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Cultural Phuket has plenty to offer but the beaches need saving

Phuket Can Be Tops: Stop Eating Beaches

Friday, May 4, 2012
PHUKET: It's going to be a great year for travelling and eating, although the latest selection of the best in the world for both leaves warm, wonderful Phuket largely out in the cold.

In the readers' choice TripAdvisor selection of the Top 25 Destinations in the World for 2012, only Chiang Mai in Thailand sneaks in at No. 24, ahead of Dublin and trailing a list of classic favorites, with London, New York, Rome, Paris and San Francisco the top five.

Cambodia's Siem Reap is a surprise in ninth spot, ahead of Berlin, Chicago, Florence, Buenos Aires, Sydney, Beijing, Prague and las Vegas.

Phuket also barely figures in the Top 10 Destinations for Thailand, with Chiang Mai chosen as No. 1 by TripAdvisor readers, followed by Phi Phi, Koh Tao, Koh Phangan, Bangkok, Krabi Town, Pattaya, Patong, Hua Hin and Bophut.

Patong at No. 8? Go figure. And Bophut?

According to TripAdvisor, ''Bophut is a beach village undergoing the development of new hotels and villas. It is becoming popular due to its optimal white sandy shoreline, swaying coconut palms and traditional Sino-Thai environment. The Fisherman's Village, located on the east side, remains unspoiled, with quaint wooden shops and ancient buildings. The main road is lined with pubs, fine eateries, spas and trendy shops.

''Manicures, pedicures and Thai massages are inexpensive attractions for many visitors, as are the hypnotic sunsets.''

Phuket will continue to be treated with disdain in these polls until Phuket's beaches are provided with serious protection and long-term management strategies to keep them attractive and appealing.

On the dining front, Phuket has never been world-class, even though quite a few Phuket restaurants now make the ''trying hard'' category. Asia generally is yet to make its mark in taste at the top.

The latest release of The World's Best 50 Restaurants - growing so long there are now 100 - is dominated by European and US dining experiences. Iggy's, Singapore, appears at No. 26 ahead of a couple of Japanese and Australian entries.

Right on the halfway mark at No. 50 comes Nahm, Bangkok, the Thai retaurant of Australian chef David Thompson. To the horror of some traditionalists, Thompson has genuine claims to be the world's leading authority on Thai food.

If he could somehow be enticed to open a restaurant on Phuket, then the local dining experience would improve around him.

Great efforts are being made to bring the world's best to Phuket for guest appearances in Phuket restaurant kitchens. It's time to make the process more effective.

Why isn't there a more serious attempt to create world's best vegetarian dishes on Phuket at the time of the Phuket Vegetarian Festival?

Combined with the craziness of the street parades, a television series pitting the best chefs in the world against each other - without using meat or alcohol - would make for compelling viewing.

Perhaps next year, Phuket's wonderfully preserved world-class beaches and its unique contribution to international dining will put Phuket where it should be . . . if it wants to be a leader in quality tourism.

Some of the local tourism authorities do little except complain about negative coverage. It would be great to see them think big and do something positive for a change.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Spot on Ed. On a recent flight to BKK I observed a black slick coming from the beach, didn't look very 'natural'. I hope the powers that be or better yet a young entrepreneur that sees the value in Phuket's future but in this 'copy culture' I am afraid that the future and opportunities are like the sand slipping through fingers.

Posted by Jon on May 4, 2012 09:00


Not really surprising. I had a beer with a European couple the other night. This was their first trip to Thailand. They said they were disgusted at just how dirty Phuket was and how much garbage there was all over the place. They did point out a number of other factors that would prevent them from every visiting again.

Only been here 2 days and they are intended to fly out to Malaysia, Langkawi and spend the rest of their 2 week vacation here.

Posted by Graham on May 4, 2012 16:14


I live in the South of Phuket and am sorry to say that many of the beaches are filthy. The water seems to be full of plastic rubbish. Until the sea is cleaned up and treated with respect many tourists will not want to return. I would say that we have some very good restaurants down here though, and at extremely reasonable prices.

Posted by Anonymous on May 4, 2012 17:43

Sunday November 28, 2021
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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