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Banned: These tourists photographed yesterday are now breaking the rules

Navy, Police Ban Phuket Beach Chairs

Sunday, February 15, 2015
Updating All Day, Every Day

POLICE were reported to be telling tourists from Monday at Patong and Kamala beaches that beach chairs are now banned.

VIDEO of Police Ordering Beach Chairs Off Patong

PHUKET: Beach chairs are banned from Phuket's beaches from now on - whether the tourist has brought their own personal chair or whether the chair has been hired from a vendor.

The Commander of Royal Thai Navy 3, Vice Admiral Saiyan Prasongsamret, said the decision to ban all beach chairs from Phuket's beaches was made at a special meeting today involving the holiday island's Police Commander, Major General Pachara Boonyasit, all police station superintendents and the Phuket Governor.

The verdict is likely to frustrate veteran tourists who have been bringing their own beach chairs since rented sunbeds were banned. Managers at resorts are also puzzled at the difficulties local authorities have in adopting international standards and sticking with them.

''It has been agreed to allow tourists to use umbrellas and mats, whether padded or unpadded,'' the vice admiral said. ''Police stations have agreed to undertake a publicity campaign and visit resorts to explain the new rule to managers and guests.''

Essentially, because police have difficulty in telling whether a beach chair has been brought to the beach by the person using it or hired from a vendor, the officers' job of enforcing the new rule has been made easy by simply banning all beach chairs.

Tourists will not be arrested or fined, the vice admiral said, but anyone caught renting out beach chairs will be arrested and fined.

It is not clear what tourists who bring beach chairs to beaches on Monday will be expected to do with their beach chairs. Some heated conversations are expected.

Some tourists on Phuket have been bringing their own beach chairs to Patong, Kamala, Surin, Kata, Karon, Nai Harn and other beaches since sunbeds were banned by the military. Some have bought their chairs from vendors at the beaches.

Today's verdict is the latest in a series of sensible ideas, backflips and misjudgements that have onlookers puzzling what will happen next on Phuket's beaches.

Last year, in a remarkable series of clearances, Army and Navy personnel ordered all illegal vendors from Phuket's public beaches and insisted that no longer would individuals be able to make private profit from public space. Illegal restaurants and beach clubs were bulldozed.

Since then, large numbers of umbrellas for hire have returned to Phuket beaches because of the pressure for compromise from beach business interests deprived of their illegal income streams, and tourists who want shade.

Until today - despite one misinterpretation in which personal umbrellas were briefly banned - tourists have been allowed to bring their own personal umbrellas and beach chairs.

Now the rules have been changed yet again.

Resorts managers have told Phuketwan that it is difficult to imagine the people who have been bringing their own beach chairs, most of whom are veteran guests and regular Phuket visitors, returning to the island again.

The banning of beach chairs is the most obvious sign so far that local authorities are out of touch with the needs of tourists, do not understand beach culture and have no concept of international standards for beaches.

At most public beaches around the world, swimmers are allowed to bring their own umbrellas, chairs and sunbeds. Private hirers and vendors are banned.

Phuketwan visited Patong beach yesterday and noted that the beach is beginning to show signs that a return to the days when the sands were completely covered with large, rented umbrellas is underway.

Despite the clamp on private enterprise on public beaches on Phuket, jet-skis and parasailer speedboats continue to operate and have been granted more space along the beachfront at Patong.

The dangerous machines are banned in the neighboring Andaman provinces of Krabi and Phang Nga.

VIDEO of Police Ordering Beach Chairs Off Patong


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Another decision with no understanding of the customer (beach user). This decision makes the Police job easier, apparently. It will also help the authorities defend against the local vendors by saying "no to all".

The thinking is rife... the taxi situation and jet ski situation being the same. No consideration for the customer (tourist/ resident) needs.

I can see this changing yet again in the not-too-distant future.

Posted by Duncan on February 15, 2015 13:03

Editor Comment:

A compromise is not a decision.


I have an idea that is far less confusing than this constant flip flopping.
On the 3rd day of every even month, chairs are Ok on the south 1/10 of the beach. On every other odd day in every even month, umbrellas are OK too, but only on 1/2 of the north end. Every other day in odd months tourist can rent these items, but cannot bring their own. In odd months, the first and second Tuesdays, if on odd day all items are prohibited. If on even days, all are permitted after paying a fee to the local be-ach patrol. Finally, on 4th even and 2nd odd days in months that are holiday free, no tourists are allowed to visit beaches.

Posted by The Facetious Mare on February 15, 2015 13:14


Wish they would put this effort into the jet skis. No one has ever died from a beach chair!

Posted by Vfaye on February 15, 2015 13:16


Well, this could very well be the final act that puts the nail in the tourist coffin. I am at a loss for words, and Thailand should be nothing less than ashamed and embarrassed at their inability to come to any rational program for managing beaches. I'm guess that now Thailand will become famous for being the ONLY country in the entire world that you cannot bring a beach chair to sit in the sand. Utterly unbelievable!

Posted by Ed Sanders on February 15, 2015 13:18


Now can you do the same for jetskis so that they are compatible.

Posted by Manowar on February 15, 2015 13:25


On the other hand..seeing how things work around here, this could be the laying of the groundwork for a plan in the not to distant future to have a chair rental system...Prices will be ridiculously high, and everyone will get their hands in the pie...who is kidding who?

Posted by sky on February 15, 2015 13:51


You couldn't make this stuff up!
If it wasn't so sad, it would be laughable.
When are they going to listen to the CUSTOMERS i.e. the tourists, that ultimately pay for everything?

Posted by jimbo34 on February 15, 2015 13:57


The authorites here are like the Keystone Cops, they are more worried about beach chairs on the beach, (which to my knowledge has never attacked anyone,) than tackle the real problem.Since the Military has taken over there have been an increase in illegial taxis operating in Patong beach. The Tuk Tuk and motorbike prices have doubled, even thou the petrol price have dropped.People driving on the wrong side of the road or going through a red light. Get your heads out of the sand and fix the real problem, please do not be scared. Bring back the Beach chairs.

Posted by Speed McAndrew on February 15, 2015 14:13


If anyone ever had doubts before, surely it is now crystal clear that the wishes, needs and hopes of tourists are of no interest or importance whatsoever to local authorities.

Go ahead and kill the tourism on Phuket. What will you be left with ?

This must be the TAT Thainess campaign at it's best.

Posted by Herbert on February 15, 2015 14:33


"Tourists will not be arrested or fined, the vice admiral said, ..." So how is it going to be enforced?! Will the police forcibly remove the chair on which a tourist is sitting?

Posted by Tom on February 15, 2015 14:44

Editor Comment:

It appears so.


"At most public beaches around the world, swimmers are allowed to bring their own umbrellas, chairs and sunbeds. Private hirers and vendors are banned. "
. Private hirers and vendors are not banned in France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus and other Mediterranean countries and those on the Adriatic Coast and Black Sea. We've also rented sun beds an umbrellas in the Caribbean and Florida where they were not provided free of charge by the resort or the beach restaurant/bar. Which countries actually do ban them?

Posted by Alan on February 15, 2015 14:45

Editor Comment:

The beaches you frequent are clearly not the best.


I live near Patong Beach and every day I see a lots of people, mostly elderly, carrying their beach chairs to and from the beach.

I feel sorry for them becuase they are old and it is not easy for them to carry two beach chairs from the hotel to the beach and back again.

Now they are made criminals if they continue to do so.

Why should those people ever come back to Phuket again?
They will never, and thier friends and relatives will also never come here again.

There are many other places in the world to go for holiday that does not have this kind of stupid rules.

I hear from friends that in the rest of Thailand there is not this kind stupid rules. Only on Phuket.
On other places they have beach chairs, umbrellas but no jet skis.

Posted by PhuketFriendly on February 15, 2015 15:00


I think I'll change my pseudonym from Logic to 'Baffled'.

Every other article shows a change of policy from the Thai authorities.

Posted by Logic on February 15, 2015 15:24


The Royal navy has give a exemption to Bang Tao beach, over there seems to be a pilot project going on some time that allows thai beach vendors to have day and night beach chairs again. I am surprised. Why they not publish that?

Posted by Kurt on February 15, 2015 15:41


Ed Sanders: This is not Thailand, this is Phuket. If you need a nice beach holiday with service you can just go to Cha Am or elsewhere. There the world is still in order.

Posted by Bob Reader on February 15, 2015 15:44


Yes good point made below, a beach chair never resulted in a fatality. And probably no one has ever had a gun pointed in their face over claims of damage to a beach chair. Now can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street?

Posted by geoff on February 15, 2015 15:48


What country is this? In Bang Tao beach are the beach chairs back 24 hours a day .

Posted by Kurt on February 15, 2015 15:57


I didn't think Phuket could become more of a laughing stock the world over. I was wrong.

Posted by Smithy on February 15, 2015 16:23


today i and other ex-pats witnessed 2 thai umbrella renters at nai harn move the stakes closer to the water so they had more room for their rented umbrellas.they are allowed 30 umbrellas for each concession but 1 umbrella renter told me with a smile that he has 35 rented out.this was at 2 pm sunday afternoon.

Posted by Anonymous on February 15, 2015 16:38


If it was not such a disaster for employment and business, then this is the funniest farce, which has been in the local media for a long time.

Posted by Sherlock on February 15, 2015 16:40


I stand corrected Bob Reader, certainly the foolishness is headquartered here in Phuket... and I can't speak for other parts of Thailand. In any case, this nonsense is going to hurt Thailand, since Phuket is a major segment of tourism. Additionally, I'm not so sure that I can wholeheartedly agree with the idea that the world is in order.

Posted by Ed Sanders on February 15, 2015 17:05


"No one has ever died from a beach chair!"

After the tsunami the existing beach chairs, the heavy wooden ones, were banned due to a too great risk. Because apparently they did kill people in the 2004 tsunami.

Posted by stevenl on February 15, 2015 17:12


Next week no smoking on the Beach, next month no tourists. Whats next?
They don't like tourists but do they realize that tourists are bringing a lot of money to the country?

Posted by koen on February 15, 2015 17:41


We have been in Patong the last 7 year and live here 6 weeks but t'his year its the last. Never more patong
What about the hotel and shops next year when tourists not come ??

Posted by ??ge on February 15, 2015 17:58


Maybe this is a deliberate plan to clear the European out of Phuket to make more room for the Chinese?

Posted by Mango Man on February 15, 2015 18:20

Editor Comment:

Chinese tourists don't spend time on the beaches and don't spend much money there, except for the odd parasail or jet-ski ride.


This video is a BIG SHAME for Patong, its a BIG SHAME for Phuket and its a BIG SHAME for Thailand.

People are paying big money to come from far away to spend their holidays and to spend their money here.

What happends to them is that they get "attacked" by the police when enyojing a day at the beach because they have brought their own beach chairs.

At the same day there are hundreds of "locals" breaking the rules by parking tuk tuks or green plated taxis or bikes for rent in places where it is not allowed, and police do nothing about that.


The tourists can go somewhere else next year. But the thai people is stucked here.

Posted by PhuketFriendly on February 15, 2015 18:42


Not sustainable.

Anyone want to bet how long this will last?

I bet 1 week.

It simply looks and feels wrong:

You have these police officers dressed in full black, with guns in their holsters, ordering little old ladies with backaches to take their chair off the beach and sit on the ground.

Arguments inevitably ensue, people are angry... and the image of Thailand is harmed gravely yet again.

Sad situation, that it has come to this.

Posted by J on February 15, 2015 18:43


"After the tsunami the existing beach chairs, the heavy wooden ones, were banned due to a too great risk. Because apparently they did kill people in the 2004"

Thats true. That's why Mr. Udomsak Assawarangkul, former Phuket Provincial Governor, explicitly approved plastic chairs.

Posted by Janeeta on February 15, 2015 18:47

Editor Comment:

Most sunbeds cleared from Phuket's beaches were plastic. The heavy wooden ones were retained by a handful of five-star resorts who showed no indication that they were aware of the post-tsunami ruling.


I have seen less flips and flops from a fish out of water. Phuket maybe trying to be a fish dying as well, making less flips and flops. I think the powers that be are doing this on purpose?

Posted by Duncan B on February 15, 2015 18:55

Editor Comment:

The current strategy is to try suggestions and to change if necessary. However, the basic decision is between allowing commercial operations and banning them entirely. Attempts at compromises are unlikely to succeed.


Just another nail in the 'tourist coffin'....

Posted by DG on February 15, 2015 19:06


Ed writes: "At most public beaches around the world, swimmers are allowed to bring their own umbrellas, chairs and sunbeds. Private hirers and vendors are banned."

I dont agree. I have been at several different becahes in Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, France, Spain, Portugal, India and other countries. They all have beach chairs for rent and vendors serving cold beers, coke, coffee, beach food and similar things.

In some of these countries the beach chairs and umbrellas is even free of charge if you buy something from the vendor or the restaurant just beside the beach line where you are laying.

This is what most people want and this is how you are enjoying a nice holiday at the beach.
Not like in Phuket right now where you have to lay with no service on a math in the sand or by geting attacked by the police for bringing your own beach chair.

Posted by PhuketFriendly on February 15, 2015 19:31

Editor Comment:

I've never seen public beaches anywhere else in the world covered with umbrellas and sunbeds from the water to the foreshore, as on Phuket. None of the ''world's best'' beaches have umbrellas or vendors.


But Ed, the government has previously said that the Chinese are one of the few nations that "understand" Thailand. In return, the Chinese government has said that it admires Thailand.

One only has to look at many comments here to see that "rude" Europeans do not really appreciate "Thainess".

There is plenty of money to be made from Chinese tourists just not by Khun Som Chai and his family. Who cares if they go on the beach - "the times they are a changin".

Posted by Mango Man on February 15, 2015 19:58

Editor Comment:

No doors are closed to tourists from any part of the world but arrivals will fluctuate depending on the value of currencies and perceptions of whether one is welcome or not. Banning beach chairs sends a clear message to the Europeans who enjoy beach holidays. It means there will be fewer people spending money on or near Phuket's beaches next high season.



On Cyprus all sunbeds are rented out by municipality.
All F&B are at establishments behind the beach, not on the beach.

Same say with Spain, say Formentera is.

Posted by Sue on February 15, 2015 20:17


This really is too bad. I actually thought for a second that common sense was going to prevail for a change. On Friday... all chairs were banned and tourists would be arrested... and nobody could believe the nonsense. Then on Saturday, the Navy said "no...we will tell the police that people can bring their own chair, and people were saying "whew, finally a rational decision"... then today, the bombshell confirming that people can't bring a chair to the beach, confirming that foolishness reigns supreme on Phuket. But... I am confident that the nonsense will continue, and officials we see that their latest ploy was just plain stupid. Hopefully some day, the NCPO will recognize that Thai police cannot do their jobs by arresting illegal vendors, and will deploy Army and Navy personnel to restore law and order to Phuket.

Posted by Ed Sanders on February 15, 2015 21:19


This is looking more and more like the "quality tourists" they keep talking about does not include westerners.

I can not imagine my elderly parents sitting on a mat on the ground for one second. Not going to happen.

Posted by BigP on February 15, 2015 21:22


So, the police cant spare two officers to stop buses and trucks going over the hill at peak times, but they can send armed police to the beach to kick little old ladies off beach chairs.

Did I miss something here???

Posted by Amazing Thailand on February 15, 2015 22:37


If you have already seen the negative publicity in Europe about everything that happens in Phuket do not be surprised shortfall for ALL Thais next year. The behavior is incomprehensible to any of everyone.

Posted by Manu on February 15, 2015 23:40


I thought Phuket is an holiday island? If it is, then why are the police and government doing all they can to make things uncomfortable for tourists? You just have to look around to see how fewer people are in phuket this high season, due to the military coup and all this sunbed and umbrella madness. Next high season will be a lot lower than this with all the restrictions placed on trying to enjoy a day at the beach! Earlier this month it was reported that the tourist minister wanted to attract the "silver" tourists, meaning older tourists'. If this is true, then don't they realise that for an old person it is very hard to sit on the sand and get up again. They need a chair! But i suppose common sense will not prevail here until the whole of phuket is losing millions of baht due to loss of tourism. Well, at least Cambodia, Vietnam or malaysia will be happy with the increase in tourism!

Posted by Mr Wolf on February 16, 2015 00:28


Still the law was made that private enterprise is not allowed on the beach, but why are the Jetski's still there?

Can no one answer this or is everyone running scared of the "powers that be" on this doomed island?

Posted by Tbs on February 16, 2015 00:31


I will really consider to live in another country right now. We work with tourists and i got questions every day about the chairs. Sorry to say, but 20-40% will not return next year. I have asked them.

Posted by Peter on February 16, 2015 01:23


hi ed i think everything has been covered but the reality of it is as i have said before you give the vendors an inch and they take a was happening with the umbrellas and mats so as the high season comes to a close, ban them now in the hope that the vendors will look elsewhere for work..and smoking is banned on our beaches now

Posted by bondi on February 16, 2015 06:32


Australians seem to be happy with no chairs on their beaches in QLD!

Posted by Festy Farang on February 16, 2015 12:07


@ bondi - smoking is certainly not banned on the beach. Try to lay down in the waterfront and you will be surprised of how power full the gasoline fumes from the jet-skis are.

A lot of people apparently like the idea of that the population of Phuket's westcoast "will look elsewhere for work". This attitude might come from lack of understanding of the situration. If that's not the case, then it's a pure wish about destroying local soceity, which is not very nice.

Posted by Sherlock on February 16, 2015 17:00

Editor Comment:

I am fairly confident in saying only a small percentage of beach workers are Phuket people. Most are from other provinces or Burma.


@ Ed - only a small percentage of the entire population at Phuket's west coast are Phuket people.

Most are from other provinces or countries. But does that justify the attitude that they can just look elsewhere for work?

Many have been living here for decades and invested all what they have in business', sentenced to death now, because of useless planning and the "all locals deserve what they get" attitude.

Posted by Sherlock on February 16, 2015 18:08

Editor Comment:

Thailand has one of the lowest rates of unemployment in the world. Yes, jobs are everywhere. What many people want is an easy life . . .


The beaches are not there for layabouts to sit like they are in their loungroom and take up space so others can't enjoy the environment .
If you don't like it go somewhere else . Others will take your place .The beaches are for everyone not for a few who want everything built around them .

Posted by P win on February 16, 2015 18:54

Editor Comment:

''Others will take your place.'' Spoken like a true taxi or tuk-tuk driver, or a beach vendor, or a Patong tout. But these days, it's no longer true.


If someone looks too comfortable using their back pack for a head rest will they be chased off too?

Posted by mike on February 16, 2015 23:12



Technically jet-skis are not on the beach, but in the water, so beach's rules doesn't apply - that logic was smth. like that..

Posted by Sue on February 17, 2015 00:35


sherlock sorry i meant that smoking is banned here in sydney on the beaches.and yes i saw a vendor filling up his machine on the shoreline in jan

Posted by bondi on February 17, 2015 05:01


@Feisty Farang. I live on the Gold Coast and yes there is no chairs to rent. But on any given day thousands of people arrive with chairs and umbrellas. Most older people can not stay on a beach for long without a chair. I understand why the loungers were banned, and can live with that, but I for one will struggle to spend much time on a beach without a chair due to back and knee issues. I spend a day travelling to and from Phuket, from the Gold Coast as I love it, just hard to imagine not even being allowed to sit on a chair at all. I am not alone, I believe last year 300,000 Australians visited Phuket, a not insignificant amount of tourists. If the police can not tell the difference between people's own chairs and rented ones then there really is a problem. You just really have to wonder what is going on here. I have never seen anything this random, there must be an ulterior motive at play. Legal 1 day, not the next, and then Ok again the next, then finally no again. Just hope they get something sorted before tourism is affected really badly. It is not the banning of the loungers that will kill tourism, it is the nonsense around it, and the inconsistency with jet skis etc..

Posted by Davemc60 on February 17, 2015 05:02


@SteveNL @ Janeeta,
I knew that was coming as soon as I hit submit. People died because of the Tsunami. Then you could say everything that as in the water killed people. Geez. Not comparable to Jetskis killing people nearly monthly.

@Herbert.. LOL TAT Thainess campaign.

Honestly will we ever know what dark forces area really pulling the stings of all the puppets?

Posted by Vfaye on February 17, 2015 09:36


News Update!!! Any tourist who brings a chair, accompanied with an extremely dangerous Umbrella, will be shot on sight! Someone should make a soap opera of all this, it would make a great comedy show.

Posted by Mr Wolf on February 17, 2015 12:09


The "Editor" has to accept or refuse the comments but should NOT take the right to comment with his own point of view after the comments has been edited. Any student in journalism knows that !

Posted by Dennis on February 17, 2015 15:39

Editor Comment:

Journalism is what occurs in the articles, Dennis. Your comment shows an ignorance of what constitutes opinion. My opinions on most topics are reasonably valuable because I have some knowledge of what I am writing about. Yours? Well, I need to be convinced even more now.


We are both old age pensioners and my wife as had 2 new hips , we like the beach but how can she enjoy the beach without a chair for it's impossible for her to get on a beach mat , as this been thought through properly

Posted by Michael davies on February 18, 2015 13:57


What a disgrace. The video shows police harassment of the elderly tourists for the almighty sin of sitting on their own beach chair. This is not the Phuket I have visited over the past 3 years spending my own hard earned money. This is a shameful look for Phuket. I feel very sorry for you all. Not a good look.

Posted by Deb on February 21, 2015 11:53


I m coming to Phuket with my family each year for the last 13years But the new rules I don't think so I will come any more Just come back 3 days ago and we didint laiked .Thailand change imige Bankok without markets on the streets is no Bankok any more Beter go to Vietnam Thailant will loss a lot As I come 4 times a year to Bangkok as well Will wait till military gone andmaybe all will back to normal

Posted by Petr on February 28, 2015 10:36


Thanks readers! Your comments were more funny than Robin Williams ever was!

And Robin was very funny!


Sore jaw

Posted by farang888 on February 28, 2015 23:04


This new policy is monumental in its stupidity. You now pay twice as much to rent half as much - no bed, but you can rent the mat that used to go on the bed. Only one umbrella though. As for food an drink options - severely curtailed and forget a massage at your favourite spot - you have to trek to a special area under a long tent for that.
Patong Beach is now the domain of jet-skis and power boats without a doubt. Yesterday I stopped counting at 50'jetskis. There would've been at least 20 speedboats.
The beach cleanup has produced an epic fail of massive proportions. Vendors are supposed to leave the beach each day taking all their material with them. But the same umbrellas are stacked and stored under the same trees, the mats piled and stored under the same trees, little piles of vendors storage boxes stored under the same trees except now it's all haphazard.

Numbers on the beach are down substantially and those tourists that do wander onto the beach look around aimlessly as if to think 'wtf is going on here?' Hundreds of mounds of sand litter the beach as enterprising vendors attempt to make the mats more comfortable. Ramshackle collections of chairs of varying description line the roadside and under trees ready to sell or rent.
All the beaches in Phuket had built up decades of community and social exchange with the beach loungers and vendors - all destroyed, taken away but knee-jerk bureaucratic response to organised crime - but here's the thing - corruption does not start and finish with beach loungers in Phuket but with this appallingly shortsighted decision Thai authorities have destroyed the most harmless aspect of a thriving cash economy that has brought hundreds of thousands of visitors to the island.

Goals of creating clean beaches and pristine environments are shattered by the continued presence of powered water sports and the hundreds of sand-mounds dotting the beaches - quite frankly it looks like a sh*tfight. I get the 'clean up corruption' angle but all that is bad about the 'old phuket' is still there and probably worse than ever - sex shows, ping pong shows, cheap drinks and boozey night clubs, drugged animals on display for photographs etc.

Corruption is a Thai problem and the Thai's have to fix it - it's endemic, it's systemised and its entrenched - you've only got to,look at Patong Beach and see the busiest part is in front of a certain hotel to realise that vested interests are still being looked after.
When I walk along the beach the thing I notice is the ice-cream vendors. For at least 15 years these men and women have been selling ice cream in their coloured vests each one numbered. Surely if the local authorities can regulate ice cream they can come up with a better solution to the farce that is Patong Beach.

Posted by nick on April 21, 2015 10:00

Friday June 21, 2024
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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