Phuket's steamy underbelly | Bangkok Post: news

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Phuket's steamy underbelly

Rihanna's tweet exposed the seamier side of the island, but the Pearl of the Andaman has for a decade been departing from its once-pristine image

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Phuket is struggling to balance its new naughty side against its traditional image as a tropical paradise _ and for now, it looks like the dark side is winning. 

A decade ago, Phuket, sparkling as the Pearl of the Andaman, had earned a global reputation as a must-see destination for travellers interested in unspoilt beaches, natural beauty and green tourism.

But those same travellers would today struggle to recognise Phuket. It is veering in the same direction as Pattaya with sex shows, prostitution and the exploitation of wild animals; the seediness mainly confined to Patong's ever-growing bar strip along Soi Bangla.

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