As the main tourist destination in Phuket, the bustling town of Patong offers something for every traveler, unless solitude is what is desired. With its multitude of souvenir shops, discos and bars, restaurants, and hotels at every price range, Patong is busy 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Add to this mix a gorgeous 2-kilometer-long beach that is likely the most famous in all of Thailand, and it’s no wonder that Patong serves as a magnet for travelers from all over the world.
The town literally comes alive at night, with neon lights from hundreds of beer bars, go-go bars, and discotheques all competing for attention, especially along the infamous Bangla Road. Since much of Patong’s nightlife, including the bar girls, transvestites, and shows of an intimate nature, is decidedly sleazy, the Patong area appeals more to visitors who are younger and/or looking to cut loose on their vacation. Families and females traveling alone will most likely feel more comfortable staying in Karon, Bangtao, or Rawai.
This is not to say that Patong poses a danger to tourists – in general, the streets of Patong are safe to walk around, but as with any tourist destination, it’s always a good idea to walk with others at night and to have an eye out for pickpockets or other petty thieves. On Bangla Road and adjacent areas, be prepared for many assertive and even aggressive propositions to pose for pictures with locals, drink in bars, see shows, and other activities not fit for print here. Families with children and the more modest may prefer the upscale JungCeylon shopping mall and the adjacent area; the businesses in and around JungCeylon are less of an adult nature and include a bowling alley and a movie theater that shows films in English. For hassle-free souvenir shopping, many visitors in-the-know head to the basement at JungCeylon to browse through a broad range of handmade goods from many areas within Thailand.
During the daylight hours, water sports play a big role in Patong; from lounging by the sea on a rented sun bed to jet skiing, banana boating, or even parasailing, it’s all readily available on Patong Beach. Kayaks, canoes, and windsurfers are also available for rent, often by the half-hour or hour. For a longer water adventure, tour boats and longtail boats for hire take tourist on half- or full-day excursions to nearby islands; many of these boat trips include snorkeling equipment so visitors can enjoy the many colorful sights under the water.
When it comes to restaurants, Patong offers everything from the lower-end chains like McDonalds and Subway to fine dining complete with tablecloths and candles. Unsurprisingly, many local restaurants specialize in seafood, Thai cuisine, or a combination of both; several well-known gourmet restaurants in Patong generally have a long wait list, so visitors who plan to visit establishments like Floyd’s Brasserie or Indochine should make reservations well in advance, especially during the high season.
Wherever visitors to Phuket decide to stay for their holiday, Patong is worth at least a short daytime visit to experience the most popular and colorful tourist destination on the island.