Phuket's nightlife is the busiest in the south of Thailand and is a magnet for all those who love a great time once the sun goes down. Of course the epicentre of the whole setup is along Bangla Road in Patong on Phuket's west coast but this doesn't mean that you can't find decent bars, live music, and even friendly 'companionship' other places in Patong or indeed around the island's nightspots. Here's a brief guide to what's happening afterhours on the island.
Where to go and what to do at night in Phuket
There are several categories of bars in Patong, the most basic is the 'beer bar' (sometimes known as a 'bar beers'). You'll find hundreds of these uncomplicated setups off the backstreets of Soi Bangla and Rat-U-Thit Road and in the OTOP market towards the Holiday Inn. The premise is simple; a friendly open-sided environment, loud music, dim lights and lots of hostesses. The rest is up to you.
Mostly based along Soi Bangla, Patong's A Go-Gos are a lot tamer nowadays than in the past when full nudity was tolerated. These days A Go-Gos usually feature bikini-clad girls gyrating around dance poles along a central stage. The girls take it in shifts to dance so that customers can get the chance to chat with them on their breaks; the atmosphere is conducive to couples as well. Of Patong's A Go-Gos perhaps Suzie Wong's at the end of Soi Seadragon is the friendliest. Please note that, except at the perennial Rock Hard A Go-Go, it's not recommended to go upstairs into a closed venue to watch a Go-Go show as unpleasant drinks bill-transactions can sometimes happen behind closed doors away from public and official eyes.
This is what Patong specializes in: There are five main nightclubs around Soi Bangla ? each a veritable labyrinth of wall-to-wall partiers. Normally, punters pay for an entrance fee that goes towards the first drink(s) then you're on your own.
Patong's clubs don't really start up until late and you'd be wasting your time to head to one before, say, 11 at night. Clubs come and go in Patong but three of the most enduring are Illuzion, Seduction, and New Tiger Disco.
Around the Island
Beach Bars/Sunset Viewing Bars
For visitors who come mostly for the beaches but also fora bit of nightlife thrown in as well Phuket's Beach Bars are the ideal combination of relaxing atmosphere and the chance to meet new friends. At the south end of Kata Beach stands the Ska Bar ? an institution in its own right, while in Rawai at the foot of the island Nikita's has been going for at least 20 years (although some would call it a restaurant) ? who cares, it's friendly, intimate, and right by the sea. In between Kata and Nai Harn on the hills above Kata Noi you'll find three adjoining bars that are perfect for sunset viewing although they're definitely not on the beach. Perhaps the friendliest sunset viewing bar in this area is called Sabai Corner and it's on the road down to the sea from the Kata 'Three Beaches' viewpoint (look for the sign).
A whole lot more up-market from the normal nightspots on the island, Phuket's west-coast beach clubs have prices that suit more well-heeled visitors but then again service is top-notch at these establishments and you'll be able to lounge away the day and night nibbling away on great food with well-prepared cocktails. Like Patong's nightclubs, they come and go, but some of the leaders are Catch Beach Club at Surin Beach, Bliss ? just up the coast, Re Ka Ta on Kata Beach (with a great menu and wine selection), and Xana on Bangtao Beach. Perhaps the most laid-back and unpretentious beach club of them all is Salt on Surin Beach. Many have themed parties so look them up online to be informed.
A good indication that a holiday destination's nightlife pulse is beating healthily is its bopping live music scene. Phuket has various locations where you can enjoy live riffs and beats ? not least of all at the Hard Rock Caf? along Rat-U-Thit Road in Patong. Okay, so it's as spontaneous as setting jelly but the sound equipment, food, drinks and talent are just fine, thank you. Rock City, diagonally opposite the entrance to Bangla Road, caters to heavy metal lovers and does so very well ? earplugs recommended. Tai Pan next door to Rock City has live music but nothing cutting edge while in Kata the Roadhouse features splendid live rock and blues ? although you'd have to track down who's playing when there. Over in Karon next to Centara Grand, Angus O'Tool's has good acoustic sets. For a perma-jam in humble but welcoming circumstances Phuket Town features Rockin' Angels Bar and a few hundred metres further up Yaowarat Road is Timber Hut ? perhaps the island's oldest live music venue (open since 1990) and nighttime watering hole ? the place to meet locals. Also downtown Phuket is the live music venue Saxophone Pub with some pretty experienced musicians blowing away on a nightly basis.
Spectacular and relatively inexpensive with transportation thrown in, Phuket's night shows range from the genderbenderly audacious (Phuket Simon Cabaret in Patong) to the truly impressive (Phuket FantaSea in Kamala) to colourful and cheerful shows such as Aphrodite and Siam Niramit in Phuket Town. A great evening out for the family, Phuket Island's nighttime shows have something for everyone.