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Death bed: What's killing Phuket's Kamala beach? Greed and commerce

RIP Phuket Beaches: Photo Album Laments Kamala's Horrible Death

Sunday, November 20, 2011
News Analysis: Warning, Graphic Photo Album Above

PHUKET: We are sad to report the impending death of Kamala beach. Once one of the finest of Phuket's many good beaches, it is expiring now beneath the restaurants, the bars, the massage tables, and the giant five-star resort double beds.

There was a time not long ago when Phuket enjoyed the reputation for being a tropical holiday island with some glorious places to swim. Phuket was up there.

But lists of the world's best beaches no longer include any from Phuket. And that will never change now.

Why is that so? A walk along Kamala beach yesterday afternoon provided the answer.

Gone is the striking first sight of a beautiful stretch of barely-touched sand. Gone is the vision of loveliness and nature.

And now? As the photo album above shows, the death of Kamala is almost complete.

Covered by tables and chairs and sun loungers, buttressed by sandbags to make surfaces flatter for more commerce, Kamala is no longer a place that any lover of nature would wish to go.

The five-star resort, with its huge double beds and white beach bar, is kidding itself. The future here is not going to be five-star.

Once-beautiful Kamala will become more tacky and gaudy as commerce encroaches further across what's left of the sand, towards the sea.

The turtles, of course, have long gone. If the small beach crabs still scuttle about, we didn't see any.

Will the despoilation grow worse as this high season climbs towards the Christmas-New Year peak and delivers more customers? Yes.

Will there be more hotels, resorts and guesthouses opening around Kamala before the next high season? Naturally.

Except there is nothing about this greed and selfishness that takes account of nature.

Nature is, like the tourists who love it, disappearing from Kamala and from most of the other Phuket beaches that were once treasures of their kind.

Only a single-minded approach by authorities can save Kamala now, and we fear help is not likely to arrive anytime soon.

The pulse of Kamala is all commerce now, and beating stronger.

A few minutes later, a little further north of Kamala at Bang Tao beach, we came across a family scooping up the sand outside their beach restaurant to make a flat surface. That will enable them to extend their business closer to the sea.

Nobody plans to stop them. Nobody will stop them. First Kamala, then Surin, Laem Sing, Bang Tao . . .

Those who love Phuket's beaches can only despair and, like the quality tourists Phuket actually needs, move on.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Well written and 100% the truth!
Greed seems to overpower common sense and logic!
How can a five-star resort do as seen on those pictures? How can this or those hotels get approval to do what they are doing at Kamala and other beaches?

Me and and I am sure many others truly hope and dream that the newly elected local administrations at Kamala and Cherngtalay will show a more responsible approach@

Thank you Phuketwan for writing about this issue!

Posted by Mr. K on November 20, 2011 11:46


Beaches at Racha Yai Island got the same problem.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on November 20, 2011 12:20


Great article...and a reminder as to the direction this island is heading

Posted by sky on November 20, 2011 13:49


Look at Patong Beach and the construction in front of Patong Bay Garden. Any questions?

Posted by Fritz Pinguin on November 20, 2011 15:13


In Krabi everything is still natural sand, Klong Muang beach has 3 major hotels and not a single sun lounger, restaurant or even peddler is allowed on the beach, but best of all Jet Skis are illegal!
If you've had enough of Phuket, cancel you holiday there and head to Krabi instead.

Posted by Anonymous on November 20, 2011 15:41


You paved paradise and put up a parking lot.

These resorts won't have to worry, nobody is ever going to stop them... but once tourism dries up, and we're beginning to see that, maybe, just maybe they'll think differently. By that time of course there will be no tourists and their multi-million dollar resort won't be worth anything.

Reap what you sow... RIP Phuket - the coffin lid already has a number of nails in it and it won't be long before you can just lay the corpse of Phuket to rest.

Posted by Graham on November 20, 2011 17:18


It seems that the powers that be not only fail to look to the future but also ignore the past.
Many were killed in the Tsunami due to blows to the head and body from the debris. It was said that all wooden/heavy objects would not be allowed on the beach again,how hollow their words are. Nothing is ever taken seriously, it's really sad.

God forbid it should ever happen again - there will be no excuse for anyone!

Posted by G Horne on November 20, 2011 18:32


Nature will restore the beauty of Phuket's beaches one day, as it did in 2004. FACT!

Posted by agogohome on November 20, 2011 18:37


And what exactly will the people, if there are any, do, strolling along the idyllic natural beach?

I go to Kamala Beach every day. In low season, there are no bars or restaurants, only a filthy beach; all the rubbish is picked up by the people running their beach enterprises.

Yes, do go to Krabi, and be bored to death.

Posted by Patrick on November 20, 2011 20:07


And what exactly will the people, if there are any, do, strolling along the idyllic natural beach?

I go to Kamala Beach every day. In low season, there are no bars or restaurants, only a filthy beach; all the rubbish is picked up by the people running their beach enterprises.

Yes, do go to Krabi, and be bored to death.

In fact, I'd go further and state that this article is nonsense.

What does Phuketwan expect people to do on beaches? Come, look, take a few pictures and leave?

If the beach is to be used, people need food, drink and a place to rest.

How are they provided in the picture postcard world of Phuketwan?

Posted by Patrick on November 20, 2011 20:32

Editor Comment:

Look at other Phuket beaches for your answer, Patrick - back off the sand. Picture postcards are what brings tourists to Phuket, not beaches buried and unseen beneath blatant greed and commercialism.


Its high season, locals need to make money, get over it.. yes it was pristine 25 years ago but things change. It would be boring without the restaurants and shops, why do people bother staying here if they don't like it!!!

Posted by poppops on November 20, 2011 21:07

Editor Comment:

Tell that to beach holiday destinations around the world where the tourists no longer come, poppops. The beauty that drew them there in the first place has been destroyed. You'd have to be a bit thick to not realise that a long-lasting holiday destination gives tourists what they deserve, not what they want. Kamala beach is only half-there, and going under fast.


Don't worry.. soon the smell of the waste waters going to the sea without any treatments from everywhere in the island will desert all the beaches. And umbrellas, beds, massages etc will be so useless that will disappears by themselves..

Posted by Dave on November 20, 2011 21:18


Most beaches have reached the end of the road. The only tourists are the newbies who don't know any different but given the same treatment as the previous plane load, they will have their answer.

Posted by william Dale on November 20, 2011 21:24


I lived in Kamala in the old days and it was simply fantastic. The beach was beautiful and unspoilt. Only a narrow two-way road to Patong and a handful of shops. Food was cheap and so were the places to stay. People were very friendly and the atmosphere was just so relaxed. No pressure, and even day was a joy. Then came commercialization that spoilt all that. Four lane road carved into this place & traffic lights IMHO killed Kamala. More shops and more bars. Prices went sky-high and the atmosphere completely changed. What a shame ! and what a waste. If this is progress then you can keep it. Thailand was an escape from all the pressures of the west, but actually it's now the same if not worse. So with regret I left the place that I loved so much. This was my image of Thailand, and now no more. Very sad !

Posted by reader on November 20, 2011 22:23


Why not go one step further in your reporting and interview the officials who are supposed to be "controlling" the exploitation of the beach? Why not ask them what they plan to do?

Posted by Tom on November 21, 2011 09:25

Editor Comment:


So, Kamala beach has a lot of people on it, wanting to eat, drink and lie down in comfort.

However, the beach was much better in the olde days when there were no people and no facilities, but it made a great photo.

What nonsense.

There are plenty of beaches even in Phuket with no people, and tourists wanting that can go there.

Up to them.

As for the so called progress in Karon, this would not have anything to do with Centara wanting their guests to eat in the expensive hotel restaurant, rather than on the beach, would it?

And if Phuketwan actually knew anything about Kamala, he would know that it is not possible to create facilities off the sand for much of the beach, as it is bordered by the cemetery.

Posted by Patrick on November 21, 2011 10:03



Did you ever even go to Krabi/Aonang? I've been there many times, and in the high season it's absolutely packed with beach lovers, people who enjoy spreading their towel in the sand, go for a swim, take a stroll or just relax. You make it sound like Krabi is totally deserted and is an economic catastrophe, with no tourists. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Posted by christian on November 21, 2011 12:04


Couldn't agree more! Great article, but perhaps a few years late.

Posted by Kel on November 21, 2011 14:30


'Did you ever even go to Krabi/Aonang? I've been there many times, and in the high season it's absolutely packed with beach lovers, people who enjoy spreading their towel in the sand, go for a swim, take a stroll or just relax. You make it sound like Krabi is totally deserted and is an economic catastrophe, with no tourists. Nothing could be further from the truth.'

I have been there, as I have to practically every beach area in Thailand, and come straight back.

Boring big hotels with boring people who like big hotels.

Posted by Patrick on November 21, 2011 20:16



What you personally find boring has got nothing to do with it. You imply that without the beach lawlessness there will be terrible economic consequences, because people will not come unless there are restaurants right on the beach, which is just not true. The tourism sector in Krabi/Aonang is not suffering at all, but is gaining a reputation for not having jet skies and for not letting the beaches become degraded. Even if you think it's "boring".
Besides, are you telling me that there are no large hotels in Phuket compared to Krabi?

Posted by christian on November 22, 2011 06:23


It's called the red neck's greed. No respect for nature to make few bahts more in the short period. More vendors and more aggressivity in order to profit from the beach. What they want is that the tourist never stop shopping or drinking or having sex or whatever because they have to work out the money from the farang. Rudeness has replaced thainess. Forget relax and beauty, that is what is left. Crowds of tourists are to blame first where lawlessness exists.

Posted by carle on November 22, 2011 11:00


What's the point of moderating comments, putting them up and then taking them down?

Posted by Patrick on November 23, 2011 19:13

Editor Comment:


Sounds to me like Patrick's had too many beers before hitting the Submit key. Either that or he's just a troll, deliberately posting nonsense to wind people up. Very sad.

Posted by agogohome on November 24, 2011 17:49


Last time I went to kamala beach was low season about two years ago, it was dead quiet and a little depressing, seeing the pics i might go back now..

Posted by J on November 29, 2011 18:44

Editor Comment:

Now it's hard to see the sand or the water, and extremely depressing. Please send us your snaps.


Phukets beach of the year 2009 (?) in Khao Lak is now used for business, with loungers, restaurants etc. At White Sand Beach it is starting, too. Here the five-star started it and the locals followed.

Posted by Lena on November 29, 2011 20:24

Editor Comment:

Tragic for everybody if the hoteliers of Phang Nga and Krabi don't realise their future rests with keeping everything natural. Perhaps greed and selfishness are the prime forces of (human) nature. Even good people will find excuses.



I have live in Kamala for 10 years.

I have watched in horror the change from a tropical paradise.

To some thing that resembles a location from slumdog millionaire.

Forests of umbrellas tacky shacks , cafes, snack bars, Massage ladies.

Now on the north end of the beach a new hotel under construction, how is this possible?

In places its not possible to see the ocean from the promenade.

A drive along Kamala headland illegal villas for the super rich block any view of the ocean for 500 meters, and more on the way.

The road from Kamala to Patong again whole sections of the coast road under development excluding any view of the ocean.

Dirt roads scar the once pristine forest.

Coupled with the tuck tuck Mafia and the unofficial taxi m***a. Jet Ski m****,

Then we have the Falang Price Thai pricing.

Unruly local youth and tourists performing wheelies on motor cycles on the 6 lane main road " The Fantasy Highway" through the centre of the village.

Scarcely a month passes with out a death on this stretch of road.

All to quell the incessant greed of the local population.

The tranquil days of buffalo strolling on the beach are long passed.

That's only my small once love corner on Phuket.

When will the government wake up.

Perhaps they should take a look at places like the concert jungles resort towns of Spain, to see what the future hold for Phuket.

Thank fully I have a choice.

Cambodia here I come.

Posted by dub on March 7, 2012 12:53


So sad to read this article. Me and my partner were sadly in Kamala before and as the Tsunami struck in 2004. It was a stunning beach with the only "Commercial activity" being small shacks with friendly locals and a great atmosphere! I believe post Tsunami the people with money have replaced the character and local vibe with what you read about here.Very sad!!!

Posted by RN on September 21, 2012 23:08


Just in case any "official" reads this...I own a villa in Laguna...if Bang Tao and the Layan go the way of Kamala I can tell you that the real estate market at the high end is finished. I will be selling and moving on to what Phuket is not! Many of us had hoped that some honesty in the government would avoid a repeat of the Patong disgrace moving north on the west coast...apparently the wrong people are still firmly in control!!!!!

Posted by David on November 6, 2012 19:08


Good article and oh so true!

I'm adding this comment from my base in Myanmar. Since 2002, I've built and managed several small hotels near NaiYang Beach, and I still own 2 such hotels.

But I can see the writing on the wall for Phuket, and it spells disaster for any hotel owner who thinks that the tourists will keep coming to an island where the golden beaches have been methodically destroyed by greed.

Since early this year, Ive been living and working in Myanmar, and my plan to sell up in Phuket and relocate to Myanmar is gradually coming to fruition.

I've lived and worked in Phuket for 10 years, and the rapid decline in western tourists spells out the future for Phuket. If you think that Chinese tourists will be the saviour for Phuket, then think again. They will soon be flocking to Myanmar to enjoy the pristine and unspoilt beaches.

Simon Luttrell

Posted by Simon Luttrell on November 6, 2012 20:31

Friday June 21, 2024
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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