Gay Travel Guru’s Visit to Phuket
Located in South Thailand, and the #1 tourist island, Phuket attracts LGBT travelers with its beautiful beaches, mountainous terrain, and beach lifestyle. With over 39 islands surrounding Phuket, many visitors fly to the island, spend a few days, and island hop to the smaller islands. With a large gay expat community, youʼll find many LGBT folks who reside here full time or come down during high season. Given its reputation for their beaches, most LGBT travelers find a way to visit Phuket, or one of the smaller islands, while visiting Thailand. With a vibrant nightlife, and plenty of restaurants and entertainment, youʼll easily adapt to the island life in Phuket.
The LGBT culture has grown significantly over the last decade on Phuket Island. Phuket has a vibrant LGBT culture and draws in LGBT visitors with all their gay hotels and bars, while mixing in the island culture Phuket is known for. Utilizing a social app, like Grindr, will be important if youʼre looking to maximize your interactions with locals and other tourists. Celebrating large festivals like Songkran, the festival of lights, and Gay Pride, there are several times throughout the year that attract a large LGBT audience.
With a thin line separating the beach life from gay life, youʼll find LGBT locals and visitors all over the island having fun. Patong has the only gathering of gay bars in Thailand South of Bangkok. Come sunset, you can feel the energy as people prepare to head out. With several guesthouses having their own bars, and the main gay bars, around midnight the social scene gets started. The most popular bars are Kiss Club, Zag Club, and Boat Bar which has been a hot spot for 20 years.
Boat Bar: The most popular gay bar in Phuket, Boat Bar (boatbar.com) is where youʼll find locals and visitors socializing and dancing. With the club picking up around 11 p.m., there are plenty of smaller bars and restaurants to explore before hitting up Boat Bar. If you show up before the performance starts at midnight, youʼll get in before the crowds start packing in.
Paradise Complex: Home to many of Phuketʼs gay guesthouses and restaurants, many are gay owned or very gay friendly. Here you can walk around, explore the restaurants and nightlife, all in one place. The epicenter of gay nightlife, with close to 30 venues listed in Paradise Complex alone, if youʼre not sure where to start just stop over to the Paradise Complex or grab a copy of Out in Thailand Magzine to see what else is happening.
There are (straight) touristic show like Simon Cabaret, Phuket Fantasea, Siam Niramit, Aphrodite Cabaret and Simon Star show. Shows that more targets the gay market are all found in Paradise Complex with names like Tangmo club, My Way, Yes, and Passport.
After Hours (when everything else is closed) Sanook club and Sofa Pub are in a different area of Patong, but still open when everything else is closed and these two hangouts are popular with the late night gay crowd in Phuket.
Phuket has hotels in all different price levels. Most of the hotels are gay friendly, but most of them charge a joiner fee if you bring a friend over night. If you stay in Gay place you will be surrounded by other guests from our LGBT community, probably also gay staff, management and owner. If you want to stay in the middle of the gay area of Paradise Complex you have plenty of choices, but you might not get much sleep. Patong can be quite noisy until the early morning, but for the party animal this is the perfect choice if youʼre looking to experience Phuketʼs nightlife.
Paradise Complex: Rendezvous, Connect, Aquarius, Sundowner, Fong Kaew, Adonis
Patong: Apsara, Jochens, Club one seven, Loveli
Phuket: Phuket Gay Homestay, CCʼs hidayway
Being broken down into three districts, youʼll find plenty of attractions throughout Phuket. Whether youʼre in the Phuket, Kathu, or Thalang District, youʼll always be an arms reach away from a beautiful beach, great restaurant, and a bartender ready to pour you a drink. The most popular district being Kathu, on the Central West side of the Island, youʼll find Patong located in this district and it will be one of the busiest areas on the island.
Beaches: With some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Phuket offers every kind of atmosphere whether youʼre looking to find a beach to relax on or socialize with other tourists. Patong and Karon Beach are going to be the busier beaches, located near plenty of restaurants, bars, and shops. While I did not see this for myself, I heard Patong Beach, Nai Harn, and Laem Sing are more popular among LGBT visitors. Surin Beach has a popular beach club for a sunset drink. If youʼre looking to relax, head out to Kamala Beach where you will find this to be relaxing even in the high season. With the rainy season being from May to October, youʼll want to take this into consideration when planning a trip to Phuket. Although it could easily not rain for a week, itʼs important to monitor the weather during the monsoon season to maximize your beach time.
Gay Saunas: There are two gay saunas in Phuket. Aquarius is located in Paradise Complex in Patong and caters mainly to tourists and the other Tara sauna is in Phuket town and has mainly a local crowd.
Karon View Point: If youʼre looking to take in breathtaking views of the island, head to Karon View Point which overlooks three of the main beaches. If you donʼt have much time in Phuket, or it happens to be raining, head up to the point where they have a gazebo you can stand under and enjoy the views.
Wat Chalong Temple: The most significant temple in Phuket, Wat Chalong is one of twenty five Buddhist temples on the island. Known for the monk that lead the village people to the temple to
protect it from the Chinese revolt, this monk has a life-size wax replica of him where people come to pay their respects and pray. Consisting of several temples on the grounds, the main temple holds a fragment of a bone of buddha. With ornate drawings depicting the previous lives of Buddha, gold statues where you can lay a piece of gold foil, and numerous statues of buddha, this is one of the most beautiful temples you will see in Thailand. Youʼll also want to bring a few bahts for a donation to light incense and set off firecrackers to wish bad luck away. With an extensive shopping market at the back of the temple, you can also pick up some amazing Thai souvenirs.
Talang Road: The name of the first road of Phuket Town, this street has become popular for its historical buildings and “Shino-Portuguese” architecture. Still an epicenter for shopping, tourists walk through this area to admire the buildings bright colors and explore the areas shops.
Muay Thai Boxing: A traditional form of boxing in Thailand, Muay Boxing, has become very popular in parts of the world over the last two decades. Known as the “art of eight weapons”, Muay boxing utilizes fists, elbows, knees, shins, and feet to engage in combat with others. Requiring both physical and mental strength, many will travel to Thailand to learn the art of Muay Boxing and compete in tournaments before heading back to their home country. Kids, all the way up to adults in their 30ʼs, will participate in Muay Boxing. While in Phuket, you can visit the Bangla Boxing Stadium (banglaboxingstadiumpatong.com) where they host large Muay Boxing tournaments.
Sea Hag restaurant in Patong has been the starting point for over 20 years. Many other food experiences are to be found in Phuket. Some restaurants tend to be more popular with the LGBT community. In Paradise Complex there are Sundowners, Connect and Newspaper restaurant. A bit outside Patong you find Limʼs and Royale Namtok. In Phuket town, make sure to check out Kra Jok See.
There are plenty of day tours to beautiful paradise islands, jungle safaris, city walks in old Phuket Town or you can even try the cooking school. At the moment, there are no exclusive gay tours but with a small group of friends you can easily charter a boat for your own tour.
The only outdoor gay gathering is the weekly BBQ buffet and swim party organized by Phuket Gay Homestay and Backstage Bar. Its a popular “men only” event on Saturdays from 5 PM to 10 PM. Itʼs a great way to start a Saturday night with food, drinks, new Friends and you can continue to party in Paradise complex where everything starts around 11PM.
This is Thailand so you can find a “massage” with and without happy ending (thatʼs how the locals describe it). A really good massage with a male masseur can be difficult to find but here are some advice. C&N massage , Blue Dolphin and Aquarius.
Whatever you want to make of this beach paradise getaway will be waiting for you on Phuket Island. With accommodations and attractions for every type of LGBT traveler, and on every budget, Phuket will not disappoint. When in Phuket, LGBT travelers from all over converge with one goal of having a great time and enjoying the Thai way of life.