Looking for someplace to spend your next New Years Eve? Don’t mind a little seediness or grime sprinkled in with thousands of tourists and locals looking to have the time of their lives celebrating the night away? Well then New Years Eve in Phuket, Thailand is certainly the place for you.
This year, we had the chance to kick off our 2016 in Phuket on Patong Beach with great friends and it was nothing short of an amazing experience. I’ve rewritten this post about 15 different times because it’s hard to find the words to even describe the celebration here, but the excellent pictures everyone took will give you some insight.
When researching Phuket and Patong Beach, you’ll most likely find accounts of those who despise the place and describe it as overdeveloped and a bit grimy. I’m not going to lie to you here; it definitely is and if you’re looking for a place to relax on the beach and escape the rest of the world, then this spot is certainly not for you. Check out some of Phuket’s other beaches if you’re looking for something low key. However, if you’re looking for one giant party that lasts until sunrise and you’re not afraid to embrace a little bit of filth in your life, you’ll find it on Bangla Walking Street on New Years Eve.
Bangla Street, right in the center of town, fills up with thousands of people, the bars are operating in full force and blasting only the best mainstream house music and the city becomes a joyful sillystring war zone. Be prepared to be covered in silly string and foam and don’t be afraid to join in the fun. Cans can be purchased from the ladies and children shoving them in your face every 10 feet or so for only 50 Baht. It may get a bit annoying, but hey, it’s all in good fun and haven’t you always wanted to relive your childhood sillystring days? Well, here’s your chance.
There are endless options in Patong Beach on New Years Eve to satisfy any partygoer. On Bangla Street, It’s possible to dance the night away at one of the many clubs, party in the street with everyone or get lured into one of the many go-go dancer bars if you’re into that sort of thing. Just remember…sometimes those pretty ladies aren’t pretty ladies 😉 It is Thailand after all.
For us, we chose to wander the street and join in the silly string fun. The surrounding bars provided enough music and crazy lights that it almost seemed useless to spend time sitting in a bar. Plus, there was way too much to see. We got a few shots in one bar, where one of our friends rang the infamous bar bell. TIP: Do not do this. You will be harassed until you spend about $35 to buy all the surrounding people a round of shots. Unless you want to pay for a round of drinks, or you enjoy being harassed by Russian tourists, don’t fuck around and ring the bell ‘for fun.’
The great thing about walking around the streets is that it’s possible to walk into one of the ten 7 Elevens and purchase your own beers for half the price of any bar (two large beers for about $3). We highly recommend this money saving option!
Once you’ve had enough of Bangla Street, make your way towards the beach to see the haphazard fireworks being set off by random people. Despite what I had believed, there’s no organized firework show here, just a bunch of people setting of their own on the beach…most likely a bit too close to large groups of people to consider it a safe ordeal, but it’s hard to resist joining in when you see how much fun everyone is having. The main attraction on the beach, however, is not the fireworks, but the thousands of lanterns dotting the horizon over the dark ocean. It is truly one of the most beautiful and memorable sights I’ve seen and pictures hardly do it any justice.
This was by far one of the best New Years Eves of my life and it will be a night that I will always remember (no matter how fuzzy some moments were). The amount of joy and happiness that is present during this celebration is one you have to experience to believe. Everyone comes together to celebrate and it is a truly amazing experience.
Thinking about Phuket Thailand as your next NYE destination? Take some of these tips into consideration to ensure that your night is a good one:
New Years Eve in Phuket: Tips for a Memorable Night
- Arrange transportation to and from Patong Beach prior to the beginning of the night if you are further than 10-15 minutes outside of town. Tuk Tuks can be found easily at the end of the night (or morning) for short distances. Arrange a meeting place with the driver and try to get a business card from him or her or at least a phone number.
- A minibus for our group cost 2000 Baht round trip. The driver will try and collect the whole payment upfront, but only pay for one way at a time.
- Do not ring the bell at the bars.
- Do not bet the bartenders you will win a game of connect four – you will lose and you will end up paying for the most expensive drink on the menu + a tip (which they include in the cost)
- Set a meeting point with your friends – there are tons of people and it’s easy to get separated.
- DO NOT let anyone walk off with your credit card in the bar. One of our friends paid for drinks, the bartender disappeared to charge him and when he returned home, there were thousands of dollars of unauthorized charges on his card. All bars have portable machines for charge cards. Make sure they bring it over for you to see them swipe it.
- Be smart and be safe: this is a no brainer, but it’s a foreign country and some touts are out to get people unfortunately. We found the area to be relatively safe, but there are some seedy operations. With buckets of alcohol being sold for only about $5 it’s easy to get carried away. Be smart and stay with your friends.
- Be skeptical of free things. Nothing in this world is free. Especially fireworks.
- For everything you need to know about Patong Beach, check out this website here.
Have any questions about what it’s like to spend New Years Eve in Phuket? Need help planning your trip or just want to share some of your own experiences and travel tips? Let us know in the comments below.