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Everybody has heard of Phuket, Thailand’s most famous beach destination. Some remember it because of the tsunami that hit the island in 2004 while other knows it because of its reputation as a sex tourism center.

Phuket is disconcerting at first glance: it no longer look like Thailand, you could be anywhere on earth. McDonalds, Starbucks, Carrefour, Burger King, 7/11 are right around the corner and all the restaurants claim to have the best Western food. In fact, local food is so rare that restaurants advertise “Thai food”. Can you imagine going to Italy and look for signs that say “Italian food”? Enjoying the “great capitalist way of life” in Phuket doesn’t come cheap. The island is slightly more expensive than Phi Phi, which wasn’t exactly a bargain in the first place.

Ko Phi Phi is where teens and young backpackers get drunk and rebel against God-knows-what, and Phuket is where their parents deal with their mid-life crisis. You see them everywhere, red-faced Westerner with giggling Thai “girlfriends”. Lovely couples—how did you meet, already? Oh right, at the bar.

Because really, I doubt most people come to Phuket to enjoy the beach. Ah, sure, the sand is pretty good considering how jam-packed the beach is. There is barely any room to put your sarong down if you are not renting one of the chairs. The purple parasols block the view and you have to dodge the jet skis if you go for a swim. The beach is basically where you sleep during the day, waiting for some night fun.

Phuket at night is a bit of a circus. It’s noisy, smelly (don’t you love opened sewers?) and slightly claustrophobic as you try to make your way through the crowd of prostitutes, tourists, massage girls, tuk-tuk drivers and other hawkers. Half of the people participate in Phuket’s nightlife (read: actually go to the go-go bars) while the remaining half is just looking at the “ladyboys” or the girls dancing in bikini above their heads. Some people try to look appropriately disgusted by the display of skin (and really, there is little skin displayed compared to Pigalle in Paris) and I’m guessing some parents have some uncomfortable explaining to do.

The most annoying was actually the other travelers. People seem to think that anything goes in Phuket and they do things they wouldn’t do at home. Trashy attitudes are the new way to enjoy holidays it seems.

You can see the complete set of pictures taken in Thailand on Flickr.

Chinese New Year is Coming

Thai Ronald

Empty Ptaong Beach, Thanks to the Rain

...And on a Sunny Day

Patong Beach

Most Wanted

Carrying Food

Grabbing a Bite

Delivering Ice

Always Popular, Mcdonalds

Yes, the name of the store made me laugh

Phuket Night Life

Bikini Parade


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. You raised a very important point about behavior while in a foreign country. As much as I agree that traveling provides an opportunity to be outside of one’s comfort zone, sometimes, it goes the other (aka: wrong) way. People travel because they can be uninhibited since after all, once they ride that plane back, nobody will be able to catch them.

    I first observed that behavior when I was in living in Guam, Guam being the backyard of Japan, since it is just 3 hours away. Young Japanese tourists would go to the island and spend a week, and drink, swim, and be an ass. You could go to San Vitores Road in Tumon and you’ll see them. That was especially surprising since I never saw such behavior in Japan, when I was still living there. Japanese people are so polite, and it’s always a collective mentality. Once the collective goes away, they can throw reason out the window too.

  2. Doesn’t sound like a good place for this old man to try and relax. My idea of a good time is a nap after lunch. I am enjoying your trip. Before long you will have visited everywhere.

  3. @kyh – I agree! I loved the store name… nice pick for Patong 😆

    @Linguist-in-Waiting – I saw some pretty crazy Japanese backpackers in latin America and I was shocked, because like most people I have a certain stereotype for Japan that didn’t fit that behavior!

    @Tulsa Gentleman – Oh no, many more countries to see! But we are almost done here, we are flying back net week.

    @Cynthia – Ah yeah, that would fit. Although I susppect there is less skin business going on in FLA.

    @expatraveler – Nah, I’d pass. It was on our way that’s why we went.

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