Patong Beach nightlife is pretty…. Notorious is probably the best word. Patong nightlife is the epicentre of Phuket nightlife, and the infamous Bangla Road is where most of it goes down in Patong.
The nightlife Patong Beach has on offer is probably second only to Pattaya for debauchery. Many visitors to Patong book their Thailand holidays with this in mind. Not us – we opted to stay in one of the hotels in Patong Beach because we thought it would make a convenient base for exploring the many Phuket beaches. And so it proved to be.
Despite travelling with a small person, it was inevitable that we would encounter the many Patong bars and Bangla Road nightlife at some point. This photo essay centres on Bangla Road Patong, and shows you what to expect of this brashest of Thailand resorts.
By day, the beach at Patong is where it’s at. It’s one of the best beaches in Thailand, an outstanding stretch of sand in a scenic setting with mountains at either end.
As the sun goes down on another day in Patong, the crowds gravitate a block or two inland. The most popular place is Thanon Bangla, the famous pedestrianised Bangla walking street. It links the Beach Road (Thaweewong Road) with busy Rat U Thit 200 Pee Road, where you’ll find the main Patong shopping centre, Jungceylon mall.
A night out on Bangla Road is one of the most popular things to do in Phuket, and the neon signs everywhere leave you in no doubt where you are.
One of the first places you come to is the vast Tiger Bar Patong, a multi-storey mega nightclub where you can drink, dance, watch football or all three.
Some of the Bangla Road bars are all that they seem, places where you can eat and drink.
Other Patong clubs are quite overt about what they offer – coyote dancing, table dancing (at least that’s what they call it) and worse.
We were quite shocked to see people handing out leaflets advertising a Bangla Road ping pong show. If you have no idea what this entails, it involves a woman popping a table tennis ball out of an intimate part of her anatomy. It is utterly degrading, and why someone would pay to witness such a spectacle is beyond me. Others offered live sex shows on stage. Only one word for it: exploitation.
You can also find some great Thai street food in the side streets off Bangla Road. Most of the Bangla Road restaurants and bars cater to the tourist trade – you have to explore beyond there to find the best Patong restaurants.
Eventually you’ll call it a night, and catch one of the most expensive tuk-tuks in Thailand back home. It costs you a flat rate of 200 Baht (over US$6) to travel in the centre of Patong Beach, even if it’s only a few hundred metres. A totally shameless rip-off. To put it in perspective, that’s more than we paid for a 20 km round trip up the coast in Khao Lak the week before.
Fantastic beach though!
David Angel is a British writer and photographer who has been travelling and photographing the world for over 25 years. His work is regularly featured in worldwide media including the BBC, the Guardian, the Times and the Sunday Times. His images are frequently used throughout the world by tourism bodies such as Visit Britain and Visit Wales.