Nightlife in Phuket
What is it? The biggest and most impressive of the Bangla Road superclubs, regularly hosting some of the world’s biggest DJs.
Why go? Once the bars on Bangla Road start to quieten down around midnight, head up the escalators and into the cavernous main room at Illuzion for a taste of Thai clubbing on a seriously epic scale. Entry is free, drinks are fairly priced and there’s a pay-for-the-privilege VIP area if you’re feeling fancy.
What is it? A popular, classy beach club on Bang Tao beach with a large pool and garden area, excellent restaurant and one of the finest sound systems on the island.
Why go? There’s a bunch of brilliant beach clubs on Phuket, but Xana Beach’s 35-metre pool (featuring Asia’s longest swim-up bar) and classically cool approach to presentation and décor put it ahead of the rest. You can easily lose an entire day here lounging by the water or stretched out on the sand; and with fantastic food, quality cocktails and on-point resident and guest DJs, maybe a night too.
What is it? A large open-fronted live music venue and bar with nightly Thai cover bands and probably the friendliest party atmosphere in Patong.
Why go? Situated right on Bangla Road, the live music is the star here with a roster of brilliant cover bands always drawing in a varied crowd of revellers directly from the street. Take a seat or crowd around the enormous stage and have a great time hearing all your ’80s, ’90s and ’00s rock and pop hits performed like you’ve never heard before.
What is it? An easygoing, old-China themed go-go bar with friendly staff and a mixed crowd, located at the end of Patong’s Soi Sea Dragon.
Why go? Avoiding the go-go bars in Patong is pretty impossible, so if you’re feeling curious skip the touts and serious sleaze and head straight to Suzy Wong’s. You can’t miss the red lanterns and rickshaw outside and once guided inside you’ll find well priced drinks, friendly staff and, of course, plenty of on-stage entertainment.
What is it? Friendly clifftop bar perched high above Kata Noi beach with some of the best sunset views on the island.
Why go? There’s a simple reason three bars are wedged into the rocks above Kata Noi (Small Bar and Baan Chom completing the trio): the views. The vista is impressive any time of day but it’s at sunset when the sky really comes alive and crowds arrive to welcome the night. The drinks aren’t the cheapest, but you pay for the setting here. Make sure you book a table on the balcony in advance if you’re climbing the hill during high season. Patong’s Wassa Home Made Bar is also well worth a visit if views are your thing.
What is it? Patong’s very own reggae bar, with live bands playing three nights a week and over 40 cocktails to choose from.
Why go? You can’t go to Thailand without hearing a Thai rasta sing ‘Redemption Song’. So duck the bright lights and endless EDM of Patong for a few hours and head to this unsurprisingly mellow, brilliantly decorated reggae bar for a rum or two and some seriously relaxed vibrations.
What is it? A futuristic, compact bar in Phuket Town where innovative shot-based concoctions are dramatically delivered with a high-tech twist.
Why go? Designed to look like a (very darkly lit) science lab, the bartenders here don white coats to mix ‘molecular cocktails’ with names like Nebular Jellyfish and Parallel Universe. The drinks are incredible, the staff are great and the setting is unlike anywhere else on Phuket. Don’t miss.
What is it? A long-running, much-loved live music spot in Phuket Town, with a solid drinks menu and weekly jam sessions from local and international jazz musicians.
Why go? The cocktails are expertly served and affordably priced, but as the name suggests, this little bar is all about the music. Always attracting an interesting, laid back crowd, the place really comes alive on Wednesday evenings when guest and local jazz musicians stop by for a jam that stretches well past midnight.
What is it? The centre of Phuket’s gay nightlife scene, with dozens of LGBT-run bars, clubs, discos, restaurants, cafés and more, located just five minutes from Patong Beach.
Why go? With the biggest concentration of LGBT+ venues in one place outside Bangkok, whatever your mood, taste or scene, there should be somewhere to let loose here. Sure it can feel a little seedy in places, but spots like the excellent Boat Bar (more of a club as the evening progresses) and camp-tastic My Way Cabaret are well worth a look.
What is it? Phuket’s temple of hard rock and heavy metal, with a rotating roster of top-quality European bands playing classic covers until very late.
Why go? On an island where the musical menu rarely strays far beyond a diet of sickly pop, polite house music and cookie-cutter EDM, Rock City offers refuge for those who like their music with a little more edge. With dark walls, sticky floors and a huge stage overlooked by a giant, angry looking gorilla’s head, if you like your music to rock, this is your spot.
What is it? A chilled out wooden beachside bar with great local food, excellent cocktails and a relaxed, no-frills vibe.
Why go? Ska Bar does all the basics right – incredible views, quality booze, amazing Thai food and a suitably chilled reggae soundtrack. Located at the southern end of Kata beach, this bar is the perfect place to cap off a long day of doing nothing. Grab a Chang and soak up the awesome views as night falls across the Andaman Sea.
What is it? American-style blues bar in Phuket Town with great vibes and a live band rocking out most nights of the week.
Why go? Step into a little piece of Chicago in Phuket Town at this compact little bar that attracts a solid mix of locals and ex-pats alike every night of the week. The red brick walls covered in neon signs and assorted Americana help set the mood for the bands to get going around 9pm each night.