Eating & Drinking
On Th Kamlangsap, not far from Hwy 4, is a night market with several food stalls selling great Thai dishes at low prices; across the street is a modest noodle stand. The day market, on Th Ruangrat towards the southern end of town, offers inexpensive Thai and Burmese meals, as well as tresh produce, fish and meats. A cluster of decent eateries can also be found at the northern end of Th Ruangrat.
Taxi Pizzeria : Completed framed jigsaws provide the decoration at this spartan pizzeria. The food won't have Mum amending her recipe book, but the chef does make an attempt at rustling up a reasonable margarita.
Sophon's Hideaway :This expat fave has everything, including internet access, a free pool table, a pizza oven and rattan furnishings aplenty. The menu spans the East-West divide and cocktails are served come sundown Choosing a restaurant on Phuket can be a mind-numbing task. At the top of the totem pole is the island's much-lauded haute cuisine - designer eats created by a legion of world-class chefs. Patong has a slew of dining all-stars, as do the high-end resorts in Bang Thao (right) and Surin (opposite) to the north.
The swarms of Thai seafood restaurants are a must. You'll find at least one on every beach (although avoid the overpriced schlock in Patong and Karon) serving fresh crab, fish and prawns plucked directly from the sea. You can often choose your platter as it swims around a lank.
And then there's the street food. You can find it in night markets, in dark sweaty soi and in steamy sand-covered shacks along the beach. Turn off that inner monologue and go for the gusto without fearing the gastro. Muslim fried chicken and Isan's sôm đâm (spicy papaya salad) are usually safe and delicious bets, although why not go for the eyeball soup that you've been staring at (and that's been looking back at you).
Many of Phuket's sit-down restaurants tread a fine line between restaurant and bar. It's not uncommon to find a gang of tourists grabbing beers beside a family gorging on wholesome platters of pat tai noodles. If you're looking to crank things up a notch and get down with your dirt-ay self.
Hat Nai Yang, Hat Mai Khao &
Hat Nai Thon
Chao Lay Bistro :Tasty Thai food in a hip, open-air dining room. Try the Pá-nang tá-lair , prawns or squid in red curry with lima leaves and coconut milk.
Indigo Pearl :On Sunday, do not I pass Go, do not collect $200 (you won't need to - the bill will be way less); head directly to Indigo Pearl for the ultimate in weekend branching. Ever)'delicious dish imaginable-sushi, foie gras, roast lamb, green curry, crab legs, fried chicken, pasta, fondue, chocolate cake, ice cream - is at your disposal in the culinary labyrinth that leads to your martini-covered table. This will be a meal you won't soon forget.
Despite what some local hoteliers would have you believe, there is good food to be j had outside the confines of Bang Thao's luxury hotels.
Lotus Restaurant : An open-walled eatery 500m west of i the entrance to Banyan Tree Phuket, this is the first in a row of beachside Thai and seafood restaurants that stretches to the south. It's clean, breezy and friendly, and has an amaz-ing assortment of live crab, lobster, shrimp,fish other visual and culinary delights in ,lell-tended tanks.
Tawai : Set in a lovely old house decorated with traditional art is this gem of a Thai kitchen serving classics like roast duck curry and pork larb (minced pork salad mixed with chilli, mint and coriander), and steamed, grilled and fried seafood.
Rain-Hail : Modernists will appreciate the black-bottom fountain in the entry, which juxtaposes a white marble and limestone dining room on one side and a classic mod lounge on the other. The cuisine is all Pacific Rim, with a taniagp roll of miso, mango and crab, and a lovely bluefm tuna tartare.
Tatonka : This is the home of 'globetrotter cuisine', which owner-chef Harold Schwarz developed by taking fresh local products and combining them with techniques learned in Europe, Colorado and Hawaii. The eclectic, lapas-style selection includes creative vegetarian and seafood dishes like Peking duck pizza (230B). There's also a tasting menu (per person 750B, minimum two people) which lets you nibble a little of everything. Call ahead in the high season. Tatonka arranges free transportation for guests of the resort complex.
Tre : This Vrench-Vietnamese fusion masterpiece is located on a silent lagoon is the heart of Laguna's Banyan Tree Resort. Savour perfected recipes for succulent steaks and lobster while the strum of a tyre idles nearby. You'll need a torch (provided, of course) to read your menu after the sun has set, and as the scenery fades to black, Thai canvas hot-air balloons and glit-tery stars accent the sky. If you're feting any special occasion while visiting Phuket, have your celebratory dinner here
360 : This open-air patio, covered with giant raltan lounge chairs, sits high above the gnarled jungle trees. The lychee Bellini goes down real easy-while admiring the 360-degree views as the sun sets over the manicured Laguna grounds.
English Pub : Aka 'The Whispering Cock', this llmber-and-thatch watering hole is the most authentic English pub on the island – even the toilets smell. It has a sunny beer garden, a snug interior, a good range of beers and some decent pub grub.
Patacharin :This local fish grill is built into the headland at the southernmost end of Hat Surin. Other fish grills and cafes unfurl north of here like a strand of delicious pearls.
La Plage : When two Paris-raised Laotian polyglots (what?) open a fusion restaurant on the sand, you have to swing by to see what it's all about. It serves a fine nicoise salad and a savoury green curry with a kick.
Silk : This expansive, stylish place is one of several upmarket restaurants in Surin Plaza, and an expat magnet. The decor is a hip cocktail of burgundy paint, wood and exotic flowers, while the menu focuses on beautifully executed Thai specialities.
Catch : Slip on your spaghetti-strapped dress Or A linen suit to blend in at this cabana-style eatery right on the beach. It's part of Twin Palms (p666), and has the same classy attributes as the hotel both in ambience and cuisine. The attached lounge-bar attracts an excellent assortment of live acts.
Liquid Lounge : A stylish, loft-style martini lounge with premium liquor, occasional live jazz, and wi-fi.
Basilico : Another member of Phuket's ever-growing legion oi tasty Italian restaurants. Basilico has good wood-fired pizza, but try the grilled tiger prawns in a parsley and garlic marinade, served on a chickpea and rosemary mash.
Rockfish : Kamala's best dining room, a rumoured favourite of pop diva Mariah Carey, is perched above bobbing long-tails offering diners excellent beach, bay and mountain views. Its eclectic brand of fusion won it Phuket's Restaurant of the Year in 2005, and it's still rolling out gems like tried red crab or seafood wontons wrapped in a rice crepe with apple, guava and cinnamon compote.
Patong comes up trumps in the gastronomy category, offering the island's widest selection of memorable feasts. We've separated the following listings into two separate categories: restaurants and bars, although many of Patong's establishment exist somewhere in between.
From street shacks to seven-course dinners, Patorig's colourful gamut of eats features all-star options for every taste and wallet. For delicious seafood, try the local market on Th Nanai called Meh U-Bon.
Fried Chicken : The name on the sign, though it is written in Thai script, doesn't lie. Three huge fryers are bubbling and splattering with juicy, crispy 'yard bird'. It's Muslim owned, so Halal doctrine dictates that ihis joint is clean. The chicken is served with a tang)' hot sauce and sticky rice. It's impossible to overstate this. If you like fried chicken (all non-veggies raise your hand), this place is a must.
Jung Ceylon Shopping Complex : When the sweltering beach heat becomes too much to handle, head to air-conditioned paradise in Jung Ceylon for tasty standards.
Ali Baba : A favourite with Patong's resident Indians, Ali Baba serves up delicious subcontinental specialities (the island's best) to diners swathed in hookah smoke.
Takumi : This fantastic-find, with a blubber)' Sumo mascot, specialises iji yakiniku (Japanese barbecue). You'll sit around granite tables embedded with hibachi broilers and self-cook crab, prawns, eel, squid and tenderloin sliced paper-thin. Wash it down with one of the many varieties of cold sake. It has a sushi menu, but broiling is its thing, so stick to what it does best.
3 Spices : Welcome to well-dressed Asian fusion on the Patong strip. Enjoy miso and crab-meat soup and wok fried snapper with coconut curry among other stellar dishes.
Hung Fat's : The-Sugfl newest offering from those behind the adl cent Baan Kim Pa restaurant group server sum and southern Szechuan Chinese cuisine garnished with live jazz. Brand new afl time oi research, this spot was generatfl ton of buzz.
Baan Rim Pa : Soft piano music sets the mood for a romantic evening at this restai rant built high above a thicket of mangrov trees. It offers stunning ocean-view tables an specialises in Thai cuisine that's only slight toned down for foreign palates. Book ahcai and consider ironing your shirt.
Floyd's Brasserie : Keith l-loyi one of England's favourite celebrity chefs, is' the man behind the Burasari resort's popular restaurant. If duck breast braised in champagne, eggs poached in red wine and Phuket lobster thermidor gets you salivating, then this is your place.
White Box : Who cares if the food at White Box is good or not (although if you are wondering, it is delish); dining at this high-energy supper club is tike spending an evening on the stai ship Enterprise. This chic realm is housed quite literally, a white box, which teeters the rocky shoreline.
Ninth Floor : To get some perspecti' on just how massive Patong has become, col on up to the 9lh floor of the Sky Inn Condol building, where you can watch the sea of lights through sliding-floor-lo-ceiling glass dooi This rising star of Phuket's dining scene the highest open-air restaurant on the islan but its perfectly prepared steaks and chops ai what make it a Patong institution.
Despite Patong's reputation, not all of the area's bars are of the gogo-girl variety.
Port : An outdoor bar smack in the heart of the action, the Port features glowing blue-and-green lounge chairs that match the designer cocktails and pulsates all evening long. Complimentary bar snacks are served throughout the night.
Two Black Sheep : Owned by a fun Aussie couple, this old school pub is a great find. It has good grub and live music nightly, from 8pm 10pm there's an acoustic set, then Chilli lam, the house band, gets up and rocks till last call. Towards the wee hours local musicians, fresh off their gigs, filter in and spontaneous jams ensue. And bar girls are banned, which keeps everything rated PG.
Molly Malone's : Wildly popular with tourists, this pub rocks with Irish gigs every night at 9.45pm. There's a good atmosphere, great pub food and some excellent outdoor tables perfect for people- watching. Guinness is avail-able for a mere 349B per pint.
Scruffy Murphy's : A Molly Malone's facsimile, Scruffy' s offers live acts and sports on the big screen. If you're keen to escape the girly-bar scene, this is one of the better bets.
Ift : This hipster indoor-outdoor lounge at BYD Lofts definitely brings a touch of style and panache to Patong. There's a low-slung bar, outdoor sola booths, happy hours (with free tapas) from 10pm and weekly DJ parties.
From Karon to Rawai, each beat h caters to all budget types with heaps of hidden Thai gems and tons of expat-owned joints.
When compared to Palong or Kata next door, Karon loses the culinary contest. As usual, almost every place to stay has a res-taurant but you'll have to look hard to tmd memorable eats.
Pad Thai Shop : On the busy main road belui Karon, just north of the tacky Ping Pong Bar, is this glorified food stand that spills trom the owners' home onto a dirt lot It s only open for lunch, when you can find chick feet stew, beef-bone soup and the best pat tai on earth. Spicy and sweet, packed prawns, tofu, egg and peanuts, and wrapped in a fresh banana leaf - you'll be back 1 seconds, we promise.
Mama Noi's : Repeat visitors adore this place which churns out fantastic Thai and Italian pasta dishes. It does a superb gucng sow (southern Thai curry with fish and prawns), bakes its own baguettes every morning and has the best banana shake on the island.
Red Onion : High on tasty food, low on atmosphere, this slap-shut eatery, housed in a garage, is a bona fide expat magnet. Cocktail selections complement the interna-tional meals - or an extra one to blur the bad music humming in the background. It's about 300m east of the roundabout - look for the coloured lights.
Little Mermaid : The UN of speedy grub. Little Mermaid fea-tures menus in six languages, tree wi-fi, hearty Western breakfasts and evening barbecues -you're likely to have at least one meal here if you're sleeping in Karon. There are lamb chops on Monday, ribs'on Wednesday and Phuket lobster on Saturday night.
Although nearby Karon is a culinary snooze-test, Kata cooks up several decent places to tempt the taste buds. All of the following options are a safe bet for satisfaction.
Kwong Shop Seafood : Kwong, the friendly owner, utters a big 'OK!' when you order (we're pretty sure it's the only English word he knows), and minutes later out comes tasty Thai treats. Although small on atmosphere, this humble joint is big on smiles.
Gueyjah : Tucked away on a side road off Rte 4028, Gueyjah is tops for quick and cheap Thai eats, and it's known only to locals.
Italian Job : Though Charlize Therein is nowhere to be found, this hip coffee lounge has wifi, decent pastries, delicious Italia espresso and a loyal morning following.
Rico's : The smartest kid on this block features fine New Zealand steaks, pizzas and a huge collection of black-and-white film star snaps (very 1980s).
Ratri Jazztaurant : If you like jazz, you should wind your way up to this hillside terrace to listen to local and international acts blow like they mean it. It's especially sweet at sunset, and the food conies highly recommended as well.
Capannina : The chefs at this hip, open-air bistro with moulded concrete booths and imported olive oil on the tables start prepping early in the day. Everything here - from the pasta dishes to the sauces - is made fresh. It gets crowded during the high season, so you may want to book ahead.
Boathouse Wine & Grill : The perfect place to wow a fussy date, the Boathouse has been the critic's champion for some time. The Mediterranean fusion food is fabulous (think vodka-marinated lobster and foie gras with black-truffle oil), the wine list is endless and the sea views are sublime. It's a fancy place - this is the closest Phuket gets to old-school dining - so pift away that Hawaiian-print shirt!
After Beach Bar : It's difficult - make that impossible - to overstate how glorious the view is from this stilted, thatched patio bar hanging off a cliff above Kata. Now turn on the Bob Marley and you've got the best reggae bar on Phuket. The menu is packed with Thai raves, and at sunset the sky performs a light show - when the fireball finally drops, lights from the distant fishing boats blanket the horizon.
Nai Han & Rawai
Besides the restaurants attached to the resorts in Rawai, there are oodles of seafood and noodle vendors along the roadside near Hat Rawai. The following listings are sit-down restaurants.
Rawai Seafood (Hat Rawai; dishes 60-3406) Located next to the local municipal building at the west end of the beach, this haphazard assortment of benches and tables is the top spot for fresh seafood in Rawai. Try the local Phuketian dishes, lite bean-curd soup and steamed kale.
Freedom Pub : More watering hole than eatery, this Rawai boozer features outdoor seating, a pool table, live music on the weekends, a free barbecue on Friday night and -strangely - an on-site tattoo parlour.
Don's Mall & Cafe : This Texan-run food-and-entertainment complex showcases hearty American meat feast barbecued over a mes-quite-wood fire, It also has an extensive wine list and freshly baked goods. It's about 3km from the beach in Rawai.
Los Amigos : This is as close to real Tex-Mex as you're going to get in Thailand. Order available for takeaway as well.
Rum Jungle : The thatched dining room is patrolled by a fun Thai crew who effortlessly make you feel at home. Oh, and the food is dynamite too. Who knew penne and meatballs or fish and chips could be this' fine? The Argentinean tenderloin is also divine, and so is the world-beat soundtrack.
Meals in Phuket Town cost a lot less than those at the beach - as much as 50Jo less. Southeast of the centre, on The Ong Sim Phai, is the town's municipal market where1 you can buy fresh fruit and vegetables.
Uptown Restaurant : It may not look fancy, but this breezy joint is a favourite spot for the 'hi-so' (high society) folk. If you look closely you'll notice that the waitresses jot down your order on a slick PalmPilot, and the walls have mounted photos of Thai celebrities who have stopped by Uptown to slurp the spectacular noodles.
Natural Restaurant : Travel round the world in 80 plates at this daz-zlingly green Phuket Town eatery. If you're a fan of the Swiss Family Robinson, this treehouse-cum-restaurant will become your new favourite joint.
Salavatore's : This j authentic Italian restaurant (chequered la I blecloths, giant pepper grinders, opera and a portly owner) cooks up all of Mania's favourites, from a mean pizza to a sizzling steak fillet.
Ka Jok See : Dripping old Phuket charm and creaking under the weight of the owner's fabulous trinket collection, this atmospheric little eatery offers great food, top-notch music and - if you're lucky -some sensationally camp cabaret. Enjoy your dinner, sip down some wine and then dance the night away. Hook ahead.
Glastnost : With the unusual moniker 'Law & Notary Public Bar', this place doubles as an attorney's office, but don't let that dissuade you from stopping by. It's about as laid-back and intimate a setting as you could find, and spontaneous jazz jam sessions are the norm.
Often overlooked by tourists, Phuket's east coast has a few must-eat gems.
Kachang Floating Restaurant :Set adrift in Ao Phuket, rickety Kachang is only a few minutes east of Phuket town, but it's far off the beaten tourist trail. Free long tail boats shuttle grumbling bellies to the floating restaurant surrounded by schools of corralled fish. Enjoy soft-shell crab in the waning light as the sun dips behind the hills.
Chalong Night Market : One of the most popular night markets on the island, where vendors, farmers and local chefs converge under the gas lamps. Bring an appetite -that pumpkin curry looks good - and a shopping bag, as it's always nice to have a mango in the morning.
Kan tang : This Thai favourite, steps away from Chalong's soaring pier, has been satisfying customers for over 30 years. The atmosphere is modern and elegant, but the food is still very authentic. .
Watermark : Although it's located at the Phuket Boat Lagoon marina on the east boast, Watermark is one of the best spots on the island for a sundowner cocktail. The espresso martini and passionfruit mar-garita are the house specials, although the tome-sized wine list is also very tempting. This chic venue is the island's preferred address for jet-setters and, for the last six years it has been featured in the Thailand Taller as one of the country's best restaiiranks.
This is no sleepy jungle island lost at sea; Phuket keeps the party going long after the sun has set.
Phuket Fantasea : The island's biggest entertainment attraction is a US$60 million 'cultural theme park' just north of Hat Kamala. Despite the billing, there aren't any rides, but there is a truly magical show that manages to capture the colour and pageantry of traditional Thai dance and costumes, and combine them with state-of-the-art light-and-sound techniques rivalling anything found in Las Vegas (think 30 elephants). All of this takes place on a stage dominated by a full- scale replica of a Khmer temple reminiscent of Angkor Wat. Kids especially will be captivated by the spectacle; adults may find it a lad cheesy. There is a good collection of souvenir shops in the park offering Thai handicrafts.
The Thai buffet dinner has a bad reputation among, tourist so consident taking in the show sans meals. Ticket can be worked through most hotels and tour agencies.
If you're looking to mix things up a bit (and are too lazy to head down to Patong), try Jackie 0 : the entrance of Laguna Phuket, which serves up live rock acts three nights a week, or swig a martini at Liquid Lounge, Surin's resident jazz lounge
A walk around Patong at night is an entertaining experience in itself. Th Bangla is the centre of the action, with loud techno music blaring out of exhausted sound systems while go-go girls shake it till they make it (and ladyboys fake it till they make it) on beer-slicked table-tops. Tha boxing matches and ladyhoy cabarets draw in a lot of tourists. To learn more about ladyboys.
Club lime :A new hot spot gaining steam, this place attracts the beautiful people and a rotating roster of Thai and international DJs.
La Salsa : Located beside the Impiana Resort, this is another of Patong's hot spots. Take a break from the dance floor and try the designer cocktails and tapas treats.
Seduction : Patong's newest and most popular dance hall comes courtesy of a Finnish club impresario. Known for buying up the best clubs in Helsinki, he opened this one in 2006 and has since attracted international party people dancing to well-known global DJs.
Rock City : The giant guitar out front makes it look like a Hard Rock wannabe; the inside is far less wholesome. This dark den keeps the faded glory of old rock groups alive.
Phuket Simon Cabaret : About 300m south of town on The Sirirach, this cabaret offers entertaining transvestite shows. The 600-seat theatre is grand, the costumes'are gorgeous and the ladyboys are convincing. It's often a full house. Performances are at 7.30pm and 9.30pm nightly - book ahead.
Sphinx Theatre : There's more cabaret on offer at the Sphinx, where shows kick off at 9pm and 10.30pm nightly.
Bangla Boxing Stadium : Boxing bouts are held nightly at 8pm.
Train Thai Boxing : Watch a riveting round of boxing battling or learn a few moves of your own at Train Thai Boxing, where a 90-minute lesson costs 300B and a blow to your ego (and ribcage).
Head to skinny soi Rummani for a good mix of the town's top chill-out spots.
Paradise Cinemas : For those addicted to celluloid, Paradise plays English-language blockbusters.
Boxing Stadium : Thai boxing can be seen Tuesday and Friday nights at 8pm. Ticket prices vary depending on where you sit and include one-way transport. The stadium is at the southern edge of town near the pier; a tuk-tuk (pronounced diik diik; mo-torised transport) costs 70B.
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