Phuket, Thailand’s largest island, is perhaps best known for its colourful night life. But, as I discovered on a recent trip here, it has so much more to offer.
Smack in the middle of the west coast, a 30-minute drive south of the international airport, is my top pick for a place to call home on Phuket.
Bangtao is the kind of town where you can play golf all day, enjoy sundown cocktails on the beach and then eat dinner with the locals at a food market. It’s perfect if you want the comforts of home, at a fraction of the cost, mixed with the allure and exoticism of Thailand.
For me, this town is a perfect blend of having it all and getting away from it. The main drag runs perpendicular to the beach and is sprinkled with restaurants and apartments, but just across the way you can watch cows and goats munch lazily on date palms.
The six-and-a-half kilometre stretch of uninterrupted beach is perfect for a long stroll or sipping a $5 cocktail and watching the sun set at Red Sun Bar with Nestie, the owner, who makes you feel like you’ve been best friends for a lifetime.
Nearby is the quirky Boat Avenue, an outdoor shopping plaza made from container ships. There you can shop for wine and prosciutto at Villa Market, a bathing suit at Katalina Collection, take a yoga class or eat tapas at Divino (starting from $7.50).
Every Friday night there is a market where you can eat cheap local food from any number of vendors. For around $6 you can enjoy a plate of pad Thai and listen to live music while sipping a cold one ($3) at BeerBox Avenue.
If you’re a golfer, the award-winning Laguna golf course is at your doorstep or, if you prefer something more action packed, a nearby Muay Thai Boxing ring has weekly fights.
It’s not a touristy beach area with stall after stall hawking sarongs and sunscreen; it’s an expat area that happens to have a fabulous beach. It feels like a happening and friendly little village that’s truly liveable. And there’s some great options to choose from.
I found a two-bedroom apartment with a shared pool and gym, within a 10-minute walk to the beach, available for just $950 a month.
It’s right next door to Boat Avenue so you are steps away from Villa Market grocery store and dozens of restaurants and boutiques. A five-minute walk away and you’ll have your choice of the swank Siam Supper Club or Big Boss seafood for tasty eats.
I also checked out a fully furnished, two-bedroom bungalow with two ensuite bathrooms, a garden and a terrace for $1,050. Plus, it’s only a five-minute drive from Bangtao beach and Laguna Golf Course.
A good place to start scouting for a home in Bangtao is Aussie hangout Pepper’s Sports Bar. There you’ll find expats who are happy to pass on any tips and tricks they’ve learned.
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