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The large Heaven restaurant on an illegal slope at a Phuket viewpoint

Heaven on an Illegal Phuket Nod Turns to Dust After Five Good Years

Wednesday, June 24, 2015
PHUKET: A man who built a large restaurant on the holiday west coast below one of Phuket's most popular viewpoints told authorities yesterday that it was simply a matter of having a nod of approval from the local village chiefs.

Boonlert Thamsue said that he also thought he had the blessing to build from the Phuket Land Titles office, although there was no formal title deed.

So from 2010 until yesterday, the business - named Heaven - prospered. Nobody asked questions. No authorities challenged his right to be there.

The fact that Heaven had no legal title deeds may lead to more checks on properties erected or being constructed on Phuket's shorefront elsewhere along the west coast. Questionable erections abound on steep coastal slopes.

There was plenty of finger-pointing yesterday as a Royal Thai Navy-led tour by officials brought action at a previously raided spot, Nui Beach, where officials planted a sign giving just 30 more days before the structures there will be destroyed.

The ''owner'' there had kindly pointed out that if his place was classified as illegal, then Heaven further along the coast at the Kata Viewpoint had to be illegal too . . .

At Heaven yesterday, the owner pointed up towards Phuket's famous Big Buddha monument and said that if his restaurant was illegal, then surely the restaurants built high up in the Nakkerd Hills had to be illegal, too.

And so it goes.

Slowly but surely, illegal encroachments on public land that have been so obvious for so long are finally being drawn to the attention of the Royal Thai Navy, which appears less hesitant to act.

The five-year gap between construction and detection appears to have been a golden time in Heaven, judging from the scale of the building.

In high season, with plenty of tourists about, Heaven probably does very well in one of the best locations on the island.

For Lieutenant Sompop Khamkana and his Navy detachment, it was a matter of escorting Karon authorities to Nui Beach to erect the notice of demolition in 30 days.

The ''beach club'' there yesterday was occupied by a handful of Burmese workers.

A bit later at Heaven, Lieutenant Sompop explained that the coastal cliffs and ridges came under the jurisdiction of the Agricultural Land Reform office.

Structures were banned from steep slopes - leaving question marks over a number of profitable resorts and restaurants on other parts of Phuket's valuable west shore.

A little more finger-pointing can be expected as each illegal ''owner'' says: ''If my place is illegal, then what about that one?''

Lieutenant Sompop, when told about the possibility of illegal restaurants being open along the road to the Big Buddha, said: ''Thank you. We'll check it out.''

He may be saying that more often in coming weeks.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


The whole lot of them are illegal and it's not as if no one could notice them. After Beach and its compatriots are crowded every night - so much so that it's often difficult to drive past them, there are so many parked cars. And no one saw them? Either it's gross negligence or plain corruption: Take your choice. Neither is complimentary.

Posted by Sam Wilko on June 24, 2015 10:03


He best head to Cape Yamu as well.

Posted by Anonymous on June 24, 2015 10:18


Dear Ed

Heaven and Hell. Such a contrast.

Two days ago in Australia viewers of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation saw the 4 Corners documentary "Journey Into Hell" featuring you and Khun Chutima.

My own anecdotal evidence suggest that a lot of Australians watched this documentary about the smuggling of Rohingya through Thailand and into Malaysia.

It will be broadcast again tonight and this Saturday.

Posted by Ian Yarwood on June 24, 2015 11:41


The only way to deal with this is back-taxing them hard, heavy fines and a nice 2-3 years prison term. I really don't understand why it's so hard for even the army to deal with this.
Why warnings? Why only punish them by taking down their illegal structures?

Posted by christian on June 24, 2015 12:32


Finally... Yes finally someone come to get a look at this shame.. But more shameful is the house with a big tank tower on the same hill, that everybodies can see arriving from Kato direction Rawai. It is about 125 meters on sea level. When I tried to contact someone when was in costruction, mainly in the night, I was sighted to be careful to ask in person at any office to denounce the story cause I couldn'y know who was really behind ..

Posted by dave on June 24, 2015 17:49


Perhaps so-called officials could closely examine all parties involved, since clearly they were instrumental in allowing these illegal buildings to exist in the first instance. No doubt this possibly involved some form of graft.

Posted by reader on June 24, 2015 20:32

Editor Comment:

Hard to know, reader. There may just have been no enforcement.


But what about Ao-Sane beach (Nai Harn), why the restaurant still on the beach ?

Posted by Bjorn Ronningen on June 25, 2015 05:16

Editor Comment:

Could be a historic, legitimate title. There is another family run restaurant at the south end of Karon, virtually ''on the beach.'' Both have been in place for two decades or more.


.....and the beach clubs that are still on Surin that were given demolition orders twice, yet are still there?

Posted by Sir Burr on June 25, 2015 06:56


Yes and best not dig too deeply about whose house is so far over the 80m build limit in kamala as to make a joke of any height rules..

Of course, nothing will be said or done there.

Posted by LivinLOS on June 25, 2015 08:45


@ LivinLOS

Any house or structure built prior to the 80m law being introduced ( I believe it was in 1994) is exempt of the rule.

Plenty of houses above 80m that are perfectly legal. It's not as black and white as you portray it.

Posted by Herbert on June 25, 2015 09:56

Editor Comment:

Resorts and villas have been constructed about 80 metres within the past decade. The law is the most significant contribution to keeping Phuket green. It should be enforced because I know of at least one honest resort where plans for extending were revised once it was realised the law would be broken. Others have not been so honest and deserve to be exposed for flouting the law. Google allows them to be identified with ease. I would be more concerned about the law-breakers, Herbert. Your sudden concern for others is surprising.

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