Mention Phuket and images of exotic girlie bars, lady boys, crowded beaches and noisy neon lit streets spring to mind for most.
But if you’re prepared to venture outside the crazy, chaotic world of Patong, the island’s most popular beach, you’ll be stunned by lush tropical terrain greeting the turquoise waters of the Andaman Sea.
Along the island’s western shoreline, a series of white washed beaches dotted with casual bars and cheap eats including sensational seafood make this island worth visiting.
Hire a scooter and travel in your own time. It’s the easiest way to sight see out of Patong where you need nerves of steel to negotiate the traffic on two wheels.
Water sports, mojitos by moonlight and massages under the palm trees at any beach, make Phuket a special place, but if you want to ramp up the fun factor, a couple of days in Patong should do the trick. It’s loud, bad and busy, a visual feast of seedy bars, pulsating nightclubs, fake watches and Fendi rip offs.
You’ll need a sense of humour and an open mind to take a wander after dark down Patong’s thrill-a-minute Bangla Rd.
1. Night markets at Phuket Town
2. Visit Soi Bangla (known as Bangla), the heart of the bar scene where girls, neon lights and loud music from over 100 bars compete for your tourist dollar.
3. Hire a scooter and beach hop along the western coast.
4. About 22km north of Phuket Town a series of waterfalls prove a perfect respite from the heat.
5. Take in a Thai boxing match in the heart of Patong.