Phuket's nightlife is second only to Bangkok for sheer buzz. The liveliest resort area in Thailand, the larger towns on the island offer plenty of entertainment into the wee hours of 5 or 6am. Many restaurants and markets also stay open until 11pm, enhancing the festive atmosphere.
The epicentre of Phuket's nightlife is Patong Beach, and within the town, Bangla Road is the main concentration of bars and clubs. Options range from seriously dodgy beer bars to upscale cocktail lounges, as well as pumping nightclubs, rowdy karaoke bars, gay bars, jazz clubs, relaxed pubs and go-go bars. At the top end of Bangla Road, visitors can party into the early hours at several side-by-side establishments. Paradise Complex is Patong's gay area, with more than 50 bars, karaoke clubs, restaurants and discos.
Lady bars, or beer bars, are clustered together and staffed with beautiful women tasked with getting patrons to drink as much as possible through drinking games or sheer distraction. In Patong, travellers will find the famous 'ladyboys' (or katoeys) of Thailand, transvestites who are often more feminine, slimmer, and sexier than Thai women. While katoeys working in bars are notoriously friendly, visitors should remember that they are working and will expect drinks, gifts, and/or money for their time. If the seedy clubbing scene isn't what travellers are looking for, many hotels in Phuket stage Thai dance shows - including elaborate drag cabaret shows.
The bars and nightclubs in Phuket have gotten stricter in the last few years about carding patrons, especially in venues offering more than food and drink. Tourists should take care not to go out alone at night, and to keep an eye on their drinks at all times.
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