An Intro Guide to the Phuket Bar Scene
This sub was written to help guide people going to visit the Phuket bar scene. I have owned a condo in Phuket the last 10 years or so but since I am not an expert on the bar scene these comments should be taken as one man’s view only. Your experiences will certainly differ.
I cannot comment on the few small bars in the Kata/Karon area as I never go there. North of Patong there is a town called Kamala which has a few bars but nothing worth mentioning and not worth taking the time to make a special trip to. Even if you happen to be staying in Kamala I would recommend you drive the 15 minutes to Patong.
The main street going into Patong has the wonderful name of Rat-U-Thit 200 Pee Road. Just before a shopping center called Jung Ceylon it crosses a street called Bangla Road which at night becomes a walking street. Bangla Road dead ends on Beach Road which goes out of town. The military which are now running the country are saying they want to reverse directions of these two streets, this being another wonderful thing brought to us by believers in democracy.
Focusing on Patong, starting at the top of Bangla Road where it meets Rat-U-This 200 Pee Road we have FBI which I always find pretty sad. But very late (maybe one ish) it sometimes gets going and might be worth a peak. Earlier than that it’s pretty dead with some aging farang singing a few sets of songs from the 70’s. Freelancers only.
Starting on Bangla itself Rock Hard A Go Go on the right hand corner used to be my favorite place. Air-conditioned and friendly girls. It changed hands about a year ago and is awful now. Unlistenable music, girls who are surgically enhanced. Going rate is 4000 baht plus 1000 bar fine. You will find some Japanese there. Check it out and let me know what you think. I stopped going there about 6 months ago.
Walking down towards the beach, on the right you will soon find what I call "new old Tiger". This is where the fire was a few years ago that killed four people. Lately I have found it the most happening place with a fairly good vibe. The key tourist attraction is a huge pole where various girls do gymnastics. Each one has their own style and they are actually quite fun to watch. Bring your camera as they are very willing to pose (100 baht tip). Plus drinks if you want to buy them at the end of the 15 minute set.
On the opposite side is "new Tiger" which was where all the bars moved to when "old Tiger" burnt (Suspiciously it was the very next day. Hmm. Google "arson").
For the last two years New Tiger was the only place in town, but (maybe just my imagination) it now seems to be losing some vibe to New Old Tiger. The bars in the front (facing the street) seem to be doing ok but walking toward the back many of the bars have gone out of business. (Could be just low season).
I highly recommend both Tigers. Unlike Bangkok bars the girls here seem to be having fun. Don’t mind the tourists—it’s all part of the show.
The girls here and across the street are all on salary…9-10,000 baht/month for someone who works daily and brings in customers, and up to 15000 for dancers. There are also girls who don’t take a salary and are not required to work regular hours, but are still attached to a bar and you must pay a barfine to take them. Everyone is available and there are no coyote dancers (except maybe the girls who shimmy up the pole).
Upstairs is a decent disco which gets going late. Lots of tourists and freelancers.
Leaving Tiger and going back towards the beach the next street on the right is Soi Sea Dragon. This has some go-gos which often feature full frontal. Also you can find some of those bars where they slap you with a rubber stick which for the life of me I can’t see the point of. I kind of like Diablo when my mood is weird. Other people swear by Suzie Wong’s but I don’t like the slapping. At the very end of Sea Dragon on the left used to be the only BJ bar in Phuket, up a flight of stairs. Recently closed, it might reopen in a new place
In the center of Sea Dragon are some basic bars where you can hammer nails into a block of wood if that’s your idea of fun.
Sea Dragon also has some ping pong shows (interestingly, while these used to be touted by a seedy guy in a t-shirt and flip flops, now the touts seems to be young ladies). Be careful if you go into one as the prices are known to be obscene.
Next going down Bangla on the right is what used to be Soi Eric, which doesn't seem to have a name now (although at one time they were saying it was to be called Soi Freedom). Hasn't gotten going yet after the remake and doesn't seem to have any action. I’d skip it.
Lastly we have Soi Katoey (real name Soi Crocodile) which always attracts the tourists. You can take pictures of the girls for 100 baht. If you go past the soi the immediate bar on your right has a staircase that goes up and it is sometimes fun to grab a drink and watch the katoeys below. They seem to attract mostly Chinese tourists. (There is another street which is all katoey bars but I cannot comment on it as it is not my scene).
Another thing I cannot comment on is the many Russian bars that have sprung up over the last few years. I understand they cater mostly to Chinese and the prices are out of sight.
That's the end of the bar scene. Going a bit further you will find Hollywood Disco. It gets going quite late, around 1 – 2 AM so I am usually done by then, but I understand it is decent for both freelancers as well as tourists. Music is new age which turns guys my age off.
And the best sports / pool bar is there…the Aussie bar. No "action" but a great place for watching sports and pool.
Turning around and walking back up, on the right hand side are mostly drinking / live music bars. Take your pick and grab a table in the front and watch the tourists walk by.
The vibe in Bangla Road is different from Bangkok. The girls tend not to use cell phones while working and pay attention to customers. They are happy to go long time and rarely turn over more than once a night. They tend to be less "hard" than those working in BKK. The turnover seems high also as the high season is so short, although there are a few girls there who I have known for several years.
Also, the customers are often couples. Don’t be surprised to find guys with wives / girlfriends, and I have seen people bring their kids to the bars. You will also find Aussie girls dancing on the bar tops to the amusement of the Thais. No matter how drunk you get, please do not get up there yourself. You do not look good doing it.
Overall, I find the vibe in Phuket to be more relaxed and friendly than BKK, and possibly what the bar scene in Bangkok might evolve to be like in a few years.
Drink prices vary. Standard beer is about 120 baht and a whiskey soda might be 180. Ladies drinks vary, ranging also from 120-200 baht. ALL BARS HAVE PRINTED PRICE LISTS WHICH YOU CAN CHECK BEFORE YOU SIT DOWN. I think this is a great idea and avoids surprises. Ladies drinks prices are also listed. Check your change after you pay as occasionally (actually only happened to me once) the wrong change is given.
Barfines start around 600 baht but many places now charge 1000 baht as it is expected that the girl will go long time. Some bars drop prices after midnight or 1 AM and at 2 AM 300 baht bar fines can be found.
As mentioned, long time is the norm. Most girls will probably ask to be fed before they go to your room, and they all have favorite places. Breakfast the next morning is usually a nice thing to do but make sure to get your girl back to her flat by early afternoon as she needs to nap before starting work that night.
For food, I always go to a cheap Thai place called Chiang Mai seafood. You take a right down a little soi just before you get to new old tiger. There are some katoey bars on the right and the restaurant is on the left as the soi ends. There are several other seafood places there for a cheap Thai meal.
Let me know if you have any specific questions and I would be glad to answer.
I was in Phuket recently and knowing that Professor is a regular there I emailed him asking for hints and tips on any must see spots – and this is what he came back with. He then suggested that this be offered as a submission to readers so here it is. I don't know Phuket well these does but have to say from my few days there that Professor's info seems right on the money.