Rawai Beach isn’t the place that you want to head to if you’re up for a day of sunbathing, or a swim in the waves, but if you like wandering around and seeing what’s what- it’s absolutely perfect. It’s a long and narrow and the beach is pretty much full with long tail boats and small speed boats offering up trips to the islands around Phuket.
At the far left of Rawai Beach you’ll find the amazing Sea Gypsy Village where all the local fishing boats land in the afternoon and start selling the best fish, shellfish etc at astoundingly low prices. You can either take it home and cook yourself or just literally cross over the dirt track and one of the many restaurants will cook it exactly how you like it and serve it up on their table for you to enjoy with a drink.
Go to the other end of the beach and you’ll find a ton of beautiful little restaurants lining the sand – no chairs, just sit down on the padded floor at the low tables and eat great seafood and Thai dishes at low prices and enjoy a five star view across the water. In the afternoon and night, on the pavement that runs along the length of the beach, the restaurants across the main road place cushions and blankets down so you can sit at small stone tables and eat traditional food by the water.
Located at the southern tip of Phuket, this beach is relatively less touristy than Patong, Karon or Kata per say, and is a much more local area, primarily populated by sea gypsies and locals. This is not to say however, that there are no foreigners at Rawai beach. The area is very popular among non-Thai people to live, or to stay on a longer duration, most likely due to its friendly community, and laid pack environment. Restaurants and bars are open daily with food and drinks, and regularly stay open late for regular customers. Good, fresh seafood can also be bought by the local sea gypsies, and can be taken to barbeque at a local Thai shop for you to enjoy.
Moreover, Rawai is also one of Phukets two main ports, and gives you access to plenty of beautiful islands just off shore of Phuket. Although diving and sunbathing may not be ideal at Rawai beach, islands nearby are accessible by long-tail boats- and with the right weather, its perfect for a day out snorkeling or diving!
Overall, Rawai’s not grand, it’s not dining out in your best dress- but it’s real, it’s fun and it’s well worth a visit.
Close to Rawai Beach is the Chao Leh or Sea Gypsies village. A community of formerly nomadic fishing folk with their own indigenous language, many young sea gypsy men have tended to switch to land-based employment. Many kinds of handicrafts such as t-shirt batik painting and souvenir stalls can be found at the village.
Tasty seafood can be enjoyed at any of the pleasantly breezy shacks further south along the coast road at Rawai. You can get seafood grilled, fried, sauted, baked, roasted or steamed from the ‘street food’ vendors near the beach. Local foods such as ‘mi hokkian’ and ‘mi sapam,’ local unique noodles, are also worth a try.