Phuket’s Gay Nightlife
Conveniently, Paradise Complex is home to most of gay Phuket’s nightlight. All of island’s gay bars and gay clubs located in Paradise Complex in Patong town. Patong is home to most of the island’s straight nightlife as well. Most of Phuket’s gay bars don’t get busy until 9 pm – 11 pm while the gay clubs get going after midnight.
Phuket’s Gay-Friendly Hotels
If you want to party in Phuket, staying near to Patong Beach is the place to be. None of the other resort towns on the island come close to the loud, intense, dizzying party vibe of Patong. Unfortunately, this also means that Patong can be a loud, intense, and dizzying place to stay, which is not ideal for everyone. Fortunately, there are many quiet beaches spread across the island where you get your relax on.
Gay Phuket is a destination that offers both tropical waters and white sandy beaches as well as a vibrant nightlife. As Thailand’s largest island, Phuket is comparable in size to Singapore and is one of the country’s most popular tourist spots. This has resulted in a large and active gay community on the island, particularly in the town of Patong, which is also the largest town on Phuket and home to most of the nightlife options, both for the gay and straight communities. The island is situated on the west coast of Thailand in the Andaman Sea and is connected to the mainland by a land bridge.
While there is no officially designated gay beach on Phuket, many gay tourists opt to spend their days at resort beaches scattered throughout the island before heading to Patong in the evening. If you are not staying at a resort with a private beach, Patong Beach is considered by many to be the unofficial gay beach due to its status as the heart of gay Phuket. The gayest section of Patong Beach is located in front of La Flora Resort Patong, which is conveniently located near the gay nightclub area around Paradise Complex.
The beach bars surrounding La Flora Resort Patong typically display rainbow flags, making them easy to spot. However, these venues do not typically host daytime parties, instead offering a relaxed atmosphere with chilled beers and deck chairs available for rent. For those seeking more lively entertainment, it is best to wait until nighttime when the real fun begins in Phuket.
Given Phuket’s seedy reputation, it is no wonder that getting an STI or HIV test on the island presents no great difficulty. There are plenty of walk-in clinics in Patong that offer a quick, anonymous, and relatively cheap (approx 800B) service, but many people prefer to stick to hospitals for professional staff and reliable results.
There are three private hospitals, of which Siriroj International Hospital (formerly Phuket International Hospital) and Bangkok Hospital Phuket cater most to tourists, with English-speaking staff. You may have a better service at these, but you will need an appointment.
Thailand has one of the highest prevalences of HIV in the Asia and Pacific region, and almost 50% of all new HIV infections are amongst gay or bisexual men, male sex workers, and transgender people. Approximately 9% of men who have sex with men in Thailand have HIV, with the highest incidence being in Bangkok and the second in Phuket.
Most people who visit Phuket pick an area and stick to it, due to complicated transport and the irresistible pull of their private resort beach. Every area has a distinct vibe, so choose whichever one feels best for you.
Patong – If you are visiting Phuket for its legendary nightlife, this is it. Every night, Bangla Road and the surrounding area is illuminated by garish neon lights, with pounding music coming from every bar and club along the way. Most of the large mainstream bars are very straight-oriented (you’ll be hard-pressed to find one without go-go girls dancing on the tables), so you need to head to the Paradise Complex area for something more to your liking. Everything is very close to each other, so it’s a 5-minute walk from the go-go girls to the go-go boys. Patong Beach is not the prettiest on the island (and is constantly busy), but it is still perfectly suited for watersports and lounging.
Kata – A popular alternative to Patong for those who prefer a more chilled-out vibe, Kata is a surfer haven with a pleasant local commerce and a bustling beach. There are also plenty of great spa options for a luxury massage. The area is divided between Ao Kata Yai (Big Kata Bay) and Ao Kata Noi (Little Kata Bay) – the bulk of the commerce and accommodation is in the former.
Karon – If Patong is buzzing and seedy and Kata is laid-back and sporty, Katon is somewhere in between. The nightlife is like a mini-version of Patong (minus the gay hub), but the overall town is slightly more polished to accommodate high-end luxury tourism in the resorts along the beach. Karon Beach is a beautiful stretch of golden sand, and is larger and less developed than the other two.
Phuket Town – Most visitors to Phuket skip the capital of the province entirely, which is both understandable and a pity. People go to Phuket for its beaches, tropical resorts, and gaudy bars, none of which are particularly prominent in Phuket town. Instead, a blend of traditional Thai culture, unique international influences, and fast-paced gentrification make it a trendy, picturesque urban hub that can provide a welcome break when you are tired of shots and sun loungers. There is a fun, laid-back, local nightlife to be explored,
Rawai – Rawai is on the southernmost tip of the island and has become a popular hub for expats and retirees. Though Rawai Beach is not one for lounging, nearby Nai Han Beach is a favorite with expats, boasting stunning views and significantly reduced crowds.
Surin – Surin Beach is possibly the most gorgeous on the island, which goes towards explaining why it is also home to its most exclusive and high-end resorts. If you have the budget, Surin is as lovely (and Insta-worthy) as it gets, but there is not much for budget and mid-range travelers in the area.
Bang Tao – Bang Tao is home to many bungalow hotels and resorts. Between them, these offer enough entertainment and activities – as well as some of Phuket’s finest restaurants – that most visitors don’t bother leaving. This is a popular destination for families, so the vibe may not be ideal for people traveling alone or with friends.
Phuket is a large island, and walking between towns is out of the question. Most of the beach towns are however small enough to walk around in, meaning that if you are staying in place you will be able to avoid spending too much money on overpriced taxis and tuk-tuks. Some resorts will offer shuttle services to nearby beaches and towns: enquire before booking to help you plan your stay.
From Phuket International Airport – Getting a metered taxi from the airport is by far the most convenient option. The airport is in the north of the island, about 45-50 minutes away from the southern beaches and Phuket town. It should be no more than 700B ($22) for a taxi to anywhere on the island. There is also a public bus to Phuket town that departs regularly throughout the day (1 -1.5-hour intervals): find out more about it here.
Taxi‘s – Prior to 2014, Phuket’s taxi industry was under the control of an elusive ‘taxi mafia’ that inflated transportation costs across the island. However, the Thai military has taken decisive action to dismantle this organization, resulting in taxis now adhering to legal maximum prices. While it is possible to negotiate fares below these rates, it is important to be cautious as overcharging is still common, particularly for late-night trips between beaches. Metered taxis are scarce in Phuket, so it is advisable to note down the number of a metered taxi from the airport and schedule pickups and drop-offs with them throughout your stay.
GrabTaxi – Since Uber’s brief stint on the island ended, GrabTaxi is the main mobile app option in Phuket. Download the app and hail a taxi to you from anywhere on the island.You can anticipate paying comparable fares to a regular taxi, although the waiting time may vary depending on the time of day.
Tuk-tuks – Common but generally considered to be the worst way to get around. You may end up paying significantly more than a taxi, for a significantly less comfortable ride.
Songthaew – Songthaews, also known as sorng-taa-ou, are a common sight on Thailand’s islands. They occupy a middle ground between a bus and a tuk-tuk, offering a more affordable alternative to taxis, although they can be somewhat cramped and uncomfortable. Despite this, they are highly popular among tourists and provide an excellent opportunity to engage in conversations with fellow travelers. In Phuket, the songthaew network connects Phuket town with the main beaches, but not between the towns themselves, requiring a taxi for inter-town travel. To catch a songthaew in Phuket town, head to the vicinity of the fresh market on Ranong Road, where you can find them with their destinations displayed on the sides. These songthaews generally depart every 30 minutes, operating from 6 am to 6 pm. However, the driver typically waits for the vehicle to fill up before departure. Fares start at 15B. If you need a songthaew to Phuket town, consult your hotel for the most convenient location to hail one.
Buses – There is a limited network of public, air-conditioned buses with a fixed 10B fare within Phuket town. Long-distance buses connect the island with several major cities on the mainland, including overnight sleeper services to Bangkok and bus+ferry packages to reach the eastern islands like Koh Samui and Koh Pha Ngan. Make sure you go to the correct bus station, as there are two Phuket Bus Terminals. You want Bus Station 2, the newest one, for most long-distance air-conditioned services.
Car or Motorbike Rental – Many tourists choose to avoid the overpriced taxi and tuk-tuk fares by renting a car or motorbike when on the island. While this is a good option if you want to explore the island independently, it is worth noting that Thailand has some infamously dangerous roads and infamously reckless drivers. If you are thinking of renting a motorbike – a tourist rite of passage of sorts in Thailand – bear in mind that accidents are common and rental does not tend to include insurance. Also, this should go without saying, but do not rent a motorbike if you have never driven one before.While it is a common practice and some rental companies may overlook it, renting a vehicle without proper documentation is both illegal and unwise.