Friendship Beach Restaurant and Resort

Along the shoreline between Chalong and Rawai you can find Friendship Beach Waterfront Resort. I guess this place could go in the hotels and the restaurant section, but it's the food I am interested in! It's a quiet spot, but can be busy at the weekends, as it's a popular place with expats and their families as well as guests at the bungalows. You'll find plenty of seating around the pool and right by the beach with a view across Chalong Bay. The resort is a couple of hundred meters down from the main Chalong-Rawai road, so you get no traffic noise, no cars. In fact the only traffic I saw was horses from the nearby Phuket Riding Club!

Friendship Beach

Now, it's not the cheapest place to eat - but I think 70 Baht for Thai food is OK when you're by the beach! The menu is quite extensive with a mix of local and "western" food with daily specials. I notice that their web site claims "No MSG". There is also a western chef. We only went for snacks today - I had some delicious Apple Pie...a friend ordered Nachos - a huge plate with cheese and cream. I had a couple of glasses of cold draught Heineken. They also have a bit of a wine list. Meanwhile the kids could play in the pool.

Pool at Friendship Beach, right by the beach View across to Koh Lon from Friendship Beach

In the late afternoon, the live music starts. I've been there a few times over the years. Today we had a Thai band playing Jazz. Another time the music was more kind of Bossa Nova (not the kind of thing you expect to hear in Thailand). Another time (a few years ago), a Thai girl was singing Celine Dion songs and she was so good I thought they'd put a CD on!

It's a relaxing spot for food or drinks and snacks, oh and they do have accommodation too! There are not that many places in Phuket which are small scale and right on the beach. OK, the beach is not the best. Chalong Bay tends to be a bit murky as it's very shallow, but it's certainly uncrowded and you have the pool a stones throw from the waterline anyway. Friendship Beach also makes a good stopping off point if you're making a tour around this area of Phuket (Chalong, Rawai, Phromthep Cape etc).

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Patong Temple (Wat Patong)

The Patong you see now is nothing like the Patong of 30 years ago. Can you imagine a place with limited road access, just a small village with fishermen, farmers, rubber plantations...a place where Tony Wheeler (Lonely Planet founder) says there was "an open shelter where you could camp for 3 Baht a night". How things have changed! Patong is maybe the biggest tourist trap attraction in Thailand and I am pretty sure it's the most overdeveloped beach in Thailand. However, if you know where to go, even Patong has quiet spots. There are of course some very good Patong hotels, there are plenty of restaurants and there is still an older local community, just you won't find it on the beach.

Patong Temple - Wat Suwan Khiri Wong

Patong Temple - Wat Suwan Khiri Wong

Patong temple (Wat Suwan Khiri Wong) marks the entrance to Patong at the bottom of the hilly road that winds over from Kathu and Phuket Town. Where you have a temple you have a community and in the area around the temple and further along Phisit Karani road you'll see older houses and local people who are not involved a great deal in the goings on closer to the beach. The temple is a little haven of peace even with the main road outside.

Patong Temple - Wat Suwan Khiri Wong

It's a fairly extensive place with a main temple, a bell tower, monks quarters, dining hall and so on. Yes, there are monks at Patong temple. If you are awake early you can catch them as they walk along the road from the temple through the older part of Patong. Near the temple is a little daily street market selling veg, fresh fish and meat, which starts at dawn and is all over by 8:30am. Along the same street are many little local shops, though they now compete with a 7-11.

Patong Temple - Wat Suwan Khiri Wong

Patong Temple - Wat Suwan Khiri Wong

Patong temple takes you back to a time when Patong was a village, when tourists had not discovered Phuket. But, look just outside and you have the new Patong:

Patong Temple - Wat Suwan Khiri Wong

Patong Temple - Wat Suwan Khiri Wong

These 2 photos above are on the main road. If you enter via the main gate you can walk or ride your bike around the grounds and will come out onto Phisit Karani road, which is the south end of the road that wiggles along the back of Patong, becoming Nanai road and is a way to avoid central Patong completely! Y'know Patong is not all bad, but I basically never hit the center unless I have a very good reason. I see Patong temple quite often, on my way to Karon Beach, climbing over the hill from Kathu, beeping my horn at the top when reaching the shrine on the hill before descending into big, bad Patong ...

Naithonburi Beach Resort at Naithon Beach

The Northwest of Phuket has some fine beaches where you can get away from the crowds. I have written about Nai Yang beach already and will be writing more on the Beaches section of this blog (after all, this is Phuket we're talking about). Last weekend after spending some time at Nai Yang, we drove along the quiet jungle road to Naithon Beach. Hopefully (weather permitting) we'll go back next weekend. I have always liked Naithon. Getting there means heading off the main roads and onto some winding back roads, and the beach still remains quiet. There is a road along the beachfront but with very little traffic. It's not a long beach, maybe 800m and there is not too much in the way of accommodation, just a few small resorts, though it is getting busier.

The Naithonburi is small and neat, not very expensive, but has facilities - a nice pool, a gym and ... Naithon beach just outside! There's a pool bar and a restaurant, one of only a few along the beach. For more dining options you'll need to take a drive! In low season, Naithon can be pretty much like a ghost town. In high season, it's a little slice of paradise.

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Nai Yang Beach

I wrote this blog post in 2007, now updated 2013. I have to say - we have not been to Nai Yang for ages! Need another trip in that direction soon. We live in Kathu, near Phuket Town, so it's only around a 30 minute drive, would be closer to an hour if coming from Kata or Karon beaches, or 45 minutes from Patong. If the traffic is good! There are two ways we can get there - first is head directly for the bypass and airport road, quicker but not pretty. Phuket has some big, busy roads and you do need to drive on some of these to reach the quiet places! Or, if coming from the main beaches, you can just take the coastal route via all the other beaches on the west coast. Nai Yang Beach is the closest beach to the airport.

At Nai Yang Beach

Nai Yang (above) - great for plane spotters! The airport is just to the North and planes normally land over the ocean, so you can see them coming in. Despite the proximity, there is no noise. Maybe you can hear engines roar a little when planes take off, but it's nothing much. I want, one day, to make the effort to walk along the beach to the point right under the flight path.

Getting to Nai Yang by the main road, you pass the Heroines monument, go through the town of Thalang, and then you have 2 choices to reach Nai Yang by turning left either on a small side road, or waiting until you reach the main airport road. The small road heads through quiet countryside - there are lots of rubber plantations and fields of pineapples in the north of Phuket - before arriving at the entrance to the newly refurbished 5 star The Slate Resort which is way down the south end of Nai Yang. Then follow a narrow road and you'll come to the beach.

At Nai Yang Beach

At Nai Yang Beach

Nai Yang is a beach of many parts. The central area has other hotels aside from The Slate, such as Nai Yang Beach Resort. It is quite crowded down here at times with little restaurants right on the beach such as Batik Seafood - crowded but quiet. You can sit down right by the sand and enjoy a drink.

At Nai Yang Beach

(above) My Mum, Dad and my kids at Nai Yang Beach

Further south are a couple of slightly more remote hotels - L'esprit de Nai Yang and Imperial Adamas Beach Resort. Inland there are a number of smaller guesthouses which are ideal for a stay close to the airport.

At the other end of the beach, closer to the airport, is protected National Park land. It's very green, trees everywhere. Quiet, clean, no food stalls or restaurants except a few tiny stalls selling eggs and drinks. There are normally lots of longtail boats in the water, with fishermen coming and going, and local kids splashing around. It's a popular area with locals for picnics... so when I say "clean", well not everyone packs their rubbish home with them.

At Nai Yang Beach

At Nai Yang Beach

At Nai Yang Beach

Recommended Hotels around Nai Yang

Nai Yang Beach Resort
Phuket Airport Hotel
Indigo Pearl Hotel
L'esprit de Nai Yang
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Restaurant Tips: Chili

Now this restaurant is a real locals/expats place. Well off the tourist beaches, Chili is found right on the main airport road, just past Boat Lagoon on the left side as you head to the airport. I can't imagine many tourists would stop here, and true enough if you want a nice view this ain't it!

For a 2009 update on Chili, scroll down to the comments section...

Chili restaurant

We stopped there yesterday after a drive round the Northwest of Phuket. We'd been to Nai Yang Beach, driven past Naithon beach and stopped at Layan Beach. All these beaches will be on the blog soon! It was a wet afternoon but fortunately we could park right outside and the staff came running out with an umbrella for us. Inside the restaurant is nothing fancy, but spotless and airconditioned (we turned it off yesterday, as it was not a hot day at all).

I ate the most delicious Massaman curry - 80 Baht for a dish which could feed 2 people, but I admit to being a greedy guts. My wife had a fish curry, my daughter had some excellent spaghetti. There was only us in the place, they do get busier in the week actually especially late afternoon. The fancy British International School is nearby, as is the "Chuan Chuen Lagoon" village (lots of very nice houses) - many of the kids and families eat at this place after school. Fish and Chips is a favourite, but I really suggest you try the Thai food here.

Inside Chili restaurant

If you're in that area, I'd also suggest stopping at Boat Lagoon (unless you don't like boats). Boat Lagoon is an odd place. You step into Europe and out of Thailand. There are swanky waterside apartments, a hotel (we have used the pool there), and lots and lots of boats. There's a nice little cafe called The Bakery where you can get fresh bread, salads, coffee, cakes etc.. I have done a piece on Boat Lagoon for this blog.

Restaurant Tips - The Beach Bar (Cape Panwa)

We are always looking for quiet, out of the way places to eat (preferably with sea view), and I know there are more to find yet! I should note that the restaurant tips on this blog are not necessarily the "best" (i.e. the fanciest and most expensive) restaurants in Phuket, they are places that we like. Many of them we visit regularly, and The Beach Bar might become one of our favourite lunch spots. We tend to look for places which are off the tourist beaches and won't cost a kings ransom for a meal. Now there are a few places in Patong Beach that I like, and I should add a little section for these in the near future - even there you can find little hideaways - but in general we keep off the main beaches.

Beachside entrance to The Beach Bar

The Beach Bar is located in Cape Panwa, just 100m along the beach from the Panwa Beach Resort. To get there, take the road from Phuket Town to the Aquarium (Sakdidet Road), and turn off onto a small side road on the right which has a sign to the Novotel. It’s a narrow road going through a quiet Muslim village and you may wonder if you took a wrong turn, but keep the faith… You pass a road heading up to Khao Kad viewpoint and will pass a small restaurant overlooking the sea on the right (we have also eaten here and it’s decent). Then you come to the Novotel, and just after this there’s a right turn onto a steep dirt road down to the Beach Bar.

View of The Beach Bar from the beach

Now, it’s not the fanciest of places, but we found it friendly and it’s right by the sea, and the food is good and inexpensive. We went on New Years Eve for lunch and decided to go again today! The location is very quiet. There’s not much traffic down Cape Panwa and most of what there is sticks to the main road rather than the side roads. The beach is, shall we say...uncrowded… but is not really any good for swimming as it’s way too rocky (see photos). I guess the place gets some customers from the Novotel who have taken a walk along the beach. We noticed the same Australian couple in there yesterday and today (so they must agree with us!)

View along the beach at high tide. Not very crowded

View along the beach in direction of Panwa Beach Resort< We ate Tom Yam, Fried chicken with garlic, mixed vegetables, sweet and sour chicken, 2 lots of fried rice (hey, we’re 2 hungry adults and my 5 year old daughter normally eats a full adult portion), sank down half a dozen cokes, and the bill today was I believe 460 Baht (I think that could have fed 4 adults, but hey! It’s New Year!) Happy New Year from Phuket! Signs on the beach at low tide

Update: February 2007. We've been to the Beach Bar quite a few times in the last 2 months. It really is a relaxing, unpretentious, friendly place. The owners are so nice (it's a family thing) and the last couple of times a friend of the owner has been there playing guitar - things like the Pogues and Cat Stevens. I had to blink when I heard him singing songs like "Dirty Old Town"! The owners son worships the guitar man, and when we were there this last weekend, his dad had just bought him a guitar - see below. Apparently he always wanted to be a football player, now he wants to be a singer...

Update: November 2007 - after being closed for ages, The Beach Bar is now open again, just moved about 20 meters along the beach closer to Novotel. We just went again on 24th November (See entry on Phuket Weather Blog).

Guitar Man at the Beach Bar

The owners son helps out...

Both the owners sons join in!

** This blog page is from 2007 - for an updated page on this restaurant see The Beach Bar, Cape Panwa