Thanks again to everyone who posts on here - always some great advice to be had.
Just got back on Thursday from 4 nights in KL followed by 8 nights in Patong at the Mercure. This is the second time I have stayed there, and I think it is great value for money in a great location.
A few observations that may rock the foundations of this forum. They all seem to point to the fact that actually very few people read a forum like this and prefer to go on their holidays having done very little research - incredible!
1. The tuk tuk drivers seemed to be doing a roaring trade. Yes - plenty lined up looking for fares, but hundreds dashing all over full to the brim.
2. The jet ski guys on Patong Beach also doing a roaring trade. My view from a shaded lounger indicated a steady flow of people coming and going - none of whom appeared to have anything other than a great time.
3. And this is by far the scariest of all.......brace yourselves.......sit down......have a stiff drink to hand......No-one I spoke to had ever heard of Cathy and Gary!!!! I swear this to be true.
Prices seemed to be pretty much as last year......Singha ranging from 50b to 120b depending on the swishness of the bar. Thai food still great and cheap. Cocktails 150b or so. Loungers on the beach 200b for 2 (sometimes 200b for one for the unfortunate single traveller I observed).
Tips? Get out and about. Hire a car - get to some other beaches. This was my fourth time in Patong and have hired a car each time. This time got to Paradise Beach, Surin Beach, Kata, up in the hills for great meals and views...etc. If from the UK, don't change your money in the UK, get it in Patong. We got 48b to the pound in UK - nearly 52 in Patong. Money booths everywhere.
Happy to give any other advice anyone needs.