Rawai - Nai Harn
Located on the southeastern tip of Phuket Island, Rawai is one of the quietest and most natural sides on the island. The seafront village develops alongside Wiset Road leading to Promthep Cape, about 46 km to the south of International Airport and 18 kilometres from Phuket Town. Rawai also houses one of the island's oldest angler communities. Known as Sea Gypsies or Chao Ley, they are a previously nomadic minority believed to be of Melanesian origin, which have lived wandering around the western coast of Malaysia and Thailand for hundreds of years. The Sea Gypsy Village is just north of the pier and is the most popular attraction of Rawai, with several handicraft shops, a large number of longtail boats moored along the shore, excellent and cheap seafood restaurants on the waterfront, and the Rawai Fish Market that offers the island's freshest fish at the cheapest price. Rawai is much less touristy than the beach resorts set on the island's western coast, but is an excellent place to experience some real Thai culture. Although its beach is not very attractive and is surrounded by very shallow waters unsuitable for swimming, Rawai has been the first tourist beach on Phuket Island. Several decades ago, when the west coast had not yet been developed and the uphill road was dangerous to across, Hat Rawai has been the easiest and favourite destination for people from Phuket Town to enjoy the weekend picnics underneath the shady casuarina trees. Nowadays, Rawai is a pleasant place to stay for businesspeople, retirees and other long-term visitors who especially appreciate its quieter natural atmosphere. Its 'working beach' is also one of the main starting points for day boat excursions out to Phuket's surrounding islands. Along the shore, you will find a large number of longtail boats available for hire, where you can arrange a private trip to the nearby Koh Bon, Koh Lone and Coral Island or the farthest Racha Islands. If you like, you can even charter a boat to go fishing or snorkelling. The beach is also used as a mooring point for fishing boats, with many local anglers working and organizing their gear ready for their days work. While its beach is not good for swimming, Rawai is very close to better beaches to swim at aush as the small Ya Nui Beach and the stunning Nai Harn Beach. Both located just north of Promthep Cape, they are a short distance away from Rawai and most hotels and resorts will provide transport to them. The white and fine sand at Nai Harn extends for almost a kilometre and is surrounded by quiet turquoise-blue crystalline waters, making it one of the best beaches in Phuket to swim and snorkelling.
Accommodation & Restaurants - Rawai is very popular among business people, retirees and other long-term visitors and offers a wide range of apartments and villas, including some luxury villas with private pools that are available for short and long-term rentals. Not too many hotels are available around, as most of tourists prefer the Phuket's west coast. However Rawai has a decent choice of budget hotels, guesthouses and a few mid-range and high-end resorts, like the four-star Rawai Palm Beach Resort, located towards the southern end of beach, and the five-star Serenity Resort & Residences located on the beachfront between Rawai and Chalong. Rawai Beach is very popular for its many seafood restaurants where you can enjoy fresh fish and crustaceans at reasonable prices. Most restaurants are lined along the road that runs alongside the beach; they also offer wonderful views of the sea and the surrounding islands. At Rawai you can also enjoy excellent seafood dishes at Sea, Gypsies Fish Market or you can even purchase your seafood and then take it to one of the nearby restaurants where they are happy to cook it for a small fee. Set along the Wiset Road there are also restaurants that offer International cuisine, such as Rossovivo, offering the original authentic Italian food à la carte, and Sala Mexicali that offers the best Mexican cuisine in Phuket. A good number of accommodations are also available near Nai Harn Beach. Despite there is a limited selection of hotels directly on the waterfront, not far away from the beach is situated the Nai Harn village offering a wide range of places to stay, from five stars resorts, budget hotels and guesthouses to numerous apartments and villas. The village also offers a great selection of restaurants to suit every taste, most of which are reasonably priced, other are high-end gourmet restaurant such as Davinci, one of Phuket's finest Italian restaurants. At Nai Harn you will find cuisines from all over the world and there is no shortage of Thai restaurants.
Nightlife - Rawai's nightlife is very quiet and relaxing, although there are still a few of bars and pubs, as well as a good number of Beer bars. Most of these bars with "friendly" Thai girls are set along the Wiset Road, just next The Laguna Night Club that is the only discotheque that Rawai has to offer. Few other Beer bars are located along the Soi Romutit, the alley leading to O2 Beach Club. More