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When most people think of Phuket’s vibrant Patong district, they think of beaches, parties and little else. In reality, the area has so much more to offer. Here are the best things to see and do in notorious Patong.
Let’s start by getting the obvious out of the way; the main draw of Patong for many who come here is Bangla Walking Street, and for good reason. A pedestrianised road, full to the brim with beer bars, go-go bars and nightclubs, Bangla is the top spot on the island for letting loose and having a night out on the town. Whether it’s enjoying a beer in the infamous Tiger Disco or enjoying a famous DJ performing in Illuzion nightclub, Bangla caters to all tastes, and you’re sure to have a night to remember here.
Thailand is famous for its transgender community, and they’re often the butt of many jokes from the ignorant. But at Simon Cabaret Show, it’s their talents that are at the forefront of the conversation, not their gender. The Simon Cabaret Show in Patong is among the best of its kind, where glamorous performers ‘wow’ the audience night after night with their expert singing and dancing routines, mesmerising choreography and colourful outfits. It’s quite the show, is child-friendly and not seedy in the slightest — a change from other advertised offerings in the area. Performers are also happy to pose for pictures after the event, providing you with a life-long memento from this dazzling show.
Patong is a great place to indulge in retail therapy. Located towards the top of Bangla Walking Street is Jungceylon, a shopping complex with a number of international and local stores, offering the latest fashions and trends. Shops such as Swarovski, Levis and Coach are present, alongside local crafts and boutiques in the That’s Siam zone. In addition to Jungceylon, there are a number of shops along the beach, with people peddling all kinds of things, from knock-off makeup and clothes to authentic Thai souvenirs. It might not be the shopping paradise that Bangkok is, but it has more than enough to help you scratch that itch.
Muay Thai is the national sport of Thailand, and if you haven’t seen a fight yet, that’s something that needs to change. Muay Thai is a violent sport, where the legs, knees and elbows are utilised in strikes as much as the fists; the sport certainly isn’t for the faint-hearted. Along with being entertaining as a sport, it’s also entertaining as a cultural spectacle. Before the fight starts, fighters perform the wai khru, a dance that pays respect to their teachers, parents and ancestors. Set to traditional Thai music, it’s an art form that precedes the violence, making for an interesting juxtaposition. Muay Thai bouts occur regularly at Bangla Stadium, right in the heart of Patong, and are well worth checking out.
While many of the beaches in the south of Thailand don’t allow water sports, Patong Beach is one of the best places to go if that’s what you’re looking for. From jet skis and parasailing to windsurfing, there’s a host of water-based activities to get up to on this side of the island, with plenty of vendors on and just off the beach, ready to make your dreams come true. A fan of water sports, but not of sand? Then head to the Surf House. Located on Beach Road, Surf House is a flow-riding destination where surfers of all ages and abilities can surf on artificial sea waves that feel just like the real thing.
One thing Phuket isn’t short on is beaches, and some of the best can be found right in Patong. While Patong Beach itself isn’t the best looking, it’s still a long strip of soft sand and blue seas that’s popular throughout the day because of its range of activities, from daytime water sports to the nightly beach parties; the area still ticks the boxes for many people. For a gorgeous beach, look no further than Freedom Beach. Despite being close to Patong Beach, it’s much quieter and more scenic, thanks in part to the difficulty in getting there. For an easier to access beach, Paradise Beach to the southwest of Patong is a good option. Somewhere between Freedom and Patong Beaches in terms of quietness and beauty, Paradise Beach’s white sands, imposing rocks and dense green backdrop help explain how it got its name.
After all that travelling, drinking and dancing, your body will probably be in need of some TLC. Fortunately for you, you’re in the right place in Patong. Patong has a large number of incredible spas nearby, from the stunning Siladon Spa with its views of the bay, to the equally lovely Aqua Spa. From traditional Thai and oil massages, to hot stone therapy, there’s a large range of treatments on offer to soothe your aching body. These places can get a little pricey, but not to worry; there are tonnes of spas in the area that cater to all budgets, and are bound to bring you to a state of bliss you didn’t think was possible.