Patong Beach is Phuket’s most famous beach resort where tourists end up staying when they visit Phuket. Indeed, Patong beach is bustling, very touristy and people either love it or hate it.
I was on the neutral side – could it be because I went during the rainy season (where there was no rain during our weeklong stay?) and there weren’t many people in Patong Beach? Who knows, but I made some interesting observations that most people who have never been to Patong Beach might find interesting during my year of travelling.
1) Rainy season on Patong Beach in Phuket isn’t so rainy after all
There was barely any rain in Patong Beach, despite the fact that we visited Phuket during rainy season! It rained once at night, and it spat during the daytime on our last night in Patong beach during our weeklong stay.
2) The parasailing folks down at Patong Beach Phuket have gotten the ride down in a very efficient manner
We watched people set up the parasailing which was so crazy! They have their process down pat! And it’s about 1,300 baht for a five-minute ride, so they’re making a killing! But they do have quite a few people working on parasailing, so I guess the profits are split between the workers. They have a driver, a ninja, and about five other people hustling tourists to go parasailing.
The parasailing process flow looks something like this: once they have a customer, they get the person ready by putting on a tattered harness and life jacket. The tourist waits in the landing area for the parasail and boat to come back to the beach. Once the parasail lands on the beach, the workers spend two seconds unhooking the first tourist who just finished his session and hooking the second tourist for the next ride. They also have this guy (I call him a ninja) who joins the tourist on the ride… he doesn’t wear a harness and he’s just balancing himself between the ropes! As you can imagine, I don’t think safety is a priority for the water activities in Phuket. I highly suggest you do your research online and book in advance if you are dying to do some fun water activities in Phuket.
3) Expect a lot of MSG in your food
If they tell you there’s no MSG, they really mean there’s a little bit of MSG, especially if it’s a meat dish at a street vendor. I kept getting sick every night because of all the MSG they put into the food and so I started to detest the night market. Gary was fine; he loved all the food and ate everything.
4) Food is more expensive in Patong Beach compared to the rest of Thailand
The food is more expensive than what we are used to comparing to the rest of Thailand and the food was not that great. Of course, compared to Western prices, everything is still a lot cheaper than the meals you’d pay for in Canada. The price reference I use is mango sticky rice. It’s 120 baht in Phuket, but only 50-60 baht in Chiang Mai. Same with Pad thai – you can find Pad thai for 45 baht in Chiang Mai, but the same dish in Phuket will cost you close to 100 baht (or more!)
5) Food vendors in Patong Beach are very touchy with men
The food sellers are very touchy with males – they will grab your arm to get your attention to get you to buy their food. They don’t touch females though.
6) Phuket is often referenced as the Kuta of Thailand
I’m sure you’ve heard similar comparison between the two places and how Phuket is the Kuta of Thailand while Kuta is the Phuket of Bali. Well, let me tell you, what you heard is pretty spot on. Phuket is much like Kuta, a big party city with overdeveloped beach and beachfront, but it is a bit less ghetto, cleaner and it feels safer than Kuta. The Balinese are definitely nicer than the Thais in Phuket, but there seems to be fewer scammers in Phuket. There’s also a lot more Chinese tourists in Phuket compared to Kuta. And I mean LOTS!
With that being said, my visit to Kuta during my year of slow travels was quite chill and mellow. I never stayed out late enough to see the wild side of Kuta.
If you’re in Phuket and you’re looking to stay in a quiet place away from the craziness, you might want to check out one of the best hotels in Phuket.
7) Some Thai people speak Mandarin very well
The need for the Thais to speak Mandarin is to cater to the Chinese tourists in Thailand who cannot speak English well. And of course, the Thais in touristy areas will always talk to me in Mandarin. Sometimes, I respond back in Mandarin when necessary, but those moments crack me up every time. Picture two people speaking to each other in broken Mandarin – we both think we understand each other, but we probably don’t… haha. At some point, we both end up running out of words to say and start giving each other blank stares.
Tip for Asians travelling in Thailand: How to stop a Thai person dead in their tracks when they are trying to hustle for a sale
Thai people in touristy areas always assume we are from China and would talk to us in Mandarin. Usually, we ignore them, but there are times when they ask us where we are from in English. I think it’s their way of trying to establish rapport with us before busting out their Mandarin and then “pitching” for a sale. I’ve learned to tell them that we are from Vietnam, to which the reaction we get is priceless. They give me this weird “HUH” look, and then turn to their colleague with this “I don’t know what to say, help me man” expression! It cracks me up every time. I guess not a lot of Vietnamese people travel to Thailand.
8) There are a lot of Russians in Patong Beach
Signs were in three main languages, English, Chinese and Russian.
Yep, that was new to me too. In fact, on our James Bond Island tour, more than half of the tourists were Russian! They got to sit inside the boat while the rest of the travellers had to sit outside of the boat. It was a bit of a weird feeling to be segregated like that, but eh, it is what it is.
9) Laundry is everywhere in Patong beach, you just have to look closely
Phuket is 50 baht per kilo and is ready the next day. A lot of travel kiosks double as laundry sites as well; you have to look carefully for the tiny signs. We walked for a good ten minutes before we found a place that does laundry, only to realize that there were a few places located next to our hotel!
Unlike Bali where laundry is done on-site, most places seem to take your clothes and send it offsite.
10) You’ll get dizzy with all the choices and options when it comes to Phuket tours
So do your research! Read my post about what you need to do before booking your Phuket tours
11) Traffic around Patong beach is crazy!
Do not expect the motorcycles to let you pass when crossing the road. Instead, they will just drive around you. Cars and buses will stop, but you have to make sure you catch their attention. A lot of the traffic lights are not functional so you have to take the initiative to cross the street and hope that traffic will stop for you.
Also, catching a cab from the airport to Phuket is also crazy scary and I would highly advise you to book your airport transfer in advance. Not only is it cheaper, but it is much safer than trying to catch a cab from the airport. I’m not kidding you when I say that taking the taxi in advance from the airport to Phuket was one of the scariest moments during my year of travel. Scary AND scammy! We did our research and made sure to be aware of the taxi scams but we still ended up in a taxi with one of the sketchiest drivers ever! Read this thread about taxi scams if you want to learn more.
12) Longtail boats on Patong beach are not available during rainy season
As we headed to the beach, we found the waves to be pretty rough. We were sad that the long tail boats were not available since the sea was too harsh. We did ride a longtail boat in Ao Nang and…let me tell you… it was crazy.
Any other interesting facts about Patong beach that I am missing?
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