Phang Nga Nightlife
Phang Nga is not the place to come for wild and raucous night life. There are no pulsating discos, rocking bars or raunchy go-gos. Phang Nga’s nightlife scene would better be described as laid back and mellow. An evening out will usually involve a good meal and then a few drinks at a local bar with perhaps a bit of live music.
The tourist nightlife scene is basically centred around the three main villages of Khao Lak. The rest of the province has a few nice restaurants dotted around and Thai style live music bars in the towns. Most tourists will base themselves in Khao Lak. They may get out and explore the rest of the province but they generally head back to Khao Lak for their evenings out.
Khao Lak has a laid back vibe during the high season. During the low season it is almost asleep.
By law, bars in Thailand should close by 01:00. There was a time when this law was ignored and bars remained open as long as they liked. However in 2001 the Thai government introduced what they called a 'social order' campaign aimed at stamping out drunkenness and drug abuse among young Thais. As part of this campaign, they now enforce the opening hours throughout Thailand including tourist areas.
That is the official line and in Phang Nga it is generally the case that most bars close by 1am. However the reason probably has as much to do with demand as police enforcement. The nightlife scene in Phang Nga is such that there is not much demand for bars to stay open later than 1am. Still night owls may find an obliging bar or restaurant that will stay open later.
Beers & Wines
Thailand has high import duties on alcohol so most beers are brewed locally. The major brands are Heineken, Singha, San Miguel, Chang, Tiger and Leo. Imported beers are available but are more expensive. Guinness is brewed next door in Malaysia but still sells for up to 300 baht a glass.
Thais like their beer strong and alcohol content is around 5%. Quality control on some local brews is poor and alcohol content can vary between batches of the same brand. Heineken, Singha and San Miguel are considered the superior brands - Bar prices range from 60 to 120 baht for a 330ml bottle. Chang, Tiger and Leo are cheaper brands. Bar prices range from 50 to 80 baht for a 330ml bottle.
Good quality imported wines are widely available. Prices are a little high due to import duties and transport costs but still comparable to restaurant prices in the west. Thailand has been producing its own wines for more than a decade and quality is improving. They still have some way to go and their wines are often too sweet for western palettes. Just the same, they are worth trying for the experience.
The nightlife scene along the beachfronts is dominated by the hotels. The major holiday resorts own most of the beachfront land and they provide beach facing restaurants and bars for their guests. You can walk along the beach and wander in to most of these venues as they are mostly also open to outside guests. Some of the hotel bars have soft live music to enhance the relaxed ambience. It is a very pleasant and laid back way to spend the evening but the food and drink prices obviously reflect the sea front location.
If you want to get away from the hotels you need to head towards the main road that runs through the three main villages of Khao Lak. Here you can find independent restaurants selling more authentic Thai food and a selection of international food. The location may not be as pleasant as by the beach but the prices are much more reasonable. There are also a few bars and nightlife venues.
You should be wary on the main road. It is route 4 which is the main road through Phang Nga. There is a lot of through traffic and some of it comes through at excessive speed.
Bang La On
La On village is the most westernised of the three main villages of Khao Lak. This is where you will find the biggest range of international restaurants and western style bars. There are bars and restaurants along both sides of the main road.
The liveliest bar is the Happy Snapper that plays live music from 10pm and really gets kicking by midnight. It is probably the number one nightspot in all of Khao Lak and that means in all of Phang Nga. Another popular long standing venue is Tarzan Bar with live music downstairs and big screen sport upstairs.
The Bang Niang nightlife scene is laid back and a little more Thai orientated than Bang La On. There is the popular Degree Bar on the main road that is a classic Thai style live music bar. It has wooden decor, open sides and a live band every night. The band really gets going around 11pm and often keeps going until 2am.
There is also Jerung Street that has a selection of lively bars playing loud music. It is the best street in Bang Niang for a bit of a bar crawl.
Bang Niang has a couple of ladyboy shows. Many tourists want to see them so a ladyboy cabaret is popular in any tourist area. They dress up in beautiful costumes and mime to some classic female songs. Moo Moo is probably the better choice. It is on the main highway and the show starts at 9:45pm.
There is also a Thai boxing stadium that stages Muay Thai fights every Friday night from 9:45pm. They are real fights and it is an intense combat sport. You can have a beer while you watch.
Khuk Khak is by far the quietest of the three villages in terms of nightlife. What little nightlife there is tends to be much more Thai style. There is a small selection of Thai restaurants and bars, all generally very quiet.