Are you looking to explore some of Phuket’s most evocative spots? Does catching a glimpse of the island’s local life appeal to you? If the answer to either of those questions is yes, gather your family or friends and head to the southern part of the island for the day.
The Rawai neighbourhood is a favourite amongst expats and local Thais alike. The neighbourhood oozes with local charm and gives off a relaxed vibe. Time seems to move a bit slower on this part of the island, but there are plenty of things to see and do here which make it a worthwhile day trip or overnight stay while in Phuket.
Rawai Landing Pier is a picturesque destination on the southernmost beachfront in Phuket. Popular for its long pier, sweeping sea views and splattering of traditional Thai long tail boats, this local community has managed to retain its fishing village charm. It’s a popular spot for tourists and families alike and a delightful place to spend an enjoyable afternoon walking along the pier, dining at any of the local seafood restaurants or meandering around and taking a few photographs.
Next to the Rawai Landing Pier there’s a small village of indigenous people known as Sea Gypsies. This particular group of people have been known throughout the years for their nomadic lifestyle, often living in wooden fishing boats and making their way across the sea fishing and diving. These days, the romantic nomadic notion has disappeared, and although the Sea Gypsies still make a living fishing, they can be found selling various souvenirs and brick-a-brack around the village.
A trip to the Rawai Sea Gypsy Village is a fascinating experience. There’s a variety of market stalls selling freshly caught seafood, which can be purchased to prepare at home, or better yet, in one of the several restaurants within the village that face the sea. There’s lenty of delicious food to enjoy in these varied restaurants – for very affordable prices.
Not far from the Rawai neighborhood lies Phuket’s famed viewpoint, Promthep Cape, Laem Promthep in Thai. This is, without a doubt, Phuket’s most stunning viewpoint and well worth a visit any day. Promthep Cape offers up outstanding views of the Andaman Sea and the islands just off the coast of Phuket, as well breathtaking sunsets.
The area around the cape enjoyed a bit of a facelift a year or two ago, and there are some delightful shops and stalls to peruse before it’s time to catch the sunset. This market-type environment is great for picking up inexpensive colourful sarongs and batiks, beach towels and a few local Phuket souvenir items, such as seashells and strings of pearls.
Perhaps catering to the pre-pandemic tourism dynamic on the island, there’s a Chinese restaurant at Promthep Cape as well as a cosy coffee shop. Street vendors also plant their carts here in the late afternoon, so if you’re looking for freshly fried chicken with sticky rice or Phad Thai with shrimp, this area really is the place to be.
For those feeling a bit adventurous, it’s possible to walk down the entirety of the cape. While the trek down is not particularly difficult, the winding path can often be slippery. It’s best to wear sturdy shoes and take a bottle of water, as the trek will indeed make you sweaty and thirsty. Once you reach the bottom of the cape, you’ll be treated to slight sea breezes, the crash of waves and serene views.
Another popular viewpoint in the area is one that overlooks the long stretch of Nai Harn Beach, the small bay of Ya Nui Beach and Promthep Cape. Casually referred to as the Windmill Viewpoint, the area of land is actually home to the Promthep Alternative Energy Station.
Views here are impressive and it’s a tranquil spot any time of day. There’s a sala here to escape the beating rays of Phuket’s sun and a small vending cart that offers a variety of cool drinks, fresh coconuts and snacks. Windmill Viewpoint is a favourite amongst those who enjoy flying model airplanes and hang gliding. Although popular, it’s less crowded than some of Phuket’s more well‑known touristic spots, which makes it a lovely place to explore when you find yourself in the southern part of the island.
Southern Phuket has a lot to offer in terms of tourist and sightseeing spots, affordable eateries and classic viewpoints. Do make sure to visit Phuket’s famous tourist destinations down south: Rawai Landing Pier, the Sea Gypsy Village, Promthep Cape and the Windmill Viewpoint when on holiday in Phuket. For those who are not new to the island, a visit to the Rawai neighbourhood offers a welcome chance to immerse yourself in a slower pace of life than other parts of the island.