Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Phuket - Paradise Lost?

When Paradise gets discovered by the masses, it inevitably becomes Hell - or does it? 

A damning report exposing the dark side of tourism in the Thai island of Phuket appeared yesterday in the Sydney Morning Herald, claiming that rip-offs, rorts, drink spiking, scams, robbery, assault and police corruption are now common place in the popular holiday destination. 

From an Australian perspective, the problem stems largely from the fact that many tourists - may I call them bogans? - travel specifically to Phuket for the very things that are criticised in the article - sleazy nightlife, the sex trade and to get pissed. Getting ripped off is all part of the parcel, and most will suck it up as part of their holiday experience. Besides, they'll be so drunk they won't remember what happened anyway. 

Pic: John Borthwick

I was chatting to some very charming Aussie blokes on a plane recently who excitedly listed the destinations they were planning to visit in Thailand - Bangkok, Pattaya and Patong. It was their first visit to Thailand, and they couldn't wait to see it in all its glory. The 'boys trip' had Hangover Part 4 written all over it, and I have little doubt where their first port of call in Bangkok would be that night. 

While tourists perpetuate and support the dark side of tourism, it will continue to exist. Of course, the Thai government is also culpable, turning a blind eye to the increasing sleaziness in Phuket due to associated financial gain. And with tourist numbers continuing to soar in Phuket, the situation is not likely to change in any hurry. 

But here's the thing - if you don't want to be exposed to Phuket's nasty side, DON'T GO THERE! Simple. Choose another destination in Thailand. Want a quiet beach? Then Patong is not the spot. Research, people - it's not that hard, particularly with all the resources of the internet at hand. 

Phuket is a massive island. There are still many idyllic pockets along its coastline where you can walk on a deserted beach, with nary a Russian package tourist or jet ski in sight. I recently stayed in the gated community of Laguna, where forward-planning and a community spirit has preserved the purity of paradise. Further afield, the southern tip of the island, Cape Panwa, is a remote and isolated jewel, while the northern beach of Mai Khao is part of a national and marine park and subsequently still blessedly undeveloped. 

The beautiful beach at Laguna.

Of course, some destination-specific annoyances are unavoidable wherever you go in Phuket - specifically, taxi rip-offs. A night out will end up costing a bomb if you hire a cab; best to take advantage of hotel shuttle services, or consider renting a car if you want to explore the island in depth. 

Or ... can I put this any more clearly - go somewhere else! Head to an island which hasn't been discovered by the masses. They do exist.

Pics: Julie Miller


  1. Whether on popular demand or handpicked, any holiday destination you chose, enjoying a holiday there is of importance. But any place can be turned into the best holiday destination with some effort. Before choosing any destination we should enquire well about the location, weather, food and other amenities. After all, a holiday should be such that you never tire of recommending it to your friends.


  2. Thailand, in South East Asia is a most popular tourist destination where you can have a fulfilling, fun filled holiday tour. cheap thailand tour packages offer a bit of everything-the hustle and bustle of the city life in Bangkok, the Capital of Thailand as well as the quiet tranquillity of its pristine holiday beaches.

  3. My personal point of view is that the media is a very strong influence on everything. When the media covers a certain story about a particular place, viewers believe every word it says without any doubts. That is the incident that happened in Thailand. The media portrays Phuket to be a cheap and sleazy town where it comes alive every night and you can have all the fun you want at very affordable prices. That is the reason why tourists who love such activities are attracted to the night life there and the locals take advantage of the situation to reap personal benefits.

  4. Good point, Cameron - qne as part of the media, I guess I'm guilty as charged! I'm just pointing out that there are still quiet and beautiful parts of Phuket, and trying to encourage visitors to look beyond Patong and the overcrowded beaches to other parts of Thailand if they are still after an idyllic island holiday.

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  6. I had visited in Phuket and I saw that its well developed and and full of attractions city in Thailand. Its a perfect place for couples because plenty of romantic beaches and night life of Thailand is superb. Every couple wanted to make their holidays memorable. So book your Honeymoon or family holidays in Thailand.

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