalong Bay and more.) Easily reachable via a six-kilometre road leading from Phuket's main artery, it's a must-visit island destination.
Phuket Nightlife Guide
For many the sun, the beach and partying goes hand in hand. Phuket's reputation as a partying hotspot is well deserved with an international crowd of revelers .A Go-Go Bars, ladyboys cabaret shows, discos and clubs, live bands and international DJs feature highly as our guide will tell...
Night Clubs Soi Bangla and Beach Road
The biggest clubbing names in Patong are Famous, Seduction, The Factory and Beach Road’s Banana. Big-name DJs occasionally drop by such as David Morales, DJ Bert Bevans, Judge Jools and Thailand’s very own Nakadia to rock these places but at the end of the day (literally) many clubs in Patong are glorified pickup joints.
Gay Phuket Patong Beach
The streets leading to Royal Paradise Phuket are almost all taken over by gay bars, restaurants, and massage parlours. Some of the leading gay bars are The Flying Handbag, Boat Bar, Kar and Dempsey’s has an A-Go-Go show. Connect Guesthouse is a good place to check out if you’re seeking information on the gay scene in Phuket.
Famous Beaches in Phuket
This is Phuket’s central tourist and night time entertainment district. Here virtually every kind of entertainment imaginable awaits visitors, with bars catering to every nationality. Live music can be found in many places, and there are also discotheques. Accommodations range from budget to five-star. Shopping opportunities appear to be endless. Whatever one’s culinary disposition, a restaurant catering to it will be found. Patong is thick with everything.
There’s saying locally, “If you can’t find it in Patong, it doesn’t exist in Phuket,” which, it not entirely true, about sum it up.
The second largest of Phuket’s principal tourist beaches. Large resort complexes line the road back of the beach.The sand is very white, and squeaks audibly when walked on. The southern point has a fine coral reef stretching toward Kata and Poo Island. Restaurants, bars, tour companies and other non-hotel businesses are at the north end, near the traffic circle, and at the south, on the little road connecting the back road with the beach road. The narrow road between Kata and Karon has a number of small businesses as well as the Dino Park Mini Golf facility. Karon is the most upscale of Phuket’s beaches.
The smallest of Phuket’s three main tourist beaches, Kata is different in appearance and style from Karon or Patong. The beach itself is broad and curving, and structures bordering it are low-rise. The waters are perfect for swimming, and at the north end is a coral reef with many varied corals and fishes which stretches out toward Koh Poo, about 1/2 km off shore. Facilities, for every price range, include hotels, bungalows, tour companies, restaurants, bars and clubs. Regular bus service to and from Phuket Town during daytime.
Bang Tao is a large open bay with one of Phuket’s longest beaches. It was once used for tin mining, but has since been developed into a luxury resort. Most of it is occupied by the Laguna complex, a massive five-hotel development with golf course. There are, however, accommodations available outside Laguna at the bay’s south end. Dry season swimming is excellent, and at the bay’s north end is a smaller bay, almost completely enclosed, at the mouth of which is some fine coral. Plenty of places to eat, tour companies, and other tourist facilities are available either at Laguna or in the nearby town of Cherng Talay.
Coral Island or Hey Island
This island off Phuket’s south coast is so well known for its coral reef that it is often referred to simply as Coral Island. In addition to the splendid reefs there are two fine beaches on the north and west. Koh Hey is part of a marine preserve, but accommodations, restaurants, various watersports, and diving are all available. Boats leave from Rawai and Chalong. There are also package tours available.
Phuket Shopping Guide
Large department stores are located in Phuket Town it is vicinitees and Patong, and a smaller one is in Thalang Town; they have a broad range of what is available in Thailand, both imported and domestic. Tailors have shops everywhere; labour costs are inexpensive so a handmade suit is an attractive purchase. Tailors supply the cloth, or you can select your own from one of the many cloth merchants in Phuket Town.
Department Stores in Phuket
- Ocean Shopping Mall on Tilok-U-Thit Rd., Phuket Town
- Robinson Ocean on Tilok-U-Thit Rd., Phuket Town
- Phuket Shopping Center on Ratsada Rd., Phuket Town
- Ocean Department Store on Thaweewong Rd., Patong
- Ocean Plaza on Soi Bangla, Patong
- Tesco Lotus Super Center on By Pass Rd.
- Central Festival on By Pass Rd.
- Big C Super Center on By Pass Rd.
- Jungceylon on Rat-U-Thit Song Roy Pee Rd., Patong
Phuket Natural Attractions
Khao Rang :- A great view of Phuket Town, the southern part of the island, and some of the offshore islands, can be observed by going to the top of Khao Rang Hill, on the city’s northwest. There are also a few restaurants featuring spectacular views of the city, a health park for exercise enthusiasts, and a comfortable, expanse of grass for picnickers at the top with a bronze statue of Phraya Ratsada Nupradit, the model Governor of Phuket during King Rama V’s reign.
Phuket Butterfly Farm and Insect World: Tropical species of butterflies, other insects and reptiles are on display. Located in Sam Kong, about 3 kms. from downtown Phuket. It opens daily 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. tel. 66 (0) 7621 5616, 66 (0) 7621 0861.
Sapan Hin : A land reclamation project provided abundant new land now used for parks and public facilities at Sapan Hin, located where Phuket Rd. meets the sea in Phuket Town. In the circle is the Tin Mining Monument, shaped like a large drill bit, dedicated to the memory of Captain Edward Thomas Miles, the Australian who brought the first tin dredge to Phuket in 1909. The monument was built in 1969 on the occasion of 60th anniversary of tin dredging in Phuket. The Sport Center is located in the park.
Sirey Island : Separated from the mainland of Phuket by the Klong Ta Jin, a shallow mangrove swamp, this twenty square kilometers island is connected by a causeway to the city. Wat Koh Sirey, on the hill, has a large Reclining Buddha and provides fine views of the surroundings. Phuket’s largest settlement of Sea Gypsies, or Chao Lay, are on Koh Sirey at Laem Tuk-Kae. Swimming is not good because of the muddy bottom. There are some popular seafood restaurants on the eastern shore.
Chalong Bay: Phuket’s principal boat anchorage and the island’s largest bay. Chalong Bay has a long, flat, shallow, muddy bottom; at ebb-tide, waters recede as much as one kilometer. It is very picturesque but useless for swimming. Most visitors to the islands south of Phuket depart from Chalong pier, and the bay’s restaurants are well known for their seafood. Charters to various places can be arranged from there, and it is the center of the island’s yachting businesses. To get there take Jao Fah Tawan Tok Rd. or Jao Fah Tawan Okk Rd. to Chalong Circle, often called the Ha Yaek, or Five Ways, because it is a fiveway intersection. The pier and a number of restaurants are located on the short road leading to the beach from the circle.
Khao Pra Taew Wildlife Conservation Deve-lopment and Extension Center: 22.28 square kilometers of virgin forest are covered by this park, which a center for study of the environment. Forest vegetation is spectacular: Giant trees supported by huge buttresses are thick with creepers and climbers of every description; it looks like a Tarzan movie set. One species of palm found, the Governor’s Palm or White Back Palm (Palm Lang Khao in Thai) is especially rare. Langurs, barking deer, mousedeer, deer, bear, wild boar, monkeys, gibbons and many species of birds inhabit the forest. Khao Pra Taew serves also as one of Phuket’s most important water sources.
Mangrove Forest: is in Sirinat National Park near Ta Chatchai on Phuket’s northern tip, the mangroves saltwater swamps with unique eco-systems much prized by scientists searching for clues about adaptation and evolution cover about 800 rai.
Phuket Food Guide
Phuket has a number of foods different in character and flavour from those of other areas in Thailand. The international character of the island, however, with so many different restaurants catering to a multitude of tastes, makes it difficult for non-Thais to identify Phuket cuisine. Below is a list of dishes and shops where they can be sampled.
Mee Hokkian yellow egg noodles
- Stir-fried with leafy green vegetables in soy sauce, usually with pork or chicken.
- The best known shops are:
- Mee Ton Poh near the clock tower traffic circle on Phuket Rd. in Phuket Town.
- Mee Sapam on Thep Krasattri Rd. in the village of Sapam.
Mee Ao Geh on Poonpol Rd. in Phuket Town.
- Yellow noodles are also cooked in both “dry” and “wet” versions, and as a prawn soup.
- For these try :
- Somjit near the clock tower traffic circle on Phuket Rd.
- Jirayuwat near the Pearl Cinema on Phang-Nga Rd. in Phuket Town.
Mee Huhn Pah Chahng
- Dry fried noodles eaten with pork bone soup.
- For this try (all in Phuket Town):
- on Thanon Yaowarat.
- near the Tessaban Ban Bang Niao School on Takua Tung Rd.
- on Ranong Rd. near the entrance to Soi Lorong.
Mee Sua Breakfast noodles
- served with the boiled rice dishes Khao Tohm or Johk. This can be ordered at various shops around town, but the best known in Phuket Town is:
Kanohm Jin Phuket :-
Noodles often compared to spaghetti usually served with a spicy curry sauce, the most common made from fish. It is usually eaten as a breakfast food and is, if you can stand its fiery character, delicious. It comes with an array of fresh vegetables and boiled eggs that are mixed with the dish by diners at their table. It is often found with the fried pastry called Pah Tong Go and the curried fish mousse called Hor Mohk, both of which are very tasty. Some of the curries to choose from if you are sensitive to spicy cuisine. There are many shops to choose from everywhere in Phuket but the most famous are in Phuket Town:
- Kwan Kanohm Jin on Tungka Rd.
- Pah Mai on Krabi Rd.
- Pah Ri on Patipat Rd.
Lo Bah Fried sausages
- Served with fried tofu and spicy sweet and sour sauce.
- For this try (in Phuket Town)
- on the way to Sapan Hin
- on Pracha-U-Thit Rd.
- Oh Tao - Oysters fried with flour, eggs, and taro root. The best known place in Phuket Town is:near the Tessaban Ban Bang Niao school
Nam Prik Goong Sohd -
Spicy shrimp paste with fresh shrimp, chili, and lime. Eaten with rice or Kanohm Jin. Nam Prik comes in various forms; it is generally regarded by Thais to be as indispensable as rice.
Nam Prik Goong Siab -
Similar to the above but featuring whole, dried shrimps and eaten with various vegetables as an appetizer. Among the spiciest dishes in Thailand. Most restaurants that prepare food according to order as opposed to little shops serving only a set menu make Nam Prik Goong Siab.
The best known are in Phuket Town:
- Laem Tong Restaurant - on Chana Jaroen Rd.
- Khun Mae Ju - on Thep Krasattri Rd. in the village of Sapam.
- Lai An Lao - on Ratsada Rd.
- N.C. Restaurant on Phang-Nga Rd.
Events in Phuket
Local Festivals and Culture in Phuket
Thao Thep Krasattri-Thao Sri Soontorn Festival is held 13 March yearly in memory of the two heroines who led the defense of the island against the Burmese in 1785.
Turtle Release Fair is held on Songkran, the nationwide Thai water festival, on 13 April. This date is also National Fisherman’s Day. Baby turtles are released into the sea at various locations.
Chao Lay Boat Floating Festival falls during the middle of the sixth and eleventh lunar months yearly. The festal is held at the Chao Lay, or Sea Gypsy, villages in Phuket. The Rawai and Sapam villages hold their ceremonies on the 13th; Sirey village celebrates on the 14th; and the village at Laem La (east of the bridge on Phuket’s northerntip) celebrates on the 15th Ceremonies, which center around the setting adrift of small boats similar to the Thai festival of Loy Krathong, are held at night and their purpose is to drive away evil and bring good luck. Fingernail clippings and strands of hair are put in the little boats before release, along with little dolls fashioned from wood. Afterwards, the villagers perform their famous dance round their own boats, called the Ram Rong Ngeng.
Por Tor Festival This is an ancestor’s festival of the ethnic Chinese that falls on the seventh lunar month of the Chinese, which is the same as the ninth lunar month of the Thais, Special foods, flowers and candles are presented to the ancestor’s altars. Cakes in the shape of turtles are made from flour, some quite large. This is done because turtles live to great age and it is believed that by making such offering worshippers may extend the length of their lives. It is an important merit making festival.
Phuket Vegetarian Festival is held from the first through the ninth nights of the ninth Chinese lunar month; that is in September or October. It was first celebrated in 1825, when a troupe of actors enacted these rites to ward off a plague. Vegetarian food is eaten by participants and white clothes worn during the period of the festal. Selfmutilization is practiced by those whose bodies become the temporary residence of powerful gods. Parades of worshippers brave fireworks while carrying images through the streets; others walk on fire or climb bladed ladders. Participants number in the thousands. The whole forms one of the most bizarre festivals in Thailand.
Laguna Phuket Triathlon This annual yearend event sees the world’s top triathletes and hundreds of amateurs competing for prize money and placing on the world triathlon circuit. The course, which includes swimming, bicycling, and running through the beautiful natural surroundings of Laguna Phuket in Tambon
Cherng Talay, takes from two-and-a-half to five hours to complete.
Tourist Season Opening Festival is usually called the Patong Carnival in English, from the place where celebrations occur, and is held starting 1 November. There are many stalls with merchandise and food, parades, sports events, and a beauty competition for foreign tourists. The festal is held to cement solidarity among the government, the private business sector, and Phuket people.
Phuket King’s Cup Regatta was first held in 1987 in honour of His Majesty’s 60th birthday. The King of Thailand is a noted boating enthusiast and yachts come from around the world to participate in the competition, which is the largest and most popular in Southeast Asia. It is held yearly on the anniversary of His Majesty’s birthday, 5 December. Site of the regatta is Nai Harn Bay, Kata Beach and etc.
Phuket Naughty Nightlife and Night Lifelife
There is no denying that the go-go bars, girly bars and Night Life shows are a very visible part of the nightlife scene in Patong and to a lesser extent Karon and Kata. In this section we will not attempt to judge the Night Life industry or the people involved. It is a complicated issue so we only try to describe it to give you an understanding of what is going on.
Some people find the girly bars distasteful. 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. The Night Life tourism sector in Phuket is not near the scale of that found in Bangkok or Pattaya but it is still an attraction for a large number of visitors.
You do not need to be an active participant to go to the go-go bars. Couples, families and tour groups mingle with the Night Life tourists wandering around the bars. For many visitors to Thailand, a visit to a go-go bar or Night Life show is on their must do list. If you are not offended then it is a great place to drink and people-watch. Everyone is welcome in the bars. If you go as a couple or make it clear that you do not want the attention of the girls then they will leave you alone (eventually). However if you want to talk to the girls in the beer bars they will be happy to have a chat or play bar games such as connect-four or dice games. If you want to reward them for their time, then buy them a drink or give a tip.
Background of Night Life Tourism in Thailand
Night Life Tourism is a big money earner for Thailand. Night Life tourism attracts a large number of visitors from all over the world and a huge amount of foreign currency. There are many influential business figures involved and of course, many poor girls reliant on the money they make from the industry. The unofficial attitude taken by the authorities is that as long as nobody is hurt and it is a transaction between two consulting adults, then there is no problem. They take a very dim view of anyone caught having Night Life with an under age girl. This is treated as a serious offence. The age of consent in Thailand is 15.
Prostitution in Thailand has never been limited to the tourist resorts. In fact, this is a recent development. Almost every town in Thailand has brothels, although much more discreet than those in the tourist towns. The majority of prostitution in Thailand takes place between Thais. The emergence of Night Life tourism in Thailand started with the arrival of American servicemen from the Vietnam War in the 1960s. Pattaya became a favourite destination for the GIs. They soon discovered the charms of the local girls and a new industry was born in Thailand.
Prostitution in Phuket does not have strong links to human traffickers. These things do unfortunately happen in Thailand but it is not a significant part of the Phuket Night Life tourism scene. The human traffickers are generally sending Thai girls to work in brothels abroad. 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.
The Phuket Night Life Girls
The majority of women working in the tourist Night Life industry come from the area of Thailand known as Isaan. This is the northeast of Thailand and is the agricultural heartland of the country. There is a common perception that girls working in Thailand's Night Life industry start at a young age. A significant percentage of the girls in Phuket are in their late teens or early twenties. However, perhaps a more common story is that the girl had a relationship with a young Thai man in her village. They had children together and then the relationship broke down. Now she finds herself in her mid twenties trying to meet the demands of supporting her children and her parents. The financial burden is too much to bear so she leaves her children with her parents and follows the worn trail to Bangkok, Pattaya or Phuket.
Everyone in the girl's village knows how young women make good money in the tourist towns. The family will make a pretence that the young woman has gone to work in a hotel or restaurant and that way they will maintain face in the village. In the meantime, the young woman will find her way into the Night Life industry where, if she is attractive enough, she can earn 1,000-baht a night or more compared to the 3,000-baht a month she would earn working on a farm in Isaan.
Thai Girl Appeal
Thai women seem to hold great appeal in the Night Life industry. They have become something of an industry standard and are sent to work in brothels all over the world, often under awful conditions. Sometimes, their own families sell them to brothel owners. It is shocking to us that parents could do such a thing to their daughters but they are living by a very different set of standards. Even the sold girls will often believe they are doing the right thing for their family.
Fortunately, most of the girls working in Phuket have not suffered such a terrible fate. They have at least made their own choice and are working in a potentially rewarding environment.
It is easy to see the appeal of Thai women. They are often petite and slim. They tend to have good complexions, silky black hair and big brown eyes. In addition, they are fun. Probably not, if they are working in a squalid brothel in a foreign country but generally, Thai women are lively and entertaining.
The Customers of Thai Night Life Girls
We have previously stated that the majority of prostitution in Thailand takes place between Thais. Of course, in the tourist towns such as Phuket, the majority of customers are foreigners.
A common perception is that the customers are sad men, perhaps old, unattractive or lacking personality. While this may be true of some, the truth is that it is very difficult to generalise. The customers come from all walks of life, age groups and backgrounds.
They come from all over the world. The most common nationalities are European, American and Australian. There is also a good representation from other Asian countries such as Japan, India and the Middle East.
The majority of customers are men but a small percentage are women who come looking for male or female company.
Some customers fit the stereotype of aging, unattractive men picking up beautiful young Thai women. However, many others are young men partying and taking advantage of the readily available female company. There are also many very wealthy customers. It is not unusual to hear of yachts arriving in the bay and taking girls on board to party.
Night Life Terminology/Slang in Phuket
The Night Life industry has its own set of terminology with phrases such as 'beer bar', 'go-go bar', 'mamasan', 'lady drink', 'bar fine', 'short time', 'long time', 'GFE', 'freelancer', 'butterfly' and many more.
Beer Bar - these are simple open sided bars often grouped in complexes. Most of these complexes are in the sois (side streets) off Bangla Road in Patong. There are stools around the bar and there are usually a couple of poles on the bar for the girls to dance round. The customers stroll around the complex until they choose a bar or are dragged to a bar by the girls working there. The girls will then try to sell themselves to the customer by talking to him or entertaining him with bar games. Typical games are connect-four, jenga, dice games and hammering nails into a block of wood race.
Go-Go Bar - these are indoor bars where the girls dance on stages or on the bar. The girls usually wear bikinis - they are no longer allowed to dance topless although it may still happen if the bar thinks the authorities are not taking notice. The girls have numbers and customers can request a girl they like by number.
Mamasan - a woman who manages the girls working in a bar. Only the big bars and go-gos will have a mamasan. She will be an older woman who demands respect from the younger girls. She will be responsible for recruiting new girls, making sure the girls work well and liaising with customers.
Lady Drink - a drink that a customer buys for a girl. These will usually cost 30-90 baht above the normal bar price. The bar pays the extra to the girl as reward for selling the drink. Effectively, you are not only buying the girl a drink but also giving her a tip.
Bar Fine - the fee charged by a bar for taking a girl from that establishment. The beer bars charge between 300 to 500 baht. This money is for the bar - seen as an introduction fee and recompense for the bar losing a worker for the night. The bar may pay a percentage of the bar fine to the girl but the customer still needs to pay the girl for her company. The go-gos charge higher bar fines. Some go-gos will ask for 3000 baht or more but this usually also includes the payment to the girl so the customer does not need to pay her directly
Short Time - the customer takes a girl to a nearby room for a 'short time'. The beer bar complexes and go-go bars often have short time rooms at the back of the premises. The customer will pay a bar fine, a charge for the room and an agreed price to the girl for her services (500 to 1,000-baht). When they are finished, the girl will return to work while the customer moves on to his next port of call.
Long Time - the customer will take the girl for the night (a 'long time') usually back to his hotel room. The payment to the girl is normally 1,000 to 2,000 -baht. Some of the more up-market hotels do not allow overnight guests while others will charge a guest fee.
GFE - Girl Friend Experience. This is where the man takes the girl for the full length of his holiday and treats her like his girlfriend. The Girl will act as a companion and guide. They will go to restaurants together, take day trips together and generally act like boyfriend and girlfriend. Of course, the girl is still working and the man pays for everything and pays the girl for her time. The bar where the girl works will probably expect to receive a bar fine for every day the girl stays with the man. Many a romance has blossomed from the GFE and sometimes it develops into the WE (wife experience). This may be followed by the divorce experience and the going home with no money experience.
Freelancer - a girl that does not work from a specific bar. These girls will pick up customers at nightclubs or off the street hence saving the customer paying a bar fine. Freelancers are often attractive girls who are confident they can pick up men without the advantage of a work base. They may therefore charge more than bar girls. They are also considered less trustworthy as they are harder to track down in cases of theft from the customer.
Butterfly - someone, male or female, who flits around from one partner to the next.
Famous Night Life Centres in Phuket
Bangla Road in Patong is the heart of the tourist Night Life industry in Phuket. This is where you will find the great mass of beer bars and go-gos.Soi Easy, Soi Gonzo, Soi Crocodile, Soi Eric are all side streets with complexes or beer bars. Tiger Live Band is a large beer bar complex that has quickly become the most popular complex since it opened in 2011. These complexes are full of small beer bars and there are literally hundreds of girls ready to entertain customers.
Soi Seadragon is a wider soi, recently rennovated, with beer bars down the middle and larger bars on each side. This soi has some go-gos and is also the location of the Night Life shows with ping-pong balls, darts, etc. The famous Suzie Wongs is at the end on the right hand side. They give the customers foam tubes that they can use to slap the girls bums. It is totally painless but makes a load slap sound. This soi also has a number of normal bars with live music.
There are other go-gos at the top of Bangla Road.
There are also a variety of normal nightlife venues in and around Soi Bangla with live music, sports screens, pool tables and food.The line of bars on the road from Moon Bar down to Ned Kelly's are popular drinking spots to watch the action on Bangla Road. Most of these bars do have working girls but because they are on the street, they are less obvious about wrapping themselves around poles and pushing themselves on potential customers.
Many tourists drink at these bars to people-watch.
The discos such as Tiger, Tai Pan, Hollywood, Seduction and Banana are not actively engaged in the Night Life industry. However, there will be girls freelancing at these bars and men looking for them.
Other Night Life Tourism Locations in Phuket
Apart from Bangla, there are a few other beer bar complexes. In Patong, there is Soi Sukhumvit on Rat-U-Thit Road north of Bangla. There is another Beer Bar complex on the Beach Road north of Bangla before the Thara Patong Hotel. In Karon there is the bar area above the Karon Circle at the north of the town.
In Phuket Town, the Night Life venues are more Asian Style. There is the infamous Soi 11 off Phun Phon Road. Here the girls sit in rows in shop front windows. Customers select a girl and take her to one of the rooms upstairs.
The more refined Asian customers will go to the karaoke venues such as Pink Lady. These are not the simple karaoke bars that many Thais like to visit to drink beer, eat food and sing songs. These are plusher venues where the girls sing songs on a stage and the customers buy them flowers as a reward.
There are two very plush venues on Montree Road. There is the Pink Lady Cafe at the base of the Metropole Hotel and a little further up the road is Fantasia. Both these venues have good stage shows that are worth a visit even if you are not looking for a girl. They do of course have girls, lots of girls and they are generally more beautiful than their Patong counterparts. Drink prices at these venues are high but not exorbitant.
Gay Area in Phuket
The main gay area is Soi Paradise in Patong off Rat-U-Thit Road a little north of Bangla Road. It is next to the Royal Paradise Hotel Tower, which is one of the tallest buildings in Patong. There are gay bars, gay cabarets and gay guesthouses. This area also caters to straight women. Some of the boys working in the gay bars are not actually gay and are happy to go with female customers.
You do not need to be gay to visit Soi Paradise. It is a very colourful area and some of the gay cabarets are worth a look.
Ladyboys in Phuket
Known in Thai by the jokey term 'katoey'. You may also hear them called ladymen, he-males or she-males. Katoeys are of course men who look like women. Some have had varying degrees of gender altering surgery. Some take hormones to increase their female attributes. Some just dress and make up as females. Whilst some (like the three in the photo) are easy to spot, there are others that make very attractive women and if you saw them in the street, you really would not know they were men. There are many stories of men picking up women in bars only to find when they get back to their hotel that she is in fact a he. These are not just legends - it really does happen.
Katoeys have become something of a tourist attraction. In Bangla Road, you can see them at the entrance to Soi Crocodile, which is often referred to as Soi Katoey. Many tourists come to drink at one of the surrounding beer bars while watching the katoeys dance on the tables. You can take a photo with the katoeys but remember to pay them a tip - they are notoriously spiteful if they feel cheated.There are also a couple of katoey bars and a katoey cabaret at the back of Soi Crocodile.Another place to see katoeys is Simon Cabaret at the south end of Patong on the road to Karon. It is a simple but well-done cabaret show with katoeys dressed in spectacular costumes and miming to a range of songs. You will be amazed at just how convincing some of them are.
You can also see katoeys in the gay area of Patong at Soi Paradise.
Many massage parlours are just that - places to get a good massage. Most massage parlours will give just a massage if that is what the customer wants but some also offer extra services (a massage with a 'happy ending'). Open-air massages and massage parlours where the customers are separated by curtains will only offer massage. Massage parlours that provide a private room may well offer extra services. The most well known massage parlour offering extra services is Christin Massage - a big pink building on Rat-U-Thit Road south of Bangla. This massage parlour is just a higher-end Night Life venue. The girls sit behind a glass screen for the customer's selection. The selected girl then takes the customer to a comfortable private room for a soap bath, massage and of course, 'extra services'.
Warnings against Night Life Tourism in Phuket/Thailand
Always have adequate protection while indulging in night life activities Thailand ( 75% Night Life Girls have Aids) - it is just not worth the risk. If you do not have protection then the girl should have one.
Remember no matter how lovely the girl may seem, she is working in an industry that is likely to corrupt. When the girls first arrive in Phuket, they are usually well-mannered Thai country folk. However, they very quickly learn the tricks of the trade. And above all else, they are working for money.
If you take a girl back to your hotel then many hotel receptions will ask to see the girls ID card. They do this to ensure the girl cannot get away with committing a crime against you. Theft is the main danger. You go to the shower and she takes your wallet and leaves.
You go to sleep and she takes your valuables and is gone. You are not looking and she takes your jewelry before kissing you good-bye. Remember if the girl knows you are on holiday for two weeks, then she can disappear for two weeks. If you take a girl from a beer bar or go-go she will be easier to trace but it is no guarantee. You could consider asking to see the girls ID card yourself. It might not be romantic or charming but let's face it, this is not romance. You can check her date of birth to be sure she is over 18 by subtracting 543 from the Thai year.
There have been many reports from Bangkok and Pattaya of girls doping customers. The last thing the customer remembers is having a drink with a girl and the next thing he knows he is waking up with a stunning headache and his valuables gone. There have now been a few confirmed reports of this happening in Phuket.
Men are often reluctant to report these crimes so there is no knowing how prevalent this is in Phuket. We do not believe it is common in Phuket but still it is a good idea to be careful with your drinks. Theft from customers is not the most common scam. The girls know they can make much more money if the customer gives it voluntarily. The sob stories the girls tell their customers are brilliant heart-tugging tales of woe designed to elicit sympathy. The punch line will invariably be that she needs to make big money to pay for someone's hospital care or to save her family from starvation. The old-hands call them sick buffalo stories and treat them with great
scepticism. In fact, there is often an element of truth to the stories. The girls do come from poor backgrounds and their families are often suffering hardship. That does not mean the final punch line for money is true or that you have any responsibility to pay for it.
Common Scams by Night Life Girls
Another common scam is the girl will tell the man she will stop working in bars and be faithful to him, if he can send her money. The man will then go home and send the girl regular payments thinking he is keeping her out of the bar. Many of the girls have several western boyfriends on the go at the same time sending money and they are still making more money from new customers in their bars.
It is not fair to portray all the girls as scam masters. Many are honest, hard working girls trying to make a living as best they can. Lots of western men have married Thai girls they met in bars and are very happy. However, the Night Life industry is a corrupting influence and you should be on your guard. There are no hard-and-fast rules - every girl is different and should be judged individually. A good dose of cynicism is sensible.
Guest Friendly Hotels in Phuket
Some hotels will not allow 'overnight guests'. Many others charge a guest fee or joiner fee (anywhere from 300-baht to 3000-baht). Hotels and guesthouses that allow overnight guests and do not charge a guest fee are referred to by the punters as 'guest friendly'. The smaller hotels and guest houses are more likely to be guest friendly than the major hotels. Below are a few recommendations for nice, centrally located hotels that are guest friendly and can be booked over the internet (make sure you book a double room).
•Byd Lofts (4 star) If you are looking for something upmarket then this is the one high-range hotel that is guest friendly. The rooms are actually self- contained apartments with all the comforts of home. Ten minutes walk to Bangla Road and 2-minutes to the beach.
•Salathai Resort Hotel (3 star) Very nice mid-range hotel with pool and good location.
•Yorkshire Inn (3 star) Great central location, recently renovated with good rooms and access to a good swimming pool and gymnasium.
•Club Bamboo (4 star) Very nice resort with good facilities, located a little away from the main nightlife zone but only 5 minutes on a motorbike.
•Lamai Inn (3 star) - Central location, basic but nice and very good value.
•Sunset Mansion Hotel (2 star) Good value little hotel, 1.5 km from Bangla Road but handy for the beach.