Parasailing in Patong Beach.
Arguably Phuket's most popular beach, Patong is pulsating with activity and is, as expected, its most crowded. And for that reason, people either love it or hate it.
On our first time in the island province back in 2010, we skipped the presumed crowds and opted instead for the much quieter Bang Tao Beach and later, Mai Khao Beach up north. This time around, however, we decided to embrace the chaos and the loudness of Patong, and booked a really spacious suite at BYD Lofts.
Patong itself is a bustling tourist-oriented commercial district filled with shops, malls, restaurants, hotels, spas, tailors, money changers, tour operators, clubs, bars, and whatnot. It sure is the place to go if you want to experience a wild night out (but of course most of the action is centered on Soi Bangla).
Since it was still the tourist high season, I was expecting the beach to be one overcrowded stretch of sand yet surprisingly it didn't feel like that at all. Patong Beach itself is around 3.5 kilometers long and is really wide, especially during low tide. So while there were probably a lot of people around, it never felt crowded. Perhaps it also helps that there are no beachfront hotels along the entire strip, which I believe is not allowed, at least in this area. So the whole beach is designated as a public beach and all the resorts and hotels are either a short walk or ride away.
Patong's really wide beach.
What crowd? There's lots of space here!
As with Bang Tao, the sand here is cream-colored, fine and very foot-friendly that I enjoyed walking barefoot along the beach. The beach is lined up with rows of beach chairs and beach umbrellas that can be rented for the whole day for around 100 Baht. However, the operators close shop at 6pm and you'll be asked to get up even when the sun has not yet completely set. So if you plan on staying till sundown, be sure to bring a mat or a sarong with you.
And just in case you're wondering, Patong has public restrooms available for a small fee. There are also several pop-up stores under the trees, while restaurants, pubs, and other establishments are mostly just right across the street.
I was expecting Patong to be one really noisy beach but I was just fine with the few speedboats and jet skis around. In fact the parasailing activities had me entertained for a moment there. I was amazed at how fast the turnaround for each customer was. While one is screaming his lungs out in the air, those next in line are already fitted with the necessary life jackets and harnesses. So when the first customer touches down, he quickly gets unhooked and the next one fastened. Then off they go.
Efficiency means more money.
A tourist having the time of her life as a staff from the parasailing operator maneuvers the ropes.
Just as quickly as one touches down, another tourist immediately takes flight.
Despite all the commercial activity, I noticed that there are cordoned-off areas in the water, marking the areas where boats and jet skis cannot go, thereby allowing everyone else to swim safely and in peace. I really like how they regulate all these activities.
One other thing I was expecting of Patong is having lots of pesky vendors. Thankfully only a few bothered us. Besides, a simple "No, thank you." almost always does the trick.
An ice cream vendor on Patong Beach.
I loved the colorful woven hats these vendors were hawking. Unfortunately I really had no use for them.
Me and My Bibe enjoying the afternoon sun.
Alright, so I liked Patong. As it turned out, it actually isn't the overcrowded marketplace that I was expecting it to be. It may not be a dazzling white-sand beach but it's a nice beach nonetheless and where there's enough space for everybody. I also like how lush the surrounding mountains are despite all this development in the area, and I hope it stays that way.
And oh, by the way, Patong Beach also offers some really spectacular sunsets.
It's time to whip out those cameras.
I always love sunsets. Well, sunrises too, only I'm a late riser, so I don't get to see them much.
Just chilling out with My Bibe after being evicted from our beach chairs.
Afterglow. Time to head back to our hotel.
Patong may not be for everybody but its busyness and the convenience it offers of having everything that a tourist needs is what appeals to a lot of people. Nonetheless, it also is the very reason why some dislike Patong. To each his own, I say. I myself hate overcrowded places and try to avoid them as much as I can, but Patong to me is big enough to allow visitors some space to breathe, so it looks like I'm staying here again on my next visit.
Till next time!