As the home of the largest Vegetarian Festival in Thailand, Phuket has a decent choice of vegetarian and vegan restaurants that are open year-round.
The vegetarian food scene in Phuket is growing, both within the local community and due to the island becoming a more popular destination for wellness and detox seekers. The quality and variety of the food is improving here too, with everything from cheap street eats to more gourmet-style fare in stylish settings to be found. Here are some of our favourites.
Ruamjai Vegetarian Restaurant
Found just past the songthaew bus stop near the fresh market on Ranong Road in Phuket Town, this long-running vegan restaurant serves cheap and fresh buffet-style meals for breakfast and lunch (closes at 15:00). Choose from a range of vegetable stir-fry dishes, mock meats and curries on trays or big metal pots for takeaway or to dine in at the simple fan-cooled, florescent-lit shophouse. Prices are in the 40 to 60 baht range.
If you don’t see anything here to your liking, take a wander along Ranong Road, which is a bit of a vegan hub being nearby the two main Chinese temples that host Phuket Vegetarian Festival events. You’ll find three more smaller vegan restaurants, plus a small stand serving vegetarian pad thai. During the weeks of the festival in late September or October, this whole street is lined with veggie food stalls.
Found in Ao Chalong, this tin-roof open-air restaurant has a similar buffet style offering as Ruamjai, plus steamed “pork” buns and a table full of vegan snacks. Their massaman curry is excellent and overall the dishes here are fresh and full of zip. We’re not usually big fans of tofu but their sweet and sour tofu with lemongrass won us over. A plate of white rice with two buffet choices is about 45 baht, more for certain dishes and if you want brown rice. If this place is full, try Youta Vegetarian Food, found about 100 metres up the road towards Chalong Circle, with similar dishes but a much smaller dining area. Here is where you’ll find packs of MAMA brand vegetarian Tom Yam instant noodles if you’re looking to stock up.
Santosa Wellness Centre & Vegetarian Cafe
This smart, open-air restaurant with views over Kata beach is attached to a detox/wellness/fitness centre serving mostly Italian and Thai vegetarian, vegan and raw dishes. The menu includes pastas, soups, vegan paninis, salads and raw “summer rolls” with mixed peppers, coconut meat, pickled cucumbers and Thai vinaigrette, plus a small selection of desserts including raw fudge. Dishes are mostly in the 150 to 200 baht range, and every second Saturday they put on a vegetarian buffet dinner for 350 baht. Unexpectedly perhaps for a detox-themed place (though not unwelcome!), the menu has a wine list with a choice of reds and whites by the glass or bottle. Santosa offers day passes and drop-ins for its various classes at the wellness centre if you’re in the mood for a Zumba, pilates or yoga session before or after your meal. Expect to dine amid groups of yoga-gear clad, healthy looking people. Open for lunch and dinner.
Atsumi Raw Cafe
Set along the main road leading to Rawai beach near Mangosteen Resort, but run by the Atsumi Retreat Healing Centre in nearby Nai Harn, this all-raw cafe serves up a rather eye-catching selection of vegan and vegetarian food including burritos, mango sushi, raw somtam, raw pad thai, smoothies, organic coffees and raw pizza made with mock parma on a pizza base made from dehydrated seeds and nuts, plus takeaway snacks and desserts including raw chocolate balls. Most dishes are in the 150-250 baht range. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner; closed Sundays.
Though not strictly vegetarian, Shanti Lodge Phuket in Chalong has a veggie-friendly menu, with vegetarian versions of nearly all its dishes, a whole page of pumpkin dishes and the best veggie burger we’ve ever tasted anywhere. Another veg-friendly place is the beachfront Super Natural Restaurant at Friendship Beach Resort in Rawai, which has a big menu with vegetarian, vegan and raw choices clearly marked with symbols. With the Atmanjai Spa & Wellness Centre attached to the resort, the menu also has a good choice of smoothies and detox juices. Try the raw chocolate mousse, a rich and flavourful dessert made with avocado.
Also in the Rawai beach area is The Book Café, another good spot for smoothies, juices and a choice of vegetarian dishes including soups and sandwiches. Also on sale here, in addition to used books, are some organic and natural food items in takeaway containers including raw cacao, chia seeds, bee pollen and psyllium husks. For those looking to do some juicing, they can prepare a set of juices for you to cover three, five or seven days of detox-cleansing.
Ruamjai Vegetarian Restaurant 215 Ranong Road, Phuket Town, Phuket T: (076) 222 821
Vegetarian House Chaofa East Road (400m north of Chalong Circle near Chaofah Andaman Pet Hospital), Chalong, Phuket
Santosa Wellness Center & Vegetarian Cafe 16/4 -5 Patak Km 2 Road, Tambol Karon, Kata, Phuket T: (076) 330 600 www.santosaphuket.com
Atsumi Raw Cafe 99/1 Moo 7, Viset Road, Rawai T: (076) 289 224 www.atsumirawcafe.com
Shanti Lodge Phuket 1/2 Soi Bang Rae, Chaofa Nok Road, Chalong T: (076) 280 233 www.shantilodge.com/page/shanti-phuket
The Book Café 83/47 Soi Suanwat, Moo 2, Rawai T: (085) 794 2371 www.bookcafephuket.com
Super Natural Restaurant Friendship Beach Resort 27/1 Soi Mittrapap, Friendship Beach, Rawai T: (076) 288996 www.friendshipbeach.com
Lana Willocks is a freelance writer from Canada based in Phuket. Her love affair with Thailand began on a university exchange programme in Bangkok, then she returned to Phuket on the auspicious date of 9-9-1999 and never left.