Rawai such a peaceful place
Rawai, my peaceful place
Rawai, which covers the entire southern part of the island, is undoubtedly one of the most pleasant and varied places in Phuket for entertainment and sports activities.
There are so many possibilities in Rawai, so much so that this article devoted to this place of paradise will be important and long... there is so much to show that in the end, it's hard to make it shorter !
So I invite you without any further delay to go around Rawai, to discover this really bread and butter place of Phuket.
Staying in Rawai is really not a problem. Everyone can find a place of interest and finally, have a good time.
Easy to find, the various possible activities in the region are very affordable.
The visitor will have the opportunity to take an interest in everything related to the sea:
- swimming in Naiharn Beach, Yanui Beach, Laemka Beach or Ao Sane, beaches on which many well shaded local restaurants have a sea front (except in Laemka).
- take a boat to relax on one of the nearby islands like Koh Bon, Coral Island, or a little further away: Koh Raja
- walk at low tide on the deserted beach of Friendship, or that of Rawai Beach.... (very early in the morning or late afternoon, it is ideal)
- the port of Chalong being geographically adjacent to Rawai, we can add to this list: diving trips and deep-sea fishing trips.
In another register, the visitor will be able to do just as well:
- horseback riding in the jungle or on Friendship Beach at low tide.
- ride elephants
- or even buggy or squad rides
- karting or target shooting (on the main Kata road)
- do Thai boxing clinics in one of Rawai's many boxing camps.
- tennis or beach volleyball (in Bangkontee)
- play pool in the evening
- walking, running or cycling around Lake Niaharn
- shopping in Sai Yuan or Bangkontee
- go to the restaurant in the evening to taste local or European dishes, depending on
- end the evening in a bar or disco for the more energetic
The different Areas of Rawai
It should be noted that this large area, which is wild in some places, is composed of four major districts:
New access to Rawai since May 31, 2019
For years, access to Rawai had become a painful ordeal with the growing traffic. The old Chalong roundabout, on which 5 roads connect, was completely overloaded, congested and the crossing of this black spot had become a real headache for everyone, both for the users and for the city authorities and even the police in charge of dealing with the impressive traffic.
Work on this 350-metre-long structure began in 2015 to see a definitive opening on May 31, 2019.
Discovering these peaceful areas of Rawai
We will discover Rawai by following the East coast and then the South coast to go up towards the Karon Viewpoint which marks the limit of Rawai.I thus propose you this circuit: A small glance at the Chalong pier, the shops and services of Bangkontee, the shooting center and the go-kart circuit,
Friendship Beach: East Coast and Kitesurfing Center, Laemka Beach, Rawai Beach and Chaoleys Village, Cape Promthep and the Wind Turbine, Yanui Beach, Naiharn Beach and its Lake, Ao Sane
For many places you will have the possibility to consult detailed articles with many pictures.
Here we go!
Chalong, the pier
Bangkontee is probably the least known and touristic area of Rawai: it is the part that is located (north of Rawai) near the Chalong roundabout, where new businesses are regularly established.
First of all, you now have the new tunnel under the Chalong roundabout. The work to build this tunnel, which has become essential, took 4 years... as much to say that everyone, as much as we are, was eager to see the end... of this tunnel.
Arriving from the Chalong roundabout (or leaving this tunnel), you will first find the Rawai post office on the left, just in front of the communal school, whose services are impeccable. The mail works very well.
Then a few dozen meters on the same side, a shopping centre with a Tesco-Lotus and several restaurants, including a Wine-Connection, various shops, banks open even on weekends, a hair salon, a small bookstore: very convenient for shopping.
Not far from there, also on the same side, you will find a second centre called Fisherman Way which offers a series of shops including a few restaurants, a cigar seller, a hairdresser, etc....
If we still report the one and only gas station and the only traffic light in all of Rawai, we will have gone around this northern district of Rawai, called Bangkontee.
Rawai East Coast
Friendship Beach.... that's the name that was given to this place by "farangs" and I'm thinking in particular of the owners of an establishment located in this place with this name... this establishment is located just after the traffic lights.
I asked the question to a local Thai recently who owns a boat there: he didn't know how to give me a name for this long beach... anyway, it's just a small detail that doesn't matter, but, beware, if you ask a taxi for example for this destination with this farang name, not sure he will know...
Starting at the Port of Chalong and extending in a straight line to Laemka Noi, this 4 km long seaside resort is rarely visited by tourists. Some locals go there early to fish or maintain their boats... it's not a beach for swimming you will have understood.
Between the port of Chalong and Laemka Noi, there are several small alleys (Soi) leading to this beach. It's easy enough to take one at random. From the road, count... 150m to be at the water's edge.
East coast near Chalong
Phuket Shooting Range
Rawai's Only Traffic Light on Wiset Road
Continue straight on to Frienship Beach, Rawai Beach, Laemka, Gypsy Village... Turn right to: Sai Yuan, then Naiharn or Kata...
East Coast Party at Friendship Beach
Kitesurfing on the East Coast
Laem Ka Beach
At the end of this east coast you will find these two small beaches called Laemka Noi and Laemka Yai.
The first one is hardly visited and remains a rather wild area with beautiful rocks, difficult to cross at high tide.
The second, Laemka Yai, is a little easier to access and offers beautiful scenery when the sun is shining. For the basic amateur photographer, the pictures will be quite easy to take because the painting offered is simply superb.
Unfortunately, for some time now, access to this small beach is no longer possible. The owner of the land allowing the access having decided to close the road.
No one knows if this situation is temporary or definitive...
It's a pity.
Laemka Noi is a very small cove with a small Hai restaurant nearby.
Unfortunately, for some time now, the owner of the land has decided to prohibit access to the beach, as the path leading to it passes through his property. I don't know if this decision is final... provisional... or even if it has been abandoned...
Rawai, aerial view to the south...
One could say that Rawai Beach consists of three parts.... If we look at the map here on the left, you have at the right end of the white circle, and just next to the pier, the village of Chaoleys (Gypsies of the sea)
In the centre, Rawai Beach where you will find boats always ready and willing to take you somewhere, and the typical seaside restaurants that serve you dishes mainly fish, some seafood.
At the very end, at the far left, still on this map, is the fishermen's area where you will find extended fishing nets or even boat repairers/builders.
The name Rawai Beach is a little confusing, because when the visitor does not know, he tends to head for this place thinking he will find a long beach of fine sand with umbrellas, deckchairs, ice cream and sweet drinks vendors, horrible jet skis, parachutes...
Well, not at all.
The small village of Chaoleys, the "Gypsies of the sea"
The "gypsies" of the sea threatened by the tourist boom
They have lived facing the Andaman Sea for generations and do not see it any other way. However, Thai "gypsies" from the sea risk being driven from their lands by the inexorable advance of tourist complexes.
With the creation of marine nature reserves, the decline of fish stocks and the frenzy of construction, the "Chao Lay" or "people of the sea" are finding it increasingly difficult to perpetuate their ancestral traditions.
One example among others of the pressure on indigenous minorities in a country that saw the number of tourists reach a record high of 22 million last year.
"I was already living here when it was the jungle," says Nang Miden, 78, sitting outside his shack in Rawai village, where some 2,000 sea gypsies live.
His ancestors had appropriated this language of land on the island of Phuket long before it became one of the most popular tourist destinations in the kingdom. "I have nowhere else to go."
And the fight to stay is going to be a complicated one. Many Chao Lay can neither read nor write. The concept of ownership is foreign to them. They were therefore unaware that they could register the land in their name and many of them now have no title to it.
As a result, others have rush into the rift. A real estate developer has thus become the owner of the land on which he lives, and wants to move several families inland.
Descendant of people living near the beach, now covered by an uninterrupted series of buildings, Nang is threatened with expulsion.
Last February, the courts ordered seven families to leave. They have decided to appeal, in a procedure that may take years. Meanwhile, almost all of them live without running water or electricity.
Gradually, every characteristic of their existence is threatened. Once nomads, selling fish, sea cucumbers and other ocean resources, they have settled in recent decades and face threats of arrest and seizure of their boats while fishing in national parks.
"Children of the sea"
Not to mention the tensions with divers who sometimes sabotage their traps. "The places where we can work have become smaller and smaller. Whatever we do, it's not okay," says Nirun Hyangpan, a representative of the Rawai community.
But despite their increasing exposure to the modern world, Chao Lay still maintain their indissoluble link with the sea. Some people say they can't fall asleep without the sound of the waves.
"These people need a waterfront area where they can moor their boat and go get food. It's not just spiritual, it's their way of life," says Narumon Arunotai, an anthropologist at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. Even if traditional fishing brings back fewer and fewer fish, "they still feel like children of the sea".
Giving hope to the Rawai community, the government decided to analyze old aerial photographs and bones collected in the area.
"If it is true that they have lived there the longest, they should have more rights over property titles," says Prawut Wongseenin of the Department of Special Investigations at the Ministry of Justice. But "to win their appeal, they need scientific evidence".
Even in the water, the Chao Lay are in danger. Unscrupulous contractors pay them to fish with dynamite and the compressors and pipes they use to stay below the surface expose them to fatal decompression sickness.
They represent only about 12,000 people in three distinct ethnic groups (Moken, Moklen and Urak Lawoi). Some stateless people do not have access to healthcare or public services. And the school assimilates them into the dominant Thai culture, ignoring their own roots.
In 2010, the government passed a resolution to protect their way of life. But that will not be enough.
"If tourism continues to explode with more hotels, spas and resorts on the beaches, the lifestyle of the sea gypsies will continue to disappear," Nirun says in despair.
La dépêche.fr - 06/06/2013
The Chaoleys Village (Sea Gypsies)
In Rawai Beach, we don't swim. One walks there, one stops there to have a drink, one eats there, one takes some photographs, or one takes a boat there to join the islands accessible easily by longtail boat at any time of the day.
At low tide, the sight of some boats lying in the sand is always pleasant and superb of charm and quietness. The walker, meanwhile, will be able to stroll in the bay, a very pleasant stroll by the way.
At high tide, the landscape is superb as well, although completely different. When the morning sun is shining, the colours vary from dark blue to light green and turquoise, giving this place a fantastic postcard composition.
Rawai Beach is in the midst of change. The old Thai restaurants tend to disappear little by little in favour of more modern, more European establishments, and therefore more expensive it goes without saying.
Such a pleasant start to the day
Longtail Boat to the islands
Returns from excursions
Rawai Beach, boat maintenance at the end of the day
Beached Boats in Rawai
Leaving Rawai Beach, and continuing along the coast, you will reach Prompthep Cape, a large cliff overlooking the sea, facing due south, in a few minutes. It is the most extreme place on the island where, often in season, hundreds of curious people come by bus or by their own means to watch the sunset. It should be noted that the equator is 860 kilometres straight ahead, roughly at the level of Singapore.
There is also a lighthouse, where you can enter (free of charge) by climbing a small inner staircase to find yourself even higher and see the islands of Koh Raja or Koh Phi Phi Phi.
Just next to this site, a few steps away, the Prompthep restaurant where you can take a seat in the middle of a quite impressive flower and plant garden. Very beautiful place offering a magnificent view of the bay of Naiharn and with a little luck a very beautiful sunset, ideal to spend a pleasant moment in good company. Thai cuisine is correct as well as prices.
Promthep, the tip of Phuket
Aerial view of Promthep Point
These are the next steps in our discovery of Rawai.
Yanui Beach is located in a hollow, between two mountains... on one side the Cape of Prompthep, on the other side the point where the wind turbine is located. On both sides, it is well-pitched roads that lead you there.
When you arrive at Yanui Beach, you almost have the impression with a little imagination, of arriving on an island.
The beach is quite small (125m), with many rocks and some corals... beware of scratches on the feet!
In low season, as in August for example, tourists are rather rare... which does not bother me personally of course.
A small beach full of charm... but beware of rocks...
The Naiharn wind turbine
Located between Prompthep Cape and Nai Harn Beach, this rather vertiginous promontory offers a wide view of the bay. We're straight up to Yanui Beach.
From up there, you can take a good breath of air because the continuous draughts are quite strong and regular (hence the presence of this wind turbine).
Ah... this wind turbine so horrible. We can say what we want, it may be clean energy, but such devices in such a setting are frankly not terrible.
About 20 years ago, the national electricity company installed three of these specimens on an experimental basis. I have since heard several versions on their usefulness but in the end, it doesn't matter. Nowadays, there is only one left, active quite rarely... as if it had trouble turning.
I sincerely believe that his days are numbered and that sooner or later, this last wind turbine will also disappear.
A paragliding enthusiast who regularly goes back and forth along this great hill, (from the vertical of Yanui to almost the beginning of Naiharn Beach) attracts more attention from passers-by than the wind turbine which has only its size to impress, and nothing else!
The paraglider, at least he plays with the wind, lets himself be carried gently, without any apparent effort. When you look at it... it seems so easy, so obvious...
The Viewpoint of the Wind Turbine
Naiharn Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Phuket.
Of course, during the high season, it is crowded and the deckchairs are countless.
However, the slope is very gentle and the currents are less violent during the monsoon compared to other beaches.
The horrible "Jet-Skis" are banned there, which is an excellent thing.
You can attend magnificent sunsets... if you are used to coming to this site... you will have quickly understood: I love sunsets...
Naiharn Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in Phuket
Many restaurants and masseuses are within easy reach.
The small beach of Ao Sane
This small beach with beautiful rocks west of Naiharn Beach is not really known, but many holidaymakers or residents have gotten used to returning to Ao Sane from the moment they got to know this place away from everything, in a still very wild environment.
The small winding road leading to this small paradise offers a splendid view of Naiharn Bay, the wind turbine and Prompthep Cape.
As for the small path that goes down to the beach and the restaurant, it is passable but a little steep and stony. For the less agile, it is better to leave your bike at the top and do the rest on foot, barely 50 meters. Then, all that remains is to settle down and contemplate these wild landscapes, devoid of any modern constructions. It's pretty relaxing....
On the spot, a number of fairly simple bungalows also offer accommodation at very attractive prices.
Ao Sane: a splendid area of tranquillity
Of course, if you take a 10,000 km trip, walking around a lake when the sea is two steps away may seem rather absurd. I agree with that!
That said, we can see things differently and fully enjoy this charming place... some have understood it for a long time and many athletes of all levels, young and old, like walkers, joggers and other cyclists who come to wet their t-shirts!
In the morning, as soon as the sun rises, many enthusiasts attack their "lake tour" with great energy... the prevailing temperature is perfect for exercise and the surrounding calm is ideal for a beautiful start to a beautiful day. One more day in paradise!
Others prefer to exercise in the evening around 5pm... until nightfall... it depends.
A small islet that can be reached by crossing a small bridge offers picnicking, jogging, petanque and children... a well shaded and really very pleasant area. There are attractions for children, "pedal boats" to go for a walk on the lake, in short, an absolutely charming little corner.
A sign reminds us that it is forbidden to smoke and bring alcohol...
Lake Naiharn : an ideal place for sports enthusiasts
The lake of Naiharn, flanked by the beach where many sportsmen come to let off steam either at the very beginning of the day or at the end of the afternoon. During the day, on the small island, enthusiasts come to play petanque or run in the shade of the trees.
Whatever your favourite moment, walking or running around the lake is very pleasant.
A full 2km tour will take you about 30 minutes to complete, walking normally. Then it's up to you to do the number of laps that suits you. You will also find a whole series of softening and weight training equipment installed here by the commune of Rawai.
Many people also take the road that goes up to the wind turbine... in short, this corner is ideal for a little exercise.
The Sai Yuan district... aesthetically not great, rather messy, despite some recent buildings.
This being said, this area is a bit like the downtown of Rawai: a few shops, a few restaurants, a lot of massage parlours of course, a few painters, a lot of bars, the whole, arranged and added in a rather random way.
The Sai Yuan District
Thanon Sai Yuan on map
Buggy tour near the Karon Viewpoint
Patong beach is hidden by the mountain and is 14 km away from this place...
That's it.... I finally made it around Rawai....
I must say that I've been wanting to do this long... very long article for a long time...
Rawai is vast, extensive, and as said at the beginning, many possibilities are within the reach of holidaymakers and even... residents.
I hope that now RAWAI will seem a little more familiar to you.