Thailand’s largest island and one of the country’s premier destinations, beautiful Phuket keeps crowds happy (very happy, in fact) with its excellent bar scene. Here’s where to drink in Phuket.
Phuket is an island on the up, attracting tens of millions of visitors every year – so popular that it no longer endures a low season at all. Don’t let this global reputation be a turn-off, though – beyond tourist-heavy spots like Patong Beach, the island’s size works in its favour, meaning there’s always a quieter, more local-feeling cove to escape to. Beyond the beaches, from low-key drinking holes to classy beach clubs, Phuket has a bar to suit.
Phuket excels at glorious sunsets and, while Wassa Homemade Bar might be set in busy Patong, it’s hard to think of a better spot to soak up all the twilight action. This is a stylish yet simple and unpretentious spot away from the biggest crowds, with a thatch-roofed bar surrounded by palm trees and basic seating, all looking out over Patong’s rooftops and the jaw-dropping ocean view. Crack open a beer, soak up the gentle music, breathe in the sea breeze and watch in awe as mother nature unveils her nightly show.
Quip, on the top floor of the hotel of the same name, stands out as the only rooftop bar you’ll find in Phuket old town. Head to the roof of this gorgeous Sino-Portuguese property – typical of the architectural style that makes Phuket town worth a visit in itself – for a relaxed atmosphere that’s perfect for soaking up the colours of the night sky with a cold drink. With its low altitude and chilled-out vibe, Quip Rooftop Bar reminds us of Bangkok’s Sky Train Jazz Club.
Refined and every bit grown up, Baba Nest at Phuket’s five-star Sri Panwa resort is about as sexy as rooftop bars come, with open-air beach club vibes for miles. The 360-degree sunset views here are simply stupendous and the modern, minimalist decor complements the extensive range of cocktails, wines and bubbles (accompanied by a short list of Mexican tapas dishes). This is a gorgeous spot for blowout sundowners, with an unobstructed lookout over the nearby islets.
Whether its name refers to the local fishermen’s haul or someone you might flirt with on the sand, Catch is Phuket’s original beach club and has been open since 2008. This is somewhere to lounge in style all day – there’s an infinity-edge pool with sea views, international tapas-style dishes from the kitchen, and gorgeous Bang Tao beach by your side. Linger into the evening for fine wines, champagnes and signature cocktails as the sun goes down.
Set in another of Phuket Town’s charming Sino-Portuguese shophouses with cracked, crumbling walls, Ka Jok See is – if nothing else – something that must be seen to be believed. It’s a full-on restaurant rather than simply a drinking hole, but we’re counting it as a bar because that’s exactly what it becomes by the end of the night. Come for an eat-as-much-as-you-like Thai food feast, then watch in delight (or horror if you’re a total introvert) as the place turns into a raucous dance club where no-one is spared from joining in. It’s certainly an experience to remember.
Ska Bar is a welcome antidote to all those high-flying rooftop bars and beach clubs that Phuket does so well. It boasts a reggae flair and no-frills wooden design that fits right in with the sand at the southern end of photogenic Kata Yai Beach. The bar itself is built around an imposing tree that’s been on the spot for over a century. This is somewhere to come for chilled-out evenings that keep going well into the wee hours – interspersed with some gorgeous sunsets and regular dance shows right on the beach.
Expect contemporary white design and undeniably show-stopping ocean views when you head to Kata Rocks, a bar and restaurant that forms part of the resort of the same name. It is titled for its location between the Kata neighbourhood’s two beautiful beaches. Come for seafood-heavy restaurant menu of Spanish-influenced Mediterranean and Thai dishes – widely regarded as some of Phuket’s best food. Or simply sip on the bar’s innovative signature cocktails that make the most of local ingredients. Either way, you’ll be treated to stunning views out over the Phuket coastline.
Another high-end Phuket restaurant that makes an equally fine destination for a relaxed and sophisticated drink, Joe’s Downstairs serves up innovative international cuisine and an impressive drinks menu. This all takes place on an attractive white open-air deck, perched over a particularly stunning stretch of rocks just offshore, only a short distance from busy Patong. Joe’s is somewhere well worth visiting simply for a drink in this evocative atmosphere – and, excellent cocktails aside, its award-winning and extensive wine list doesn’t disappoint.
In a resort billed as sporting a modern Sino-Portuguese theme, the Kee Sky Lounge is stylish to the point of being sublime. The elegant decor in the rooftop bar is intended to resemble that of a luxury cruise-liner. Nestled among Patong’s rooftops, it certainly manages to achieve something special with impressive views out to sea from what would be the front of the boat. Whether perched at the circular bar or from the comfort of day beds up on the seventh floor, a refreshing cocktail is the order of the day. The Kee Sky Lounge also offers two happy hours and puts on regular jazz sessions.
Phuket town’s large and sprawling Cue Bar is the perfect sports bar for a chilled evening. As the name suggests, this is also somewhere where pool and snooker are taken seriously – including local teams of pro players who use the space for competitions. Expect cold beers and a range of generously poured cocktails, plus good opportunities for people-watching from both the interior and the streetside terrace. The bar puts on regular live music, also making it a popular place to hit the dance floor as the night moves on.