Escaping Ko Phi Phi got me away from the trashy frat-boy beach parties, but landed me squarely in the epicenter of Southern Thailand’s Entertainment and Sex industry. I had made it to Patong Beach, Phuket. Much like Phi Phi, Patong Beach certainly didn’t strike me as “my scene” by any measure. However, it was certainly an interesting look at a particular quirk of Thai culture. I had only originally planned on spending one day in Patong before continuing northward to board a live-aboard dive boat bound for the Similian Islands. Unfortunately, as I was arriving in Patong, I came down with a serious illness, and found myself laid up in my hotel room with a fever and chills for a solid 4 days. Luckily it wasn’t Malaria of Dengue, but it still knocked me down for a few days, and forced me to cancel my diving trip in favor of making progress towards Bangkok.
The center of nightlife in Patong is along Bangla Road. the 5 block long stip is packed to the max with bars, clubs, restaurants, and stores. During the day it’s relatively peaceful, with random tshirt and sunglass stores, a few cafes, and a small strip of daytime “Beer Bars” where thai women sit with foreigners drinking beer and playing games. I actually did participate in this aspect of Patong – sitting at the bar in the late afternoon/early evening and playing Connect 4 was a fun way to kill an hour.
At night, Bangla Road transforms into a crazy party scene.
To begin the night, street vendors fill the streets selling novelty party goods, lights, necklaces, etc.
Additionally, touts roam around with cards advertising the various shows and services available at the myriad of clubs. In addition to the big clubs with street frontage space, there are lots of side alley clubs, catering to every need.
All of the bars and clubs open their doors, and are saturated with barely-clothed thai girls screaming and clamoring for the attention of passing men. The street is closed to cars, and fills up completely with tourists and girls walking around between the different bars and clubs.
Stipper poles are set up on the edge of each club, so there are girls basically dancing in the street.
In addition to strip clubs, there are also racier clubs down side alleys. Suzy Wong’s is one of the more famous ones.
Overall, Patong Beach in Phuket, Thailand was a very interesting experience – seeing the industry up close was a definitely unique part of Thai culture. I feel like it’s one of those things certainly worth checking out once, but not necessary to return to.
After getting over most of my sickness in Patong, I ventured northward to Bangkok.