Phuket is a leisure island and derives most of its prosperity and reputation from providing hospitality, so it’s not surprising that the island is covered in bars set among the many restaurants and resorts that cater to visitors and locals alike. You’ll never be far from a bar when in Phuket; prices on drinks are reasonable but vary wildly depending on how upmarket or touristy the area is, or whether the bar is in a hotel.
Each of the beach resort areas on Phuket has an area where bars are clustered, along with many seafront venues and hotel bars where you can enjoy a poolside martini or sundowner cocktail.
Phuket bars range from classy, themed venues that serve food, to rustic beachside shacks, impromptu roadside drinking tables (Thai style), and of course the go go bars which offer company.
Many of the bars have pool tables, good music, happy hours and TVs showing sport or music. Bars and nightclubs in Phuket tend to spring up and disappear with some frequency, but we’ve listed a few of the most established places:
Phuket Bars in Patong
The bars of Patong are mostly on the infamous Soi Bangla, but you will find many more tucked along streets branching off the main strip. You can avoid this sleazy sector at one of the many other classy bars along the beachfront road or elsewhere in Patong. The bustling sois (lanes) of bars along Soi Bangla include: Soi Lion, Soi Eric, Soi Katoey and Soi Tiger.
Often these are little more than a counter, bar stools and lots of girls trying to lure you with ‘Hello, you’re welcome!’ A few of the favourites are Sharky Bar, Viking Bar, London Bar, Sambuca Bar and Moulin Rouge. In addition to these, there are plenty of others, and we’ve listed a few of the more popular ones below:
Sea Dragon Bar: Located above Soi Easy is arguably the best go go bar in Phuket. It offers a long stage with no less than 15 sexy women gyrating to the beats of hip-hop music. From 23:00, there is a regular hourly performance by the girls. Bangla, Baan Patong, Tel: (085) 136 1444.
Rock Hard A Go-Go: At the end of Soi Bangla is the famous Rock Hard Bar (which used to sport the exact same branding as Hard Rock some years ago). One of the few places with go go dancing at lunchtime and comes with an L-shaped stage. Opening Hours: 19:30-03:30. Bangla Rd., Patong Beach.
The Shipwreck Bar: Located on Bangla road, this is a great place to get away from the crowds and is ideally placed for people-watching. 44 Bangla Road, Patong Beach.
Roots Rock Reggae Bar & Shop: Enjoy the chilled atmosphere in the ‘living room’ style bar. There’s also a shop of unique handmade jewellery and leather. Opening Hours: 14:00-02:00. 140/21 Nanai Rd., Patong Beach.
Aussie Bar: As the name suggests, this bar caters to a largely Australian crowd and is a great place to catch sporting events – rugby and Aussie Rules football especially. Open: 09:30-02:30. Bangla Rd.
Dingo’s Bar: Another Aussie-run, themed bar, but more down-to-earth than the slew of girlie bars. Has plenty of friendly hostesses and Aussie proprietor. Look out for the D-Club upstairs. Opening Hours: 18:00-02:00. Soi Crocodile, Bangla Rd., Patong Beach. Tel: (076) 211 036.
Bavarian Beer Garden: A wide open space with a good pool table, conducive for a cold beer and a nice chat. For a little more action move to the attached Lips Bar. 21/5 Taweewong Rd., Patong Beach. Tel: (076) 342 421.
Bars in Kata and Karon
Most of the bars in the Kata area are concentrated around Taina Road in Kata centre, while Karon’s bars are clustered near Karon Circle. The music here can border on deafening as the bars compete for customers by upping the volume.
After Beach Bar: This bar is located near the viewpoint on Kata Hill and is a great place to catch a sunset. It resembles a tree house in many respects, including the rickety floor. Open: 12:00-21:00. Kata Beach, Karon. Tel: (089) 594 7475.
Easyriders: The biker-themed decor and good drinks menu make this a popular hangout for locals and visitors. Opening Hours: 10:00-22:00 (Mondays Close). Taina Road, Kata Beach.
Bluefin Tavern: A relaxed atmosphere and some of the best Mexican food on the island draw plenty of visitors, especially at the weekend. 111/17 Taina Rd., Kata Beach. el: (076) 330 856, (080) 524 6883, Email.
Nakonnai Gallery: Hand built from glass and wrought iron by the proprietor, who is an artist with works on display in a back room.
Bars in Kamala
Long Ma Doo Bar: Located on the Kamala beach road, featuring eclectic decor, ice cold beer, and good company. Open: 17:00-00:00. 121 Moo 3, Kamala Beach. Tel: (076) 385 989, (081) 537 0143.
Kamala Mountain View: If you are traveling from Surin to Patong, Mountain View is tucked at the bottom right corner of the big hill which marks the end of Kamala. Pool table, good music and attentive waitresses makes Ming one of the most popular bars in the area.
Kamala Beer Garden: Charming thatched roof bar (opposite the 7-11 in Kamala, near the Ohlala crepe cafe) is a cozy little place frequented by residents of the area. Open: 16:00-02:00, Tel: (087) 629 7258, Email.
Bars in Bang Tao
Pepper’s: This air-conditioned bar offers a comfortable environment to play some pool and seek refuge from the humidity during the hot months. Especially popular during big sporting events. English breakfast served daily from 08:30, plus Sunday roast dinner.
BB’s Pub: Opposite Pepper’s, this bar is open-air and has three large TVs, attracting a good crowd of expats when there are big sports event on. Lagoon Rd., Thalang. Tel: (081) 787 5354.
Chaba Cocktail Bar: Apart from offering lake views and very good Thai food, Chaba also serves up some pretty amazing cocktails. At Panta Phuket–The Legend of Thai Villas – 310/51 Moo 1, Baandon-Cherngtalay Rd., Thalang. Tel: (076) 275 002-14, Email.
Bars in Phuket Town
E-Sarn Terrace: Large and airy, this bar/restaurant serves Isaan (northeast Thailand) food in an open dining area and has a massive projection TV showing all the major sporting events. Open: 11:00-01:00, 360 Yaowarat Road (near Wachira Hospital).
Michael’s Bar: A great after-work spot and is a big hit for its happy hours which go from 13:00 to late, with all beers at 60 Baht. Happy hour is 17:00-19:00 in low season. 12 Takua-Pa Rd. Tel: (076) 256 562, (081) 272 2392.
Lemongrass: Has a small air-conditioned room with lots of tables outdoors and a a great place to watch sports. They do good Thai snacks, too. Open: 11:00-02:00; Dibuk Rd.
Watermark Bar & Restaurant: A smart, contemporary brasserie on the waterfront in Phuket Town, popular with locals and expats. 22/1 Moo 2 Thepkasattri Road, tel: (076) 239 730.
Bars in Chalong
Chalong’s nightlife is fairly quiet, although there are a few places on the road to the pier from Chalong Circle (roundabout).
AP Bar: This place has become more popular with locals lately and the food is quite good and the staff friendly. Kan Eng 5 (towards Chalong Bay).
The Green Man: Traditional British pub with Guinness and Old Speckled Hen on draught. The food is excellent, though a tad pricey, and other attractions include a Thursday night pub quiz and some good live music. 82/15 Moo 4, Patak Rd., Rawai. Tel: (076) 390 360, Email.
Baybar: Part of the sprawling Kan Eang @ Pier restaurant. Right next to the sea and Chalong Pier, so a popular place for whiling away the afternoon watching boats or gazing at the sunset afterglow. Good range of cocktails and there’s also a wine shop on the premises. Opening Hours: 11:00-01:00. Kan Eang@Pier – 44/1 Moo 5, Viset Rd., Rawai.
B Café: Café and bar on the left of the road to Chalong Pier, just before the car park. No view, but good snacks and drinks and has tables outside for people-watching. Also holds regular exhibitions of art by Thai artists.
Bars in Rawai and Nai Harn
Rawai Beach has a cluster of bars running along its beach road as well as a few dotted along the route in from Chalong Circle. Most of them are smaller, lower class versions of the tiny Patong arcade bars. A laid-back evening chatting with yachties, teachers and travellers is the norm in this area, but those looking for a bit of ‘company’ won’t be disappointed. Nai Harn’s scene is more spread out and the beach itself is quiet and local-oriented.
Nikita’s Restaurant: A favourite expat hangout right on Rawai Beach, this popular restaurant has a nice atmosphere (on the right days) and also boasts a couple of bars. Rawai Beach Rd. Tel: (076) 288 703, Email.
Nai Harn Reggae Bar: Situated on the shores of Nai Harn Lake, this is your standard reggae bar complete with a staff of bleary-eyed Rastafarians. Open: 14:00-02:00. 140/21, Nanai Rd., Rawai. Tel: 088 168 2948.
Yoonique Stone Music Café: An out-of-the-way bar, popular with locals for its very friendly atmosphere and regular theme nights. Located behind the Nai Harn Reggae Bar. Opening Hours: 14:00-02:30. 42/43, Soi Phrom Thap, Rawai. Tel: (087) 271 0609.
According to Thai law, Phuket bars and pubs must close at 01:00, nightclubs 02:00 but, as with many laws in Thailand, there is a big difference between what is written and what is enforced. In addition, the government frequently changes its mind on closing hours – relaxing them and then tightening them up again. Tourist areas, like Patong, are designated as ‘entertainment districts’ and are exempt from many of the laws applying to other areas of the island. There are also a number of after-hours spots that manage to stay under the radar, but these are periodically raided by the police. If worse come to worst, 7-Elevens are open 24 hours a day and many sell beer.
Bars in Patong and Kata are all within easy walking distance of each other and the major hotels. However, other areas of the island are more spread out and transportation can difficult. Taxi drivers usually hang around the larger places, and smaller establishments will usually have a regular taxi service and can arrange transport. Bear in mind that a taxi called from a bar will usually charge 10- to 20-per cent more for the ride than one hailed on the street. Do not, under any circumstances, drink and drive. Phuket’s roads are notoriously dangerous (hilly and smooth) and locals can be irresponsible about drunk driving.