Most people reading this are aware that Bangla Road, in the middle of the west coast resort of Patong Beach, is the entertainment and night life center of Phuket Island. They might not be aware, however, that most of the major entertainment venues of Bangla Road are not actually on the road itself. They are located on sois or small streets that branch off of the road.
These sois are almost all located on the north side of the road – Bangla Road itself runs east to west and is located between Thaweewong Road, which runs parallel to the beach, and Rat-U-Thit Road. Among the most important or best known sois that one will encounter as one walks east from Thaweewong Road are: Soi Easy, Soi Gonzo, Soi Crocodile, Soi Eric, Soi Sea Dragon, Soi Sea Lion, Soi Tiger, and Happy Road. In addition, Soi Vegas and Soi Sukhumvit are usually considered part of Bangla Road.
Soi Easy is located closest to the beach – about 200 meters from Thaweewong Road – of any of the major sois. It has about 25 beer bars, one go-go club and one discotheque.
Actually, the soi is under the Hollywood Discotheque. It is the only fully enclosed soi in Patong and is fully air conditioned and protected from torrential rains.
One knows that one has come to Soi Easy when one passes by the Cobra Bar and the Red Bar. Most of the bars are rather small and the major activities in these places are chatting with and playing board games with ladies and. Of course, listening to music.
It is often described as the least popular soi on Bangla Road, although the Hollywood Disco does a very good business. It gives the ladies free drinks! Inside Soi Easy, the Aussie Bar and the Dragon Bar are the best known and longest lasting.
Soi Gonzo is next to Soi Easy, and like Soi Easy, it is somewhat "quiet" in that it is not very busy. However, it is very noisy in that most of the 20 bars located there compete with each other to play the loudest hip-hop and heavy metal music.
Some people say that Soi Gonzo is a a little behind the times and the fact that it is not anchored around a discotheque like many other sois is certainly not helpful for business.
Near the entrance to Soi Gonzo is a bar which gets good recommendations, U2 Bar, which is said to be a great place for people watching.
The most popular bar inside Soi Gonzo is the Wet Spot.
This soi resides next to Soi Gonzo and unlike Soi Gonzo, is very popular and busy.
It used to be home to a very popular discotheque, The Crocodile Discotheque – it burned down – and is now anchored by the D Club discotheque, a two story bastion of hip-hop music located at the end of the soi.
There are twenty to twenty five bars on Soi Crocodile, the best known of which are the Point Bar, the Rasta Bar – said to be popular with foreign ladies - and of course, the Crocodile Bar.
Soi Crocodile is also called "Soi Katoey", because it is a meeting place of Katoeys, the Thai men who dress as ladies – very often in cabaret style costumes. The Katoeys roam up and down Soi Crocodile and try to make money posing with tourists for pictures.
No one knows who "Eric" is or was and it doesn't matter. Soi Eric is next to Soi Crocodile. There are 25 bars at Soi Eric, many of them go-go bars – including one Katoey go-go bar - which might account for why Soi Eric is so busy! Although the dancers of Soi Eric are not able to reveal as much of themselves as they were able to do in a previous era, they are still lovely to behold.
Another aspect of Soi Eric which appeals to many people is that they are not bombarded by the the sound systems of 20 or so clubs at the same time! Soi Eric has a unified musical system so that all the bars are playing the same music at the same time!
Soi Eric also has the distinction of being the only soi with its own art gallery, which is located near the entrance to the soi. Now, the patrons of Soi Eric can honestly say that they are simply furthering their awareness of higher culture.
It is next to Soi Eric and is said to be even more popular than Soi Eric – and it has the most go-go bars of any location on Phuket Island (Lolita, Suzy Wong, Bang-Bang, Play School, The Heights, Showgirls, etc). In recent year, most of the non-bar establishments, such as internet shops and pharmacies, have been demolished so more bars could be built, business is good here!
Some people do complain, however, that Soi Sea Dragon does sound like a "battle of the bands" as all the bars – which are either totally or partially open to the street- are playing their own very loud music simultaneously. One might consider skipping Soi Sea Dragon if one already has a bad headache.
Also sometimes called simply "Soi Lion", this is a fairly new and smallish soi next to Soi Sea Dragon. It has ten to 15 beer bars. It is a nice place to simply stop, have a drink, perhaps chat with a lady, maybe play a little pool, and enjoy some (relative) peace and quiet.
Next to Soi Sea Lion and fairly close to Rat-U-Thit Road, is infamous Soi Tiger, which has become the most popular soi on Bangla Road recently. Soi Tiger is centered around the two storied Tiger Disco, which has a dance floor on the lower level with adjoining bars and more bars on the second level.
Although most of the bars are technically beer bars, the ladies have begun dancing on the bars and the tables wearing less than most of the ladies in the go-go bars wear. Apparently, they can do this because the bars are not regulated as go-go bars!!!! Many, but not all of the bars in Soi Tiger operate with a unified sound system.
This soi is next to Soi Tiger. It is the location of Seduction Disco, which is the discotheque in Patong most similar to American and European discos, having a larger dance floor, better lighting and a nicer interior. This club is very popular with Westerners and has fewer Thai ladies than most other discos. There is an admission charge, but only after midnight. The club is known for its clean toilets.
This soi is not technically a part of Soi Bangla as entrance is from Rat-U-Thit Road (where it intersects with Soi Bangla) but it is generally considered part of Soi Bangla. It is the location of several beer bars located in a two story complex, and one of the best go-go bars in Patong, the Night Station. The bars operate with a unified sound system and the girls in The Night Station tend to reveal more than girls in other places.
Very near Soi Sukhumvit is Soi Vegas, which has some Katoey bars and a boxing staduim (gym).
Those enjoying themselves in the Sois of Bangla should keep in mind that closing and opening times vary, according to the law, bars and discos are supposed to close at either 1:00 or 2:00AM. Sometime, these laws are enforced and sometimes they are not.
Those intending to go to a discotheque should bear in mind that many if not most of them have cover charges which can run to as much as three or five hundred baht, this cover does usually include a few drinks.
For those who tire and wish to rest – or eat, plenty of food stalls and restaurants are available for a quieter time. Some of the sois on the southside of the road are famous for their dining opportunities.