What to Do in Patong Beach?
Patong Beach is the true heart of Phuket, and what makes it so attractive to many, is often what other people hate most about it. Patong is big, bold, crowded, bright and loud. And yet millions of people flock here every year like flies on honey. If Bangkok is the Big Mango, then Patong is the Big Durian: you’ll love Patong, or you’ll hate it!
The original success and popularity of Patong beach mostly rotate around two things: a fantastic beach and a legendary wild nightlife. The rest? Don’t blind yourself: shopping, dining, and foot massage are just the cherry on the cake.
Just walk up and down Bangla Walking Street at night, and you will understand instantly why it is so popular. Everyone is there: guys, girls, couples and even families with kids. And why not? Patong has rooftop bars, beach clubs, world-class nightclubs and excellent Night Clubs. For many, it’s a once in a lifetime party experience (once a year for some). For others, it’s mostly a curiosity to tick-off their ‘must-do’ list, and talk about once back home. Just look at the crowd staring at sexy and very feminine ladyboys dancing on a street stage in a very tiny outfit, and you’ll get the picture, literally. And don’t forget to close your mouth.
The Beach of Patong
The beach is 3 kilometres long and often crowded in the middle part during high season. Forget about parking your car anywhere around there, and even parking your motorbike can be a problem.
The northern part of the beach, not far from Novotel Phuket and Graceland resort is more beautiful and a lot less busy. In this part of Patong, there are fewer people and more parking, plenty of local food and fruit vendors to enjoy. Water is also bluer during high season, and there are plenty of palm trees to sit under.
The water at the southern end is not always as clear as in the north, because below a large bridge, a river flows into the sea. Under the bridge is a surprisingly old-fashioned fishermen village, where most longtail boats are parked when not in use. Since it is easy to access, it may be worth a photo.
On this part of the beach, you can rent umbrellas and beach chairs which are now available on 10% of the beach (probably more now!). A long floating pontoon is installed during high season for tourists to ride those longtail boats that will take them to the beautiful and secluded Freedom Beach.
If you decide to spend the day on the beach, you can rent beach chairs and umbrellas, get a beach massage, try some parasailing, or get yourself killed by renting a jet ski (we warned you).
Beyond the beach and the nightlife, Patong has a surprisingly wide array of things to do for everyone. There are rooftops bars, night markets, ziplines, cable ski, cinemas, bowling and huge shopping malls that are a lot more fun that you may think. Read this page to discover the many things you can do here!
Patong nightlife essentially rotates around Bangla Walking Street, all the way to Rat-U-Thit Road (the second road parallel to the beach). Every evening from 6 pm, this road closes to the traffic and turns into an incredibly busy walking street. On each side, a vast amount of entertainment battles to grab your attention, senses, and money!
Whether it’s with bright light, loud music or ladies wanting you to have a seat at one of the many open beer bars or even touts inviting you to have a look at the naughty shows (you should never follow touts by the way!). Patong has evolved a lot though, there are now great live music bars, enormous nightclubs, rooftop bars and of course, Go-Go Bars are still here.
Further is the Paradise Complex, known to be the gay street, easy to spot as it’s right at the feet of the Royal Paradise Hotel tower. It can be worth a visit, it’s friendly and you can watch a small ladyboy cabaret show for the price of a drink.
Shopping in Patong
You could say “there is something for everyone in Patong Beach” but in fact, it’s clearly tourist-oriented. As you walk the street, expect to see souvenirs shops, tailors, Thai massage-foot massage-soapy massage, tailors, suitcases shops, tailors, art galleries, tailors. Did I forget most visible and often invasive: tailors!
Night markets have become incredibly popular in Patong and there are no less than four to explore, Otop Market, Malin Plaza being the most popular. There are also two shopping malls here to enjoy. Jungceylon and Central Patong both offer a more sophisticated shopping experience as well as an excellent way to escape the heat with plenty of restaurants, shopping and activities. If you want to know more, read about the Jungceylon Shopping Center, but don’t miss the Banzaan Fresh Market just behind it, it is a chance to see real fresh local fruits, spices and products!
Restaurants are everywhere in Patong, serving anything from Japanese to Russian, but real Thai food is difficult to find around here. You’ll get some Thai restaurants serving decent Thai food, but you would hardly see a Thai person eating there, and this should give you a clue. In Soi Post Office for instance, roughly around the middle of the beach, is Sabai Sabai, a Thai restaurant very popular among tourists. Around these small streets, you can easily find little places to eat, but it is Thai food for tourists.
Further north, on the way to Novotel Phuket Resort, few restaurants were lucky enough to get their share of sand. Walk on the beach around ‘Impiana Resort‘, and you’ll be able to pick one of the few restaurants having tables right on the beach.
Not far from there you can also try the ‘Food Court’, a popular concept in Asia, where you order your food at one of the many booths built around a central area where tables are. Usually good enough and cheap. Then you can’t avoid the three or four ‘seafood centres’ with its army of waiters trying to lure you into their designated areas using every catch lines they know. It is not bad, but not cheap as most people believe at first.
Few restaurants we recommend in Patong Beach:
- La Gritta (Italian)
- Rustic Eatery
- Seasalt (beachfront )
- Pan Yaah (Thai)
- Kaab Gluay (Thai)
- Karlsson’s (Steakhouse)
- Sizzle (rooftop)
- Joe Downstairs (Beachfront)
- Number 9
- Number 6 Up the Hill
If you want to go real Thai food (with a view), you will have to drive outside Patong, direction Kamala Beach, and right before the Thavorn Hotel is Romsai Restaurant on the cliff. Hard to spot, but that’s the real (good) thing.
There are hundreds of hotels in Patong, and you will find yours with no problem. We tried some because they are close to everything, close to the beach or stand out from the rest. Read more
Popular Hotels in Patong:
If you plan to visit the middle of Patong Beach and the central part of the beach and you are driving a car, park it in the Jungceylon underground parking. Buy or drink anything in the shopping complex and keep your receipt. Even if you plan to go to the beach, it’s better to park here then walk down through Bangla Road than driving in a circle on the beach front. If you plan to use a Tuk Tuk, always bargain your rate before.