Travel Phuket

Tourist information for Phuket, Thailand


Travel Phuket

Patong is Phuket's "sin city", rivaling Las Vegas for its taste for neon lights and over-the-top nightlife. Visitors can relax at a beer bar, dance the night away at a discotheque, or take in one of the famous Ladyboy cabarets.

When you see Patong today, it's hard to believe that this sparkling city - Phuket's oldest, most popular and well-developed tourist area - was once a place for pirates. Not that long ago, visitors couldn't even reach Patong - it was cut off from the rest of the island by dense tropical forests filled with man-eating black leopards, bears and elephants.

Until a basic dirt road was approved in 1947, Patong was a small, relatively inaccessible village. It was 1976 before a sealed, hard-topped road was built into Patong, and 1979 before electricity services were supplied to the village. The first tourists started arriving in 1980, finding a pristine, undeveloped strip of beach near the village.

The village was upgraded from "sanitation district", which had been obtained in 1969, to a municipality in 1994. Since then, Patong Beach's tourist industry and resort development has blossomed and grown rapidly.

In 2004, Patong and Phuket's west coast were hit hard by the December 26th Tsunami, destroying a large part of the waterfront and leaving behind significant wreckage. However, the city rebuilt and recovered quickly – about a year after the tragic event, few telltale signs were left.

By the end of 2005, about 80% of the tourist industry in and around Patong had returned, and by 2006 resort development was again going strong.

Things to do

During the day, visitors can laze about on the snow-white, kilometers-long beach strip or wiggle their toes in the surf that's only a hop, skip and a jump away. Swimming, world-class snorkeling, or jet-skiing in the warm, aqua-hued waters are within arm's reach.

Or, if tiring of the shimmering sand and hot sun, enjoy a leisurely lunch at one of Patong's fine restaurants, visit a spa - even take a Thai cooking lesson for something a little different and impress your friends and family when you get home with an authentic Thai meal.

For those looking for a quiet, family vacation spot, over-the-top Patong might not be exactly what you want, although it does have some family-oriented areas like Loma Park, a refreshingly quiet spot to escape the sun and relax at the north end of the beach, and of course a plethora of family-friendly things to do other than lay on the beach, shop and party. Patong can certainly be wild and crazy, but is a toned-down affair compared to Bangkok.

During the day, the city is alive with markets, street vendors, shops galore, and just about any activity imaginable during daylight hours, including the Jungceylon Shopping Complex with over 200 stores. Shop for your favorite brands, buy souvenirs, or pick up some unique, hand-made items like silk scarves and jewellery.

Night time is party time

At night, the city is transformed into a sea of neon lights and hedonistic delights in the Bangla Road and Paradise Complex areas. Gay and lesbian lifestyles are widely accepted in Patong, and the Paradise Complex caters primarily to this crowd, although it's not unusual for straight and gay party-goers to mix it up in the entertainment districts.

Visitors can dine finely, enjoy the company of a local girl, boy, or Ladyboy, visit a local go-go bar for a show, beer bar for a drink, or shake their booty at one of the discotheques pounding and pulsating throughout the city.

...or shopping time

Even at night, die-hard shoppers can indulge. Patong's night market springs up along the main roads usually between 6-7 p.m., where visitors can barter with vendors selling clothing, handcrafts, silk scarves, toys, electronics and more, into the early morning hours.

Refreshing resorts just steps away

Several large hotels, including some well-known chains, are located on or near the beach in Patong, so visitors won't have to stray too far from a well-situated lounge to an air-conditioned room when it’s time for a break from the beach.

Cultural attractions

Museums, Patong Temple, and a Chinese shrine provide a respite for visitors from the hive of buzzing Patong street activity. Beach-weary travelers can enjoy a serene taste of "old" Patong in the streets around the temple, Wat Suwan Khiri Wong, reveling in the older homes and the quiet life of the residents. Or visit an authentic Chinese Shrine, the Pun Tuao Kong, better known as the temple on Patong Hill (just remember your fruit offering).

Although a relatively new city for tourists, Patong has a rich history and quiet beauty buried beneath its gaudy and sometimes overpowering façade.