Bangla Road really comes to life once the sun sets. The road is closed to vehicle traffic and becomes a 400 metre festival of neon lights, loud music, cheap beer and sexy girls. Jammed most nights of the year, it is quite a friendly and lively place to walk around as bars and clubs compete with each other for customers. If you’re looking for a fun night out in Phuket, Bangla Road should be your first (and, often, only) stop. Almost all of the bars are outdoors, so the music from each one blends into a deafening mess of sound. Beer bars occupy most of the street’s length, with several go-go bars and a few pubs, restaurants, discos and shops rounding out the attractions, both on Soi Bangla and down its side streets. Street performances are also common most nights, which can make dodging around the tailor shop salesmen, leaflet distributors, street vendors and ping pong show touts more difficult, but it is all part of the fun.
The main road itself can be roughly divided into three sections, each with its own particular atmosphere:
1.The end of Soi Bangla which is furthest from the beach and closest to Rat-U-Thit Road and Jungceylon Shopping Centre is home to most of the biggest and best nightclubs in Phuket, including the Seduction Complex, Tiger Disco and Illuzion. At the entrance to the street, you’ll find live music at Red Hot and lightly-clad ladies at Rock Hard, many more of whom you will also find at the tightly-packed beer bar complexes of the old and new Tiger bars, which are right across the road from each other. Soi Vegas and Soi Tiger spit off the northern side of this part of Bangla Road while Patong Promenade is accessible to the south, down Soi Food Court.
2.Head further west, towards the large LED screen at roughly the half-way point down Bangla Road, and you will find the mid-range part of the street. There are many more touts here and they are often more direct, sometimes blocking your path to accost you and try to convince you to enter their establishment or buy their wares. You will find most of the go-go bars along Bangla Road here (and many more in Soi Seadragon, which splits off the northern side of the road, opposite Soi Patong Resort), including L’Amour and Upstairs A Go-Go. You will also find probably the best live music bars in the street, including the extremely popular Monsoon. This part of Bangla Road has the most shopping options, particularly in Bangla Mall on the northern side of the road and Soi Patong Resort on the southern side.
3.The beach end of Bangla Road – starting from Soi Freedom – is the most easy-going part. The southern side of the road is lined almost exclusively with beer bars, including Moon Bar, Sunset Bar, Kangaroo Bar and Shipwreck Bar. Most have their own unique atmosphere and style, but they are mostly very friendly and both the patrons and the girls serving them are generally older than those at the other end of the street. Across the road are some of Bangla Road’s most notable establishments, including the huge Aussie Bar at the head of Soi Gonzo and VIP Room Patong at the top of Soi Easy. You will also find ladyboy cabaret dancers posing for photos around here, directing people towards the nearby Moulin Rose cabaret show. The beach end of the street is taken entirely by shops, selling suits, souvenirs and fast food. It is also common to find street performances here.
Soi Sea Dragon is the hottest street in Patong’s nightlife scene. It was upgraded in 2012 with the addition of a lofty roof – highly welcome in low season – which makes it look like a huge booze-and-body emporium. Soi Sea Dragon is a 100m long lane comprising something like 46 bars (mostly beer bars and go-go bars), a souvenir shop, a guesthouse (good luck getting a decent night’s sleep there…), a tattoo parlour, and a hairdresser. The central part of the soi is dedicated to beer bars, which are built in an unusual two-storey design, with the smaller bars located on the upper floor often having nothing to do with the one downstairs. Butterfly Bar, Bangla Sexy 9 Bar, Hangover Bar, Nida’s Bar, Drinks & Dreams Bar are just a few of their names. The Octopus Sports & Pool Bar – a two-storey drinking palace near Bangla Road – also deserves to be mentioned for its amusing ‘Husband Day-Care’ signboard hanging above the entrance door.
Summing up, Soi Sea Dragon is ‘where the action is’ in Patong Beach. It is difficult to miss on the northern side of Bangla Road, opposite Soi Patong Resort. If you can make it through the gauntlet of amorous ladies, you will find a small entrance right at the back. This leads to a narrow L-shaped road, providing a link between Bangla Road and Thaweewong Road (Beach Road), with the Kee Resort, its rooftop restaurant and conveniently-located underground parking at the corner.
Soi Freedom is one of the busiest streets to split off Phuket’s main nightlife hub – Bangla Road. The next street closer to the beach from Soi Seadragon, it is found roughly opposite Soi Lao and is lined with beer bars on either side, creating a gauntlet of bright neon lights, loud music and hostesses keen to drag you onto a bar stool – sometimes physically. Up until the end of 2013, the street was known as Soi Eric and may still occasionally be known by that name. It used to be notably different from the likes of Soi Tiger because the music for the whole street was set by a single DJ, making it less of a chaotic mess of conflicting beats. It was perhaps the decision to give each bar the freedom to play their own selection of music which led to the new name of the soi.
With so little to differentiate one bar from the next, it is perhaps not that surprising that the venues closer to the entrance of Soi Freedom are more successful than those at the end of the 80m street. This means that places like Sharky’s and Smiley Bar (which are on the left and right of the entrance respectively) as well as Tao Bangla Bar, Lucky Bar and the eponymous Freedom Bar are more popular than the Hangover Bar, Kiran Bar and Little Devils Bar. There are a couple of advantages to drinking at one of the places at the very end of Soi Freedom. You will see a small stage down there and, every now and again, you might even see a live act on it, but you won’t stand a chance of hearing it from any of the bars at the Bangla Road end. You will also find a public toilet down a short alley at the end, to the left of the stage.
Soi Vegas is the first of the side streets to split off Bangla Road from the Rat-U-Thit Road, closest to Jungceylon Shopping Mall. It is home to an interesting mix of mostly adult attractions, which is doubtless what gives it its other common nickname – Soi Happy. The street itself, being rather dimly lit, looks quite dark and gloomy. What lights there are consist mostly of the neon frontages of go-go and beer bars, with the star attraction being the Money Night A Go Go along the right-hand side (if you’re entering from Bangla Road). Home of the infamous ‘ping pong show’, among others, it is probably the most extreme of the adult entertainment establishments in Patong. The drinks prices are similarly extreme and are known to vary from night to night. If you question the price with service staff (politely), they might give you a ‘special’ discount.
The entrance to Soi Vegas is flanked by Tao Live Music Bar on the right and Moulin Rouge Russian A Go Go on the left. Moulin Rouge is widely regarded as the best club for seeing Caucasian dancers, but drinks prices are significantly higher than the venues which feature local talent. Other notable attractions to be found in Soi Vegas include the Belvedere Luxury Club, a guesthouse, a hairdressers and public toilets.
Location: Between Moulin Rouge and Tao Bar, near the Rat-U-Thit Road end of Bangla Road, Patong
Soi Gonzo is one of the streets situated on Bangla Road in Patong Beach. You can’t miss its entrance as it is framed by the huge and long-established Aussie Bar. Once past the Aussie Bar you find a corridor-like lane flanked by seven beer bars on each side. Soi Gonzo is a dead-end street with the smallest discotheque in Patong Beach, The White Room, at its end. Basically, Aussie Bar and the White Room are the two places of interest in Soi Gonzo, no offense meant, but Soi Gonzo’s beer bars do not display more outstanding attraction than the 100 or so similar watering holes in the other sois off Bangla Road with the same beers and girls you wouldn’t take home to mother.
Soi Easy is the first of the sois to split off Bangla Road in Patong if you enter the famous nightlife hub from the beach end. Starting about 80m from that end of the street and on your left (the southern side), roughly opposite Kangaroo Bar, it is home to one of Phuket’s most sophisticated nightclubs, a live music bar and a large food court serving mostly Thai dishes. The street is located directly underneath VIP Room Patong Beach nightclub (formerly Hollywood Discotheque). Getting particularly lively after midnight and into the early morning, the club has a very classy style from the red-carpetted steps to the left of the entrance to Soi Easy all the way to the extra-special VIP section at the back of the club, behind a unique circular DJ’s stage where you will find great local and international talents playing EDM and house tunes.
Right at the end of Soi Easy is the one final vestige of what the street used to be. Somewhat incongruous on what is otherwise quite a family-friendly place is the entrance to The Secret Ago-go. It is one of the more upscale venues of its kind, with a 500 baht entrance fee and expensive drinks prices, though it also boasts the most professional shows performed by girls of above-average beauty. Soi Easy is entirely covered since it is located directly underneath VIP Room Patong Beach, so it is a good place to shelter from any sudden rainfall. It is also one of the quieter spots along Soi Bangla, so it makes a comfortable refuge if you are feeling overwhelmed with the loud music, girls, neon lights and booze, giving you a restful place to recharge and refuel before heading back into the fray!
Soi Lao is a virtually unknown among visitors to Patong’s Bangla Road due to its narrow and nondescript entrance and total lack of bars or clubs. It is, however, quite a popular alley with the local Thais, who come to enjoy great, cheap Thai food away from the crowds. Hidden in plain sight, roughly opposite Soi Freedom, a lit-up sign pointing to the public toilets at the end of the small alley is the only real notice that the place even exists. It also gives Soi Lao its common nickname of “Soi Hong Nam” (and sometimes also the English translation: “Soi Toilet”). Some maps show the street by the more appealing but just as accurate name of “Food Alley”.
Past Chiangrai Seafood, you will find a space commonly used as a motorbike parking place, followed by the toilets which give the place its nickname. These cost 10 baht to use and are about as clean as you could expect of a public convenience on Bangla Road. If you want to find Soi Lao, look out for the tour operator’s stall next to the illuminated “Toilet” sign on the southern side of Bangla Road (that’s the left, if you’re looking towards the beach).