Patong’s 2 km strip of golden sand is one of the most popular beaches in Phuket, it’s a place to watch the world go by. By day, Patong Beach is a hive of activity with parasail and jet-ski operators, boat drivers, beach vendors and masseuses all vying for the attention of the many visitors relaxing on the beach chairs. During November to April (NE monsoon) the water is very flat and calm.
Everything you could possible need is available on Patong Beach, except someone to rub suncream on your back. Sunbeds are aplenty on Patong Beach, a set (2 sunbeds, a table and an umbrella) costs around THB 200 for one day. There are 3 sets of public toilets spaced out along the beach that are reasonably clean, you usually have to pay 5 baht (US$0.15) to use them.
The sunbed vendors also sell a wide variety of food, drinks, snacks and of course ice cream. Even better is that you don’t have don’t have to leave your sunbed, you’re every need will be taken care of. The whole length of the Beach Road is full of restaurants and cafes (there’s even a McDonalds) so lunch won’t be a problem, nor any other meal for that matter.
Number 9 restaurant would have to be up there among our favorite restaurants. We have enjoyed every meal we have had there, prices are great for food and drinks plus the staff are wonderful. The restaurant is on Phra Barami Road opposite the Patong Paragon Hotel. Thai meals range from 100 – 125baht, a beer will cost you 70baht and a spirits and mix 90baht.
Alternatively, you can fill your stomach on the cheap with Thai street food. It’s delicious, clean, and likely a lot fresher than your hotel’s buffet. All day and well into the night vendors along the beach and Bangla Rd sell sweet corn, fresh fruit, skewers of BBQ meat, crepe, ice-cream, and other Thai-style snacks.
By night the town has a bustling nightlife which includes literally hundreds of restaurants, beer bars, GoGo Bars and of course discos. Nightlife is centered on two main areas Bangla Road and ‘Paradise Complex’, with Bangla Road being predominantly straight and Paradise Complex being predominantly gay. Both roads are lined with many themed bars, discotheques, and go go bars.
Prostitution in Thailand is illegal but tolerated as is the case with Patong Beach, especially on Bangla Road where there are many older Western men drinking with much younger Thai women and transvestites. 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.
Walking into the Simon Cabaret show theatre in Patong is just like entering a movie house. Yes, this is real live showtime and the flash and flesh are pure Vegas except for one thing – the ‘girls’ on stage are actually men. Since 1991 Simon Cabaret has been entertaining visitors with its mélange of camp, glitter and cornball and it still is one of the island’s biggest draws.
I personally didn’t enjoy it much due to the lack of storyline and originality of the production. The Simon Cabaret show in Phuket showcased transvestites lipsyncing and re-enacting music performances by established singers. The one I saw in bangkok a few years ago was much better, telling the story of the life of a ladyboy performer. At the end of the show you have your photo taken with the “girls” for 40bhat.
This post is one of an 5 part entry of our January 2011 trip to Thailand.
See all the places we visited on this trip below: