Soi Freedom (formerly Soi Eric)
Bangla Road Beer Bar Side Street In Patong Beach0
Soi Freedom is one of the busiest streets to split off Phuket’s main nightlife hub – Bangla Road. The next street closer to the beach from Soi Seadragon, it is found roughly opposite Soi Lao and is lined with beer bars on either side, creating a gauntlet of bright neon lights, loud music and hostesses keen to drag you onto a bar stool – sometimes physically.
Up until the end of 2013, the street was known as Soi Eric and may still occasionally be known by that name. It used to be notably different from the likes of Soi Tiger because the music for the whole street was set by a single DJ, making it less of a chaotic mess of conflicting beats. It was perhaps the decision to give each bar the freedom to play their own selection of music which led to the new name of the soi.
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Each bar along Soi Freedom follows the well-established pattern of beer bars throughout Thailand. Each has the roughly the same price for the same selection of cheap beers and spirits, particularly local stuff like Chang and Singha beer (about 100 baht, so a little bit cheaper than Soi Tiger). Each one has a plasma TV screen showing one sport or another; a few chrome poles; a choice of bar games like Connect 4, Jenga and Jackpot; and a selection of young ladies to play against.
Pretty much the only thing which separates one bar from the next is the choice of bar girls. Each place has a staff of about 10 – 15, rotating between the various duties of sitting and chatting with patrons, dancing on the poles (sometimes at least vaguely in time with the music), or calling out to passing punters with their siren call of “hello handsome man!” Their ranks noticeably swell during the high season as the seasonal workforce of pretty young ladies arrives, generally from Thailand’s northeastern provinces.
With so little to differentiate one bar from the next, it is perhaps not that surprising that the venues closer to the entrance of Soi Freedom are more successful than those at the end of the 80m street. This means that places like Sharky’s and Smiley Bar (which are on the left and right of the entrance respectively) as well as Tao Bangla Bar, Lucky Bar and the eponymous Freedom Bar are more popular than the Hangover Bar, Kiran Bar and Little Devils Bar.
There are a couple of advantages to drinking at one of the places at the very end of Soi Freedom. You will see a small stage down there and, every now and again, you might even see a live act on it, but you won’t stand a chance of hearing it from any of the bars at the Bangla Road end. You will also find a public toilet down a short alley at the end, to the left of the stage.
- Location: Between Sharky's and Smiley Bar
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