Munch on a mat
Phuket has a good choice of restaurants from local cheap eats to swanky beach clubs, but for those looking to organise their own meal the island has several scenic spots to enjoy a picnic.
Our favourite big beach for a picnic is Nai Harn beach, which has a white-sand beach backed by casuarina trees. The treed area was once jammed with restaurant tables but these have been cleared out since July 2014, courtesy of the army, leaving a wide shady area for picnickers.
If you’d rather be on the sand, then the best spot is near the channel that connects the sea to Nai Harn lake – you’ll find many families enjoying picnics here, though if you’re with kids do watch them closely if swimming in the channel. For those with children, the public park at Nai Harn lake just back from the beach is another good picnic spot, with a large playground with swings and slides for the kids to enjoy.
Laemka beach is a smaller beach in the Nai Harn area that offers a shady cove and relaxed setting, as well as shallow waters for swimming. The beach can get busy with speedboat day-trippers at times but it has a peaceful, out-of-the-way feel for much of the day.
Over in Cape Panwa, there’s a stretch of road that runs along the west side of the peninsula, offering terrific views across Chalong Bay. Along the road, not far from Khao Khad viewpoint, the local council has set up some picnic tables and salas for public use. Recommended especially for evening meals, since the sunset views are divine.
Saphan Hin park in Phuket Town is a popular spot for local families, and there’s often a festival of some sort going on here in the evenings as well. The beach that rings the park is somewhat grubby, but you’ll find tables and chairs for public use as well as stretches of lawn to place your mat. Saphan Hin has a playground and sports facilities as well as raised walkway through the mangroves. Expect to see plenty of joggers and, in the drier months of January through March, kite-flyers.
With a walking trail, streams to cool down in and the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project nearby, Bang Pae waterfall is our favourite picnic spot inland. A few tables are set up near the entrance, while along the trail are a few clearings big enough for a small group to gather. Foreign visitors will have to pay 200 baht for entry into the national park.
For your picnic provisions, Phuket has several grocery stores near all the locations listed above including Tesco-Lotus shops and mini-marts, as well as many roadside stalls selling anything from fried chicken to grilled fish to som tam to corn on the cob.
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.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
Our top 10 other sights and activities in and around Phuket