Rawai & Nai Harn Travel & City Guide
Ideal for family holidays, younger couples or retirement, offering a very relaxed pace of life.
The beach towns of Rawai and Nai Harn hold a certain charm about them. Tucked deep in the far south of Phuket, they offer a sense of tranquillity that is quite unique, despite having vibrant night scenes and an impressive range of restaurants. There is a sense of peacefulness that can be observed throughout.
These areas are popular with the expat crowd, many of which choose to make Rawai or Nai Harn their home and for several reasons, such as the beauty of Nai Harn Beach, the tropical jungle clad hills, and an assortment of activities that are particular to the region.
Rawai is also home to the Sea Gypsy Village, which can be found at the southern end of Viset Road, the areas main thoroughfare.
These villagers have called the island their home for centuries and have had a settlement in Rawai for quite some time. Here you’ll find the fishermen’s daily catches at the market, which also sells sea shells and other souvenirs and is an insightful community to visit.
WHERE TO STAY
There is a huge expat community living in these parts of the island so plenty of houses and villas are for rent on a short or long-term basis.
A few hotels and resorts run along the beach road in Rawai and Nai Harn beach, while guesthouses and rooms for rent are dotted all over the area. Rates are definitely cheaper for rooms and houses, especially for long-term rentals, while the rates in the hotels and resorts don’t differ much from elsewhere, due to the fact that some of these are top-class.
WHAT TO DO
Rawai and Nai Harn have loads of activities to indulge in, whether you’re after land-based action or water sports. Rawai’s beachfront is the perfect spot from which to take a longtail boat to other smaller isles, such as Coral Island and Racha Island. Its promenade is perfect for a stroll to explore the little shops and restaurants that line this picturesque beach road.
Nai Harn boasts spectacular beauty, particularly at one of the island’s most famous viewpoints, Promthep Cape. This headland rises high above the sea where you’ll find an awe-inspiring vista, parts of which also act as the launch pad for many a paraglider.
Down on the beach, boogie boarding, surfing and swimming are all popular pastimes. Please note that the beach can get very busy during the weekends with Thai and Western families spending the whole day there. Nai Harn Lake, just behind the beach, is popular with joggers and dog walkers alike should you fancy a bit of exercise.
To the west of Nai Harn Beach is another seashore known as Ao Sane that offers spectacular snorkelling opportunities. It can be reached by way of an underpass, which can be found at the large hotel and leads you onto a narrow, winding road up the hill affording expansive views of the land and sea. To the west of Nai Harn is another small beach called Ya Nui. This sheltered cove is perfect for snorkelling and taking a kayak out to the island opposite. Rawai and Nai Harn also boast several Muay Thai training camps should you fancy getting fit.
WHERE TO EAT
Both Rawai and Nai Harn offer much in the line of food and drink, boasting restaurants specialising in a number of cuisines, such as French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, and of course Thai.
There are several Thai-fusion restaurants in the area, aswell as bakeries and cafés with loads of road-side stalls selling noodle soups or sweet and savoury pancakes. Rawai’s beachfront road is lined by an assortment of eateries where you’ll find a number of long-established seafood restaurants. The street has also seen some new developments recently, introducing several international options including a healthy salad bar and a few Japanese options. There are quite a few coffee shops in the area and plenty of little Thai eateries well-worth stopping into for a meal.
These often simple looking joints serve some of the tastiest foods at reasonable rates. Rawai’s Viset Road is the location of several markets that move up and down the road according to what day of the week it is. They sell some scrumptious local food and snacks.
Rawai and Nai Harn both offer much in the line of night-time entertainment. The former is home to the majority of bars in the area, many of which are housed within plazas containing several drinking holes in one spot.
Whether it’s a weekend or week night, there is always a buzzing atmosphere to be found after dark. Both Rawai and Nai Harn have a nightclub, which are equally popular after most pubs and restaurants have closed. They play pumping music, have large dance floors and stay open well into the early hours.
If you fancy a less lively night out, you can always head to a beach bar or frequent any of the beach resorts along Viset Road for a chilled out lounge-type atmosphere. Nai Harn Beach is also a great place to enjoy a few sunset drinks after a day spent on its sandy shore. Alternatively, you can head up to Promthep Cape where you’ll find a restaurant perched high on the hill, which serves tasty Thai cuisine and boasts a spectacular sunset view.
Shopping here is quite diverse as you’ll find all types of retail outlets, ranging from Thai boutique fashion stores to markets selling a myriad of goods. Thai fashion is mainly concentrated along route 4233 near the three-way junction in Nai Harn where you’ll also find a post office, gym and several cafés.
Phuket Seashell Museum displays shells from all around the world, but focuses on shells found in Thai waters, which are amongst the most sought after by collectors.There is a Tesco Lotus shopping complex towards Chalong circle and a large cash and carry grocery store next door, as well as a few specialised delis and stores selling imported produce.
There are a few shops at Nai Harn beach that carry basic necessities, should you require sun lotion, a beverage or a small snack whilst relaxing at the beach.