Patong (Thai: ป่าตอง; rtgs: Pa Tong) refers to the beach and town on Phuket's west coast. It is the main tourist resort in Phuket, and is the center of Phuket's nightlife and shopping. The beach became popular with Western tourists, especially Europeans, in the late 1980s. Numerous hotels are located there and the area has expanded into a tourist Mecca.
Patong Beach is famous for its nightlife and 3.5 kilometres (2.2 mi) beach that runs the entire length of Patong's west side. Nightlife is centered in two main areas, Bangla Road and the "Paradise Complex", with Bangla Road being predominantly straight and Paradise Complex gay. Both are lined with many bars, discotheques, and go go bars. Prostitution in Thailand is illegal, but tolerated, as is the case in Patong. Some discos in Patong charge a 200 baht admission fee, but rather than being a cover charge, this is partly a drink minimum since you get a voucher for one drink and most clubs charge 150 baht for almost all drinks.
On December 26, 2004, Patong Beach along with many other areas along the west coast of Phuket and Thailand were struck by a tsunami caused by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. The wave caused a great deal of destruction to the waterfront of the beach and immediately inland and many people were killed. Patong was one of the worst affected areas of Phuket, although the destruction was not as bad as nearby Khao Lak. Patong has largely recovered since the tsunami.
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