Though Chalong’s seen the arrival of the big Home Pro Village shopping centre and big chain brands like KFC and Tesco-Lotus, more shops and services run by the “little guy” are also opening up. The best example of this is the new Chalong night market opposite the Chalong Police Station. Some buildings were cleared away last year, and much to the surprise of cynical island residents expecting yet another lifeless shophouse to rise from the rubble, the open area has been transformed into a bustling market with fresh food, clothing, flowers, plants and yummy snacks for sale. It’s encouraging to see that Phuket’s traditional form of shopping in the open air still thrives. Take that, Tesco!
Along the pier road, some rundown shophouses are making way for new, snazzier ones and at the time of writing a few neat-looking shops were starting to open up there. We expect the Book Exchange and consignment shop next to the Happy Days Guesthouse to be a welcome place for sailors to sell off some things before heading to their next destination or picking up useful items like life jackets and dive gear, clothing and books on the cheap. The book section is modest but priced well: all books are 150 baht, or if you give them three books you can take two in exchange.
Distilled using French expertise and equipment, and made with 100 percent sugarcane juice sourced from Southern Thailand, Chalong Bay Rum gives the mighty mojito and other tropical drinks a truly local flavour.
Hot Eats & Drinks
The O2 Beach Club is another classy new venue to hit the once-scruffy Chalong area. This huge restaurant and bar right on the waterfront next to Kan Eang makes its swimming pool available for a dip at no extra charge. On January 12 they'll have a Kids Day with all kinds of activities orientated to children and families. (Pony rides, clowns and games.)
Just a few metres inland sits Pier 42 cafe and guesthouse, which brings a bit of Northern Thai style to the South. With a striking glass and metal frontage and cosy interior of dark wood, it’s an inviting retreat. It has a good selection of coffee, tea and sandwiches, but we especially adore its khao soi Chiang Mai style noodles – crispy yellow noodles floating on a rich, lightly-spiced curry broth. Heaven with every slurp.
Kan Eang @ Pier, meanwhile, continues to raise the bar for dining in Chalong. More than three decades old and with a perfect location right next to the pier, Kan Eang could easily rest on its laurels. But every time we go there we’re impressed by how fresh it is, both in looks and tastes. Kan Eang’s best known for its Thai seafood but on our last visit we thought we’d check out its Japanese fare. We weren’t disappointed: the rainbow rolls are a flavoursome delight, but almost too pretty to eat! With the sound of soft jazz music wafting through and the calm bay and tropical gardens in the backdrop, Kan Eang remains a must-go Phuket dining spot.
Sailors far from their homeland looking for some comfort food will be happy to learn that the Phuket Yacht Club has revamped its restaurant with new management and a wider menu. It features some hearty favourites including fish & chips, bangers & mash, Ploughman’s platter, New Zealand lamb and more. Its Sunday Session with a traditional roast and live music has also been a hit. A fantastic spot to bring the family for a lazy afternoon.
A new development is underway along the pier road that will add more shops, bars and dining spots to the area, about 200 metres back from the water. The dreamily named Pleasure Plaza is a collection of 32 units set to open this month (January). When we checked some units were still available for a three-year lease at a rate of 200,000 baht.