Click a thumbnail to view more photographs
Patong Beach, Ruined By Jet-Skis, Vendors
Friday, December 26, 2014
PHUKET: The best-known beach on Phuket is not going to remain appealing to swimmers for much longer because of the foolish zoning plan that gives jet-skis all the advantages.
I was on Patong beach today not long after the time the tsunami struck 10 years ago. It's hard to believe, but the local authorities have given the best parts of it to the jet-ski operators and their machines.
Whatever the clearance by the Army achieved seven months ago is being undermined as vendors return in numbers, hiring out beach lounges and selling whatever they can in an invasion along the sand.
Worst of all, swimmers are still to be seen in the jet-ski zones, one or two with snorkels in their mouths and their heads underwater, clearly unaware they're in danger being there.
In a walk along the beach all I saw was one small sign offering the vaguest warning that your life could be in danger if you swim in the jet-ski zone.
The jet-ski zone, incidentally, takes out the stretch of beach directly opposite Soi Bangla.
It is impossible to imagine any water safety expert in the world approving the plan that Patong's mayor has put in place and the Phuket governor has endorsed. It is, quite terrifyingly, going to lead to a death any day now.
Governor Nisit has urged the councils to appoint people who will be in charge of the beaches but there was no sign of any kind of enforcement at Patong beach today.
The vendors are operating as they please. If there are any rules, it was impossible to see what they could possibly be.
As for the swimmers in the water in the jet-ski zone . . . we could only shudder.
Patong has the potential to be one of the world's great public beaches - if only the private entrepreneurs who still run it can be tamed.
Ten years on from 2004, Phuket tourism must be brought into the 21st century. Krabi and Phang Nga banned jet-skis and beach vendors long ago.
is it impossible for Phuket's administrators to control those who continue to make money from Phuket's public beaches?
Anyone who pauses on Patong beach and sees the swimmers in the jet-ski zone, with riders behaving like cowboys, will understand the likely consequences.
Comments have been disabled for this article.
Exactly my thoughts: the best parts of the beach are free-leased for motorized water sports - obviously for the purpose of marketing - to create visibility, it's one of marketing principal tools.
But...yes, the strips I used to use now are JetSki Arena, and you have to move much from that.
Yes, it's not a great problem, but simply not enough fun to lie there where you are not so keen to do that.
December 26, 2014 16:29
Ed..good article..how about going directly to the mayor and gov..and ask them point blank..how can they approve such blatently dangerous scenarios amongst other questions re' issues you bring up....I think we'd all love to hear their answers.
December 26, 2014 16:43
Sorry to be so harsh, but the rules that come out for Patong Beach can only be described as utterly baffling. In fact, it would be hard to come up with worse rules that make less sense. There is no logic in any of it. The current land grab for (illegal) commercial space along Kamala Beach (the entire stretch) is increasing every day, and if not reined in, will soon rival what the mess it was before the coup. NCPO...where are you???
December 26, 2014 16:48
Not even the army can get rid of the Phuket mafia.
It will never change and i will never come back again!
December 26, 2014 16:56
There are only two solutions remaining; 1. Don't rent jet-skis or; 2. Boycott Thailand as a holiday destination.
It's been said time and time again that the only way to put an end to this is to cut off the money.
The countless calls from Ambassadors and Consuls has come to nothing and frankly never will and it's irrelevant what faction is in power.
December 26, 2014 17:42
Its a circus, .... its like the kind of circus where the trained tiger suddenly lashes out at the handler and the clowns rush in to stop it but they cant because they're really just clowns and the tiger leaps into the audience and starts mauling the customers . Then they capture the tiger , take him away, paint some new stripes on it and tell everyone the issue has been dealt with and everyone is safe .
Its the worst kind of circus , where there are no rules and the clowns run the show.
December 26, 2014 18:44
Yes PHUKETWAN great article. I see the dangers daily. It is insane & asking for disasters what is and how it is disorganised here.
December 26, 2014 19:31
Did the Governor and Mayor approve this because of their lack of intelligence or the pressure of the hidden powers?
Remember - there is always someone higher up than you in this game.
December 26, 2014 20:21
Both of them are well-meaning but they know little about beaches. The mayor holds meetings where only the jet-ski operators and vendors are represented, not the tourists or even the swimmers. Little wonder poor decisions are made.
Well, the jet sky boys have now their zones, so any tourist swimming in a jet sky zone is a free potential accident victim. And Governor and Mayor can say: " Not fault of jet sky boy, is fault tourist ". No misunderstanding!
December 26, 2014 20:58
Not very constructive ........... But did anyone on this site actually believe anything would change? To my personal knowledge it's been like this since '89 !
December 26, 2014 22:31
Nothing on Phuket is as it was in 1989, Save phuket. Your opinion is not worth a crumpet.
"Boycott Thailand as a holiday destination."
Maybe one should better say Phuket instead of Thailand.
The country itself is still wonderfull and amazing.
But whitin a decade Phuket developed into the worst kind of beef now.
Just have a look at the news of the past three days. Keep in mind it is Christmas.
Fatal crashs, scamming, cheating, stealing. Have a look at Phuket Wans side bar. Not a single good message.
Big mess at it's best everywhere. Ed S. you are right with
"it would be hard to come up with worse rules that make less sense."
But they not even enforce this stupid rules properly!
And Sky you can "go directly to the mayor and gov..and ask them point blank."
Try it and learn yor lesson what it means if a Thai loses his/her face.
ED, do you understand that there is not so much optimism remaining after so many years Phuket experience?
Georg The Viking
December 26, 2014 23:18
As we've said all along, Georg, the Royal Thai Navy is the organisation that has the capacity to enforce change on the beaches. As we've said all along, it's unlikely to be achieved by the local councils. I think you'll find negative events happening all around the world over the past few days. The only thing that, sadly, may never change is the doomsayers' inability to cheer up.
I really liked the idea from someone on this site get a Thai Version from the Phuket. I'm willingly to sponsor within my limited budget. I do believe a broader Thai Awarness could help to create needed changes.
December 26, 2014 23:58
We are at a point where instead of trying to remove the jetskis, trying to remove the swimmers would achieve more. Who would come and stop someone who's telling the tourists to leave the water because the whole beach is one big jetski zone?
December 27, 2014 00:43
When is the tourist going to have a vote or 'voice' on touristic Phuket?
Many thai people eat and feed their families with tourist money. It is time the tourist has a 'say'. Something to think about for the Governor.
December 27, 2014 07:10
Why not invite the mayor and governor to have a swim at Patong Beach. We shall put a few jet ski operators as well. Then throw a few tourist driving jet ski. Mix for a good 30 minutes and see if their point of view changes. Who knows ? It's Christmas. Intelligence can strike at any time...
December 27, 2014 07:51
When i look at these pictures, i can see 2 things. No organization on the beach, whatsoever. So, i stand by my point that i have made earlier, and that is to bring sunbeds back, but in a controlled manner.And at the same time, push the jet ski's out of the picture, together with the parasailers. And the second thing is:Since the 22th of may this year, when the army took control of the country, it hasn't achieved anything significant yet. Just made Thailand a bit more of a laughing stock.I have seen that the Editor from PhuketWan believes in change, and says that change is inevitable. Well, that's true, but these changes that we see here, are not for the better.
December 27, 2014 08:11
Many writers are stay long time in thailand and still whining.
As long as the local council consists of the same family as the jet ski operators will certainly Change nothing.
The voice of the tourists will never heard. It's just about money, everything else not interest these people.If you spend a lot of money, you get a smile. If you give nothing, then go back home. Sad but true.
There are good people here, but in Patong you'll find them rare.
December 27, 2014 08:48
I was at Patong beach yesterday. This is what I observed within 20 minutes of walking on the beach;
1. Fuelling of jet skis 1x on beach, and 1x in water at shore. Plus 1 guy carrying petrol container while smoking.
2. Lots of glass - dozens of beer bottles everywhere, all provided by vendors.
3. At least 30 vendors in the space of 300m
4. Tuk tuks parked in no parking zones.
5. Car and motorbike rentals all operating from the public parking spaces.
6. No law enforcement.
Please, someone tell me what has really changed.
BTW, my taxi meter ride from airport to central Patong was 100 baht fixed charge +775 baht =875 baht.
This is worse than before. If anyone wants photographs I can take some.
December 27, 2014 12:04
What always ruined Thailand and continues to do so is the unwillingness to enforce the laws of the Nation .. what we see is the result .
December 27, 2014 13:09
Jet ski, motorbikes with sidecars full of fuel, jeeps , all up and down the beach. I can not believe no one has been killed in the water. vendors all over the place. RIP. Patong. How much more can it take.
December 27, 2014 15:15
I love Phuket and find I spend more and more time here. Even buying property. I do though find myself spending less time at Patong Beach, which is a shame as I did love it. Inhaling two stroke fumes and nearly being decapitated by parasails is not a good time. How can anyone not see that!. I look forward to many more visits, I will not give up on Phuket, it is just too magical still, just might give up on Patong though. Back in a couple of months, will be interested to see the latest incarnation live. Move the jetskis and parasails to a safe area and leave the wonderful beach for what it should be, a great safe enjoyable haven.
December 28, 2014 09:13
If you need a license to drive a boat and a motor bike in Thailand it just seems crazy to let any drunk fool rent and operate a jet ski without proper training !!!!!!!!
December 28, 2014 09:49
Am right back from a beach walk in Kamala.
As a doomsayer I have to admit I was surprised in a positive way.
Beach is packed espacially in the centre but it is normal beachlife like everywhere else in the world.
Beach and water not too dirty, only 10 or so jetskis, 5 off shore, no annoyment or pollution, one on the beach in the south, 3 in water, no visible zones.
6 or 7 mobile vendors, only in the centre and many of the rotten shops at the edge. People have to go there if they want to buy something. As usual everywhere in this price range.
Poeple can rent brollies and mats.
Atmosphere is relaxed and I think it is what one can expect if one books a Phuket beach.
Apart from all the insider problems, they are not important for tourists.
Kamala looks like a good holiday location in the lower price range related to the beach life.
Not bad enough to expect quick and big changes, unfortunately.
Georg The Viking
December 28, 2014 13:39
could not agree with you more and yesterday the south end was full of jet-skis on the sand and yes in front or sabai beach restraunt their were guys filling up the skis with petrol glad no one near was smoking
January 4, 2015 09:22
@ Bondi, Next time you make a movie and take picture and send this to Phuket Wan.
January 7, 2015 08:35