MEE TON PAE
214/7-8 Phuket Rd., Phuket Town, 076-216-293. Open daily 10:30am-5pm. Closed every 29th of the month
Phuket Town takes great pride in its Hokkien traditions. The best place to get a taste of the city’s Chinese ancestry is at Mee Ton Poe, right on the Clock Tower Circle. Mixed in with big yellow or white noodles, slurp up seafood, fish balls, pak choi and fresh eggs at Phuket Town’s most famous Hokkien noodle stall. Like the locals, have it with a side of chicken satay straight from the grill. Come early, as it’s only open until 5pm.
44/1 Moo 5, Viset Rd., Rawai, 076-381-212. Open daily 10:30am-10:30pm
Though the decor has been refurbished, the makeover of this decades-old eatery that sits overlooking Chalong Bay has left the menu untouched. That’s a good thing for its loyal following of upscale islanders and tourists addicted to their deep-fried seaweed and spicy yellow soup. The refurb does mean that the setting is now also perfect for romantic dinners and sunset cocktails.
Kalim Soi 7, Kalim Beach, 076-344-834. Open daily 6:30-10:30pm. www.limsphuket.com
Set on the outskirts of Patong, you reach Lim’s by climbing a long, potholed stretch of road that seems to shoot straight into the jungle on the hill above. Lim’s itself is a stark, bare, concrete box, but its garden and plants bring the luxuriant foliage right into the otherwise minimalist decor. The food is fusion, the mango daiquiris are to-die-for and the servers are cute and attentive.
15 Soi Rommanee, Thalang Rd., 076-258-108. www.phuket346.com
Phuket’s coolest cafe-cum-hotel has just relocated, yet thankfully remains in an authentic Sino-Portuguese shophouse, in the colorful alley of Soi Rommanee. The cafe serves well-executed local dishes in a casual, but charming, atmosphere. We recommend the stuffed squid and shrimp cakes but almost every dish is a winner, thanks to the use of locally-sourced ingredients and free-range poultry. You can also stay there (only three rooms!) or see some art at the adjoining gallery.
Sri Panwa, 88 Moo 8, Sakdidej Rd., Panwa, 076-371-000. Open by appointment only. www.sripanwa.com
Though it’s hidden on the lower floor of a high-end resort at the southeastern tip of the island, Baba 88 is worth the visit. After stepping into the classic black space you will soon find yourself dancing on a Sino-Portuguese tile floor to funky electronic tunes as you’re dizzied by the lasers and the high-end cocktails. Note that it’s currently only open by appointment, making it an even more exclusive experience.
Ka jok See
26 Ta Kua Pa Rd., Phuket Town, 076-217-903. Open Tue-Sun 6pm-late
Kenzo, Kate Moss, Calvin Klein—when the fashion crowd descends upon high end retreat Amanpuri, their port of call in Phuket Town is always Ka Jok See. The charming old shophouse serves ho-hum Thai food (no frills, no fusion) but people come mostly for the atmosphere. Weekends see drag shows with a retro touch (the oversized Marylin Monroe is divine) and, after dinner, tables are usually pushed aside (or used as podiums) for some late night dancing.
339/1 Bangla Rd., Patong, 076-340-215. Open daily 8pm-late. www.seductiondiscotheque.com
Not the classiest venue in town, Seduction continues to pull in the crowds thanks to its decent selection of danceable music. DJs play everything from classic 70-80s pop to recent chart hits. A must is the VIP room which boasts an admirably laissez-faire attitude and stays open until sunrise. Not everyone is invited but, then again, it is not too difficult to get on the VIP list.
This slightly hidden beach—blink and you’ll miss the turn—was once a popular picnic destination for locals. Now, it’s easily the coolest nightlife spot on the island, home to a number of hip on-the-beach hangout venues like Catch Beach Club and Stereo Lab. Stereo Lab (14 Srisoonthorn Rd., Surin Beach, 089-218-0162. Open daily 11pm-2am. www.stereolabphuket.com) is great for those sunset moments: indulge in a cocktail while listening to chill-out beats and kicking back on their white and turquoise sofas on the beach. Catch Beach Club (Surin Beach, +66(0)-7631-6599. Open daily 9am-1am. Entry fee B1,500 with B1,500 credit to spend at the beach club. www.catchbeachclub.com) owned by the stylish Twin Palms Phuket hotel, offers a more Nikki Beach-like scene.
2475/7 Prabarame Rd., Patong, 076-346-271. Open daily 5pm-late. www.whiteboxphuket.com
At the far end of Patong, next to Kalim Beach, you’ll find this boxy all-white modern architectural offering perched above the sand. Big bay windows in the dining room offer sweeping views while the rooftop adds the pleasure of a light sea breeze. Live percussion and special DJs on weekends.
Part of the old Yaowarat Road, from the fountain circle to Dibuk Road, is now the hot nightlife destination for Phuket hipsters. Young entrepreneurs have revamped the old Sino-Portuguese shophouses and turned them into chill bars where you can enjoy cheap booze together with local live music. Venues like Ploenchit (Dibuk Rd., Phuket Town, 076-218-515) and Sanaeha (Yaowarat Rd., Phuket Town, 081-536-1377) are currently hot spots if you want to blend in with the local nightlife scene.