Our resident villa expert Max Vee visits Phuket’s popular Bang Tao beach area, home to some of the island’s best villas, restaurants and beach clubs, and offers his inside tips for a memorable west coast holiday.
Phuket now attracts more than a million visitors a month during peak season, but the island is large and diverse enough cope with its popularity and offers a wide range of holiday choices to suit various different tastes and budgets.
Visitors looking to avoid the crowds, queues and cacophony that often prevails in popular beach locations like Patong or Karon can choose to stay close to one of the quieter beaches further north on Phuket’s west coast. One such beach is Bang Tao, which has fast become a favourite choice for a peaceful but convenient stay.
The Bang Tao area rose to fame as the location for Laguna Phuket, one of the largest fully integrated resort and residence destinations in Southeast Asia. Laguna covers some 1,000 acres of tropical lakeside grounds and features a selection of hotels, private luxury villas and apartments, as well as spas, a shopping village and an 18-hole championship golf course.
The resort complex has also inspired other upscale developments to spring up along this part of the coast, making Bang Tao an attractive proposition for investors, villa rental guests and holidaymakers in search of a natural yet sophisticated island experience.
About the Location
Bang Tao beach is one of Phuket’s longest and most picturesque stretches of soft sand. A 6km bay gently divides the beautiful blue hues of the Andaman Sea and the lush green of the palm-clad hinterland. At its northern end, Bang Tao segues right into Layan Beach, one of the island’s most stunning coastal National Parks where a river estuary flows into the sea right next to a small, uninhabited inshore island. The sunset views from Bang Tao beach are equally stunning and a number of restaurants, bars and beach clubs are positioned to take full advantage of the seascape vistas.
Why choose Bang Tao Beach?
Bang Tao ticks all the boxes for visitors in search that illusive beach holiday combination of privacy, peace and an eclectic range of amenities close to hand. The choice of private villas to rent is extensive with some properties located within the gated developments of the Laguna complex, others part of independent residential communities and yet more simply stand alone villas. None of the villas in Bang Tao are far from the beach, and with an array of dining, shopping, recreation and nightlife options short drive, or in many cases a stroll away, there’s little to drag you beyond your immediate vicinity.
Where would you eat in Bang Tao?
The menu choices in the restaurants around Bang Tao range from local Thai favourites served at modest stalls and beach eateries up to cosmopolitan cuisine presented in the salubrious surroundings of a 5-star resort. Most of the private villas come with the option of a full time chef to prepare meals in the privacy of your holiday home, but when you feel like eating out there’s plenty of choice and variety.
If being close to the beach inspires an urge for seafood then Lotus Restaurant opposite Mövenpick Bangtao Beach Resort is a large beachside restaurant specialising in the fruits of the sea. Phuket lobster, prawns, crabs and fish can be chosen live from tanks and then cooked to order. What’s more, if you book in advance you can enjoy the ocean flavours right by the lapping waves. Another popular seaside choice is Tony’s, which is perched on stilts a little further to the north. Then of course there is any one of the 30 (yes 30) restaurants and bars located within Laguna Phuket, while on the road that leads into the resort complex from the village of Cherngtalay, a multi-concept eatery called “Bake-Flame-Pasta-Sushi” has become big hit with residents and visitors thanks to its four menus in one, with a rang of good food served in a relaxed, al fresco streetside setting.
Bang Tao Beach is also home to three of the island’s best Beach Clubs – Bliss, Xana and Nikki Beach – all of which serve great food. As they also serve up great music and parties, they are listed in the nightlife section (see below).
What about a night out in Bang Tao?
Phuket has fast become the Beach Club capital of Asia, especially with global brand Nikki Beach being added to the “hip-list” this year. The Miami-inspired upscale day club is located at the far northern end, right by the entrance to Layan National Park and serves up the usual cocktail of chic design, dance music, top shelf liquor and delectable dishes (on the plate and by the pool). A couple of kilometres further south sits the equally cool and colourful Xana Beach Club, which serves up Mexican inspired flavours and signature cocktails and also holds regular parties that often feature guest appearances by famous DJs (Pete Tong and Shane Patrick have both graced the decks recently). Last but certainly not least, Bliss Beach Club is a firm favourite with Phuket expat residents, especially couples with children. It’s a great place for the kids to run around while the parents indulge in some top notch nibbles courtesy of skilled Australian chef Alex Oddy. The music is chilled, soulful and eclectic and DJ TommyT’s Soundwave Sundays always draws a good crowd of party goers. The event was previously held at other venues around the island and recently celebrated its 9th Anniversary.
What keeps you busy in Bang Tao?
Beach clubs are more than just party venues. In fact, you can easily pass a whole day swimming, relaxing and eating, then stay socialising well past sunset at Bliss, Xana or Nikki Beach. You can rent a SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard) right next to Bliss to explore the bay and there are also Jet Skis for rent on Bang Tao beach. You can even go on horse and elephant rides from Laguna Phuket. If beach massage is a too “rough and ready” for your skin, you can book the ultimate spa session at the world famous Banyan Tree Spa or opt for a lakeside indigence at the famous Oasis Spa. More active pursuits are available through Siam Bicycle Tours at the new Boat Avenue community mall in Cherngtalay, while for yoga lovers, the Hot Yoga studio in Bang Tao offers daily warm yoga classes. For an outdoor, there’s also the Laguna Phuket Golf Club and its 18-hole, par 71 course designed by Max Wexler and David Abell (currently 9 holes only due to renovation).
What about the Villas in Bang Tao?
A range of appealing villas are available for rent in various locations around Bang Tao. The properties include everything form 8-bedroom mansions to more modest but equally luxurious apartments. The range of bedroom configurations, designs, facilities and services means there is a villa to suit most people’s holiday needs in this stunning part of Phuket.
Located in the Laguna area, Villa Apsara is ideal for a family holiday, gathering or reunion of friends. The villa can comfortably accommodate 8 adults and features a 10 metre pool with Jacuzzi, plus a large outdoor entertainment area, including a bar and BBQ.
A beautiful four-bedroom master residence with two adjoining sleeping pavilions each with two private guest pavilions. Offering space for 16 guests and lavishly furnished in traditional Thai style with vibrant Jim Thompson silks and elegantly hand-carved Asian furniture.
A peaceful and luxurious 5-bedroom island retreat within Laguna Phuket featuring a two-storey main house with generous, open plan living spaces, plus a dedicated guest bedroom pavilion, all set around a 12-metre long pool and comfortably furnished sun terrace.
Maan Tawan Estate
Located in a stunning location overlooking a secluded part of Bang Tao Beach, the villas and apartments at Maan Tawan estate offer a luxurious private escape within walking distance of the best restaurants and beach clubs. Maan Tawan Orchid
is a luxuriously appointed 3-bedroom, split level apartment within beautifully maintained tropical gardens and Maan Tawan Jasmine
is a smaller but equally exquisite choice. The Maan Tawan Penthouse
features 3 spacious bedrooms, all with en-suite bathrooms and a 10-metre private rooftop pool.
Movenpick Resort Bang Tao Beach
This villa is one of 40 private residences that include luxurious penthouses and one, two, three bedroom suites, all featuring a contemporary design with soothing Thai influences. The 3-bedroom suite offers panoramic views with large balconies.
Villa Samorna at Chom Tawan Estate
Situated at the northern end of Bang Tao beach, this expansive, charming Balinese-style villa sleeps eight in four double, en-suite bedrooms arranged in two wings and joined by a roof terrace. Ideal for two families, the villa stands in almost half an acre of landscaped garden bordered by a small river.
A unique luxury holiday home and party pad with a state-of-the-art audio video entertainment system throughout the house, even under the swimming pool, and 200 square meters of fully equipped party area on the rooftop deck.
Sai Taan Estate
La Villa Rouge
is part of the Sai Taan private estate – a luxury four bedroom property a 10-metre private swimming pool and Jacuzzi, outdoor master bathroom, pool side Sala, and outside bar. Also part of the estate, Villa Lumiere
stands on just under 1,000 square metres of land and comprises four en-suite bedrooms, plus substantial living and dining areas.
This enchanting 3-bedroom property is 10 minutes’ walk for the beach and combines the simple charm of Thai and Balinese design. Natural elements like indoor gardens, moon roofs and water features imbue a sense of tranquility throughout the villa and spacious living and entertaining areas are complemented by plush suites.
Two Villas Tara
With a perfect location close to the beach, this 4-bedroom villa suits guests who want to rest in a tranquil and peaceful atmosphere within easy reach of the Laguna Golf Club and full range of local attractions that make Bang Tao beach a popular upscale holiday choice
by MAX VEE