PHOTO: ZAG Nightclub performers,

This article first appeared in The Nation courtesy of AFP. It’s an insight into the rebirth of one of the more ‘tatty’ ends of Patong – Soi Paradise, the ‘gay zone’ – where gay bars have opened and closed over the years struggling to attract a consistent flow of customers.

For one of south east Asia’s most infamous party towns, Patong had a curiously down-beat gay scene. Even the annual Phuket Pride celebrations have not attracted much of a following despite enthusiastic locals rolling up their sleeves and organising a week-long party each year to raise charity monies for various local HIV projects.

Maybe the new growth of GLBTI Chinese customers could be the saviour of the ‘gay lane’ long after the flow of older European customers had slowed to a trickle. Beset with arguments between the local business people and incoming entrepreneurial expats, problems with HIV education amongst the bar boys (many from Myanmar) and an ongoing stigma in Thai society to ‘tolerate but not promote’ gay life, Soi Paradise might be on the cusp of a rebirth of popularity. That’s good news for Phuket’s resident GLBTI population, good for business-people in the Soi and good for broadening the attraction of Phuket as an international travel destination.


PHOTO: Instagram/Imgrum


- Tim Newton

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Tim Newton
Tim Newton has lived in Thailand since 2012. An Australian, he has worked in the media, principally radio and TV, for nearly 40 years. He has won the Deutsche Welle Award for best radio talk program, presented 2,800 radio news bulletins in Thailand alone, hosted 330 daily TV news programs, produced 1,800 videos, TV commercials and documentaries and now produces digital media for The Thaiger and Phuket Gazette.