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What's the fuss?  One of several beach umbrellas on Patong beach today

Patong Can Join World's Great Public Beaches

Sunday, November 23, 2014
PHUKET: Personal beach umbrellas bloomed along Patong beach today with no sign that there was any kind of ban on tourists bringing them, if that's what they wanted to do.

Only a confused or deceived Phuket administration would think about banning them, even temporarily. Just another tabloid beat-up.

The first of the ''swimmers only'' protection zones also appeared to be in operation today.

The buoy barriers functioned well at the southern end of the beach, although the jet-ski zones seemed to be larger than needed.

To stroll along Patong beach is now a delight, free from masses of sunbeds and umbrellas that destroyed the magic.

The beach now has a vitality that will eventually put it in the same category as Bondi in Sydney and the Copacabana in Rio - provided the sunbeds don't come back.

Phuket appears to be perfectly placed to make a legitimate bid for the first World Beach Games.

The Fourth Asian Beach Games, which conclude tonight, seem to have been a wild success.

Some of the Phuket people now have a much better idea of international standards. although feedback about the taxis and tuk-tuks and their fares was abysmal - as it deserves to be.

The fares charged on Phuket are an international outrage.

We did hear from Bangkok people that they thought the service was great, but that it stopped once they left their resort. From then on, they said, Patong was all about the money.

Phuket must now prove it can learn its lesson. Perhaps the jet-skis can be corralled - the parasailers definitely can't be, and must go.

There is no sensible argument for the return of even a small number of sunbeds. Phuket's beaches look magnificent without them.

Clearly, enforcement remains an issue. Vendors could be seen in vast numbers on Patong beach today.

And the umbrellas brought by beachlovers? They must be allowed to stay. All the great beaches of the world allow people to bring them.

Every single mayor Phuketwan has spoken to this week - and we've spoken to all of the mayors who oversee west coast beaches - says they don't have a problem with tourists bringing their own umbrellas.

The rumor that they have been ''banned'' appears to have been widely spread. But there is no law against bringing them.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Phuket on a par with Rio or Bondi - what a ridiculous comparison. Mind you Rio does have its unreported crime and rip-offs as well so maybe there is some credence to your report.

Posted by Mister Ree on November 23, 2014 13:03

Editor Comment:

You really do have it in for Phuket, don't you? When I lived in Bondi, I was threatened by a man with a speargun. I suspect there's still much more violent crime in Sydney than there is in Phuket. Doomsayers add no value.


Patong's not even the best beach in Phuket so how can it be even considered to be worthy of the accolade suggested in your headline?

Posted by madmitch on November 23, 2014 13:04

Editor Comment:

''World's Great Public Beaches'' is a different category to best or most beautiful. Think about it. Beaches where there's lots of life and activity create their own charm and appeal. That's Patong's future - unless the sunbeds kill it all again.


the key word in the title to this article is "can"...those are a couple of many top class beaches in this world that you are implying Patong has a shot at being compared to....Can it?....anything is possible I guess, but Patong has a lot of work ahead of itself if it thinks it can be placed up high in the ranks of world's great public beaches.

Posted by sky on November 23, 2014 13:08

Editor Comment:

It's a pleasure to wander Patong beach and people-watch. That's what makes a great public beach, activity and life at every step. The sunbed hedonism? That's all about the selfishness of a few layabouts and the privateers who pander to them.


The Beach may look better, but did you notice the hundreds of tuktuks still parked in red/white zones, which were supposedly removed not so long ago?

Any follow up with the people in charge as to why they are allowed back?

Posted by Tbs on November 23, 2014 13:38


This all depends on the definition of Great Beaches. If you drive from Cairns to Port Douglas in Far North Queensland, Australia there are some of the most beautiful beaches, sure no people (it is FNQ) no food, no rubbish, no crime but then it all depends if you want to get away from it all for a few hours. You can be back in Cairns within an hour which has an international airport. Scenery is fantastic with small temporary channels several meters wide of water during low tide in the sand. I lived up there and loved that drive.

Posted by Feisty Farang on November 23, 2014 14:51

Editor Comment:

The headline says ''World's Great Public Beaches.'' Doesn't FNQ has a problem with box jellyfish and irikanjis? It's assumed that people must be able to swim. Kuta is another in this category. I guess they're all urban beaches. The beaches you are talking about are in another category.


One major advantage Phuket has compared to Rio and Bondi is for snorkeling, even in a meter of water you can see lovely fish coral fish on all the West coast beaches near the rocks.

Posted by Feisty Farang on November 23, 2014 15:16


Next season the sunbeds at the beaches will probably not come back if we can believe the phuketwan but a lot of tourists also will not come back and the beaches will be more idyllic to walk with more locals loosing there income.Do Phuket people want this, I don t think.

Posted by Eric on November 23, 2014 15:30

Editor Comment:

The lotus-eating layabouts will quickly be replaced by a new generation who understand that beaches are made to be enjoyed. The only Phuket people who want the sunbeds back are the few who made illegal income from the public space. The vast majority are delighted to have their beaches back. Tourism won't miss a beat. It's all win-win. By high season 2015-16, Phuket will be booming.


You are absolutely spot on with your headline ED .
Patong Kata Karon are all miles ahead of Bondi, for a start most of the year the water is far too cold to swim in on Bondi beach. Phuket has constant warm water all year round. The beaches look perfect at the moment. Let's hope they keep them umbrella and sunbed free.

Posted by Tony Kenny on November 23, 2014 15:45


Sunbeds are gone, face the music or stay in Haparanda and freeze!

Posted by Sam on November 23, 2014 17:24


Loving the " new" beach at patong, not loving the moaning wingers that still expect an immediate miracle. Enjoy the beach!

Posted by Gain phuket on November 23, 2014 17:34


Their only one way patong beach will ever make one of the best public beaches in the world remove the jet ski that pollute the beach remove the parasale then it might be possible its a lovely beach but untill something is done theres no way.

Posted by Reg on November 23, 2014 18:34


Hope you are right, about ALL the mayors saying that private umbrellas are allowed. I like to believe it. Your report is diametrically opposed to what the xxxxx reports, and who insists that their record is correct as opposed to yours

Posted by Guenter Bellach on November 23, 2014 19:43

Editor Comment:

Our reporters have double-checked with all the mayors and the vice governor. We can't vouch for what the governor has had to say in the past couple of days, but if there was an important announcement to be made about new laws banning private umbrellas, we believe the governor would inform all media. Phuket would become an international laughing stock if people couldn't bring their own umbrellas.


Havong been to all three I would have to say No, but they could learn something from both of those countries how to control a beach

Posted by Michael on November 23, 2014 21:59


I agree that the beaches are more beautiful now without sunbeds and umbrellas.
But the fact is that most of the "quality tourists" that are so much wanted in Phuket, wants sunbeds and umbrellas. Especially families with children and elderly people.

There are a lots of (smaller) beaches around Phuket where people can enjoy a day in the sun without umbrellas and sunchairs, but the biggest public beaches like Kamala, Patong, Kata, Karon must have umbrellas and sunchairs simply because tourists needs it. And the tourists are the ones that makes this island go around.

Posted by PhuketFriendly on November 24, 2014 00:29

Editor Comment:

Two decades of misuse of the beaches have persuaded the sunbed addicts that they can't visit a beach without a sunbed, PF. It's a bad habit, worth breaking. Within 12 months, the bad years of sunbeds and privatisation of public space will be forgotten.


"Two decades of misuse of the beaches have persuaded the sunbed addicts that they can't visit a beach without a sunbed, PF. It's a bad habit, worth breaking. Within 12 months, the bad years of sunbeds and privatisation of public space will be forgotten."

I dont think its a bad habit at all, Mr. Editor. Its just that a lots of people cant stay in the sun without geting burned very quickly.
They need an umbrella. If Phuket cant provide them with an umbrella, there are plenty of other places in the world that can.

Maybe the sunbeds will be forgotten within 12 months, but Im afraid not in the way that you wish.

I also dont want the "black market" sunbeds back, it should be managed by the community and the money earned should be used to improve cleaning, safety guards etc. This cant be a completely impossible task!

Posted by PhuketFriendly on November 24, 2014 08:31

Editor Comment:

Anyone who saw the way the sunbed and umbrella business grew from acceptable levels to a massive invasion that covered some of Phuket best beaches can see that the ''bring back a few'' concept is unmanageable - and undesirable. The public beaches are for the public, not for those willing to pay and those willing to cheat.

Bring your own umbrella.


"Anyone who saw the way the sunbed and umbrella business grew from acceptable levels to a massive invasion that covered some of Phuket best beaches can see that the ''bring back a few'' concept is unmanageable..."

Normally, Mr. Editor, when other people are voicing this kind of views, you use to call them Doomsayers...

Even though it will not be an easy task, I think its not an impossible task to let sunbeds and umbrellas back in a reasonably orderly way.

Lets see who's right. I hope its me!

Posted by PhuketFriendly on November 24, 2014 12:08

Editor Comment:

Making provision of sunbeds and umbrellas legal in any way on Phuket's beaches would pervert the intention of the existing law, PF. It isn't likely to happen because, as I said, one row of sunbeds would quickly grow into 10.


I was born in Bondi and basically if you removed all the cars and people and cleaned both beaches of all rubbish , Patong would win hands down. Too much concrete at Bondi while Patong is still in a fairly natural state . If Patong removed the Jetskis and parasails and some of the trinket vendors , it would be a great beach. It was nice to relax there a couple of weeks ago and know that some woman will come along with cold drinks and food at any moment . Those people i dont mind being bothered by . And to have a massage under the trees is a bonus. I have lived in Byron Bay for years now. people love our beaches , but they would be so much better if the council would let people sell drinks and food to the sunworshippers. .....But the really great thing , no jetskis. Just the odd shark !

Posted by carvets on November 24, 2014 13:19


"But the fact is that most of the "quality tourists" that are so much wanted in Phuket, wants sunbeds and umbrellas."

On what basis do you state this as a fact?

Posted by stevenl on November 24, 2014 14:34

Editor Comment:

Increasing numbers of Chinese enjoy walking along the beach, love to go for a paddle, and wouldn't be able to do that so easily with the beach covered in sunbeds. Before long, middle-class Chinese with money to spend will be looking to do the same thing. Phuket's reinvention of itself is underway.


I wonder if the guy wearing blue bathers (swimming trunks) found what he was searching for? :-)

Posted by Hugh on November 24, 2014 15:59

Editor Comment:

His unlit cigar? I think so. He may have wondered whether it was still there.


"On what basis do you state this as a fact?"

On three observations that I have done:

1. In my work I get in touch with a lots of European tourists both on Phuket and people that have already booked a ticket to Phuket or are thinking about to do so. Most of them are mid-age couples, retired people or families with children or even big families with grand parents, parents and children.
The kind of people that usually brings pretty much money when going on holiday.

2. I have a lots of friends that are working in the tourist business in Phuket.

3. I read online forums and newspapers in my home country, about Phuket, to get a feeling about what people think about Phuket.

According to this, my absolute experience is that most of those people wants sunbeds and umbrellas.

They dont like, or cant, lay under the sun with no shadow directly at the sand.

Posted by PhuketFriendly on November 24, 2014 16:57


The pictures make me sad and angry.

I agree with Phuketfriendly. Keep on writing please.

Posted by Klaus on November 25, 2014 15:30


The last time i took a walk down the public walkway I nearly got run over by a local on a bike using it as a route. Have they banned bikes using this walkway ??

Posted by william on November 25, 2014 16:15

Editor Comment:

It's popular with motorcycles because the road is too crowded. And the road is one-way.


The buoy barriers functioned well at the southern end of the beach, although the jet-ski zones seemed to be larger than needed.
The jet ski mobs want to extend the zone to the Indian ocean they want it all.

Posted by slickmelb on November 26, 2014 21:58


I'm sorry but Patong beach rates as one of the worst beaches just purely on the quality of the water alone. Pure sewage as well as runoffs from the streets. Surin and Paradise beach's leaves Patong for dead. Mine is a genuine comment as I have been coming to Phuket since 1990 but would never put a foot in the water at Patong beach. Still love the place.

Posted by Malcolm Turner on December 15, 2014 13:57

Monday June 17, 2024
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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