Phuket has a thriving nightlife; it’s a major attraction of the island. There are plenty of places to party after a day at the beach, including Thai-style nightclubs with live bands, Western discos thumping with dance music, small beachside bars, sedate pubs, and go go bars full of friendly ‘company’.
The night life in Phuket is mainly concentrated around the tourist beaches of Patong, Kata/Karon and Rawai, as well as Phuket Town. Being a leisure island, every beach area has evening entertainment; usually bars of one kind or another. You can enjoy sundowners at an upmarket cocktail bar with seaviews, or meet ‘locals’ over a cheap beer in an open-air bar away from the beachfront, or even step into an Irish-themed pub complete with live music…more on Phuket Bars.
The heart of Phuket night life is Patong Beach, with Bangla Road being the main strip. There are dozens of arcades of tiny bars packed right next to one another, as well as several large Western-style nightclubs.
Discos charge up to 400 baht for admission, but this includes a couple of drinks. Soi Seadragon, Soi Eric, Soi Tiger and Soi Crocodile filter off the infamous Soi Bangla are among the most popular strips. Safari Bar, on the outskirts of Patong (on the way to Karon), is the main after-hours venue.
A rock-climbing wall, food stands, and indoor and outdoor dancing areas are some of the attractions there. Plus there are plenty of cheap drink promotions early in the evening, so come down after dinner and start your night with a bang with some traditional Thai whisky buckets or super-strength cocktails.
Kata and Karon Nightlife
The Kata/Karon area is a smaller, quieter, version of Patong, albeit more spread out. There are a few bar lanes located there, but no large discos. Rawai, on the southern tip of the island, is a sleepy beach town during the day, but has plenty going on after dark. Rawai Beach is lined with dozens of small and medium-sized bars and many of them bend the rules regarding closing times.
Phuket night life also offers a number of family-oriented activities. Central Festival Walk and Jung Ceylon feature English-language cinemas showing major western films, for one. There are two mini-golf courses on the island, three bowling alleys, a go-karting track and a shooting range, to boot, while the Green Man British Pub (near Kata and Rawai) hosts a Thursday night pub quiz. There are also live jazz jams every Wednesday night at Music Matter – a little jazz joint found in Phuket Town.
Phuket Town Nightlife
The night life in Phuket Town is predominantly made up of Thai-style nightclubs scattered all over the maze of one-way streets that make up old town Phuket. These joints are lively affairs, packed with a crowd of Thais and resident foreigners. They usually feature live bands playing a mix of Western covers and traditional and contemporary Thai music. If you’re partying Thai-style, pick up a bottle of whisky and bring it with you. Corkage fees are almost never charged, although it is expected that you will buy ice and mixers from the bar. Grab a table and start clinking glasses with everyone within arm’s reach. Most Thai discos have no common dance floor, preferring to pack everyone around ‘standing tables’.
Karaoke is very popular in Thailand and there is a wide range of establishments where you can live out your pop-star fantasies. These range from hole-in-the-wall places with Thai music and friendly hostesses to large restaurants that rent out private booths by the hour. Some hotels offer VIP Karaoke in a private hotel room complete with an attendant to fill your drinks. Many of these karaoke places provide a selection of beautiful hostesses who charge by the hour to sit with you. Not all of them will willingly leave with you, though.
For those hoping to find some company for the evening, there’s no shortage of places with friendly girls (or gay boys), particularly around the Royal Paradise Hotel in Patong. In Thailand, sex of most kinds is carried out in a relaxed way that isn’t entirely sleazy and is recognised by some as one of the country’s attractions. Many of the bars in specifically designated areas operate for this very purpose, though the atmosphere is by no means intimidating, and you’re welcome to sit and enjoy a drink and watch the TV or people in these bars without being hassled. On a slow night some of the girls will happily sit and chat with you (and ask for drinks) even if you have no intention of taking them home. They are only trying to make a living and can be genuinely amusing company.
The staff members at most of the bars in Patong are more than happy to accompany customers for the evening, although you will have to pay a 300-500 baht ‘bar fine’ if you wish to take them elsewhere. In the smaller areas, such as Rawai, you will find ladies who are willing to overlook the bar fine, especially if they think a more long-term arrangement is a possibility. Other places, especially if they have discreet entrances and dancers, will be a little pushier…more on Bar Girls in Phuket.
Discos in Patong stay open until 02:00 blasting out techno and dance music. Admission fees can be up to 400 Baht, which includes a couple of drinks.
Taipan: Located at the eastern end of Bang La, this claims to be the ‘finest bar’ Thailand (FBI on the t-shirts) and is certainly popular and has friendly staff.
Banana Disco: This nightclub draws the crowd with great music, great drinks and a slightly less rowdy clientele. Opening Hours: 22:00-02:00. 96 Thaweewong Rd., Patong, Tel: (076) 340 301.
Baya Beach Club: Next to Thaipan, this bar kicks off only after 02:00 and is one of the best pick-up joints on the island with free entry. End of Bangla Road between Tai Pan and Rock City.
Seduction Disco: Big dance floor, free entry before midnight (though you may be the only person in there) and lots of space for good dancing, though drinks are pricey at 200 baht a hit! Bangla Rd., Patong Beach. Tel: 092 480 6234.
Clublime: Located along Patong Beach Road, this trendy establishment is frequented by residents and is known to be sleaze-free. Attracts groups of young professional Thais. Patong Beach Rd. Tel: (085) 798 1850, (085) 798 8511.
Phuket Town Discos
Timber Hut: This popular nightclub has been going 20 years and has a good house band and food, although service can be a little slow. Popular with locals and the young expat crowd. Opening Hours: 18:00-02:00. 118/1 Yaowarat Rd. Tel: (076) 211 839.
KorTorMor: Music pub popular with well-to-do, young Thais with a loud (but excellent) band and margaritas served by the bottle. Or try the seua sip-et tua, an outrageous mixture of different alcohols that comes in a bowl with straws. 41/5 Chanacharoen Rd. Tel: (076) 232 285.
Other Discos in Phuket
White Box: Chic beachside place on Kalim Beach, just north of Patong. Two floors of restaurant with a dining area jutting out over the rocks, and a rooftop lounge bar (with sliding roof for when it rains). Frequent deejay nights and other chic events. Not cheap, but the place to go to mix with the smart Thai set. 2457/5 Prabaramee Rd., Patong, Kathu. Tel: (076) 346 271, (081) 815 1657, Email.
Phuket Town and Patong are the two party centres on the island but you’ll find plenty of evening fun in other resort areas. However, they tend to limit themselves to bars and restaurants that retain a relaxed character and you’re likely to find a few bars that have a dance floor and good tunes rather than a proper disco. These are invariably found in the vicinity of the busy centres.