Best time to Travel
Patong Beach in Phuket is best between the months of November and April with the height of the tourist season being around New Year where each year a massive beach party is held.
La Flora is very gay friendly and popular with gay men because of its superb location right next to the gay beach.
The gay section of Patong Beach is directly in front of hotel La Flora Resort Patong or near the orange beach watch tower with the rainbow flag beside it. The water is perhaps not the colour depicted in the travel brochures and sometimes we are reluctant to put our heads under. However, the gay beach is still the place to be with lots of gay men in their recently purchased swimwear filling the beach in high season. The sun lounges have unfortunately gone but beach umbrellas can be hired for 100BHT or you can buy your own for about 250BHT from the local market stalls.
If you’re feeling active the parasailing and jet-ski operators are still working the beach. You can buy food and drinks at the back of the beach or from the sellers with their ice cold fresh pineapple, mango, drinks and snacks. It is also a great place to hire a long tail boat to go to Freedom Beach for the day but make sure you organise a pick up at the end of the day or it could be a longer visit than you anticipated.
After the beach we treat our ourselves to a foot massage. You can find many places for massage in Patong but when we leave the gay beach via the small lane near the orange watch tower and walk to the main road, turn right and walk up about fifty metres and you will arrive at Kano Spa which has to be one the cleanest and friendliest around.
Another very good beach a little way out of Patong is Laem Sing Beach between Kamala and Surin beaches. The beach is only small, very popular but certainly not gay. There is a small fee to access the beach and the steps to and from the beach can be a bit challenging. To the right of the beach we ate lunch at a restaurant hanging over the cliff which provided a fabulous view back to Patong and over the beach below.
All the gay bars are located in and around the Paradise Complex and most get going after 10:00 pm. Our favourites are Boat Bar and Zag Bar and both have very lively shows.
My Way, Time and Sundowners are also popular. See this link for a good run down on Gay bars in Phuket.
Grab taxi is a fairly cheap and efficient way to hire a taxi in Phuket or for that matter the whole of South East Asia. Download the app, put in your location and destination and wait for a driver to pick up your request. Very similar to Uber but you pay the driver with cash.
Shopping in Phuket
In Patong there are thousands of street stalls and many good night markets where you can bag a bargain for a fair price. We can highly recommend two night Markets. Chillva Markets in Phuket Town is terrific for finding that special souvenir, tee shirt or hat, while Banzaan Market, behind Jungceylon Shopping Centre, can’t be beaten for super fresh seafood. At night the area in front of Banzaan is converted to a busy, bustling night market.
There are two leading shopping malls that you should head for.
Jungceylon Shopping Centre is in the centre of Patong. A massive complex with two connecting buildings joined by an outdoor atrium. In this area there is a host of coffee shops, bars, restaurants and fast food places like Subway and McDonalds.
On various levels in Jungcelyon there are designer and boutique stores, facial massage salons that are packed with westerners and in Sports World upstairs we found reasonably priced, designer swimwear. At Robinsons department store we picked up some high end brand underwear. On the first floor BigC supermarket abounds with fresh food and some favourite western brands and it also has a good selection of reasonably priced wine and sprits.
We ate at MK Gold restaurant a couple of times and they have the freshest Chinese Shabu Shabu food cooked at your table. The cinema is on the third level and about three or four of the latest movies are screened in English daily. Don’t forget to visit the basement (usually a forgotten level) for every choice of massage, an amazing range of local handicrafts, as well as a huge selection of spa products. At the Bangla street entrance there are ATMs and banking facilities.
Central Festival in Phuket Town is another major shopping mall. We enjoyed eating at Wine Connection and shopping at Central Festival Market which is absolutely amazing! Whether it be preparing for a picnic or a party this is the place to buy your supplies. There is a huge range of the freshest food, international brands and local treats. They have a fantastic bakery and an American deli.
The mall has a cinema where several of the movies are in English. There is a large range of restaurants at the entrance to the mall but for good cheap Thai food on the same level as the Cinema, head straight for the Food Terrace where dozens of small food stalls (like a hawker’s market) serve tantalising delights. Don’t forget to buy your coupons first as the stalls do not take cash.
Scattered around four floors are designer shops such as Zara, Levi’s, Lacoste, New Balance and the list goes on. The mall also has a variety of electronic stores including an Apple Reseller. On the third floor we found Montra Thai Massage and Spa Therapy where we had several wonderful massages and a few shops down we discovered Plurecil where we treated ourselves to a much needed mani-pedi at a fraction of the cost of salons at home.
Good to know when shopping at larger stores in Thailand that you can only buy alcohol between 11:00 – 14:00 and 17:00 – midnight.
Big Buddha Phuket
The Big Buddha is about a forty minute car ride south of Patong Beach, Phuket. A massive structure and one of the most important and revered landmarks of the island.The Buddha sits on the top of Mount Nakkerd and is reported to be the largest Buddha in the world. Constructed of white Burmese marble tiles, the Big Buddha is an imposing structure which gleams in the hot Phuket sun. Admission is free but a donation is appreciated as the whole project is funded by private donations. The best time to visit is after 3pm until sunset when some of the crowds have disappeared.
See 14 things to do in Phuket
There are hundreds of restaurants in Phuket. Eating from the street vendors can be a hazard and we tend to shy away from seafood. Here are three suggestions that we have really enjoyed.
Our number one choice is Thong Dee and it is now the number one restaurant in Phuket on Trip Advisor for excellent Thai and western food. Swedish owner Patrik and his lovely wife Ponchan, who also happens to be the very talented chef, will make your dining experience at their modern, friendly restaurant one to remember.
See more details about Thong Dee’s recent awards here.
For something a little different, go to Banzaan Market and buy fresh from the hundreds of vendors downstairs (especially seafood). Take what you have purchased upstairs and have the food cooked for you the way you want at one of the many ‘We Cook For You’ stalls near the eating area.
See our story about Banzaan Market.
One of our all time favourites is Natural Restaurant in Phuket Town. It has a completely unique atmosphere, reminiscent of a tree house filled with a wide variety of stunning orchids. The food is fresh, succulent and well presented, the service is excellent and you will be pleasantly surprised by the bill.
For that really special experience, The Royale Nam Tok Phuket is an outstanding fine dining restaurant with extraordinary attention to detail. With only 5 tables and a big international reputation, you have to book well in advance. We thoroughly enjoyed our evening at this exquisitely furnished residence which converts to a chic restaurant in the evening. Host Corry and his partner and chef Marc are fastidious about the quality of the food, service and ambience. This place is a real treat and you shouldn’t miss it.
Need Medical Attention?
A minor issue of an earache meant we had to find a doctor before it became a lot more serious. If you need medical attention we can highly recommend Bangkok Phuket Hospital in Phuket Town. This private hospital is outstanding from check in at reception to when you collect medications and pay your bill, which is usually much less than western prices. The hospital boasts an international standard with a proud research history. The hospital is spotless and our experience was nothing but efficient and professional. We know local expats who have undergone surgical procedures at Bangkok Phuket Hospital and they speak highly of the staff, the expertise and the level of care provided.