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On Surin beach, Stereo Lab runs afoul of Phuket noise police

Phuket Beach Birthday Halted by 'Noise' Police

Monday, December 21, 2009
STEREO LAB, a nightclub on Phuket's upmarket Surin beach, was closed early on Sunday by volunteers dressed in army camouflage in response to complains about the noise.

The group, led by two police, broke up the Stereo Lab first birthday party at 1am. A spokesperson for the owner admitted today the music may have been a bit louder than usual.

Boonsri Puttipanya said they were using extra-large speakers at the club for the first time, and moved from the Stereo Lab premises to the beach.

''We have been told once before by police that they'd had complaints,'' she said. ''It was our first birthday.''

Khun Boosri said that many expat partygoers were confused because the volunteers from Thalang sub-district wore army camouflage.

Stereo Lab, she said, hopes to keep the music to a level that maintains peace with its hillside neighbors in future.

Surin is one of Phuket's most exclusive beach ''suburbs,'' and the shorefront has recently developed several clubs and nightclubs.

At least one large restaurant also lays claim to a large stretch of the sand, shuttling guests in from a Patong hotel to enjoy Surin's ambience.

Like all of Phuket's popular beaches, Surin is mostly lost under loungers and umbrellas during much of the high season.

Complaints about beachfront music along Phuket's increasingly crowded west coast beaches are mounting.

One person who lives three kilometres from Patong emailed Phuketwan last week to say he could hear the music from the just-concluded Phuket Carnival blaring at Patong until 2am.

Resorts along Karon beach, south of Patong, report complaints from guests triggered by the precedent-setting two-night Roy Fest and earlier this month, the Chang King's Cup Regatta Music Festival.

It's likely that more music festivals will be held on Phuket beaches in 2010 in tandem with other activities.

The move to music on the beach has been accompanied by the efforts of some back-of-the-beach resorts to stake a claim to the shorefront, by building or renting beach clubs.

The result: more beachfronts are moving up-market, pushing up the prices of rent and at surrounding outlets.

Phuket, having opted after the tsunami to keep beach loungers, jet-skis and beach vendors, will soon face rejection as a destination by visitors looking for holidays in more natural surroundings.

Elsewhere, up-market visitors have been among the first to quit destinations that become too crowded, too popular, and too committed to the nightlife.

Although much-reviled, Phuket's 2am limit on clubs and bars actually acts as a control mechanism on the down-market dangers that flow from becoming known purely as a ''party party'' destination.
Stereo Lab Opens at Surin: 55 Photo Special
Photo Special Surin attracts some fairly groovy people these days and we encountered a couple of hundred having fun tonight at the newest hangout, Stereo Lab.
Stereo Lab Opens at Surin: 55 Photo Special

Beach Party a Phuket Blast for Hi-Fi: Photo Special
Photo Special Turn up the volume, or tone down the dance parties. That's the tough test for Phuket and the first King's Cup Regatta beach party. Will it be carry on, Karon?
Beach Party a Phuket Blast for Hi-Fi: Photo Special

Booze by the Phuket Bucket at Beach Party
Photo Album Booze in vast quantities was o offer at the first King's Cup Regatta Moonlight Night on Phuiket. Was it too much of a good thing? Please tell us what you saw.
Booze by the Phuket Bucket at Beach Party


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Stereo Lab is at the forefront of bringing top name entertainment, and increasing the visibility of the island to the 'jet set' who are the kind of people who can buy those Surin villas, and should be credited with helping bring Phuket up to standard when it comes to musical entertainment. Seems to me that some 'rough with the smooth' is required there.

If the place is licensed until 2am then it should be closed at 2am, no surprise the only time the police do anything (and armed 'army guys' is the impression they gave) is when the rich feel put out.

Posted by LivinLOS on December 21, 2009 11:41


Had a nice dinner at Coral Beach Hotel yesterday. The only problem was that the noise from Patong Beach so-called Carnival made it impossible to hear the quiet music in the restaurant and the glasses were shaking from the bass. Obviously the noise police are not present in Patong!!!

One good thing though: It was the last night so maybe tonight we can all get some sleep!

Posted by Still Tired on December 21, 2009 13:19


I am not rich but I still hate excessive noise, and rich or not rich I feel I am entitled not to be imposed on by noise, especially the bass low frequencies which are more penetrating than the higher tones. Well done, Thalang police volunteers, confiscate those speakers which offend! They must have been REALLY loud if it disturbed the residents above which are QUITE a distance away.

Posted by Guenter Bellach on December 21, 2009 14:25


Sadly noise pollution is everywhere in Thailand and it seems that nothing can be done about it. I know several people who have bought property in a quite area and within months noise from a new bar or motorcycle workshop makes life hell for them. Complaining to the police is a waste of time. Thailand is a noisy place.

Posted by Local on December 21, 2009 17:34


Too often places don't know when to stop cranking up the volume and pumping up the bass. Without raining on their parade, a bit of consideration to others would be nice. Allegedly there were extra speakers there on the night that had to be lifted off a truck - I would suggest this was excessive.

There's a place 200m away from me at the moment which pumps out loud rap music into the late evening - this is polluting a large area (40k SqM!!) and the owner couldn't care less. On the bonus side the place is empty and will hopefully go out of business. The more noise police the better as far as I'm concerned, until people discover the volume dial goes down as well as up!

Posted by Mister Ree on December 21, 2009 20:04


I live about a kilometer away from Stereo Lab, in Bangtao. This is not the first time that Stereo Lab has polluted the neighborhood with noise - once or twice until about 4:00 in the morning. It is extremely inconsiderate for this business to inconvenience the rest of the area for the benefit of a couple of dozen customers.

I hope that the local authorities continue to shut them down until they learn to become better neighbors. All that is required is some common courtesy. Sorry, but this is not Bangla Road!

Posted by Blockhead on December 22, 2009 08:32


Hey this is an island not Bangkok ok. Lets live quietly together, no loud music or any sound OK !

Editor: Graham, are you making a case for amplified trance music being part of traditional Thai island village life?

Posted by Graham on December 22, 2009 12:43


definitely not Ed. I was thinking more along the lines of muted tv sounds, children playing and the sound of the sea nearby. That's good for daytime.

Night time is for eating in restaurants and being in the company of good friendship.No trance or hip hop or rap music, please.

Posted by Graham on December 23, 2009 07:12


Stereo Lab ruins my weekly lunch ritual at a favorite neighboring restaurant. Not a soul in it but still 100 meters of beach must listen to that "trance/ rave" or whatever it's called crap - over my preferred restaurant's oldie rock music. I agree,the bass is what's annoying.

Editor: Hmmm . . . I remember when people went to the beach to listen to the sea.

Posted by Christy on December 23, 2009 12:09


@Christy, So oldie rock music is fine, but up to date modern electronic music isn't ??

Merely an age / taste / demographic difference.

Posted by LivinLOS on December 24, 2009 08:03


It's THE DECIBEL level I find offensive. 2 kinds of music- good and bad. I want to go out at night to a club, Orchestra, Trance to Punk whatever it's fine but to subject other restaurant's LUNCH customers to your entertainment along with theirs at muted levels is ..gauche.

Seems European-owned bars are taking over- in true expansionist fashion. Stroll up to Pla and see what they've done with the hideous plastic pier.

They have appropriated much of the beach to seating, too.

Editor: Encroachment on the ears is almost as thoughtless and selfish as encroachment on the public beaches. Surin beach is not being enhanced, it is being stolen, bit by bit.

Posted by Christy on December 24, 2009 08:47


Are expensive vacation villas and the people who buy then rent to tourists really contributors to a community? Not just money , but a social commitment?

I think those villas are all about making a few people rich and the entire society has to live with the consequences. The developer moves on.

Posted by Mustava on December 24, 2009 08:56


i was watching something on TV the other night during which a Florida Police Officer was issuing a citation for someone playing music that was audible for more than 25 feet! Although this seems a bit too Big Brother, it gets my vote.

I respect other people's right to listen to music - I don't always want to have to listen to their music, though. There needs to be some control over these boom box speakers and the car/tuk tuk stereos.

Editor: So now there's a ''right to listen?'' Isn't that what the iPod is for? Music is entirely personal and best kept that way.

Posted by Mister Ree on December 24, 2009 09:49


Thailand desperately needs to adjust its attitudes and laws about noise pollution and real estate zoning. The Thais themselves often refuse to complain until the resentment boils over into violence-- recall the case last year, of a man who shot three neighbors after complaining nightly that their noisy partying made sleep on worknights impossible.

The attitude that complaining is bad, is...bad! Thais must realise that it's constructive to complain about constant barrages of sounds from partiers, bars, and speaker trucks.

We also need ZONING: Sure, let Patong bars party all night... but not within earshot of hotels and housing, and certainly not in residential neighborhoods.

And for Heaven's sake, forbid all those damned daisy-chains of speaker trucks (and mosques, while we're at it) that think the ability to buy a speaker gives them the perfect right to blast it at top volume. If a mosque or businessman complains that it interferes with a tradition, then let them only use the speakers at a "traditional" volume: that of an unaided human voice. Or better still, let them move into the 21st century: speaker trucks should be replaced with paid advertising in the Media, and mosques should broadcast their middle-of-the-damned-night prayers on radio alarm clocks given out to the faithful.

It's time to END the selfish noisemaking of the rich who feel they're privileged, the selfish businessmen who think it's OK to annoy a thousand people to find one customer, and the selfish religious who think selling their religion at the top of their lungs is somehow a positive, friendship-building thing to do in a multicultural society.

Posted by Zoner on December 26, 2009 07:47


"Selfish noisemaking of the rich"... Hmmmm....

I've lived in a Thai neighborhood and many of my Thai neighbors played music and drank whiskey till 3-4 AM on a regular basis. They would place their speakers outside with no courtesy or thought to nearby residents. I finally couldn't take it anymore and moved.

Same thing happens in my girlfriend's village in the northeast.

It's evidently OK to make noise in Thailand with total disregard for your neighbors.

I'm curious, is Stereo Lab owned by a Falang or a Thai? I agree that all people must respect others with regards to noise pollution, etc but the laws should be enforced without prejudice.

Posted by Anonymous on December 26, 2009 23:19


I don't know where LivinLos got his economic and demographic data, but there is no basis upon which to make his claim that Stereo's clientele are the people that will keep Phuket afloat or purchase Surin's villas. Those that have the money to make the villa purchases are older people, usually 50 years and up.

Those that go to clubs like Stereo are much younger and have neither the income, nor the assets to be long term investors. I would go one step further and say that most of the Stereo farang patrons don't have a pot to p*ss in in terms of financial stability. The reality is that people that work hard and that have high incomes don't go clubbing.

Posted by BrentMcP1980 on December 27, 2009 05:39


BrentMcP1980: I had the same thoughts as you. Apparently, LivinLOS believes that attracting the "jet set" (to use his phrase) Eurotrash crowd to listen to DJs is a good thing. Just what we need: another Ibiza!

Editor: Once the discussion moves to who is listening, then the principle of whether noise pollution is good or bad seems to be lost. That says a lot about Phuket.

Posted by Blockhead on December 27, 2009 13:22


"The reality is that people that work hard and that have high incomes don't go clubbing." What a load of crap.

If anything comes across in this story it's the (1) bias of the editor and (2) the vocal moaning of the geriatric set who can afford to live the life of Riley in Phuket but couldn't afford a bedsit in their own country.

Owning a condo that costs less than a bungalow in your own country doesn't give you the right to censor people's entertainment. You prefer rock and roll and Willie Nelson and me, a mere 49-year-old, prefer hard thumping trance. And yes, I earn a very good salary and work hard.

Back to sucking your oxygen bottles and it would help if the editor didn't editorialize in articles.

Editor: Yes, Phuketwan is biased: We don't care where you are from, how much money you have, or what your musical preferences are . . . just don't encroach on our ears, or the public beaches.

Posted by John L on December 27, 2009 17:02


My Patong born friend had a problem with a noisy restaurant that opened up near his house. It only cost him 3 bottles of beer to solve the problem. After speaking to the owner about the noise (as did other neighbours) and after having the police get involved, (to which the owner just turned the volume up again after the Police left), he ended up one night throwing a bottle of beer over the roof of his house and landing it in the middle of the open air restaurant. He did this again on the next night and the night after. I should mention that this restaurant only turned the music up when there were no patrons. Anyway, its been 7 months now and that restaurant hasn't turned its music up since.

I'm not suggesting that this is the right way to go, but he tried the diplomatic way and tried using the police but out of pure frustration, had to find his own solution.

Posted by Antz Pantz on December 27, 2009 18:49


John L: I am part of the "geriatric set" who thinks that the issue here is common courtesy, not musical "censorship". (By the way: I am 53 years old; you, at 49, will be joining me in the "geriatric set" in 4 years! Imagine: you'll soon be "sucking an oxygen bottle" like me!) Not wanting to hear "hard thumping trance" (to use your apt words) at 3 or 4 in the morning has nothing to do with "censorship"; it has everything to do with expecting common courtesy.

As I noted in my previous post, I live about 1 kilometer away from Stereo Lab and can hear the lovely "hard thumping trance" from that distance. Thus, the club's inconsiderate behavior is affecting thousands of local residents for the benefit of a few dozen customers. In this regard, please note that, as you might expect, many of the residents here are Thai, a fact that you would discover if you were to leave the club and wander the byways of Surin and Bangtao - we have a thriving water buffalo population, believe it or not. Hence, it is not just the "geriatric set" who are affected.

Posted by Blockhead on December 27, 2009 22:28


And again, a problem stems from over- population. When will we address this very real issue, locally AND globally?

Posted by HorseDoctor on December 28, 2009 11:06


I have to add, my neighbors, in their newly built homes are all noisy as hell BUT not one of them has refused a direct, polite request to turn it down. ( Except when a giant tree was hauled in at 2 AM and cut into lumber with chainsaws for ten days straight- twenty meters away..)

Posted by Christy on December 28, 2009 11:14


Stereolab is a good place and good guys run it. But, they went about things the wrong way by not including the surrounding area in it's plans to expand on the beach and announce special parties that could be louder than usual. This might have earned them some consideration before things went pear shaped. I think it's a case of too big for their britches.

Phuket needs to wake up though...the rest of the world is having a tough time, and it's really not that bad here, economically speaking. So, let's enjoy ourselves let people party and blow off some steam, but at the same time let's try to adhere to the laws and not piss anyone off!!


Posted by Anonymous on December 29, 2009 09:47


Just as artificial light affects turtle hatchings trying to find their way into the sea, we must consider the very disturbing low-end repetitive bass, and it does cause anxiety in mammals - may be affecting sonar equipped marine mammals. Mmmmm..
..Makes me wonder if the recent volcanic eruptions in Java are affecting the pilot whales beaching themselves in NZ?

Posted by Horse Doctor on December 29, 2009 10:20


Clearly the people who frequent these Clubs are not Thai. The arrogance of these outsiders is disgraceful as Thailand is not a western/european colony. Rudeness, arrogance, and disrespect should be a litmus test to ban and remove any westerner from Thailand. Those types are not needed; they should leave and never come back. However kind and respectful westerners are welcome visitors. It is basic common sense. This is not the 1990's - today there are more than enough well heeled Thais, Japanese, Chinese, and Koreans who can appreciate, patronize, support and in invest in Phuket with the proper requisite respect and kindness. More and more are coming every year.

Posted by SiamSon on January 1, 2010 21:40


'Rudeness, arrogance, and disrespect should be a litmus test to ban and remove any Westerner from Thailand.' but it's OK to tolerate those traits from Thais, is it SiamSon? I'll remember that next time somebody drives past turning people's heads into jelly with their super bass stereo. Sauce for the Goose not sauce for the Gander, I guess?

Editor:Phuketwan has had far more threats from expats than Thais, so our advice is not to be too concerned about cultural nuances. This is a debate about noise pollution, not citizenship rights. SiamSon may well come from East London and have never set foot in Thailand, for all we know.

Posted by Mister Ree on January 3, 2010 20:10


SiamSon's comment reads like an expat stirring a difference of opinions. Never heard a Thai use a phrase such as the ''proper requisite respect and kindness.'' Just another idle anarchist, fuelling a race war. Don't take the bait.

Posted by Angelfire on January 3, 2010 20:49


Why is it Thais are consistently referred to as a race unto themselves? They are not, and certainly are as prone to rudeness as any other culture. The difference is there are no rules enforced in Thailand. Some people moved here for that reason - having second thoughts, eh?

Editor: I'm not sure to whom the question is directed but there's a difference between an anarchist trying to incite a ''race war'' and describing the Thais as a race. In my experience, rudeness is not found as readily in Thailand as it is elsewhere. Rules? What rules?

Posted by Mustava on January 4, 2010 08:48


Here's how to end the noisy boombox plague:

Ask some poor wretch if he'd like to have a ten- or twenty-dollar bill. If his answer is Yes, tell him about your noisy boombox neighbor and then say:

''The money is yours if you can figure out something so I won't have to hear that guy's boombox again. Don't kill him or beat him up. But do whatever you have to do to silence that Hollywoodized lowlife!"

Believe me, this is VERY effective. Heard of the VAB's? They're the "Vigilantes Against Boomboxes." Or you can start your own vigilante group.

Reactions, anyone?

Posted by Dr. Know on January 23, 2010 09:56


When one comments critically regarding Thai or Thai culture, " racism" is often cited.

Thais are not a race, they are a nationality . . .

Editor: The sweeping generalisations that follow are without foundation and border on racism. On the basis of your theory, I could speculate wildly, as you do, that bigotry must be a characteristic of wherever you come from. But I'm certain others are more logical and tolerant.

Posted by Mustava on January 23, 2010 10:26

Friday August 7, 2020
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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