Bangla Road, The Main Drag In Phuket's Sin City
Bangla Road is located in the middle of Phuket's Patong Beach, connecting the beach road to Rat U Tit Road. This is where all the action is in Phuket, the home of the island's infamous nightlife, featuring world famous nightclubs, beer bars, go go bars and even sleazy peep shows. Bangla Road is to Phuket what Walking Street is to Pattaya, or what Soi Cowboy is to Bangkok. During the day the garbage from the party the night before rots in the streets until late afternoon, making Bangla Road an unpleasant place to be in the early afternoon. There are a few hardened alcoholics that drink at a few of the only bars that do any business during daylight hours, the sort of fellows with sleeved tattoos and filthy clothing, looking as if they haven't had a sober moment in over a decade.
For the most part, the bars on Bangla Road don't open until the sun goes down, and the tourists move off the beach and prepare for a night out on the town. Every night at around 9PM, there is a parade of working girls pouring out from Soi San Sabai into Bangla Road, dressed in high boots and stockings, mini skirts that cover next to nothing. They often wear more jewelry than they do clothing, and the skin that is revealed is often badly scared or heavily tattooed, in many cases the tattoos will be slogans of the trade, such as "no money no honey", and often these are scribbled and horribly misspelled. One such tattoo that comes to mind appeared on the back of a tiny little girl that appeared to be a teenager, the tattoo was crudely scribbled in jailhouse fashion, and it read "Mansnester United", an attempted tribute to the English football club.
The landscape has changed a lot over the past 10 years, a decade ago the Shark Club was the only nightclub on Bangla Road, and across the street was the island's only go go bar, the Rock Hard a go go. The Shark Club was closed back in 2002, but the Rock Hard is still in business, no longer the popular spot it was in it's glory days, it is a dark empty little hole in the wall. These days the Tiger Entertainment Complex is home to hundreds of very popular beer bars, as well as a popular nightclub. There are half a dozen go go bars scattered around Bangla Road, most of them located on Soi Sea Dragon. There is even a Russian themed strip club with Russian girls offering lap dances, the inflated prices seem to attract mostly a wealthy Asian clientele.
There are now a handful of popular nightclubs all competing to be the second best club in Patong, with Hollywood Discotheque the undisputed number 1 nightclub in town. Hollywood is a large crowded club, located above the beer bars at Soi Easy, always full of tourists and freelance bar girls. There are hundreds of small beer bars on the various side streets that jet off from Bangla Road, Soi Easy, Soi Gonzo, Soi Eric, Soi Seadragon, and perhaps the most notorious of all "Soi Katoey", which is named after the trans-gender sex trade workers that frequent the area.
Over the years the local government has always claimed that it is their intention to clean up Patong, in an attempt to rid Phuket of the stigma of being labeled as a destination for sex tourists. The Tourism Authority of Thailand would like to see Phuket marketed as a high end destination for wealthy business travelers, honeymooners and families, and while the rest of Phuket seems to have made significant progress in this direction, Patong Beach is filthier than ever.
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