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So long old Patong, hello to the new beach, minus sunbeds and umbrellas

The New Patong Beach: Photo Special

Monday, July 28, 2014
PHUKET: A stroll along Patong beach proves it's all as the popular Phuket t-shirt says: Same Same, But Different.

With visitors and vendors adjusting to the military order to ban sunbeds and umbrellas, the ''New Patong'' is alive and far more active. And commerce is there to be seen on every beach mat.

Mats and towels have replaced the sunbeds. And Patong on a Sunday sparkles as always with a cosmopolitan mix of sunbakers and sales.

What's Russian for corn on the cob? We watched as a vendor with a stick of corn in his hand was beckoned by a woman in a one-piece. Lunchtime was drawing near and she was plainly hungry.

Stripped of the hide-all umbrellas, all the beach action and the commercial activities were plain to see.

Jet-skis sliced the sea and paragliders rose and dropped. We watched one young Chinese tourist land, having the thrill of being airborne over the beach, and tell her friend waiting for takeoff what a buzz it was.

We saw a man having his bunions sliced, a couple choosing their temporary holiday tattoos, and a mother and daughter in the same stunning green outfit enjoying getting their feet wet and taking selfies.

Sandcastles? With the sunbeds out of the way, families were constructing fortresses large and small all along the beach.

There's something magical about a day at the seaside, and the wand-wavers at the Army have restored Patong's charm.

The clutter and the chaos? Well, nobody is going to come to Patong to escape the hubbub of social intercourse. People bring it with them, but it's a hubbub in swimming trunks and sandy feet.

The vendors seem to be doing quite nicely. Silver rings, copy sunglasses, a man selling wallets to two women . . . the trade is incessant and totally Patong. Of course, you need to buy a mat. No problem. Hiring one may even be possible.

Like to haggle? You've come to the right place. The vendors will keep you on your toes, literally, now that the sunbeds have gone.

Yes, you can find shade under the trees easily, if that's what you want. And Yes, you can still get killed by motorcyclists using the pedestrian pathway behind the beach.

Ah, Patong. Still amazing, Army-style.

Is the New Patong better without the sunbeds? We'd give a double thumbs up, and we think most of Sunday's beachgoers would, too.

We wonder, though, with such a mixture of life on the beach in July, just how it will be in December. Let's hope there are enough corn cobs to go around.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


The pictures look great. Good to see the vendors still around, really enjoy chatting with them and doing a bit of shopping on the beach. looks strange without beds and umbrellas but will get used to it. Can't believe they have done all this and left those jet skis though. Hard to have a peaceful day on the beach with them around, especially given the reputation they have for rorts etc. Looking forward to lazy days on the new (or is that the old) Patong Beach in a few weeks.

Posted by Davemc60 on July 28, 2014 08:13


So the beach is still open for private enterprise - Jet-Skis and Para-gliders? Guess there is someone big protecting these guys.

Posted by Ciaran on July 28, 2014 08:19


would rather have half the sunbeds and umbrellas there were and no jet skiis and assured..these guys are staying put

Posted by sky on July 28, 2014 10:23


The pictures of Patong beach takes one back to about 1974,to a gentler time and place..oh to be 18 again, but with a half- functioning brain..can't have your cake and eat it too though..

Posted by farang888 on July 28, 2014 10:56


Many years ago I lived for about two years in Patong. I loved this long beach and went jogging there almost every day. Then the beach got occupied by endless sunbeds and umbrellas. Because of this I fled and never went back to Patong. Time to go there again? Perhaps better wait and see.

Posted by John on July 28, 2014 11:17


I think its just to do something about the rude Indian sellers.

Posted by Lea on July 28, 2014 11:31


No, its worse! Nowhere to lie, no shade, yet still the jet skis and parasails ply their trade.
Corn cobs? Who wrote that rubbish?

Lets face it, the army's trying to do great things and failing.

Posted by jimbo34 on July 28, 2014 11:53


The best way to stop touts, illegal businesses and crimes on public beaches would be to have the sooner the better CCTV cameras to monitor all illegal activities on day and night.
Police and local administration will have no excuses not to act as it will be recorded.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on July 28, 2014 12:21

Editor Comment:

Have you read 1984 lately, WB?


The problems are clearly not fixed at Patong Beach - this article seems to celebrate that everything is perfect. If the Sunbeds arnt allowed to do business then nobody should be but that is not the case. Double standards will bring us back to the beginning again.

Posted by Ciaran on July 28, 2014 13:24

Editor Comment:

Ciaran, you seem to have problems interpreting the words ''Same Same, But Different,'' Patong and perfect.


For me it's a big problem, and for all my friends how have the same age as me.Since 8 years we come to Patong for 4 months in the year, and it is impossible to sit on the sand...!!! The same we can not bring every day a chair and umbrella. So for us , Phuket is finnish, we go to an other place, where we have a little confort!I think, it's not good for the tourist.We was there in july, we have see what's happend! have still Jetskis and Paragliders...

Posted by christine on July 28, 2014 17:13


I will miss the bed. Miss to talk with the working people, miss the service. Pleas just have sone bed. Patong will not be the same. Shame same.

Posted by Richard on July 28, 2014 22:48


Lea: No-one's ever tried to sell me an Indian....

Posted by Anonymous on July 29, 2014 00:32


I don't think is what they should do. Patong was always wilde and I loved it if I want to have beach without sunbeds I will go to sterile Hawaii!!! I can't even imagine how many people lost their jobs. Army and politicians are the same all over the world JUST DON'T CARE!!!

Posted by Jan on July 29, 2014 02:54


They really are destroying the place for tourists - what a shame.

Posted by Bobby on July 29, 2014 08:18

Editor Comment:

Quite the opposite. The tourists were destroying the place, Bobby, and that will continue if numbers grow without attention to protecting the beaches and the reefs.


Looking like yesteryear... beautiful.... now just need to rid the place of those stinky loud jet skis.

Posted by DG on July 29, 2014 08:54


Ed wrote "The tourists were destroying the place, Bobby, and that will continue if numbers grow without attention to protecting the beaches and the reefs."

Thanks Ed for your input - Here are 2 tourists who won't be coming again "to help the beaches" - pity about the local economy!

Posted by Aussie Vacationer on July 29, 2014 14:12


Sorry, that's not good. I visit this beach since many years and to me it was a great affordable comfort having chairs and umbrellas. Without shadow i can't survive at a beach longer than 15 minutes and the staff was always funny and friendly.

Posted by Steven on July 29, 2014 16:24

Editor Comment:

Plenty of shade under the trees. The trees are not being moved.


First time i visited Patong Beach about 4 a 5 years ago i thought it was crowded but still it had a good atmosphere about it at least that was then in the years to come i always drove by Patong beach and looked for the less crowded beaches sometimes i stumbled on a beach where there was no one around just a couple a rocks and a overhanging palm tree Yes that's my kind of beach but tourism requires some what of a tourist attraction for younger people like jetski's and some other sort of entertaiment that comes along with it why not pick some beaches to realize such a thing and leave the rest of the beaches as it should be therefore everyone can enjoy the beauty of Thailand and choose the place to go with or without the entertainment industry. Within a year or so i hope to stay a couple a years in Thailand, that's my little dream, To enjoy the goodhearted people (wich is my personal experience) The nice weather and beautiful nature, So whatever happens i hope that some places will be conserved to what they are naturewise and we all should be working on that all over the planet because its the greatest gift we all share to enjoy it and not to destroy it.

Posted by ThailandFan on July 31, 2014 16:40

Editor Comment:

There was a limit on the number of beaches where jet-skis could operate but that limit is now largely ignored.



a great affordable comfort


Obviously there to many tourists in Thailand, and in part because Thaioand is "so affordable".
So the goal is to reduce number of tourist and increase revenue per head - the latter requires upgrade of environment.

Thousands of beach chairs on the bed glue Thailand tourism to "affordable tourism " sector , and a target group of tourists who afford more to pay avoid such locations,
Merely a fact that place becomes less crowded is already upgrade of environment itself, and may warrant increase of interest , and accordingly prices, from tourists with purchase power above those of "affordable tourism" sector.

Rejuvenation of nature surely is a major factor too.

Yes, lack of sunbeds will be disliked by some people - merely from "affordable tourism" target group , but appreciated by others , incl.those with higher purchase power.
I can't imagine those who stay in hotels with rates 500USD-1000USD per night or abce to appreciate to be on a crowded beach , even in hotel's or independent beach clubs - they usually leave with disgust at first sight and then stay at Andara the pool.

Still beaches should be egalitarian by its nature and of course , subject to affordable accommodation, young people travel should be always welcome, to be able to see the world.

Posted by Sue on July 31, 2014 21:22


well your photos are selective, i have been there on the patong beachs and they are dirty. lots of thing floating in the water, wood chips plastic bottles glass beer bottles. trash every where.there are not enough trash cans and no one to empty them . at least the vendors cleaned up the beach when you left. i really think you should look at what a blue flag beach is. i have been to one in cyprus and it is beautiful. and with lounge chairs, the just control how many the allow and the water is so clean nothing floating in it or trash on the beach.if you want a world class beach. and a blue flag one. they are famous. take a look. ill be glad to sent you photos. and you will see. i would suggest the jet ski and boat guys be allowed just in one section only on the beach, just for them so the rest of the beach is free

Posted by gary on August 1, 2014 10:57


The jet ski boys should have gone befor the sun beds, people need a sun bed but they don't need a jet ski, all I can think of that the boss of the jet ski must have a lot of power,
Good Job to start is making sun beds and selling them cheap.

Posted by Robert London. on August 3, 2014 03:20


Being a regular visitor to Patong Beach (twice a year over the last 20 years) I strongly disagree with the removal of the loungers and umbrellas.Unlike most locals, many tourists visiting the island want, and expect, to be able to rent out a beach lounger and umbrella for a reasonable fee. After all, nobody in their right mind would expose their skin to the sun all day without some sort of protection, and a beach umbrella is far more effective and comfortable than using sunscreen Payment for rental of a lounger set does, of course, come with the expectation that certain services will be provided: that the beach boys adjust the umbrellas to ensure that the loungers provide shade at all times, clean up debris, provide protection from potential threats ranging from theft to assault. For the most part, the workers do a good job in this respect.

Posted by Aussie Tourist on August 4, 2014 13:06


I cannot imagine enjoying the beach without loungers out of the sand and umbrella to offer shade. The staff offered hospitality and moved umbrella. I have been visiting Patong for many years. This will make me reconsider my vacation destination. Very disappointed. My heavenly respite has been dismantled. My heart is sad. It seems petty but the loungers, sun umbrella shade and hospitality made this beach a wonderful destination. My favorite beach in the world.

Posted by Mark on September 14, 2014 08:33


The editor wrote: "Plenty of shade under the trees. The trees are not being moved."

In high season 100.000 tourists stay in Patong every night. How many of them can sit down in the shade of the trees? Or is it a better idea not to sit down?

Posted by Peter on September 15, 2014 03:20

Editor Comment:

You'd be surprised how effective broad-brimmed hats are, Peter - they actually allow you to move with the shade. And there's no prohibition on you bringing an umbrella with you. But the days of the lotus-eating layabouts are over.

Thursday June 4, 2020
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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