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Patong Beach

Eat and meet

Patong Beach

The dining possibilities in Patong are endless. Like the visitors that the beach attracts, Patong's restaurants cover every continent and every price range.

Phuket is famous for its fresh seafood and, come supper time, you won't have to walk far to find a restaurant with a big display of lobster, crab, prawns, and fish just waiting to be cooked-to-order. The inside scoop on the seafood joints along Rat-u-thit Rd. is that they make their money off one-time customers -- so the food, or the service, doesn't have to be that good. You can try one if you like, but you have been warned. For a seafood restaurant that consistently gets the thumbs-up from its customers, try the long-running Patong Seafood or Savoey Thai on Beach Rd both are very popular with tourists so don't expect a sleepy scene. Fresh seafood is priced by weight, and other dishes range from 80 to 600B.

If red meat is more to your tastes, Harry's and La Boucherie do a fine steak dinner. Harry's describes itself as an American steakhouse, but it's a lot more than that with pizzas, fajitas, Scandinavian dishes, Thai food, and even kid's menu. La Boucherie has a more specific focus -- premium beef cooked à la France. Prices are moderate.

Running off of Beach Rd, the appropriately named Soi Foodland has a half dozen restaurants that each take on the cuisine of one European country -- Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Greece, and more. Also near the beach, the very casual Sweet Restaurant is good for a low-key lunch after a swim. The menu is nothing special -- Thai, burgers, sandwiches, and pasta -- but the prices make it a top find: most dishes are under 100B.

For a dining experience only possible in Phuket, head north of Patong Beach to Baan Rim Pa. Perched on a cliff overlooking Kalim Bay, Baan Rim Pa is open on three sides to create a panoramic view of the Andaman sea. The cuisine is 'Royal Thai' with most menu items adapted from recipes once used to feed the Thai royal family -- the succulent duck curry is to die for. Dinner music is provided by their resident pianist and saxophone player, and their wine cellar is award-winning. Unless you too are royalty, you can probably only afford to eat here once. This is the time to whip out that gold card.

For quick and easy eats, Beach Road is dotted with fast food outlets like Burger King, McDonalds, and Subway. Some are open 24 hours for late-night snacking. More chain restaurants reappear at the Junk Ceylon shopping centre -- but we much preferred our meal at the Food Haven foodcourt. Each of the dozen stalls here specialises in a regional Thai cuisine, so this is a good opportunity to try some northern Thai eats if you won't be headed up that way. Prices are cheap (50B+) and cooling down in the mall's air-con is absolutely free.

You'll find more mid-priced family-friendly restaurants in the Sino-Phuket build of the mall and the surrounding area, including an offshoot of the Australian BBQ joint The Hog's Breath Cafe and the Fuji Restauant, which is surprisingly chic for a chain. Also here is the massive Carrefour hypermarket with ready-made meals, a full bakery, and aisles and aisles of snack food to re-stock your mini-bar.

Of course, the best way to fill your stomach on the cheap is with Thai street food. It's delicious, clean, and likely a lot fresher than your hotel's buffet. All day and well into the night vendors along the beach and Bangla Rd sell sweet corn, fresh fruit, skewers of BBQ meat, and other Thai-style snacks. It's standard practice that they charge foreign tourists more than they would a local, so it doesn't hurt to ask the price in advance. For something closer to a full meal, the semi-permanent food stands along Rat-u-thit Rd have a wok and burner and will fry up your choice of meat with rice or noodles for around 50B. A small night market springs up near the junction of Rat-u-thit and Hat Patong road and is a great spot to sample the best known Thai street foods. Must-trys are som tam with sticky rice, barbecued squid, fried bananas, and anything that's seafood.

Once the sun has risen, one of the best deals we found was the early breakfast special at Molly Malone's -- 99B gets you a full Western breakfast if you can make it there before noon (the all-day breaky is 295B!). Otherwise, we found their menu of greasy pub grub over-priced but, if it's what you're craving, it'll hit the spot.

Bars &entertainment
Patong's infamous for its nightlife and there's certainly no shortage of places to wet your whistle. Bangla Rd is the heart of the action with well over 100 bars running along it and its sois all the way from Thaweewong Rd to Rat-u-Thit Rd. The Aussie Bar on Soi Easy is more about sports than go-go dancers, but Soi Gonzo, Soi Eric, and Soi Seadragon fall into a sleazier category.

Soi Crocodile is, for reasons that will be obvious when you see it, better known as Soi Kathoey. Many of the bars are indistinguishable from each other and little more than a shopfront with a walk-around bar, some stools, and a pool table and staffed by between three and 30 friendly young Thai women who'll happily chat and pour you drinks from dusk til dawn. Some hate it, but others travel across the world to get here.

Patong's two Irish pubs -- Molly Malone's and Scruffy Murphy's -- are notable for their lack of bar girls. If you just want to dance there are a few discos but the clientele tends to run more toward young Thais on holiday than Western tourists -- try busy Tai Pan (free champagne on your birthday!) or the more intimate Banana Disco.

Above the Starbucks on Thaweewong Rd, Coyote morphs into a Latin-themed lounge once the sun goes down with live music most nights of the week and happy hour specials on margaritas. If hard rock is your taste, you'll love Rock City with its live music and tribute bands. It's at the southern end of the beach and can't be missed -- just look for the giant neon guitar.

Baan Rim Pa 223 Kalim Beach Rd, Patong. T: (076) 340 789;F: (076) 342 460 . Daily 12:00 – 24:00. http://www.baanrimpa.com/
Coyote 94 Beach Rd, Patong. T: (076) 344 366. http://coyotephuket.com/
Food Haven Foodcourt Jungceylon Shopping Centre, Patong. T: (076) 600 100
Fuji Jungceylon Shopping Centre, Patong. T: (076) 249 861-2; Open 11:00 - 22:00.
Harrys 110/2 Soi Big One Thaveewong Rd, Patong Beach. T: (076) 340 418; F: (076) 343 035. Daily 8:00 - 23:00 http://www.harrys-phuket.com/
Hog's Breath Cafe 3rd Floor Patong Promenade, take elevator across the road from JungCeylon Centre or escalator from Bangla Road entrance, Patong. T:(076) 600-177. Daily 11:00 - late. http://www.hogsbreath.co.th
La Boucherie 3 Sawatdirak Rd, Patong Beach. T: (076) 344 581. Daily 12:00 - 24:00. http://www.laboucherie-asia.com/
Patong Seafood 98/2 Taweevong Rd, Patong Beach. T: (076) 341244. Daily 8:00 - 24:00.
Rock City 188/1 Thaweewong Rd, Patong. T: (078) 855 101. http://www.rockcity.cc/
Savoey Thai International 136 Thaweewong Rd, Patong. T: (076) 341 171; F: (076) 340 231.
Scruffy Murphy's 5 Bangla Rd, T: (076) 292 2590 F: (076) 292 593 www.scruffymurphysphuket.com/

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