Karon - Quiet
As for nightlife - there isn't any in Karon. There are a few bars but it is difficult to tell which are the Go-Go bars and which are legit as both have about 3 young Thai waitresses per customer (the pole behind the bar is the giveaway). One night we tried South Karon because during the day Richard had seen a whole street of bars - hurrah - unfortunately he didn't have his contact lenses in and when we went back in the evening we realised they were all Go-Go bars, names like 'The Lady Bar' should have given it away. North Karon near the Golden Sand Inn has a few bars but they have been pretty quiet. One night 6 of us (Jacqui, Sue, Keelly and Lee had a whole bar pretty much to ourselves so we could pick the music and dance to our hearts content. It was the last night Keelly and Lee could get pissed as they were off to Australia a couple of days later and had a really long flight to look forward to and a hangover wouldn't have helped. We have had a few good nights out in Karon and the bars tend to play good music and have Jenga, Line-up 4 (Connect 4), free pool and Jackpot (a no brainer dice game) to keep you amused - but the company makes it, it is nice to meet people and hear their stories, whether they are people on a 2 week holiday, 6 month travellers or people who liked it so much they stayed (usually marrying a Thai woman first - non Thai's can't buy property). Often it was very quiet althought Christmas and New Year have been a bit busier but the people in the bars say that it is so much quieter than usual (some have said there are only half or a third of the tourists they normally get at this time of year).
Kata - Medium
There are two bits to Kata: Kata Centre and Kata South (where we are staying). Kata Centre is where most of the dive shops are and a lot of cheap accommodation so there are some cool bars which actually have some ambience (rare around here). We've had a couple of good nights out there. The best bar was Dan Kwain which does great cocktails, has a great DJ, funky decor and goldfish bowls for tables. We had a fab night out there with Sue, Jacqui, Tony, Anya and Chantelle where before we knew it it was 1am and we only went for a Thursday night quiet drink. Kata South caters more for the big hotels nearby and so is full of restaurants. There are a few bars where you can have a good game of pool but it is pretty quiet.
Patong - Full on
Just up the coast from Karon is Patong. It wouldn't be a nice place to stay as it is too manic but it is a good place to go for a kicking Saturday night out. We tended to go to the bars up the Bang-La Road (the less dodgy ones!) which play good music and you can see the world go by and envy the fabulous ball gowns and party dresses the transexuals wear. Then for dancing we went to Irish pubs - either Molly Malones or Scruffy Murphys, both had live bands every night and we would drink Carlsberg, Vodka and Kamikazes, play drinking games (brilliant idea to play spoof Jacqui! - how would we have got completely hammered every night otherwise?) and dance until we fell into our Tuk-Tuks home sometime in the early hours. This is where we spent Christmas Eve and New Year and a few other nights.