Phuket Gay Travel
Some say it’s overrated, so is Phuket gay travel right for you? Drag shows, hidden beaches and an electric nightlife center are just the beginning of gay Phuket.
The Gay Travel Experience: Phuket, Thailand
Phuket, and specifically Patong Beach, is where you’ll find the largest concentration of gay men outside of Bangkok. In Patong, gay bars snuggle up against one another in a little area called the Paradise Complex. More on this later.
Thailand is of course one of the best places to be gay in Southeast Asia, which is why Phuket has become such a popular destination for gay men. I always feel comfortable being gay no matter where I go in Thailand, and Phuket was no exception. If anything, Thai women from massage parlors approaching me (and grabbing my booty!) would be what made me uncomfortable. Ha!
Read this guide thoroughly, because Phuket is a highly touristic area that needs to be treaded carefully. If you don’t plan correctly, you might just end up ordering a pepperoni pizza in an Egyptian restaurant surrounded by Russian vacationers. Check out the accommodations and location section below to make sure you pick the right spot.
My biggest piece of advice for you is to spend time in more than one place in Phuket. Gay travel to Phuket probably means you’ll want to visit Patong, but don’t forget to check out some other more local spots! Each area of the island (which is quite large) has a completely different vibe.
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Gay Phuket: Where to Stay
Here’s a quick rundown of gay Phuket travel hotspots and where to stay. To start, the airport is way up north, and if you are flying in, you will need to grab a taxi or shared minivan down to the southern part of the island/Patong.
If you are arriving by bus, the main station is actually not near Patong Beach. However, what I learned on my journey, is that busses destined for the terminal will stop at travel agencies before arriving at the main station.
Here, you can get a shared minivan to your hotel in Patong Beach. If you want to make sure this is possible on your route, check with the bus attendant because your ticket likely won’t mention it
Gay Patong Beach: Where to Stay
Patong Beach is by far the busiest and most touristic area of Phuket. It is the gay nightlife hub and is very walkable. I recommend gay travelers visit Patong, but really only for the nightlife. Two nights will suffice. I think the gay culture here is entertaining and unique, but there really is not much authenticity in this part of town right next to the shore.
In my opinion, Patong suffers from over-tourism, exemplified by every single restaurant offering international food with menus in 5 languages. Plus, the beach is way over-hyped! Your best bet is to stay just a bit away from the beach so you can enjoy more local markets and such.
During your stay in Patong Beach, I recommend staying at Phuvaree Resort! Reasonable prices, exceptional service and great amenities make this hotel my top choice for being near the center of nightlife. They have a nice big gym with great aircon and bright natural light, which I loved.
Where to stay in South Patong
Head a little further south along the west coast of Phuket and you will find more secluded beaches with fewer tourists. Also, as you go down the coast, there are more large resorts. On my journey south, I stayed at The Yama Hotel Phuket. By far, this was the best hotel I’ve stayed in while visiting Thailand.
Where to Stay in Old Phuket Town
My last stop was Phuket Town, where accommodations are plentiful. There are hundreds of hotels and hostels within a 15-minute walking distance to the center. I stayed in a private room at Bloo Hostel, which was very comfortable and stylish.
Other Places to Stay in Phuket
There are many popular beach resorts halfway between Patong Beach and the airport. I didn’t get a chance to visit this area, but my gay Italian friends sent me some photos of great places.
Check it out and let me know how you like it! These may be best suited to those who are very short on time and are flying into and out of Phuket Airport.
Phuket Experiences for the Gay Traveler
If you haven’t tried Durian fruit yet, now is your chance. They can be found at most outdoor markets, but I got mine at Baan Saan in Patong Beach. If you haven’t had or seen these before, know this: you either like them or the smell repulses you. The fruit has the texture of soft butter and the taste is nothing like the smell! It’s quite sweet.
Paradise Beach: The Best Beach in Phuket
The best beach I found in Phuket was Paradise Beach. The vibe is exactly what Phuket gay travelers would be looking for. Music with great beats, beach bed rentals, seclusion and modern facilities make this my favorite spot.
There is a wonderful floating pier from which you can dive in the water. Activities wind down here at sunset, except on nights where there is a festival! I didn’t catch a festival, but it looked like it would have been a blast. The whole area is so cozy.
You will need a motorbike to get to Paradise Beach since the approaching road is extremely steep, a bit too uncomfortable to walk. Halfway to the beach from the main road, all cars are stopped, but if you have a motorbike you can drive down the mountainside right up to the entrance. There is free parking too.
Patong Beach & Karon Beach
Patong Beach was quite displeasing in my opinion. Generic gay travel as well as regular travel websites completely over-hype this beach to capitalize on website clicks. The water was murky and had significant trash floating around.
Don’t believe all the filtered images online; the water is nowhere near blue. Personally, this false advertising gets on my nerves (and this is why wolfyy is here to help you). If this resonates with you, I hope you are already a mailing list subscriber!
Gay Travel to Phuket: What to Do in Patong
You must of course get a Thai Massage while visiting Patong! But be judicious about which place you enter. How can you tell a good massage parlor from a dirty, sketchy place? Firstly, the better places don’t need to have five to seven women sitting on the sidewalk chanting “massage.”
Go for a massage parlor that you don’t need to be convinced to enter. This way, you’ll avoid potential unpleasant surprises, if you know what I mean.
Restaurants (most of which are not Thai) and bars in the Jungceylon complex are outrageously expensive for Thailand. However, you are really paying for the experience more so than the food.
Things to Do in Phuket Old Town
Old Phuket is known for its picturesque multicolored pastel buildings. The streets are just as charming as the photos portray. This little town has such an adorable ambiance, completely different from bustling Patong. Don’t miss Thalang Street, the main place to find adorable shops, cafés and restaurants.
My number one suggestion for cooling off in the heat during your explorations in Old Phuket Town is to have a drink at Thalang Café, an impressively stylish bar with indoor and outdoor seating. The drinks are delicious. This is the perfect place to spend an hour with friends enjoying the wonderful interior finishes and thoughtful design.
Modern coffee shops are popular in Old Phuket. They are everywhere, and usually are quite stylish! Many of them have that sort of “hipster” feel. I spent some time at Campus Coffee Roaster’s, which has super cold air conditioning, the fastest Wi-Fi around, and delicious pastries. Go check it out.
One of the best restaurants in all of Thailand that I have visited was in Phuket Town. Pay a visit to Vietnamese restaurant Je t’aime and you won’t be disappointed. The flavors I experienced here were like nothing else. I was also a newbie to Vietnamese food, and they showed me the proper way to eat everything. Absolutely incr4edible service and a beautiful interior, I highly recommend!
Phuket Gay Nightlife
Paradise Complex is the main center of gay bars in Patong Beach, Phuket. There are many gay bars and small gay clubs along this street, all of which you can check out in one or two nights.
Phuket Gay Bars: Boat Bar & Zagg Bar
Boat Bar is my Thai friend’s favorite gay bar, located right next to the Grand Paradise Hotel. A great drag show with dancing and fun bar staff kept us going all night long!
Zagg Bar is another popular gay bar option. It is only a few steps away from Boat Bar. They have an outdoor show pretty much every night with a large number of dancers. After that show, they welcome everyone inside the bar for more fun and dancing.
Make sure you read my travel tip below on when to get to Paradise complex Phuket gay area, because going too early can be a mistake.
Other Phuket Bars
Without even trying, you will probably walk right through Bangla Walking Street, the main straight nightlife center in Patong. This area garners mixed feelings by gay travelers. It is extremely crowded and full of what you may call “trashy” bars . You’ll encounter female dancers on bar tables and hundreds of workers trying to convince you to come into their establishment.
Since you’re in Patong, I’m sure you will want to check it out anyway. And so, if you are there, go to Crystal Bar. In my opinion, this cute spot was the most elegant bar in the area. They play fun pop music that gay travelers would love! There are also cute little beanbag chairs outside near the sidewalk.
Phuket Gay Travel Tips
You may be itching to check out the Patong Paradise Complex (the Phuket gay street) as soon as you arrive, but don’t go too early! If you show up before 11/11:30 PM, you may find yourself creeped out by the male masseurs crowding around you on a dark, empty street.
Life in the gay area begins just before midnight. Don’t make the same mistake as me by going earlier.
In Patong beach I guarantee you will be approached and offered a massage on the sidewalks. Here is a chance to practice your best poker face. These women (and sometimes men) can get feisty, pulling your arm or repeatedly tapping you. So, if you want to avoid a prolonged interaction, just keep walking.
Price Tips for Phuket LGBT Travelers
You will save a bunch of cash in Thailand by bartering. Here are a few helpful tips. Keep these numbers in mind, or jot them down before your trip so you don’t overpay.
When renting a motorbike for a day, don’t pay more than 200-250 Baht. Anything more and you’re getting completely ripped off. Usually they will give you a bike that’s almost on empty, so plan to add some gasoline. For 100 Baht, the company that rented to me filled my tank.
Pad Thai and other noodle dishes cooked in local restaurants should cost no more than 100 Baht per plate. In most of Thailand I paid 80 Baht for noodle dishes with chicken, so if you’re paying more, you’re probably in either a fancy restaurant or a tourist trap! The bare-bones price for Pad Thai is 80 Baht, no lower.
Taxi rides from town to town should not cost more than 500 Baht. I paid 450 Baht to get from Patong Beach to South Patong (a 30-minute ride), but the advertised price is 600 baht. For reference, I paid 600 Baht for a private air-conditioned car from South Patong to Old Phuket.
Remember, choose your location carefully. I advise you to allot a few days to southern Phuket and perhaps two nights in Patong Beach so you can see the gay bars. If you have more time, head to the very south of the island, or try out Old Phuket Town on the eastern side of the island.