With its broad stretch of white sand, all sorts of water sports activities and a pumping nightlife, Patong, a magnet for visitors from all over the world, is easily the tourism capital of Phuket. Those looking for a quiet, secluded beach will want to avoid Patong as it is the road well travelled. However, if luxury, shopping, international cuisine and after-hours excitement are what you desire then you may never want to leave Patong.
Visitors to Patong Beach are spoilt for choice when it comes to accommodation as it is home to more hotels and guesthouses than any other area of the island. Many of Phuket’s best hotels can be found directly across the road from the beach. They include the Absolute Seapearl Beach Resort, Patong Beach Hotel, the Holiday Inn, Club Andaman, La Flora, and Impiana Phuket Cabana. There are also cheaper guesthouses for budget travellers.
Central Patong is a busy commercial centre, full of tourist shops and services, restaurants and bars, and although there are a few beachfront hotels, much of the front is occupied by a promenade and road. Beyond that are half a dozen bustling blocks of shops, bars and guesthouses. Essentially, this area is all about entertainment and shopping, with the quieter hotels flanking the ends of the beach, or set back behind the commercial bustle.
In general, the farther you are from the beach, the lower the price of accommodation. Away from the beach, quality ranges from good-value, mid-range hotels to small, budget guesthouses. No matter the number of stars, all accommodation in Patong is within a 20-minute walk of the beach.
Patong’s status as the main tourist area of the island means that it’s the place to go for the best international cuisine in Phuket. From Western fast food to star-rated continental restaurants, Patong has plenty of options to satisfy most tastes. Popular international restaurants include Casablanca, Sam’s Steak House, and The Old Fisherman’s. There are also plenty of Thai restaurants in the area, too, including some of the best on the island.
Patong Beach is home to the largest nightclubs on Phuket and Patong’s nightlife is the most vibrant and lively you will find on the island. Bangla Road is where it’s at and the arcades of smaller bars that branch off of it. Tiger and Banana are the biggest night spots in Patong, with Thaipan close behind, while Safari bar, on the outskirts of Patong, is the main after-hours joint.
The infamous ‘girlie bars’, although prominent, are restricted to certain lanes and clustered together for you to either enjoy or ignore. Recently, more sophisticated upmarket places have been opening up, such as Seduction disco, Club Lime and, in nearby Kalim, White Box.
Shopping is another main attraction in Patong and shops line every street, with jewellery, clothes, electronics, art, video games, CDs, DVDs, you name it! Towards the southern end of the district is a large collection of art shops, where quality ranges from world class to cheap fleamarket tack. Most prices aren’t fixed, so be sure to wear your haggling hat to get the best deals. Buyer beware! Many of the products are cheap knock-offs and if a bargain seems too good to be true, it probably is.