Until recently, Phuket has been better known for its daytime than its nighttime activities, but this is slowly begining to change. Phuket town has always offered Thai-style nightclubs which are more appealing to local than foreign tastes, but it does have world class cinemas and a night market. As might be expected, Patong, the most developed of the resorts, offers the widest nightlife opportunities. Kata and Karon are now beginning to open up as well.
What does nightlife in Phuket comprise? It really centres on dining and what Thais call barbeers - open-air bars with the bartenders inside and the patrons sitting on stools arranged on the outside. The bars have hostesses to entertain and play video movies and music so loud that when several barbeers are clustered together, conversation is virtually impossible. Although there are no ranchy sex shows, like those found in Bangkok and Pattaya, Phuket no longer has a squeaky-clean atmosphere. Body massage parlours are now common in Patong and Phuket town.
Hotels usually have cocktail bars with lounge musicians to entertain. Many hotels have in-house videos, but except for the bit hits expect to see movies that would be considered third-rate at home.
The main nightlife area in Patong is in and around Soi Bangla, even if during the recent years bars and clubs has been poping up all over the place, patong has expanded quite a bit in the past year and new areas has been formed. Bangla Road still is the main nightlife area with the Sois, Soi Sea Dragon, Soi Eric, Soi Katoey, Soi Easy, most of them have had a serious facelift during the past year, with the famous Shark Club beeing shut down, and now reopened as Star Club (Star Warz, Star World). And Tiger Entertainment beeing one of the hotests new night clubs on bangla road, the pub Scruffy Murphys keeps atleast one clean irish pub for those of you that enjoys the pub feeling.
Nightlife in Karon is comparatively low-key. The main cluster of beer bars with music and videos is in the open-front complex in front of the Islandia Park Resort in Patak Road. Better for conversation is the New Friend bar opposite. On the same side, Blue Moon Massage is open 11:00 - 01:00 daily. The Gun bar in Patak Road offers music and videos in unpretentious surroundings. On the beach road beside the South Sea Resort, another cluster of beer bars has rather bright lighting. The Little Mermaid Scandinavian restaurant/bar is Patak Road is a good place to eat before bar hopping.
Easyriders at the Kata Centre specializes in the music of great legends like Eric Clapton and Jimmy Hendrix, played full tilt by Thai bands, but is closed during low season. Others like Cat, Lembuscade, Anchor and Dive Inn are open all year. The psychedelically-painted Voodoobar opposite Easyrides attracts many locals. Around the corner towards the beach, eight beer bars with names like Geng and Neung offer cold beer in open-air surroundings.
Nightlife options in Phuket town may be fewer than in Patong but a few places can be relied on for a good time. Local pop bands in the Timber Hut (Timber n Rock) (20:00 - 02:00) in Yawaraj Road. The crowd of foreigners and Thais is usually dancing by midnight. The Kon Thai in the arcade opposite the Phuket Garden Hotel mixes Thai and international musical styles.