Gay Travel Asia
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ภูเก็ตประเทศไทย

Phuket

Thailand

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Phuket Gay Guide

Introduction

Phuket offers tropical beaches and is in gay-friendly Thailand. That’s a pretty attractive combination. Add tasty Thai food and great weather and it’s easy to see why Phuket makes for a very attractive gay beach destination in Asia. And you can easily combine it with a few days in Bangkok.

Wake up in a beautiful resort, have fresh fruit for breakfast and then relax all day long by the beach or pool. Sounds like your kind of weekend? Then Phuket is right for you. There is not much sightseeing and the shopping is also not very exciting. There are a few gay bars in Patong, that are fun for a night or two. Otherwise, just make sure you book a really nice resort and spend the day there.

When it comes to beaches, we like Pansea beach as well as Mai Khao beach. They are the most beautiful on the island. However, hotels on these beaches are a bit on the expensive side and Mai Khao is quite far north. If you prefer a more lively atmosphere, then Patong beach is probably right for you. That’s also where the shopping and nightlife is.

Getting there

You can fly nonstop to Phuket from major Asia cities, including Hong Kong, Singapore and Taipei. And of course there are domestic flights between Bangkok and Phuket almost every 30 minutes, including with cute little Nok Air. There is no train line between Bangkok and Phuket but there are frequent buses from Bangkok’s Sai Tai Mai station take make the journey in 10-12 hours and cost ฿700-900.

By plane, you will arrive at Phuket International Airport (HKT) in the north of the island. The airport is quite old and small. When leaving the terminal, it can be a bit hectic with people trying to sell hotels and transportation. Just ignore them. The most convenient way to your hotel is of course to ask the hotel to come pick you up. If you haven’t arranged your transportation when you arrive, you have several options.

There is a public bus that takes you from the airport to Phuket Town every 60-90 minutes. It is just ฿85 but it will only go to Phuket Town. Your hotel is probably somewhere else. So it’s probably not very useful.

A better choice is the shared minibuses that drop you directly at your hotel. They cost around ฿150-180, depending on your destination. You can buy a voucher inside the airport terminal. The minibuses leave when they are full so you might have to wait a while. Also, it may drop other passengers first before going to your hotel.

The fastest way to get to your hotel is by taxi. Just turn right when you get out of the terminal building and you will see a taxi stand. Even the taxis have a meter, the fares are fixed. Around ฿500-700, depending on your destination. And the vehicles themselves are rather old.

Getting around

There is very little public transportation around Phuket. What you could do is rent a motorbike/scooter. You can get one from ฿200-300 a day. However, be careful if you are not an experienced driver, especially when it’s raining. If this is too adventurous, you have three other options to get around the island: Songthaews, Tuk Tuks or taxis.

Songthaews are converted pick-up trucks that serve a certain route that is posted on the side of the vehicle. There are no official stops so just get on and off when you want. Ask the driver before you hop on if he goes to where you want to go. When you reach your destination, press the buzzer and pay the driver. Fares are about ฿20-60 depending on the distance.

While you share a Songthaew with other passengers, for Tuk Tuks you have to rent the entire thing. They look very different from Tuk Tuks in Bangkok. They are bright red and have four wheels. Four persons can fit comfortably. However, you need to negotiate the price with the driver first and they are well known to charge a lot. Expect to pay about ฿300-400 from Phuket Town to Patong.

Finally there are metered taxis. But even though they have a meter, you often have to negotiate the price with the driver beforehand. And they are not as readily available as in major cities. Better ask your hotel to call one.

When to go

Temperatures are a warm 28-30°C year-round. The rainy season lasts from May to September but that doesn’t mean that it will rain all day every day during the summer months. There will still be plenty of sunshine. However, this time of year also brings with it strong currents. So the red flags are often flying on Western beaches, indicating dangerous swimming conditions.

April is a fun month to visit as the Thais celebrate New Year (Songkran). Expect a lot of wet fun. Phuket Gay Pride also takes place in April. Just note that April is also one of the hottest months of the year.

What to see

Patong

Phuket’s liveliest beach and home to the island’s main gay area

Wat Chalong

The largest and most revered Buddhist temple in Phuket

Phuket Fantasea

Cheesy but still quite impressive musical show

Khao Sok National Park

Stunning scenery of mountains and lakes but a bit far

Similan Islands

Remote islands with beautiful beaches and lots of fish

Stay connected

Most hotels in Phuket offer WiFi, often free of charge. You can also get a local SIM card. Simply visit a 7-Eleven store or go directly to a store of one the three mobile operators in Thailand. AIS, DTAC and TRUE all have outlets in both Phuket Festival as well as Jungceylon. Or maybe try to get one at the convenience store at Phuket airport when you arrive. Grindr and Jack'd are quite popular on the island so don't forget to bring your smartphone.

Gay life

Thailand is a predominantly Buddhist country so the laws of the land are fairly tolerant. It is probably one of the most accepting countries in Asia when it comes to gay issues, at least on the surface. Both male and female same-sex sexual activity are legal. However, when it comes to other legal rights, gays are still at a disadvantage. It was only in 2005 that the Royal Thai Army startedto allow gay Thais to serve in the Army. And the Thai Red Cross even today refuses to accept blood donations from men who have sex with men.

When it comes to Phuket, you should note that Phuket is about 30% Muslim. And it is no secret that Muslims tend to be less tolerant with regards to gay issues. But then again, it is not Saudi Arabia. Phuket has been welcoming visitors from around the world for decades and much of the population, including the Muslims, depend on tourism. So most islanders are quite relaxed. There is a pretty lively gay scene in Patong, including go go bars. And also in your hotel you will surely spot one of two sisters working there.

 



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