|PHUKET NIGHTLIFE INFORMATION
Where to Go at Night in Patong
Patong, once known as the sleazy, 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. Sound in Jungceylon, the new location of patong. On the beach road look for Banana Disco, popular with young people for its two level dance floor and hip lighting. Downstairs is Banana Club, with live music and a weekly Elvis impersonator. 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.
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.
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 bent if not outright ingnored.
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, Lolita and The Heights. Next door is Rock Hard Café, 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 or (Bar Beers!)
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 uniformally employ numerous pretty hostesses whose job is to lure patrons by various means. The most common tactic is simply to stand out front and repeat "Hello, welcome" like a mantra 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 Barand Black Cat.
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 from which to have a martini.
Cabarets & Transvestite Shows
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. See Paradise Complex
Muay Thai in Phuket
Thai boxing is one of the world's most devastating martial arts and a Muay Thai match is a spectacle not to be missed. Muay Thai fighters train by slamming their shins against progressively harder surfaces until are the nerves are dead and their bones become iron bars. In addition to these punishing kicks, Muay Thai boxers use an arsenal of elbow and knee strikes to punish their opponents.
A dynamic and varied style of combat, it's much more exciting than western boxing. Which sounds better - two weapons or eight? Part of the fun of Thai boxing is immersing yourself in the environment ringside.
The traditional music that rises and falls to match the pace of the fight, bookies circulating through the crowd taking bets, local patrons cheering on their favourite fighters. You can get a taste of Muay Thai at Thailand boxing, there are many ‘show’ stadiums where you can watch the action for the price of a beer.
These stadiums and fights aren't exactly the real deal, though, so if you want to watch some serious action check out Phuket Boxing Stadium here you will find all the information you need on Muay Thai in Thailand.
Where to Go at Night in Karon
The good news about Karon nightlife is that most of the bars are fairly close together, but not right on top of one another. This makes for good pub crawling, but without too much 'Battle of the Bands' action. The bad news is that, after a few places, you'll notice that it's all pretty much the same! This isn't terrible, however, since for a big night out you'll probably be heading just over the hill to Patong anyway.
Karon's nightlife is mainly centred on Luang Poh Chuan Road and, to a lesser extent, the Aroona Karon complex. Both of these areas have enough pubs and girlie bars to keep locals happy and Luang Poh Chuan has a couple of more upscale and trendy watering holes for the urbanites among you.
Luang Poh Chuan Road
Luang Poh Chuan Road is Karon's version of Bangla Road in Patong, with a bar soi at either end, similar to places like Patong's Soi Gonzo or Soi Crocodile, but on a smaller scale (and lacking the ladyboy stage).
At the western end (closer to the beach) is an L-shaped soi with Black Cat at the angle. Other bars in the area include Nan's, Hot Shot and Winner.
There's also a side street with a few shops and restaurants here. Almost all of these bars have pool tables, which make for an amusing distraction while you are getting chatted up by the girls (‘where you flom?'). At the far end there's another bar soi with a little more lascivious feel. The places here all have names like Amazon, Bikini Bar and Easy Bar. Go figure.
For something other than simple beer bars, try out Karma Lounge, on the easterly corner of the road, Karma Lounge is a trendy looking place with occasional live music. Culture lovers will go for Nakonai Art Plaza, a bohemian little colony with a coffee house and bar attached. Diagonally opposite Karma Lounge is the aptly-named Farang Bar (farang is Thai for westerner).
In the middle of Luang Poh Chuan is a short cul-de-sac known as Bangla Plaza. While nothing like its Patong equivalent, this area does have Harry's Steakhouse, a popular restaurant, as well as Sanook Sports Bar.
Further north along the beach and you'll see Aroona Karon. This complex contains a mixture of bars and restaurants and is a good place to go for dinner and drinks. Keep going a little farther north and you'll hit the easily identifiable Karon Circle. From here you can head north to go over the hill into Patong or turn east to enter the other main nightlife area of Karon Beach.
On your left-hand side you'll see a small road which contains a few bars, the best of which is probably Skylight Bar which has a very good happy hour from 17:00 to 19:00 as well as satellite TV to catch all the important matches. Also in this soi you'll find Viking Bar, Magic Bar and Allies Bar.
At the far end of the street there's another soi that mainly focuses on shopping and restaurants, but has a few small watering holes.
Where to Go at Night in Kata
Since most of the beach lies within the province of Club Med, nightlife is concentrated at the ends of the beach rather than than the centre. A must for everyone staying in Kata is watching the sunset from the Reggae Bar overlooking Kata Noi, the view is spectacular - well worth the 5 min tuk-tuk journey.
Over the last year, Kata's small bar-beer areas at both ends of the beach have expanded, so you don't have to go far for more action. But for the real party scene head for Patong, just a 10-minute drive north.
South Kata Beach
South Kata is not known as a nightlife destination; the major exception being the Ska Bar right at the southern end of the beach itself. The Ska Bar is nestled among granite rocks and has a great view along the beach. You can reach it by going down the little alley near Mom Tri's Boathouse, following the sign saying 'To the Beach' and turning left. Alternatively, there are steps down to the beach by Kata Beach Resort – head south. Here, expect lots of reggae, dreadlocks, Bob Marley look-alikes and a friendly atmosphere. Keep your eyes open for organised events as Ska Bar has been known to throw major parties.
Oasis On The Sea
Opposite Mom Tri's Boathouse there are a couple of watering holes, the best being Bounty Bar. Oasis Spring Tapas Bar has live music every night from 19:00 to 23:00. Around the corner on Kata Road and the sois off it you'll find many restaurants and a few bars but not a lot of nightlife past ten o'clock.
You'll have to head north up Kata Road to find anything lively and it all starts at the corner of Kata Road and the 'New Road'. Here, you'll see a big sign outside Charlies saying 'Elvis is Back Every Monday'.
If you take a right into the New Road, opposite Charlies is Sweethearts Bar – a place featuring pretty good music, a pool table and ladies of a decidedly friendly disposition.
Zanzibar and Lucky Bar are similar and not strictly family destinations but opposite them is the orange-and-yellow Tapas and Wine Bar which is an excellent, Swedish-run place that manages to combine great wine with a good atmosphere and food until late.
Further up on the left is Rick n' Roll, run by Ricky Zen, a genial host who organizes live music, from unplugged guitar to live bands. Ricky's place also features Musician networking, jams, artist workshops and the opportunity to record yourself with Digital 'Pro Tools'. Opposite Rick n' Roll is a friendly Swedish-run place.
Kata Night Bazaar
Back on Kata Road towards Kata Centre there are perhaps 20 bars jam-packed with mini-skirted girls and any single male walking past them is fair game. This strip is known locally as Kata Night Bazaar and it all starts seriously after about 20:00 and goes on until late. The girls here are very experienced and if you're male, single and don't exactly know what you're doing you can get into trouble. By all means enjoy yourself but keep your wits about you.
In the bazaar itself, Flamingo's Splash Lounge (also set up by Ricky Zen) organizes parties, has a swimming pool and live music. Neighbours, Killer Whale and The Beach Club are also a cut above the nearby out-and-out girlie bars.
At the three-way intersection along Thai Na Road up on the left Lek's Bar has been there for ever – but Lek herself has been long gone. This bar features live music and has two similar hangouts next door and a near neighbour called Café del Mar which has quite a reputation for good cocktails.
On the other side of the road you'll notice a back alley and just ten metres along it stands Easyriders bar – one of the best places in Phuket to catch a good raunchy live band.
Opposite Easyriders is Number One Bar, an open-to-the-street setup that's good for tuning in to Easyriders' music without breaking an eardrum.
Back on Thai Na Road an old favourite with locals, divers and lovers of Tex Mex Cuisine is Bluefin Tavern. Here, you can sit on the elevated terrace and people watch or cool off in the air-conditioned interior. A few doors up is the Anchor Bar – another old favourite, famous for its all-day breakfasts and pool facilities.
Around the corner, a collection of small souvenir shops and cafes line the narrow street leading to Karon Beachroad. It's also the location for one of Kata's famous attractions - Dinopark. A Minigolf with a difference, the course features a man-made exploding mini- volcano which erupts on cue every hour.
Various pyrotechnics and strange Dino-noises surround the course, which naturally involves a dinosaur or two. Open during the day, Dinopark is actually better in the evening when you see all the effects in their full glory.
Part of the Dino Park minigolf, it's one of Kata's landmarks and a great spot to watch all the action on the street while enjoying a drink in the cave/jungle setting. Further along with superb sea views is the classic Thai seafood restaurant at Marina Cottage - a locally run hotels which also offers dinner and Thai classical dance set inside a traditional Thai house.
Looking out over Kata Noi on Kata Hill are two extremely popular adjacent venues, Small Viewpoint, and After Beach. These restaurant-bars are all about reggae music and have developed from quirky beginnings to successful sunset-viewing party locations. To get there, head up the steep hill in south Kata (you'll need transport) and carry on for a kilometre. Go for sunset.
Ratri Jazztaurant is a fantastic place to enjoy a gourmet meal, live jazz and sensational hillside sunset views out over the Andaman Sea. Ratri is above Patak Road, and the turnoff into a very sharp incline (you have been warned) is by the Big One Supermarket.
Where to Go at Night in Nai Harn
Nai Harn's nightlife is fairly quiet and spread out. Most people usually only hit one or two places during the entire evening. For early evening there are some pleasant, relaxed places just metres from the beach at Nai Harn where you can have a nice cocktail or an ice-cold beer and watch the last vestiges of the day fade into darkness.
Lorenzo's is a popular café that has some of the best espresso on the island. A nice cappuccino is a perfect pick-me-up before a long night of partying. For an inexpensive beverage and a great sunset, check out Mata, just around the corner. It's nothing more than a free standing bar outside of a minimart. Nothing remarkable about it, but the sea and the sun provide all the ambience you need.
Around Nai Harn Lake
Without doubt the most inventive place in the area is Yoonique Stone Music Café, located opposite Nai Harn Lake, behind the Reggae Bar. The name is a slight misnomer since they only serve food on special events, usually held on Friday nights. The rest of the name is entirely accurate. 'Unique' is a perfect word to use for the funky, eclectic décor and arty atmosphere. It's also sort of logical as the owner's name is Yoon. Music is another focal point of the bar, with regular jam sessions (Tuesday nights and whenever musos want to get together - it's even used as a rehearsal place during the day), occasional performances from regional and international artists and one of the best selections of downloaded music on the island. They'll even burn you a CD of your favourite tracks for 100 baht.
In front of Yoonique and next to the road is the Reggae Bar, which is pretty much what you'd expect from a place as chilled out as Nai Harn: lots of bleary-eyed Rasta dudes chillin' out and nodding their heads to the constant reggae shuffle.
Near these two spots, on Soi Naya, look for Laguna Bar, the local after-hours joint. Before 02:00 this bar is dead quiet but once the bar staff at the other nightspots finish work they head here to blow off steam. Also known as 'The Last Resort' by locals, this is where you go when it's late, you're looking for 'company' and you've had enough beer that you're not feeling too picky.
Up in Nai Harn Village, on Sai Yuan Rd. you can find a few little bars worth checking out. Big Bar has poor signage and is better known as 'The Sauna Bar' because during the day it offers (you guessed it) sauna and massage services. At night it's a nice little place to hang out and play some pool or darts.
Real pool sharks will be better off heading just up the road to Cheers Bar, where many of the best pool players in the area gather for infrequent tournaments. There is one actual nightclub in Nai Harn, Icon, on the road to Kata. Although it seems a little out of place in this laid-back, beach bum community, it has a brand new snazzy interior and a DJ pumping tracks out of a booming system.
Other bars and night spots in the area include Muay Thai Bar, the all-girl run Pukky's Bar, next to 7-Eleven on Sai Yuan Rd. and Rum Jungle, also on Sai Yuan Rd., which is also a cracking good restaurant.
Where to Go at Night in Kamala
Although Kamala has recently grown rapidly, you can still enjoy the seaside village atmosphere that first attracted visitors all those years ago. The beachside bars are a good spot for a sundowner and to catch a glimpse of local fisherman coming in for the night.
When the sun goes down, most visitors enjoy strolling through the village to one of the small local restaurants – basic but tasty. During the high season months, local vendors set up stalls along the beach, so you can pick up some beachwear bargains and souvenirs at leisure.
Though it is less active than the Main Road bar scene, the Beach Road has a few good bars to offer. The well-known Bob’s Bar next to Papa Crab's Guesthouse is open from 14:00 – 02:00 and features reggae music, a good list of drinks/cocktails, and friendly people, especially Bob. It's a good place to get local inside information & gossip.
Sunshine Bar is behind the Pavilion Beach Restaurant on the waterfront. It may be small but it has charm.
Long Ma Doo Bar
Long Ma Doo Bar is a cozy and friendly bar very close to the beach.
Opens at 17:00 with cheap drinks from 17:00 – 20:00.
Location : On the road that runs parallel to Kamala Beach, next to Blue Manao at the end of a narrow path.
Kamala Beach Road
Off the beach are a few restaurant/bars including The Club, Kamala Mountain View and Baan Mai – all good spots to enjoy a casual and relaxed evening. The Apple Tree is cool and has pool tables. Other bars that have pool tables include Traveler Bar (next to Apple Tree), Meaw Bar (near Bank of Ayudhya), Paradise Bar (near the 7-Eleven junction.)
Take advantage of the Black Cat's long happy hours (opposite Kamala Beer Garden) from 15:00-20:00. Then there is the Cobra Bar near the Argentina Steakhouse which gets quite busy even in early afternoon. Don’t forget to check out the Pub located near the new Bangkok Bank.
Kamala Beer Garden
Kamala Beer Gardenis a live music open-air bar with a thatched roof. German run, it offers cheap drinks between 16:00 – 20:00
Bars in Kamala or indeed in Thailand in general are made out of just about anything. The Bamboo Bar has a corrugated iron roof with bamboo walls and is located near the Club. Charlie’s Bar located next to the Club Hotel looks very hippyish and is little more than a small and friendly looking shack. In the same vein Sure Sure Bar is not exactly Raffles with its Liverpool FC and beer posters while the Rooftop Bar & Grill on the top floor of the Club Hotel is a good place to enjoy the evening Andaman Sea breezes.
Phuket Fantasea Park
Kamala is also home to one of the island's biggest night time attractions - Phuket FantaSea. A USD$100 million Thai cultural extravaganza covering an area of over 140 acres with a live show featuring elephants, tigers and other animals, traditional Thai dancing, pyrotechnics, light and sound, acrobatics and more. Two shows are performed nightly, with an optional dinner.
There's an opportunity to stroll around the grounds and find some more unusual souvenirs at some of the market stalls and shops after the show. You can also meet with the "celebrity" animals for a photo or two. Great for all ages.
Fantasea Park has 3 main attractions:
'Fantasy of a Kingdom' is the ultimate in Las Vegas style theatrical productions. Created and designed by international experts and local professionals, this audio-visual extravaganza incorporates 9 stunning show themes (Thai culture, magical illusions, 4-D effects, aerial performance, acrobatics, indoor pyrotechnics, special effects, elephant circus featuring over 30 elephants and stunt) into one unforgettable theatrical masterpiece that is guaranteed to thrill and delight visitors of all ages and nationalities.
'The Golden Kinnaree' is one of the world's grandest buffet restaurants. Fronted by a glorious Golden Pavilion, this 4,000-seat dining facility indulges every visitor with a sumptuous feast of Royal Thai dishes and international delicacies prepared by some of Thailand's finest chefs.
'Festival Village' offers an unforgettably enchanting and fun shopping experience unlike no other. Visitors can also enjoy activities such as elephant rides, cultural performances, parades, street shows, handicraft demonstrations, live bands, carnival games and much more.
Phuket FantaSea was awarded 'Best Attraction' in Thailand by Tourism Authority of Thailand for 4 consecutive years 2000-2003.
Where to Go at Night in Rawai
Situated right at the foot of the island, Rawai is home to many expat retirees, working farangs (Caucasians), and Thai-farang families. The area is best described in two words: laid back. So don't expect the swinging-from-the-rafters Patong-type nightlife but do expect a friendly, relaxed and no-hassles welcome from those kind folks down south Phuket way.
Where to go on a night out in Rawai?
It's simple: start roughly outside the Evason Phuket and head south, following the road swinging west at the bottom (no choice really; if you go straight you'll be in the sea).
Just outside the Evason's entrance (opposite the shell museum) there is a gaggle of bars, some girly, some not. And it's not difficult to distinguish between the two, what with monikers like 'Nookie Bar', 'Good Time' and 'Candy Bar' representing the fleshier side of things. Expect expert pool players in tight jeans and skimpy T-shirts and if you join in a game you'd better not bet any money or you'll be sorry.
For some mysterious reason, most of the bars are located on the left-hand side of the road as you head south so that makes it even easier to scout out the land. Further down, there is a Bavarian beer house and assorted cheap eateries.
Going Round the Bend
If you follow the road round the bend to the right, immediately to the left of the road is Rawai Beach. Rounding the corner at the bottom of the drag, you'll notice two bars diagonally opposite each other, but each with a diametrically different clientele. On the left (the only bar smack on the beach at Rawai) is Nikita's. Yachties, professionals, and people of a certain vintage make up this atmospheric joint's clientele. Nikita's is somewhat of a Rawai establishment and it's not for nothing that it's usually busy. It features discreet lighting and a delicious right-on-the-water feel.
On the right-hand side of the road is a large, orange-fronted indoor/outdoor watering hole. This is Freedom Bar - a sometimes raucous sports bar with two pool tables, occasional live music, live televised football and more tattooed gentlemen than Hamburg docks. Charlie, the owner, is a real card and loves to keep the place animated with his earthy humour. Big, loud, basic - 'subtle' Freedom is most definitely not.
Further up on the right is Megli & Mario's - a great spaghetteria that is wildly fashionable with the locals and whether this is for its excellent food, its reasonable prices or for its popularity is not clear; probably all of the above. It's certainly worth a stop to try out some of the seafood combinations.
The most consistently packed bar in Rawai is the Sunshine Bar, just a few paces away from M&M's. The owners are a great laugh and they're always encouraging patrons to join them behind the bar for their impromptu cabarets. The stiff shots they pour ensure that a few people are usually willing to take them up on that offer.
Where to Go at Night in Chalong
Chalong is really a place to meet friends, eat and drink. Local bars here are the ubiquitous combinations of bar stools, dart board or pool table, fairy lights and bar hostesses, mostly frequented by local expats. For slightly more sophisticated bars, head for Rawai.
Chalong is a great place to simply hang out and have a sundowner. At dusk when the boats return from the day's seafaring you, take time out with a drink and follow the ascent of a rising moon. Located on the east coast, Chalong is a perfect place to view a magnificent rising moon at certain times of the year. Even at other times, it's a lovely place to relax and follow the ebb and flow of the tide.
Along the waterfront are plenty of local eateries and laid-back bars that sparkle in the evening with salty tales fuelled by the local brew. Latitude 8, still fondly known as Jimmy's Lighthouse after the former owner, is an old established yachties' hangout with great views over the harbour. Serving both local and international food, Jimmy's is a kind of nautical saloon with zodiac tender boats tied up in front, ready for a quick getaway to far-off shores.
Also on the shoreline is the old favourite Tamarind Bar, serving excellent international food as well as superb local fare. (You'll recognise it by the fairy lights.) which on a good evening can generate an impromptu party. Close to the pier, lies one of Phuket's best loved seafood restaurants - Kang Eng 1. Unpretentious with wooden tables, it's a large restaurant with authentic Thai and Chinese food. The restaurant sprawls along the seafront giving great views of the harbour and offshore islands. Don't be put off by the coaches parked outside, most of the large groups are cheerfully tucked away in a secluded part of the restaurant and leave quickly.
At night along the small road that leads to the pier lights up with local bars, cafes and restaurants. Recent additions to the local Thai, are a couple of restaurants serving Indian and German cuisine. Half way to the pier, look out for a very low key cafe which probably serves the best Fish and Chips on the entire island.
Where to Go at Night in Phuket Town
The nightlife scene in Phuket City is certainly different from the all-out assault on the senses of Patong. If Patong is Rocky Road, with everything sweet crammed in willy-nilly, then Phuket City is Green Tea: a distinctly Asian flavour that's an acquired taste, but a delight once you get used to it.
Rather than being an animatronic, Disneyland-ride version of Thailand, Phuket City is a great window into the life of real, everyday, modern Thais. The scene in Phuket City's nightclubs and bars is very indicative of Thai culture: it's fun, slightly corny and no one is taking anything seriously.
Partying Thai Style
When in Rome, do as the Romans do; when in Thailand, BYOB. It's common practice for the thrifty Thais to drink their whiskey by the bottle rather than pay by the glass. Most nightclubs will happily sell you a large bottle for slightly more than the price you'd pay in the shop. Ask or look for a 'set' that includes spirits, ice and mixers (Coke or Pepsi and soda water).
Split it between a few people and you can get well lubricated for a few hundred baht. Make sure to spread the love around and invite fellow patrons to join you. Generosity is one way Thais earn status and it's a great way to make friends.
You may be wondering, "What about the girls?" Well, in Phuket City there's good news and bad news. The bad news is that you really don't find much 'ready company' there; the good news is that you will find plenty of normal Thai girls. Thai people, young and old, love to have a good time and there are plenty of single Thai girls who go out just to have some fun with their friends. Some of them are curious about foreigners and may be interested in sparking up a conversation, or something more, with you.
Remember, though, these are not bar girls, they're everyday, working people and you should treat them as such. Despite the impression that you get from heavily tourist places like Patong, most Thais are actually fairly reserved and old fashioned. If you're interested in a genuine relationship with a Thai, be prepared to put in some real effort and be very patient. Don't expect every Thai girl (or boy) to go home with you just because you flash some cash.
Where to go
Unlike Patong, there isn't one 'strip' of pubs and party spots in Phuket City, rather, the bars and nightclubs are scattered all over the city, although there are some areas with a few places close together.
One of those areas is the section of Yaowarat Rd between Old Town Phuket and Tesco-Lotus. Coming from the Old Phuket roundabout the first place you'll see on the right is Rockin' Angel, a must for music lovers and artists. The owner is a guitarist and singer and impromptu jam sessions are the norm, just don't sit too close to the drums!
Across the street you'll find Suea Saming, known to locals as 'The Bar with the Big Blue Doors'. This is a swanky place with a fine selection of imported spirits and energetic music courtesy of the DJ.
Timber Hut, a mainstay on the Thai pub scene that attracts its fair share of westerners, is just up the road. Timber Hut features one of the best bar bands in Phuket and the place is jumpin' almost every night, albeit later on. An upstairs seating area is available if you get claustrophobic.
Carrying on further up Yaoworat Road, adjacent to the Phuket Merlin Hotel is Blue Marina, which, with its basement location and exposed ceiling, is reminiscent of a hip underground music club, an impression which is borne out by the regular crowd of Thai university students.
Continue down Yaowarat and you'll spy E-Sarn Terrace, easily recognized by the giant projection TV. No live music here but a lovely outdoor setting, good food and a cool bar area with billiards and a large selection of downloaded music serving as a jukebox.
Just a little ways farther lies Idea Bar, which has the coldest beer in town. The help isn't bad to look at, either. Sprinkled in between these bars are a number of restaurants large and small offering some excellent food at reasonable prices.
The other area with a good concentration of bars and pubs is Rasada Road, near the large roundabout in the middle of old Phuket. This area has really improved recently, with a number of high-end restaurants and shops moving in, including an all-out dance place opposite Phuket Shopping Centre called THE FORTE ISLAND that features a hopping DJ and a quasi-Vegas live band.
Michael's Bar, on Takuapa Road off of Rasada, is popular with expats and features a pool table, sports TV and Internet connections.
Next door is Kana Sutra, a very good Indian restaurant that hosts regular singles' nights and parties.
Continue down Takuapa Road and you'll find half a dozen places featuring an all-Thai crowd. One such place is Fever Corner – a Thai beer garden. The end of Takuapa Road is the party frontier. Round the corner things get markedly seedy.
Aside from these areas there are plenty of hot spots scattered around town. Balika and Oasis (Mae Luan Road), Ozone (Thalang Road) and Kor Tor Mor and a large new place next door with Thai script (translating to Akeakanekeng) (Nimit Circle) are all very popular with Thai youths.
They all have live bands and Ozone features a multi-level dance floor and scantily clad singers. On Phang Nga Road there are a number of pubs, clubs and bars, none of which resemble each other. Roxy is a bar run by two friendly Turkish lads; Fantasia may look like a large club from the outside but is really a glamourised knocking shop and the Pink Lady Cafés are pretty much in the same ball game and certainly not cheap.
The Bar Coyoty (sic), on the left past the bus station, also features girls, girls, girls with drinks at almost reasonable prices and things are handled with a bit more class there.
Inevitably, there is an Irish bar and it's called O'Malley's. O'Malley's (Suthat Road) has occasional live music and deals on beer.
A good place to watch some sport is Lemongrass (Luang Pho Wat Chalong Road). The TV isn't great but they stay open late and there might be someone around to make watching the game a little more interesting.
For the best Mojito in town check out Music Matter (Tilok Utis 1, near Ocean Plaza) which also has a live jazz jam every Wednesday night.
Where to Go at Night in Surin
Surin nightlife changes with the seasons. From November to May party life buzzes along the beach and further inland. For the rest of the year, however, the area's nocturnal activities are pretty much confined to the row of restaurants and bars that lead to the Chedi from Surin's main four-way intersection.
This road is known locally as Soi Haad Surin 8. Don't expect a Patong nightlife ambience in Surin. It's a more tasteful, laid back experience and all the better for it.
Catch Beach Club
Part of the Twinpalms Phuket hotel and situated towards the beach, Catch is a chic eatery separated by a road through the middle. Don't expect to get 10-wheel, diesel-belching trucks coming through, though: Just locals and tourists out for an evening stroll. Apart from excellent food and drink, Catch features international music artistes performing their own compositions and visiting DJ’s. Catch has also thrown some amazing party evenings so keep an eye out for them.
Open: Daily 11:00-01:00 (Kitchen, last order 22:30).
Location: On the beachfront directly across the road from TwinPalms Resort.
Tel: +66 (0) 76 31 6567
One of Phuket's better known personalities is Diver, an Australian who has been on the island for many years. He runs a beach bar called 'Diver's' (wouldn't you just know it) where many Phuket Old Hands congregate nightly for a chat and beer. You can join them by walking a few hundred metres south down the beach from Surin Beach's car park.
Open: 09:00 until the last person leaves.
Location: A few hundred metres south down the beach from Surin Beach Car Park.
The Stereo Lab Beach Club and Lounge is a relatively recent addition to Surin Beach’s nightlife. It usually gets busier later in the evening but many go there early for a drink and to catch the sunset. The décor is outstanding; Stereo Lab features a beach bar with white rattan chairs and tables, a games room and a Moroccan lounge. The venue offers a full bar, a wine cellar and a tapas menu. Like Catch Club, they stage regular parties so call to check for the schedule.
Open: Daily from 11:00 to 02:00
Location: At the southern end of Surin Beach.
Tel: +66 (0) 89 218 0162.
Though many people go solely for drinks, Thai and international food is also served here. Liquid Lounge is a small but very trendy bar and one of the most recent established on Surin Beach. A good party atmosphere.
Style: Thai and international
Open: 16:00 – 01:00
Location: Next to Surin Bay Inn on Soi Haad Surin 8.
Tel: +66 (0)81 537 2018
Surin Bay Inn
This inn has an open-sided bar that serves good honest English pub grub and has a host of regulars.
Open: Daily from 06:00 – 23:30
Location: Near TwinPalms and Manathai Hotel on Soi Haad Surin 8.
Tel: +66 (0) 76 271601
Envision Wine Bar
An altogether more upmarket option on this strip is Envision Wine Bar, run by one of Thailand's largest wine importers. It's a great spot to drink a bottle or two. On top of the good wine selection, they also offer a good range of Havana cigars and do regular wine-and-dine evenings.
Open: Daily from 11:00 – 10:00
Location: Near Surin Bay Inn.
Occupying the top floor of the Plaza Surin building is Silk - a smooth and chic eatery with a DJ and theme evenings. Dining out or just hanging out here is quite an event.
Open: Daily from 18:00 to 24:00
Location: On the top floor of The Plaza Surin, about 5-10 minutes from Surin Beach on Srisoonthorn Road.
What to Go at Night in Bang Tao
Tinlay Place, at the Laguna entrance at Cherng Talay, has a cluster of bars and restaurants that have a faithful long-term expatriate following. From early evening on you'll find people heading towards Toto and The Supper Club to catch up on the latest news.
The Supper Club with its extensive menu also has a good wine list and good music, or try Tatonka with its interesting and award-winning 'Globetrotter cuisine'. Most bars stay open until late. Venues here include Pepper’s, the Supper Club, Tatonka, Kargo, Baan Sanuk and BB’s Pub.
Serving great pub food with Classic Rock in the background, Pepper's does good battered prawns with tartar sauce, mescalero-style chili, beef stew and veggies with fresh bread, grilled monster pork chop with apple sauce. The big screen shows major sports like rugby, Formula One and football. Happy Hour from 10:00 -19:00. A nice place to catch up with local gossip.
Style: Bar & Restaurant
Open: 10:00 till late
Location: Tinlay Place.
Tel: +66 (0) 76 325 112
Serving not only Indian food but Indian Kingfisher beer and a range of international dishes in a stylish and innovative setting, Kargo is definitely romantic but also a good place to relax in. Check out the unusual ceiling features.
Style: Indian restaurant with lively bar and DJ
Open: 17:00 – 02:00 Closed Mondays
Location: Tinlay Place
Tel: +66 (0) 76 – 326275
Siam Supper Club (aka The Supper Club)
This gorgeous long bar and well-appointed restaurant serves ‘West Coast Cuisine’; meats, fish and pizzas. It is one of the most popular hang outs of local residents as well as regular guests to the island. Enjoy their jazz and lounge music and check out their long drinks list. Booking in advance is suggested. Ask for the owner Sean Power, one of the liveliest hosts in Phuket.
Style: Bar & restaurant
Open: 18:00 – 10:30 (last orders) Bar closes at 01:00
Location: Tinlay Place
Tel: + 66 (0) 76 270 936
Chef/owner Harold Schwarz has been at Tatonka for more than 10 years. The place is well known for its inventive tapas and friendly ambiance. Since opening it has gained a reputation as a place with great prices for great food and the open kitchen makes for a very interesting spectacle. With a casual-smart dress code, try their exotic cocktails or a bottle from the carefully selected ‘Globetrotter’ wine list.
Style: International restaurant
Open: 18:00 till late. Closed on Wednesdays.
Location: Tinlay Place
Tel: + 66 (0) 76 324 349
Baan Sanuk (meaning ‘fun house’ in Thai) is one of Bepy Graziani di Ceneda's establishments. His other venues include BB’s Pub, Toto Restaurant, Just Relax Thai Massage and Tawai Restaurant. All are located in the same area at the Tinlay Place.
Open: 17: 00 till late
Style: Bar, gentlemen's club
Location: Opposite Toto at Tinlay Place
Another local pub at the entrance of the Laguna Phuket resort complex. It offers pub food and live bands every Friday.
Open: 11:00 till late
Location: Tinlay Place
Their service includes Thai, foot, and oil massage
Open: 10:00- 23:00
Style: Massage shop
Location: About 50 metres from the traffic light before heading into Laguna Phuket resort complex
Tel: +66 (0) 81 979 0352
Thai Carnation Massage
Thai massage 300 baht per hour and oil massage is 400 baht per hour. Free Shuttle service.
Open: from 11:00 – 22.30
Style: Thai massage
Location: Opposite Chaba Restaurant near the entrance of Laguna Phuket resort complex
Tel: +66 (0) 76 325 565
Visitors who like to enjoy drinks and absorb breathtaking views of the Andaman Sea, will enjoy sipping cool cocktails at these beach bars. Most of them are small venues with a simple and easy setup. Such places include, Sky Bar and Reggae Bar. Many of these places come and go but no matter what season you visit Bang Tao Beach, you will always find one of these lovely beach bars. For a more permanent venue on the beach, check out Orange House.
The Orange House
As the name suggests, it is hard to miss the Orange House as the building is such a bright colour. The place operates as a dive centre, café and bar and even though the menu is not so extensive they have good enough choices such as Scandinavian breakfast, American breakfast, ham & cheese sandwich and spring-rolls. It is a friendly place open to all, and certainly not limited to divers. Try their happy hour drinks/cocktails. Orange House is a cool place with nice atmosphere and chilled out music with a full-sized pool table.
Style: Bar & cafe
Location: On the beachfront opposite Palm Beach Resort and the Sheraton Phuket
Tel: +66 (0) 76 325 597