The gay scene in Patong is thriving and the majority of the action takes place in Paradise Complex. Located on Rat-U-Thit Road, Paradise Complex is a huge, sprawling mass of gay-friendly bars, clubs, restaurants, hotels, guesthouses and cabaret shows. It’s brash, loud, in-your-face, relentless fun, and it all takes place in front of the Royal Paradise Hotel.
There are more than 50 different entertainment venues crammed into the horseshoe-shaped complex. The gay scene in Phuket has evolved over the years. What was once a hidden, clandestine community is now unashamedly making its mark in Patong.
It’s taken 20 years to pull the Phuket gay scene away from quiet corners in discrete locations, but the result is worth celebrating, even if you’re not gay. The venues in Paradise Complex are aimed at men seeking men – lesbian travellers still don’t have a dedicated area to call their own party zone.
The gay scene in Patong is still growing and more and more gay men are visiting the island each year as result. There’s everything on display: go-go bars, lavish dance shows, all-night discos, laidback lounge bars, pubs and more. There are also a large number of gay-friendly saunas and massage studios, as well as gay-friendly gyms, Internet cafes, coffee shops, restaurants and clothing stores.
Gay Patong is the side of Phuket that never sleeps. The parties go on until the very late hours of the morning and there are always people around. If you’re a gay traveler visiting Phuket, you can check into one of the hotels in the Paradise Complex and have an exciting playground on your doorstep.
During the day, Paradise Complex is a chilled-out zone where people go to relax. There’s a large market where travelers can buy clothes, accessories, handicrafts and other bits and pieces.
By the time the sun has set, however, it’s anything goes. Catch a cabaret show, enjoy a massage or seek out the company of one of the pretty boys – there’s no pressure to do things a certain way at Paradise Complex.
Even if you’re straight or just curious about the gay scene in Patong, Paradise Complex is known to throw some of the best parties in all of Phuket. A cabaret show can also be a lot of fun, especially if you’re with a group of friends. The gay scene is by no means confined to Paradise Complex, but the area is like the heart of the community.
Although many of the male sex workers at Paradise Complex are offering their services to men, not all of those workers are gay. This makes the whole courting phenomenon rather different than what you might see around Soi Bangla.
Places to look out for
Boat Bar is a great disco that goes on all night and pumps out some of the best tunes on the island. There are also nightly cabaret shows and an outdoor terrace bar. If you want to see a cabaret show, Phuket Simon Cabaret is regarded as the pick of the bunch.
The Sphinx Restaurant & Theatre located close by on Rat-U-Thit Rd is another fab little show venue that hosts nightly performances. One more gay hangout for watching cabarets is Uncle Charlie’s. There are no cover charges for cabaret shows, but you will be expected to buy a drink and an offering at the end is always appreciated.
There are several go-go bars around Paradise Complex. The action is much the same as in “straight” go-gos except it’s rows of young men on display. If that tickles your fancy, try CU Tonight, Spartacus or My Way, which is also home to elaborate cabaret shows.
The Flying Handbag is a kind of British pub that’s usually good fun. James Dean is another popular gay pub in Paradise Complex. If you’re keen on camping it up with a mic, check out Wow Café and Karaoke. Meanwhile, Connect Bar is something of an institution among Phuket’s gay community, as is Tangmo Club, owned by the well-known Khun Tangmo, who has about a dozen businesses around Paradise Complex.
For something to do before the nightly activities get underway, Aquarius Spa has a sauna, gym and pool, as well as more than 20 guestrooms. Another guesthouse on Paradise Complex is Blue Dolphin, which offers a variety of massage services as well.
Each of the venues around Paradise Complex has its own gaggle of dedicated followers. If you’re only in Phuket for a short time, go everywhere and check out all the gay hangouts. There are good times to be had in gay Patong.