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A starfish explains the simple plan for Phuket's beaches to Phuketwan

Two Simple Steps to Bring Back Tourists

Saturday, November 28, 2015
PHUKET: There's still time for Phuket's administrators to trash the foolish ''10 percent zone'' idea and go with a concept that actually works on the holiday island's beaches.

Unlike the people who came up with the compromise with commerce, Phuketwan has for many months been closely observing what happens on the magnificent beaches of the holiday island's west coast.

There are two points to this simple plan:

.. Let tourists bring their own umbrellas and beach chairs and sit where they choose, anywhere on the beaches - Surin, Nai Harn, Kamala, Karon Kata. Everywhere except Patong.

.. Provide the food and drink services the tourists need by licencing a small number of mobile vendors to continue doing what they have always done. As long as the vendors keep moving and there are not too many of them, there will be no complaints from sunbathers.

Enforcement by local authorities and police should be needed to get the plan going and it could be working well by the time the 2016-17 high season arrives.

This gives the marketing people time to create a ''new Phuket'' campaign to highlight the return of the holiday island to a more natural approach.

The great benefit of the military clearances last year has been that Phuket's world-class beaches can now all be seen again as splendid sandy arcs and strips that deserve to be widely appreciated.

Forget hiring umbrellas and mats. Let the tourists who want this kind of stuff bring their own, the way visitors to the best beaches around the world bring their own.

The ''10 percent zone'' idea was a well-meant compromise, but like all compromises on Phuket, it inevitably leads on to confusion then corruption.

Local mayors say there are no poor umbrella hirers, and we believe them. Keep hire umbrellas off the beach.

Ban them, just as sunbeds have already been banned.

Let the poorest vendors, the mobile salespeople, register and continue to make a living selling food and drink as they walk along the beaches.

We've seen this process in action at Phuket's beaches through good times and bad. It works. And it's far more efficient than forcing lounging tourists to go looking for food and drink.

The ''10 percent zone'' concept is well-intended but way wide of what tourists want, and what Phuket needs.

Get rid of it now, before it's too late.

Find another use for the ornate starfish and seahorses now being created to mark the ''10 percent zones.''

Keep the beaches 100 percent natural, let the tourists flop where they wish, and register a small number of mobile vendors to provide food and water, nothing else.

No sales for sunglasses, no time-share contractors, no jet-ski touts.

Patong is a basket case of a beach. Why? Because the jet-ski hirers and parasail operators have been permitted to take control.

The authorities will need to focus clearly on the biggest problem Patong now has - the inevitability of deaths and injuries of tourists.

The Governor and his team would be wise to remember the reason why the abandoned plan to phase out jet-skis on Phuket was implemented in the first place.

The reason: the number of deaths and injuries of tourists. The lesson has not been learned and we can see history repeating itself all too soon.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Totally agree. Never happen.

Posted by sid on November 28, 2015 09:59


Good and clear article.
Well, the 10% zoning was ment for the vendors, not for the tourists, they are free to sit where they want with their own beach gear. ( as the top Phuket police general said).
Practice the 10% zones , as expected, was already within 2 weeks time 'overstepped' by vendors at Surin Beach.
Proven already that 10% vendor zoning not works, unless you have 1 police officer at each 10% zone daily.

I heard that Surin Beach now wants to establish a tourist checking point at beach entrance ( to make sure that tourists understand the rules). What is all this? The unbelievable is dragging on and on.

Posted by Kurt on November 28, 2015 10:07


Excellent article.

Posted by Paul on November 28, 2015 11:01


Surin Beach entrance tourist check point ( check tourists and tell them what they are not allowed to do), and ornate starfish/seahorse boundary are not things what will work with foreign touists from Europe and Australia.
it is very funny.

Posted by Kurt on November 28, 2015 11:03


These are all reasonable recommendations. The problem is getting the vendors to follow the rules. That's impossible. Without rules enforcement, it all breaks down in a few days. The Phuket beaches look fantastic. What a wonderful improvement over the former parking lot for sunchairs.

Posted by Pinot on November 28, 2015 11:22

Editor Comment:

The vendors will walk the beaches anyway, whether they are allowed to or not. The authorities might as well go with the flow, and accept the inevitable. Control numbers and limiting sales to food and drink is easier than trying to stop them all.


IMO keeping the peddlers off the beach would add to a more peaceful experience. Saying Mai yo krap a hundred times a day isn't relaxing. Punters can walk a few meters off the beach to buy their cokes, sunglasses, flip flops, t-shirts, etc...

Posted by GiantFan on November 28, 2015 11:42

Editor Comment:

Keeping the peddlers off the beach is impossible, GF. This is based on wide observation. Restricted to food and drink, there are unlikely to be complaints. You may wish to go in search of your own supplies. This is not what most want. Flip-flops and t-shirts are not usually sold on beaches.
What we are suggestion is what will occur anyway: the authorities have the chance to pretend they ordained it.


I continue to agree with most of what PW/AM says but I will continue to disagree that the definition of a "world class beach" is synonymous with one where visitors have to bring their own loungers and umbrellas if they want to be beach "layabouts". We are all entitled to our own opinions and IMHO there are as good as if not better beaches than Phuket's where there are hired or provided loungers and umbrellas by but not necessarily on the beach, spoiling it for everyone as has been the case in Patong in particular. My examples of my own experience and comparison would be the Caribean, the Mediterranean, the Maldives, Sri Lanka. Even at this very moment while composing this reply I am lying on a lounger under an umbrella at a beach restaurant overlooking the fabulous Pak Weeb Beach in Khao Lak. This area was cleared last year of all commercial activity and the restaurants and massage places including those claimed by resorts to be on private beach, and relocated in defined areas back from the beach as defined by and agreed with the Military, Police, the Provincial and local councils. Now the beach in front of me is clear except for those strolling along it and enjoying its natural beauty and views or frolicking in the sea and I''m resting my aged bones on a comfortable lounger with protection from the sun, legally and fuss free. Good luck to Phuket with its over prescribed attempts of retaining tourists let alone increasing them. From what our taxi driver told us on the way up here a couple of days ago as he spends more time now driving passengers arriving at the airport north from the island rather than previously south to Phuket's beaches, it will need it.

Posted by Alan on November 28, 2015 13:23

Editor Comment:

No island in SE Asia has such a good variety of beaches, each with a distinct character, as can be found on Phuket. You would be mad to crow. The same problems, all created by popularity, will inevitably infect Phang Nga as tourist numbers grow. Of course, if you have a financial interest in tourism in Phang Nga, your comment would be categorised as self-promotion.


This plan is too reliant on various sales persons doing the right thing that's like asking the jet skis and tuks tuks to do the right thing so its a well intended fail.

Posted by slickmelb on November 28, 2015 17:31


Simple plan = free sunbeds

Posted by Anonymous on November 28, 2015 20:21

Editor Comment:

Sure. Why not?


Funny, lets bring your own umbrella and beach chair on the plane from your home country, as renting them out is forbidden. How can people write such nonsens. That the local or bor tor buy and rent out equipment, and with the revenue keep the beaches clean from trash. And one more thing you always report the jet ski problem, I never saw a report from the horses at layan beach whos shit is never cleaned by the company who is renting horses. I was last attacked by a horse rider who was not able to control his horse. The burmese aho joine them are useless!
By the way this season is already spoiled by the officials and they prepare already to spoil the next one.

Posted by Eric on November 28, 2015 20:24

Editor Comment:

You think they have a tradition to uphold now, Eric? Spoil one holiday season, let's spoil the next one too?


I've had my differences with you and your comments but have generally respected your right to your opinion but to stop so low as to make unsubstantiated insinuations against someone just because their opinion differs from yours is beneath you and beneath contempt. (moderated)

Posted by Alan on November 28, 2015 21:16

Editor Comment:

As I said, Alan, Corkie, Baralan: ''No island in SE Asia has such a good variety of beaches, each with a distinct character, as can be found on Phuket. You would be mad to crow. The same problems, all created by popularity, will inevitably infect Phang Nga as tourist numbers grow. Of course, if you have a financial interest in tourism in Phang Nga, your comment would be categorised as self-promotion.''

I seem to have struck a nerve. My apologies.


So, I am a Destination Expert on Trip Advisor for Khao Lak and Khao Sok (proposed by other TripAdvisor members) for the help and advice I FREELY give to people interested in visiting an area so cruelly decimated by the Tsunami. (moderated)

Posted by Alan on November 28, 2015 22:03

Editor Comment:

I think you've made your position plain, Alan. After the tsunami, I was a regular visitor to Phang Nga, especially to the TTVI. You know, the people from more than 30 countries whose role it was to identify all the dead. I wrote scores of articles about Phang Nga and its recovery. One long magazine piece inspired the making of a television documentary, 'After the Wave.' It appeared around the world to mark the 10th anniversary of the tsunami. You are now promoting the region? First I've heard of it. But thank you for admitting that you are doing so. If you have no financial interest, great. But don't overdo it. You could embarrass yourself.

Seeing as you raised the issue, I remember the trips to Phang Nga very well. There was brown, salted grass everywhere. I remember a trip up there a few days after the tsunami. We came over the hill to descend into Khao Lak. There was a pickup laden with the bodies of dead tourists. It got a whole lot worse. A little later, we looked over a car park landing and bodies were being collected by the volunteers, wonderful people who had flown in from all over the country. Later, they came from all over the world. I remember there was a panic downtown among survivors, and we had to interupt an interview and flee from Khao Lak because people genuinely thought another big wave was coming. The temples were, of course, shocking places at that time. I will not tell you what they were like. The ID process required about 2000 bodies to be stored in cooled containers, first in Phang Nga and then on Phuket. I went to visit the mortuary several times, out of a sense of duty, and wrote articles about the identification process. Eventually, I was trusted to join the forensic team in the mortuary as they took DNA samples. I wrote about the people who were brave enough to restart the region, who rebuilt and reopened their resorts, despite the pain. I wrote about sea gypsies, stuck in appalling conditions in makeshift camps months after others had been given new homes. I wrote about the tears as relatives told of the loss of their loved ones. I wrote about people who had been given back the wrong body, and who had to go through the sorrowful process a second time.

I am delighted to hear you are now promoting the region, Alan. Oh and by the way, the past decade or so has cost me many thousands of dollars of my life savings, attempting to make Phuket and the region better places. I haven't made any money. How about you?


I've had my differences with you and your comments but have generally respected your right to your opinion but to stop so low as to make unsubstantiated insinuations against someone just because their opinion differs from yours is beneath you and beneath contempt. (moderated)
Posted by Alan on November 28, 2015 21:16

Dont worry about mr ed,Alan, the rest of his scrawny body is soon sure to follow his head up to where the sun don't shine.What an obnoxious cowardly POS you are mr ed!

Posted by Loder on November 28, 2015 23:03

Editor Comment:

Obnoxious? Cowardly? I am afraid you set standards that most of us simply cannot match, Loder. You are my favorite Saturday night nutter.


Is it true that the Phuketwan is going to close for good at the end of December? Very sorry to hear that. To lose your observations regarding the issues of Phuket is regrettable. I also do not agree with your style of commenting on the posts of your readers, but the reporting of key issues facing Phuket overrides the issue of the editors or the readers comments. Your insight and dedication will be missed.

Posted by Vegas on November 29, 2015 00:55


As a forienger/farang I will recommend that only one beach have beachfun as paragliders and jetskies. Wich one never mind, but only ONE. And at this beach swimming is not alowed according to the personel security. It could be Patong Beach. But I really hope that this fantastic beach one day, only will be for swimmers, and all paragliders and jetskies will be dammed there.

Posted by Lars on November 29, 2015 05:28


Trees provide shade - umbrellas are not needed. Enforcement is needed. Look around Phuket Ed, what is properly enforced? Nothing. That's why there are so many problems. It's a lawless society. DARE you to post this.

Posted by pktbeachgoer on November 29, 2015 06:20

Editor Comment:

We don't respond to dares, pktbeachgoer, but you comment is innocuous, and untrue. A lawless society would be anarchy and more like Mad Max than a tropical holiday resort island (Patong beach comes close at times, though.) Can't you see the silliness of your own exaggeration? Greater enforcement is certainly needed. Umbrellas are required by some on the beaches and they're allowed to bring their own. Freedom of choice, pktbeachgoer. Hardly the end of the earth.


"I haven't made any money. How about you?" There you go again! Blind, unfounded insinuations. (moderated)

Posted by Alan on November 29, 2015 07:03

Editor Comment:

It's a question, Alan. In your mind it might be an ''insinuation.'' But that's just your mind. I really don't have time to waste on your self-obssessions. Thank you for admitting that you promote Khao Lak. What that means is that nothing you say on the subject can be regarded as totally accurate. You are the one who has been hurling easily-disproved ''insinuations.'' I suggest you go back to promoting Khao Lak.

Just as an afterthought, if there is no law preventing people on Phuket from bringing their own umbrellas and chairs, then that same freedom applies on Phang Nga beaches, too.


What a nasty mind you have and yet more evasion! Yes, I promote Khao Lak, freely and in my own time with the single purpose of sharing our love for a place that has given us so much pleasure and enjoyment in our retirement and await your proof otherwise. Is that so difficult for you to believe? So sorry for you if you have become so embittered and cynical. Bye, enjoy your retirement - you need it!

Posted by Alan on November 29, 2015 11:50

Editor Comment:

Now I have a ''nasty mind'' as well as being ''so low as to make unsubstantiated insinuations'' and ''beneath contempt,'' as well as being ''embittered and cynical.'' None of that is true. Your vivid imagination, however, even leads you to think I do what I do for the money while you are pure and perfect. As I said, if you have no financial interest, your promotion of Khao Lak is great. Please note, to prevent further distortions and inaccuracies, that I have absolutely no plans to retire.


Unless you arrest/fine law breaking beach vendors nothing will change.
As most of them are not from Phuket island, just kick them of Phuket island, order them back to their own province. ( actually they are steeling jobs from the real Phuket inhabitants).

Posted by Kurt on November 29, 2015 14:39


No plans to retire? What will be your job after December?

Posted by sid on November 29, 2015 15:14

Editor Comment:

I am pleased to say: that's none of your business, sid.


Forget hiring umbrellas and sunbeds? Is there something wrong with your ears and eyes? The lack of umbrellas and sunbeds was and still is what tourists are talking and complaining about.

It is good to shut down this site!

Posted by Tourists on November 29, 2015 17:40


@ Sid one must explore the possibility we have not seen the last of Ed in print by a long shot.

Posted by slickmelb on November 29, 2015 17:51



You forgot to add ",sadly" at the end of your comment to me.

Posted by sid on November 29, 2015 18:15


I heard a rumour of a sea change, Phuket Watercraft controlled by Big Island "Mafia".
The new proposal to transfer tourist from the airport to Patong.

Posted by MoW on November 29, 2015 19:39


I have said this before and will do so for the very last time as no one seems to be getting this.
Many parts of Patong especially the souther end has natural tree shade, this should be expoited by having the sunbeds available and in place in the shade. These leaves the sandy beach area free and looking natural and open for people to walk. The shaded are could be extended in future at the North End by planting more trees.
Problem solved people have a place to relax and the sandy beach area is clear

Posted by LES on November 29, 2015 22:16


You simply forget that tourists traveling longhaul thousands of miles usaually don't plan to buy their 'furniture' in holidays and walk with it to the beach. At least a small place at certain beach entrances where someone can rent an umbrella would be helpful. I don't even dare to mention a chair ;o]

Posted by fred on December 1, 2015 15:59

Editor Comment:

You will find a way, fred.


You are so right Fred. Two things are certain, phuketwan comes within one month to an end and one day the sunbeds that you can hire will return on the beachdestination Phuket. Both are good, very good.

Posted by Magnus on December 1, 2015 21:24

Editor Comment:

If only the island was free of greedy entrepreneurs and investors, Magnus. What a paradise it would be.


The greediest entrepeneurs are the expats. When they were young with wife and children outside Thailand. Now they are old, divorced and with a young Thai girlfriend. You don't seem to have a problem with these greedy entrepeneurs:-)

Posted by Magnus on December 2, 2015 07:08

Editor Comment:

You seem to have a fixation on marital status, which has nothing to do with greed, Magnus. That's something for Sunday prayers.


No I am not so narrowminded that I have a fixation for marital status. I only wonder that you talk about the greedyness of Thai BEACHentrepeneurs and at the same time show a complete blindness for the greedy old expats. If greedyness is your problem try to be less narrowminded ed.

Posted by Magnus on December 3, 2015 07:25

Editor Comment:

I am talking about the greed of entrepreneurs and investors in general, Magnus. You are the one drawing a distinction based on nationality. Prejudice is your problem, not mine.



Posted by Kurt on December 3, 2015 09:47

Editor Comment:

Unless you add value, you will not be posted again, Kurt. I will not give you another warning. Your comments will simply stop.


Mr Editor, with respect. I did comment neatly and decent. Normal language use and not insulting.
What is " add value"? It is a general remark and very subjective. In here a 'up to Editor' thing.
I sometimes too read here comments that I think , what is the 'add value' here?
But you place them.

Perhaps you can give guide lines about "add value'?

Posted by Kurt on December 3, 2015 10:32

Editor Comment:

''Add value'' means increasing our knowledge about a topic - and suggesting solutions to the island's problems.

All you seem able to do is tell us what we already know, or add your own fabrications. To say Phuket is ''lawless'' is a sign you have nothing to add worth reading.

I have no time to waste on your education, Kurt. As I have said before, quality is more important than quantity.


I would really like to know by now and for sure if we can bring our own beach chair and umbrella to the beach (our own, not rented) ???

Posted by Vince on December 6, 2015 21:12

Editor Comment:

You can. You may be ''invited'' to park in the 10 percent zone. Phuket's police chief has told us there is no law that stops you from sitting wherever you like.


You can bring your own chair and umbrella Vince. Let's hope that the rented chairs and umbrella's -at least on a big part of the beach- return. The cheap umbrella's are very dangerous with the windy days we have now.

Posted by Simon on December 8, 2015 07:23


Indeed Simon, we always need to fix our umbrella with a holder that you screw in the sand, a very cheap and efficient system we use in Europe on windy beaches. Umbrellas blowing away on a crowded beach are VERY dangerous.

Posted by Vince on December 9, 2015 15:56


I??m sorry to say, but tourists wants to enjoy the sun and the Beach - on a sunbed with an umbrella!
Does anyone knows, if it is possible to rent an umbrella now, on Patong Beach? Or do we need to buy one ourselves and carry all the way to the Beach every day? Not to mention matresses?

Posted by Merete on December 11, 2015 16:36

Editor Comment:

You can rent an umbrella and a basic mat at Patong beach, provided you stay in the ''10 percent zone,'' which may actually be more than that. or you can buy an umbrella and sit where you please, without fear of arrest, although you may be bothered by vendors asking you to move into the ''10 percent zone.''


In the past 4 rows of sunbeds and umbrellas on almost the entire beach, now just MATS and umbrellas on JUST 10% of the beach. If you do not want to stay in that very, very crowded part of the beach you have to bring your own umbrella. You can also bring your own sunbed. Enjoy a very relaxing start and end of the day on the beach:-) Merete.

Posted by Bert on December 11, 2015 18:14


The 10% zone is a good idea if they allowed local vendors to rent it on a monthly basis to supply strong lounges and decent size umbrella's for the tourists who prefer to rent them as most western tourists want to
Just make it a condition of renting the vendors obey the rules and the rental agreements are not transferable to other people without govt approval or they are no longer valid if rental conditions are not met.

On the other 90% of the beaches let people bring their own food, drinks and equipment if they want to.
The only problem is finding decent size umbrella's and strong deckchairs to buy or rent. we have not been able to find any for sale, only small weak flimsy ones.
The next time I am at the SCB I will ask them if the ones they supplied to vendors are available for private purchase, no problem if they advertise their business on them if they are reasonably priced

Posted by peter allen on December 13, 2015 12:41


However, I sometimes read articles that on Surin Beach , no sun beds are allowed, not even if you bring your own, very confusing... What is it now?

Posted by Vince on December 14, 2015 17:10


Last week I took a deck chair and my own umbrella to Patong and Surin beaches sat were I wanted with no dramas.
Also various vendors selling drinks etc some of which I purchased again with no problems so although I still think mats could easily be replaced by beds and put away at night I had 2 pleasant days

Posted by Sharp on December 15, 2015 07:52

Editor Comment:

PW's two simple rules would suit almost everybody.


Two days Sharp? Wow, what about 2 weeks, or 2 months? Every day bringing your own chair and umbrella? The comfortable chairs are heavy, very heavy.

Simple step 1: umbrella's for rent on at least 75% of the beach

Simple step 2: sunbeds for rent on at least 75% of the beach

Posted by Farang on December 16, 2015 18:20


Whoever moderates, or edits these letters seems to have a cruel, vindictive, petty streak going on. What's that all about?! Can't people give an opinion without snide comments from the power(s) that be? Just the paper though!????

Posted by thomas on April 2, 2016 05:01

Editor Comment:

Phuketwan closed on December 31, thomas, with the editor always willing to tolerate opinions based on logic and reason but less willing to put up with the mindless utterances of anonymous trolls. The article, by the way, still makes sense.

Thursday July 18, 2024
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