Bangla Road in Patong beach might not be the center of the universe, but many of those who have been there feel it might be!! It is the center of the night life and entertainment universe on Phuket Island.
It is a place where one can enjoy strong drink and eat good food, meet beautiful and friendly ladies, listen to music - both recorded, live and DJ style, dance, play billiards, get a relaxing Thai massage, and spend good times with friends or make new ones.
It is a place to leave behind many of the stresses, strains and restraints of ordinary life, and to enjoy to the fullest some of the good things life has to offer, at least for a while! And, when one tires of it all, one can retreat to the beach, which is a short walk away, or one can go shopping!
When one is ready for sleep – or one wants to enjoy quiet time with a special person – one can retreat to a hotel or guest house. There are numerous affordable hotels and guest houses in the area.
Bangla Road is located in the middle of the west coast Phuket resort town of Patong Beach, and runs from west to east between Thaweewong Road (the road which runs parallel to the beach) and Rat-U-Thit Road. As time has past both these roads have become part of the Bangla entertainment scene, as the activities of Bangla have spread out into many areas of Patong.
Bangla Road itself is about only about 400 meters in length but size is not what matters! There are many bars, shops and restaurants up and down Bangla Road. And it should be noted that all up and down and around Bangla Road ladies operating on their own seek to entice passing men into conversation and more. The real activity, however, is located on the numerous small sois or roads that branch off from Bangla Road.
There are 13 or so of these sois, (see sois of Bangla) and here one finds discos, go-go bars and some vast entertainment complexes which combine restaurants, bars, go-go bars and discos into a single venue. And, of course, one continues to find the independent lady operators. Many of these establishments are outdoors, partially or totally, which makes things interesting.
Most of the bars are rather small, catering to perhaps twenty or so customers at a time, but some – the discos of course and others, too – can be quite large. While individual bars come and go, some of the sois have developed distinctive characters or styles that seem to last. Many of them seem to centered around a large disco, although it can't be said that all the bars in the individual sois have unifying themes. The bars, too have their own styles and character.
To tour Bangla Road, perhaps the best place to begin is where Bangla Road intersects with Thaweewong Road, on the right or south side going east, almost at Banana Disco. This is one of the oldest discos in Patong. It is a favorite with Japanese tourists and, like many of the other discos – and unlike most bars and go-go bars, has a cover charge, although the charge includes the price of a drink or two. It tends to close earlier than other places, leaving one time to hit other discos or bars.
If one proceeds east up Bangla from Thaweewong, one comes to several "beer bars". Some are fairly quiet, some have loud music, some have pool tables and all have ladies! These are good places to sit awhile and get the "lay of the land" so to speak. Continuing east, one comes to Soi Piadina, which is famous for reasonable seafood, and then Soi Patong Resort and Soi Viking. These two sois are home to a few smaller bars and restaurants.
One can continue walking east by shops and more small bars until one comes to the intersection with Rat-U-Thit Road and the Margarita Bar, a sports bar with live music. Next to the Margarita Bar, on Rat-U-Thit, is the Bangla Boxing Stadium. More like a large gym than a stadium, it does have live Muay Thai matches three or four times a week. Almost directly across the street from the Margarita Bar is the giant Jungceylon shopping complex and mall, a shopper's paradise.
The "real action" on Bangla Road is on the left or north side of the street and it tends to be concentrated on the east end. If one stands at the intersection of Bangla Road with Rat-U-Thit (at the "Rock Hard Go-Go") and one looks across Rat-U-Thit to the other side, one will see three discos, VIP (right on the corner), and Tai Pan, which is generally considered to be the best disco in Patong. Between them is Baya Beach Discotheque.
Before heading west down Bangla Road, one might take a quick detour on to Soi Sukhumvit, which begins at the Rat-U-Thit and Bangla intersection. It is technically not part of Bangla since it begins on Rat-U-Thit, but it does have several beer bars and one of the best go-go clubs in Patong, the Night Station. Nearby is Soi Vegas, which has some katoey bars and a Muay Thai fighting venue.
Going west down Bangla one quickly comes to Happy Road, along which are a few good go-go clubs and at the end of which is Seduction Discotheque, a large disco designed according to European standards and very popular with Western tourists. It is most famous for its completely modern bathrooms!
Next to Happy Road is Soi Tiger, home of the Tiger Disco complex, a two story collection of discos, restaurants, go-go bars and beer bars. The disco has a cover charge, which includes the price of a drink or two, but the other places are "free" (sort of). This entire soi is enclosed by a roof and other bars are clustered around Tiger. It is always busy, at least at night.
Continuing to walk west on Bangla past Soi Sea Lion, a relatively new soi with only a few beer bars, one comes to Soi Sea Dragon, one of the biggest and busiest sois in Patong, probably the busiest. It is not dominated by a large disco, but is lined on both sides with go-go bars.
There are also many street walkers walking along and in the streets! It is a great place to meet girls, although maybe the wrong kind of girls. There are a few restaurants to take newly met friends to for quiet conversation and eating.
Beyond Soi Sea Dragon is Soi Erik, considered to be the second busiest soi in Bangla (after Soi Sea Dragon). Resembling Sea Dragon, it has lots of go-go bars, but they are united by a single music system!! Unique to Soi Erik is the fact that it has its own art gallery which is located at the entrance of the soi.
Continuing to walk west toward the ocean, the next big soi is Soi Crocodile. This soi used to be home to what was then the biggest discotheque in Patong, the Crocodile Discotheque. It was destroyed by a fire but the soi is still plenty busy. A new, large multileveled disco, the "D" Club, has at least partially taken the place of the Crocodile, and numerous beer bars are located up and down the soi. It has come to be nicknamed "Soi Katoey" because it has become a hangout for ladyboys. It is also said that foreign women seem to enjoy this soi.
Next to Soi Crocodile is Soi Gonzo. It is considered to be "quiet", but the twenty or so bars on Soi Gonzo are said to compete with each other at playing hip-hop and heavy metal music the loudest. Possibly, it is considered quiet because it is not as busy as other sois due to the loud music!!
Well, if one enjoys hip-hop and heavy metal, then this soi is a good place to visit, although hip-hop music can be heard throughout Bangla Road, especially at the discos.
Next to Gonzo, going west, is Soi Easy. It is the last major soi one passes walking toward the beach, which is about 200 meters away. It has about 30 bars and is fully enclosed and air conditioned and is under the Hollywood Disco, one of Bangla's most active concerns. A place which gives ladies free drinks to help draw in the male customers!! Soi Easy is also home to another Bangla institution, the the Aussie Bar, which is frequented by Australians!
After one passes by Soi Easy and heads toward the ocean, one has passed the hustle and bustle of Bangla Road. There are several tailor shops located on the west end of Bangla – and certainly the tailors will try to catch the attention of those that pass by – but the major activity on Bangla Road is finished, although there is one last bar of consequence to pass by before reaching Soi Thaweewong, Scruffy Murphy's Irish Bar.
One should keep in mind that as Patong has grown, the entertainment industry has also grown. While Bangla Road is still the center of the entertainment industry in Patong, the industry has spread along Thaweewong and Rat-U-Thit Roads.
Visitors seeking a good time in Patong should by all means visit and enjoy Bangla Road. It is possible that upon visiting, one might never want or feel the need to try other places. However, it one tires of Soi Bangla and wants some variety or adventure, all that is necessary is to turn where the road ends and walk forth.
A few words of comfort and caution are in order. Thailand has more than its share of petty scams and thievery, but the nightlife on Bangla Road is fairly honest and direct. Generally, the prices in bars and restaurants are clearly posted and change is correctly given. When dealing with young ladies, they generally honor the agreements they make.
Generally, the police try to make sure that harm comes to no tourist, and they are treated correctly. Of course, one must always exercise reasonable caution and protect oneself, but the danger most people have to deal with on Bangla Road is simply their desire to spend too much money. So have fun, but be careful of yourself!