04/10/2019 Sepp Hatzl 1,511 views Phuket Beach Article No Comments
If you’re looking for an exceptionally beautiful alternative lifestyle friendly place to vacation by yourself or with friends – you really can’t beat Phuket beaches in Thailand!
But you probably already knew that. Did you know Thailand is recognized across the world as one of the most gay-friendly destinations in the world and that the country welcomes over 35 million visitors each year? Thailand is the tenth most visited country in the world, with the second most tourists in the Asia-Pacific region!
Thailand is the number one LGBT destination in Southeast Asia because they have such a relaxed attitude about people living alternative lifestyles. There is a massive local LGBT scene in Thailand – and not just at the tourist hot-spots – it’s all over.
Even in the remote corners of Ubon Ratchathani and Udonthani, you’ll find many ladyboys and toms. Sometimes they’re easily identifiable and sometimes you’ll need to question if your instincts are really correct. Your gaydar needs to be operating at a very high level to play in this country because you WILL be fooled at times!
We’re biased, obviously. To us, the island of Phuket is the only place to stay for the majority of your vacation. Sure, go see Koh Phi Phi. Stop over for a night in Koh Samui. Just make sure you stay 90% of your vacation in Phuket for the most fun!
While it would be difficult to choose one location in the country that is the most gay-friendly, you can’t go wrong by visiting one of the major tourist areas – Bangkok; Chiang Mai; Koh Samui; Koh Phangan; Koh Phi Phi; Koh Chang; Pattaya; and of course, the focus on this article – Phuket Island!
With more beaches, more land area, and more people and things to do than any other island, Phuket, Thailand is the ultimate warm weather destination for your vacation. Where else can you find mouth-watering food from all over the world on a beach at sunset for less than a fraction what you’d pay in the Hawaiian Islands for the same thing
Thais are friendly and excellent customer service is standard on the island and in Thailand in general. Phuket’s beaches have been recognized over the years as some of the best in the world. The diving and snorkeling is epic! The nightlife and easy-going atmosphere is the icing on the cake. It’s no wonder that so many international visitors come to Thailand each year. Most come more than once!
Phuket Island is, north to south, generally oval shaped with the one highway leading in at the top of the island from Phang Nga province. Of course, you can also reach Phuket by boat from other nearby islands and provinces like Krabi, Trang, and Satun if you choose.
Though Phuket has 52 named beaches (see our comprehensive 52 Phuket beaches guide here) and countless things to do, the overwhelming majority of LGBT travelers choose to stay in one beach location.
Can you guess which beach is #1 for LGBT?
This is the number one destination for just about anyone seeking picture-perfect beaches in Southeast Asia, and it will probably be yours as you plan your adventure.
Patong Beach is full of visitors, local foreigners (expats) who make the island their home, and local Thais. Patong is bustling with excitement, and there is never a dull moment. The area doesn’t really get jumping until after sunset, because most people don’t even seem to wake up until mid-afternoon! The non-stop party and raunchy nightlife goes on as late as you can take it!
Patong Beach has the most places to stay, the most people, the most restaurants, the most bars, and the most things to do on the island of Phuket. It’s the hands-down winner in all categories except peace and relaxation!
Patong Beach is a wide sandy beach stretching almost 2 miles (2.8 km) long from north to south along the mid-western coast of Phuket. With so many people visiting Patong Beach at the same time, you might wonder if there will be enough room for everyone on the beach at the same time. Yes, miraculously, there is always enough space. We’ve never seen people putting their beach mats down on the sidewalk or street, so you need not worry!
Patong Beach slopes very gradually into the Andaman Sea, and is ideal for sunbathing, swimming, and wading. That certainly isn’t all that goes on here though! People are often throwing a disc, playing volleyball, snorkeling, jogging, walking, people-watching, parasailing, windsurfing, jet skiing, and kayaking at the beach.
Though not the ideal spot to relax, there are places you can lay down for a full-body Thai massage in various styles that will help you get through your oh-so-stressful time at the beach. 😉
Where is ‘Gay Central’ at Patong Beach?
So, we’ve identified Patong Beach as THE beach in Phuket for gays, and probably everyone on vacation. Now, where is THE place for gays in Patong Beach?
The Paradise Complex is an area of bars, nightclubs, hotels, guesthouses and restaurants on Ratuthit Songroipi Road (Second Road) and Soi Paradise just north of Soi Bangla – the main entertainment street in Patong. More than half of the businesses in Paradise are gay owned and/or focused. You can probably find anything you’re looking for here – and even some bizarre things you’re not looking for.
One reviewer of the area said, “everything is still happening along this strip: drinks, drag shows, Go-Go boys and everything in between.” To be fair, this may not be the place for you, because it’s rather hardcore at night, or it might be the perfect place for you! But take our advice and judge it for yourself – you really need to see the Paradise Complex for yourself.
We suggest this as a starting point, so you can see if it’s your scene or not. This is the largest area where the LGBT crowd can come to feel completely at ease with their sexuality, because you’re surrounded by people with similar beliefs.
That said, many people choose not to spend any time here because it’s just ‘too much’ and they enjoy a more laid-back approach to their vacation. As we say in Thailand – Up to You!
We don’t want to recommend these two bars as the only two ‘best’ bars in the area, that would be doing a disservice to all the other bars. Do stop by these two and see what you think, but feel free to explore the other nightclubs in the area – there are more than a few!
– This is a large gay nightclub in Patong’s Paradise complex that is very well-known and always packed with people. Reviews are overall good – with many negative reviewers commenting on some specific detail of their time there that didn’t go quite as expected. Just know, there is always something unexpected or disappointing going to happen during your night out anywhere. Sometimes your beer might be warm. Sometimes the waiter may ask you if he can keep your change. Let it roll off you and focus on the overall great experience!
There are ladyboy cabaret shows here which are worth seeing. This is a great bar to stop by and see if you like the vibe. Many do! This is a great spot for people watching as the entire LGBT crowd passes outside the front of Zag Bar during the course of a night.
Cost for drinks is average with beer at 120 THB if you don’t get the 500 THB for the 5-beer-special. There is no entrance fee. Smoking allowed inside. Note – the music is exceptionally loud, you might want to bring earplugs to save your eardrums.
– You can find this bar at the end of “Soi Paradise” (Paradise Road) in the Paradise Complex. Boat gets really good ratings on social media, and the drag show gets a big nod for hilarity. Shows at midnight and 1:30 a.m. The owner, Dang, is supercool and this bar is often called the ‘friendliest bar in Phuket.’ Easy to meet people here!
Like every bar in Phuket, it’s a mixed crowd with teenagers to around fifty years of age.
Music here is also very loud, and not to many people’s liking. Waiters are always standing by to bring your next drink. Great atmosphere and highly recommended!
OK, this is not in the Paradise Complex, but you just can’t miss this soi (street) because it’s one place that some people like even better than the two bars mentioned above for the in-your-face action.
Soi Crocodile is a side-street off Soi Bangla, the main drag for bars and nightclubs in Patong Beach. It is located approximately in the middle of Soi Bangla on the north side of the street. You cannot help but notice the place as there is always a throng of fashionably dressed ladyboys at the entrance with towering hats with feathers and sequin-laced gowns. There is a stage at the beginning of the soi with ladyboys dancing to crazy mixed beats that gets going about 8 p.m. The street is lined with gay friendly bars and a restroom is found at the very end of the soi.
This was/is the most outrageous area of Patong Beach for LGBT fun. You’ll even see many straight people hanging around taking in the eye-candy. It has been the heart of the area for many years. Around midnight there would be near 100 ladyboys hanging around here trying to setup dates with tourists in the area. This was the biggest freelance spot for ladyboys in town.
Wait! Where did it go?
Recently the city closed up some of the sois for ‘renovations,’ including Soi Croc. It is not known whether the new face of the place will include the same dance stage and bars, or possibly something better. Take a stroll by and see if they’ve reopened the place when you arrive. Let us know if the action has restarted here!
Sure! There are dozens more gay bars in Patong, with most of them found in the Paradise Complex area and Soi Crocodile off Soi Bangla, but there are also the outliers. The spots we told you about in the above section are probably the most popular (at this time anyway), and you should stop in to see if they are anything like what you require.
Lots of people don’t like the overly loud music and ultra-crowded atmosphere at their nightclubs and will choose something quieter and/or more refined. A good way to find a nice spot to hang out is to choose a good gay-friendly accommodation with a restaurant and bar. We’ll cover some great places to stay next.
– with a 4.7/5.0 rating on Google businesses, Sam’s Steaks gets fantastic reviews! We can also vouch for it ourselves as we’ve had steak and seafood there and it was a very good experience. In fact, we recommend this restaurant often across our website. Go there if you love grilled steak and other meat or seafood. The atmosphere is rather plain, and they don’t make a real attempt to dazzle you with decorations, however, the food is first-class. Sam’s is part of the Holiday Inn property toward the southern edge of Patong Beach. Sam’s is one reason to book your hotel or resort in Patong – you’ll have your choice of amazing restaurants all within a short distance.
– also receiving very high ratings by reviewers, this vegetarian restaurant caters to 11 different kinds of vegetarians – making it easy with a menu that explains which dishes are compatible with your style of vegetarianism. Nice wooden interior and good people behind the counters and eating alongside you. Yo Green is on a side-street off the south side of Soi Bangla – Patong’s main activity strip.
– ultra modern restaurant on the hill at the bottom of Patong Beach and part of the Amari Phuket. Interior décor and view at sunset is fantastic – highly recommended. Italian and Thai dishes – great presentation. Perfect high-end date restaurant with seating on a deck Excellent reviews from past customers.
Every hotel and resort in Patong Beach can be considered gay friendly, that’s just how the area is. However, you may enjoy your stay a bit more in the following resorts.
– this one is right on Patong Beach a very short walk away from Soi Bangla. Reviews are excellent in all categories. This is a smaller resort with smaller swimming pools, but the location is perfect. One highlight is the restaurant deck overlooking the beach and sunset. On the beach at La Flora is the closest thing to a gay beach in Phuket as there is. Some call it the unofficial gay beach because so many gay people stay at this resort year-round. Rooms are modern and begin around 4,000 THB per night.
– another small resort right on the beach in a perfect spot. This is an upscale property that looks to have been recently renovated. They have a small infinity pool. Excellent ratings and reasonably priced at around 5,000 THB per night make this one highly recommended if you’re looking for a modern and well-kept accommodation right on the beach in Patong.
– for location, this high-end resort in Paradise Complex cannot be beat. This is an older hotel with very good reviews for rooms, staff, bar, coffee house, and food in the restaurants. Besides good reviews, the price is hard to pass up at around 1,200 THB per night! Rooms are large and staying here gives you the option to stay high above the circus of Patong – this is the highest building on the island of Phuket with rooms up to 25 stories high.
– found toward the southern end of Patong Beach, we’ve probably recommended this Holiday Inn a dozen times in articles here at Bismark’s Luxury Villas website! We really like the property, staff, and amazing choice of top-rated restaurants here. Price is not outrageous, beginning around 2,500 THB for a night.
– at rates as low as 600 THB per night, and located across the street from Patong’s lovely beach, this gay-friendly hostel is perfect for travelers wishing to save a little money on accommodations to spend on other experiences. Bearpacker has a pool, WIFI, laundry services and a restaurant on-site. The reviews of this hostel are phenomenal, and it comes highly recommended. Located just across from Patong Immigration offices.
– located in the Paradise Complex and just a short walk from Soi Bangla is this small gay-friendly guesthouse that is the top choice for many travelers on a budget. Aquarius has a restaurant, bar, hot tub, and laundry service available. Breakfast is a choice of American, Continental, or Asia breakfast. Rates per night start at a very affordable 350 THB.
We love Surin Beach! Sure, there are some outrageously picturesque beaches with even better views, but the atmosphere at Surin is one of a kind. There are plenty of trees to sit under when the sun is hot. The water during high tourist season is calm and clear turquoise blue… In the morning before most punters wake up, is when Surin is like the jewel of Phuket. Try it then and let us know what you think.
Surin has rental equipment like air chairs and snorkeling equipment. There are kayaks and sometimes windsurfing boards. The food selection at huts lining the beach provides anything you’re looking for from fresh-cut fruit to grilled meat and seafood to any kind of alcoholic drink you’re craving at the time.
Surin Beach is just north of Patong and Laem Singh beaches. There is plenty of parking, and it’s right off the main road on the coast (Highway 4025) so it’s easy to find. This is an ideal beach for relaxation for the LGBT crowd and all kinds of people.
None really, though Patcharin Seafood below is right on the beach and serves many varieties of alcohol.
– though it looks absolutely nothing like it did in years past… OK, decades past, there are still dozens of food stalls to eat a snack while you’re at Surin Beach enjoying the mellow ambiance. The bigger restaurants with seating have all been torn down, but now a row of bamboo huts has appeared along the path on the south side of the beach – with vendors offering literally everything you could possibly need during your stay at the beach.
So, there are plenty of places to choose snacks from, but for a real meal we really think you should venture up to one of the other dining establishments in the Surin area behind the beach. Choose from below…
– as part of the Surin Beach Resort you’ll find this little restaurant on the hill overlooking the beach. The vibe is nice, modern with soft music for dinner and you can sometimes hear the waves from the beach if they happen to be bigger than the usual few inches high. Indoor and outdoor seating with umbrellas. Reviews are decent, and the view at sunset is stunning! Thai food and a variety of international favorites.
– this is a small restaurant right on the south end of the beach with exceptional views of sunset. Food is rated highly, though the feeling is beach bar like – plastic chairs and tablecloths. Good for a laid-back evening drinking after dinner.
– this Surin Beach resort is the only one right on the beach with beach access. The modern rooms have fantastic sweeping views of Surin Beach and the surrounding bay. Sunset meals are perfect here on the restaurant terrace. There is a small lap pool and an ultra-modern bar and restaurant overlooking the beach. Quite nice! Rooms are on the smaller side, and a real bargain for the unbeatable location at just 3,000 THB per night.
– a 4-star resort cradled in the Thai rain forest and set back from the beach by a couple of football fields’ distance. The grounds are immaculately maintained – all Novotel properties in Thailand seem to have the same very high standards for maintenance, cleanliness, and modernity. The restaurants and bars are stunning – very new appearance and service is top notch. There is a large swimming pool with a long and winding slide that anyone can enjoy. The wet bar has underwater bar stools – check it out! All this for rooms starting at just 2,000 THB per night during off-season!
– a stunning property set on the hill behind Surin Beach, this one is a bit more expensive, pamper you more, and is more exclusive than other resorts in the area. The Araya Hilltops Resort consistently receives very high (4.7/5.0!) reviews on Google Business reviews. Rooms rates begin around 5,000 THB (on discount) and the hotel books up quickly during high season. Make your reservation soon to enjoy this property. Highly recommended.
Yanui Beach is found just northwest of Promthep Cape at the very southernmost point of the island of Phuket. The beach is small, just two football fields long, but absolutely stunning to look at and take photos of! For the longest time this beach was absolutely empty because people were more interested in visiting the cape beside it. Today you’ll find more visitors choosing to spend an hour at Yanui, and you probably should too if you’re looking to experience the best of what Phuket has to offer!
Yanui is another one of those beaches where there is no beach bar or beach club. The restaurants we cover above are your best bet.
– close to the southern end of Yanui Beach, this small restaurant has seafood and Thai dishes that are rated highly. Don’t let the appearance fool you into not going, unless you just absolutely refuse to eat on white plastic chairs.
If you’re down around Yanui Beach and you’re craving something for lunch, why not stop in and see what you can find? The seafood looks tasty in the images online.
One More Restaurant – though the interior is nothing to get excited about, the food is supposed to be some of the best in the southern Phuket area. Reviews are exceptional! This one is located just behind Yanui Beach on the hill and on Highway 4233. Excellent view and a great place for drinks if you’re in the area.
While you may not want to stay all the way down at the very southern tip of Phuket Island, you might choose to do it for a night of relaxation away from Patong Beach. Yanui Beach is a perfect spot to do it! Note, there are no exceptional 5-star properties in this area, so you’ll be sleeping in bungalows at Yanui.
– Not right on the beach, but just a short way back is this small bungalow option with swimming pool. Some rooms contain microwaves! Single or double rooms start at just 1,500 THB and are basic, but the reviews are consistently good here.
– another small bungalow, Yanui Seaview has bungalows above the north side of Yanui Beach. Cost per night is even less than Ban Yanui at just 1,200 THB per night, but there is a 2-night minimum stay requirement.
* * *
We’d be remiss if we painted a picture of the country of Thailand as completely tolerant to all goings on related to LGBT and straight interpersonal behavior. Read on for some clarification.
As a possibly second-world country struggling to look like a first-world country, Thailand is still coming to grips with public interpersonal behavior. In the military they call it PDA – Public Display of Affection. In Thailand there is very little of this kind of behavior from the locals, and they don’t tolerate it well outside of the big tourist areas of Phuket, Pattaya, and some areas of Bangkok like Khao San Road.
Public holding of hands is even just beginning to be accepted. It’s still odd to see Thais holding hands, but it happens now. Ten years ago, you’d never see that in areas outside of what was mentioned above. Today, you might see young Thais holding hands in Ubon or Sisaket province as they push the bounds of good taste in this very traditional society!
Kissing, interpersonal touching, or anything remotely sexual in pubic is never accepted outside of the areas above, and even so, it’s still looked at with mouths agape sometimes. Be aware of your surroundings and don’t cause a scene at the market playing games like tongue wrestling or grab-ass. Behaviors like this are not welcome in most parts of Thailand and won’t endear you to the locals.
In Phuket, especially Patong, you will see people holding hands everywhere you look, and even people kissing. It’s considered almost normal here, but to locals visiting it is still a bit shocking. Tone it down while in public, unless you see locals or many others doing it – and then feel free to join in. If you’re in a bar, you can probably get away with a lot.
On another note, it’s entirely reasonable to expect to be groped by aggressive or otherwise well-meaning ladyboys as you walk down Soi Bangla in Patong Beach or some sois in Pattaya Beach. Ladyboys are quite forward and basically do whatever they want, including squirting people in the face with their breast milk. Seriously, it can get that crazy. Try to prepare yourself to be ready for anything as you bounce from bar to bar enjoying the crazy nightlife that Thailand is known for!
RATE THIS ARTICLE: