Ah nightlife in Phuket - perhaps the single element of local living which, one can say with absolute certainty, has not deteriorated since the prolific influx of tourists began some 30 years ago. Accurate or not, this once sleepy after-dark island has become synonymous in the minds of most millennial visitors with wild parties and debaucherous nights out. The association, however, is really only a half truth: much of modern-day Phuket remains pretty mild after sunset, with only a handful of exceptions. But what incredibly drastic exceptions they are. Let’s take a minute to get more acquainted with them, shall we?
If outlandish clubs, theme bars and go-go establishments are what you seek, there’s only one name you need to remember in Phuket: Patong. Centered around Bangla Road, this stretch of sois (streets) is what most partiers come here for. Think “Thai Disneyland for Adults,” complete with the sense of otherworldly surrealism that accompanies over the top lighting and larger-than-life venues. Slightly further south along the west coast of the island, Karon and Kata Beaches offer a tamer alternative focused around tightly grouped restaurant/bars that tend to serve more of a family-oriented crowd. They’re quieter by comparison, but still provide adequate potential for a good night out.
If, on the contrary, you’re trying to get away from other tourists to enjoy a few drinks with the local and expat crowd, pat yourself on the back and mosey on over to Phuket Town. With clubs, bars, lounges and live music joints of its own, there are options aplenty if you know where to look. The nightlife here is admittedly more scattered, with a smattering of establishments located on the canal and in-or-around the old town, but you’ll be rewarded for your efforts with a more more authentic experience that doesn’t add to the locals’ growing irritation with irreverent out of towners. So choose wisely, and keep in mind that whatever your preferences are, chances are the “Pearl of Thailand” has something that will suit you just fine.