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Introducing Hat Patong

Sun-seared Russians in bad knock-off T-shirts, beach-buzzing wave runners, a complete disregard for managed development and a knack for turning the midlife crisis into a full-scale industry (sorry, Cialis, Patong was here first) make Patong rampant with unintentional comedy. But for all the concrete and silicon, and moral and gender bending, there’s something honest about this place.

Patong is a free-for-all. Anything, from a Starbucks ‘venti latte’ to an, ahem, companion for the evening is available for the right price. And while that’s true of dozens of other, phonier destinations, Patong doesn’t try to hide it. Patong is what it is. And that’s refreshing.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you’re going to like it. But when you arrive you’ll take one look at the wide, white-sand beach and its magnificent crescent bay, and you’ll understand how it all started.

Diving and spa options abound, as well as upscale dining, street-side fish grills, campy cabaret, Thai boxing, dusty antique shops and one of Thailand's coolest shopping malls.