What to Do in Patong Beach?
Patong Beach is the heart of Phuket, and what makes it so attractive to some is often what other people hate most about it. Patong is big, bold, crowded, bright and loud, yet millions of people flock there 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 rotate around two things: its fantastic beach, and its worry-free wild nightlife. The rest? Don’t blind yourself: shopping, dining, and foot massage are just the cream on the cake.
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Just walk in Soi Bangla at night, and you will understand; everyone is there: guys, girls, couples and even families with kids. For most, it’s party zone. For others, it’s a curiosity to tick off the ‘must-see’ list and to 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 or 4 kilometres long and often crowded in the middle part. Forget about parking your car anywhere around there, and even a bike can be a problem. The northern part of the beach, not far from Novotel Phuket, is much more beautiful and less busy. Fewer people, more accessible parking, plenty of local food vendors to have fun, and water gets blue in this part (at least during high season).
The water at the southern end, near the bridge, is not always very clear, but under the bridge is a surprisingly old-fashioned fishermen village worth a photo. You can rent umbrellas and beach chairs which are now available on 10% of the beach (probably more now!). You can try some parasailing, or get yourself killed by renting a jet ski (we warned you).
Patong beach nightlife essentially rotates around Soi Bangla, all the way to Rat-U-Thit Road (the second parallel road). Every evening, this large alley closes to the traffic and switches into an incredibly busy walking street. On each side, a vast amount of entertainment battles to grab your attention and senses. Whether it’s with bright light, loud music or sexy girls 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!)
Further is the Paradise Complex area, 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 is clearly tourist oriented. Souvenirs shops, tailors, night markets specialised in fake brands, tailors, Thai massage-foot massage-naughty massage, tailors, suitcases shops, tailors, art galleries selling DVD copies in their secret rooms, tailors. Did I forget most visible and often invasive: tailors!
Since the opening of Jungceylon, shopping is a bit more sophisticated as well as an excellent way to escape the heat by exploring this vast shopping mall. Plenty of restaurants, shopping and activities there. If you want to know more, read Jungceylon Shopping Center.
Where to Eat in Patong Beach
Restaurants are everywhere in Patong, serving anything from Japanese to Russian, but real Thai food is hard 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, I have no idea why (and I tried). 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)
- Seasalt (beachfront )
- Pan Yaah (Thai)
- Kaab Gluay (Thai)
- Karlsson’s (Steakhouse)
- Sizzle (rooftop)
- Joe Downstairs (Beach Front)
- Seahag (Thai)
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 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.