The Thailand province of Phuket is the most popular tourist destination in Asia for its many natural wonders, including 17 sandy beaches. The most popular among these beaches is no doubt Patong Beach for its diving spots, well-developed beach, and exotic nightlife.
Phuket is almost the size of Singapore, making it Thailand’s largest Island. It used to be part of the mainland but has since eroded into the Andaman Sea, and so, today, the island is connected to the mainland by the Sarasin Bridge, which was built in 1967. The island had long benefitted from tin mining and marine products, but since the Phuket International Airport opened in 1976, tourism is clearly what has kept the island economy afloat until today. In 2002, the Thai government invested 72 billion baht in developing the island’s tourism, but Phuket gained much attention and respect from all the nations in the world after it efficiently recovered in just one year from the devastating tsunami in 2004.
On the island’s west coast is Patong Beach, the main tourist resort. There is no denying, though, that Patong’s night parties, clubs and bars are more popular than its 2-kilometer beach, which fades in comparison with Karon’s 5-kilometer white-sand stretch.
Patong’s activities and parties are centered in Bangla Road, which is predominantly straight, and Paradise Complex, which is predominantly gay. Both areas are home to hundreds of go-go bars, night clubs, restaurants, and beer houses that stay open until the wee hours of the morning. First-time visitors could easily drown in the sea of neon lights, loud thumping music, and scantily clad lady-boys, who never fail to make heads turn for a second look. Prostitution is tolerated here, although illegal in the country. Touring through the “sinful” streets of Patong requires an open mind and liberal outlook. Locals call this attitude, “Mai pen rain,” or roughly, “Don’t worry about it, just be happy.”
Phuket is said to have the most number of transvestites in Thailand and they are all here in Patong. The popular Simon Cabaret along Bangla Road is an elaborate Las Vegas-type production that features transvestites and lady-boys mimicking popular lady artists as Tina Turner, Whitney Houston and Beyonce.
During the day, Patong does have natural wonders to offer its guests (if they manage to wake up early the next day). Patong has fine white sand and turquoise seawater that are perfect for swimming, snorkeling, or simply strolling around to behold the beauty of Nature. Other popular activities are jet-skiing, banana boat ride, beach volleyball, massage on the beach, and other beach staples. Some of the rides are on the expensive side. Yacht rental is 12,000 baht per day, a jet-ski ride costs around 1,000 baht, and windsurfing around 700 for 15 minutes.
If you wish to just bum around and get a perfect tan, there are rows of sun beds and deck chairs along the beach for 200 baht.
Patong Beach is all about family fun during the day and wild bachelor parties throughout the night, but one thing is constant no matter what time of the day: Patong is always crowded with tourists having the most fun time of their lives.