I feel there’s something for everyone on Bangla Road, and I don’t just mean beer vs spirits people, or night club vs pub people. I mean families, couples, groups of friends, solo travelers, grey nomads and every other slice of society.
Bangla Road is the party street of Phuket, and I took myself down there for a stroll one evening. This post describes what I saw.
Where is Bangla Road?
Bangla road is in the heart of Patong right near Patong Beach. The whole area is built for tourists and built for fun.
Patong Beach is known as the party place where young people go to get drunk, get hassled by guys holding signs and to let their hair down. However, I think it’s more accurate if you replace the word ‘young’ with ‘any’. In other words, everyone comes here to do that.
Take a stroll down Bangla Road
The entrance from the beach is very hard to miss, there’s a huge, brightly coloured archway you need to walk under. As soon as you enter you get hassled by guys holding ping pong signs with all manner of shows on them. All the shows boast ‘free entry, one drink minimum’, I didn’t see a show so I’m unsure of the cost of the drinks.
Near all the bars there a people holding big signs with drink deals, prices of buckets, 2-4-1 shots. If you wanted to get drunk it in this street they make it very easy for you. I didn’t want to get drunk so I just decided to walk down the street to see what I could see.
Lots of people watching
While there were quite a few people in the bars, there were also a lot of people just like me: wandering slowly and looking around. It was about 7pm when we went, so the night was definitely still young. I imagine as the night goes on the bars fill up more and more.
You can eat in Bangla Road, there are restaurants as well as lots of bars. However there are better options in places around the famous party street.
Lots of themed bars
Some of the bars down Bangla Road look great, I saw one which was tiger themed. It had lots of cool tiger statues and good lighting that made it genuinely quite attractive. There was also Kangaroo Bar which you can guess is Aussie themed. I avoided this one as the last people I want to hang out with when I’m overseas are Australians.
There were also bars with some quite funny names, like Rock Hard’s Crazy Girls.
Safe for kids
I saw families walking down with prams, and indeed I was with my 1.5 year old nephew and his family. It doesn’t matter, it’s safe. Despite everything being in full view, for example gogo dancers slowly shuffling on the tops of podiums, all the x-rated stuff is behind closed doors, so it’s quite safe for kids.
The kids can just enjoy seeing all the bright lights, street performers and big statues of cool stuff like the tigers I mentioned before.
So what do you actually do on Bangla Road?
The answer is simple: whatever you want. You could do a bar crawl, you could see a show, go dancing in one of the clubs, eat, have a quiet chat with friends, have a shots competition with friends. The whole street is about 250 meters long and is littered with bars and places to eat. There’s certainly no temples or sites of cultural significance, it’s basically the red light district of Phuket. Go there and have fun!
Make up your own mind
I’m a strong believer of people making up their own mind, some people will love this street, others will hate it. However, you shouldn’t judge it until you have seen it with you own eyes and can make up your own mind.
I thought it was great, I really liked the street and I did want to stay longer. There’s lots of life and colour there, and of course cheap alcohol and pretty girls, what red blooded male wouldn’t like it? If you’re ever in Phuket I’d certainly recommend checking out Bangla Road, even if you just go in the early evening a walk the length of it.
The dark side of Bangla Road
It might not be news you want to hear, but I need to mention this as well: Bangla Road did (and possibly still does) have a history of sex trafficking. I’ve been told it’s cleaned up its act, so I will give it the benefit of the doubt.
Some of the gogo dancers did look quite bored standing on the podiums. But of course boredom doesn’t mean they’re being forced to do it, I imagine standing on a platform with 10 other girls while drunk westerners stare at you would get quite tiresome.
I didn’t get a feeling or a vibe of anything bad going on, and I certainly didn’t see anything, but I felt like I needed to mention it. The Thai government is doing everything it can to stamp out the problem, but as adult children need to look after their parents, some get coaxed into this industry without knowing that they are. It’s a horrific thing to think, but it happens.
Thailand is a lovely place to holiday: I’ve swam in turquoise blue lagoons, had cocktails on rooftop bars in Chiang Mai, washed and played with freed elephants and travelled 900km on my motorbike, so you should certainly come and have a blast of a time, however please be aware of the history of this party street.
You can find out a lot more about Thailand by looking at my Thailand page.