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Phuket’s Beach Battle: Community Rallies to Reclaim Laem Nga Beach Access Against Private Encroachment

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In the sun-drenched paradise of Phuket, a drama unfolded that seemed more akin to a tale of David versus Goliath. The battleground was not a valley of ancient armies but the soft sands and whispering waves of Laem Nga Beach. Here, amidst the tranquility that only nature can offer, about 500 determined souls gathered not to bask in the sun, but to reclaim what they believed rightfully belonged to the public: access to the beach itself. This impassioned assembly took place yesterday, in front of a daunting fence that marked the boundary of a dispute stretching back over a decade.

The spark that ignited the flames of this movement was a startling incident involving a Swiss man, a female doctor, and an unexpected kick in the back. This altercation, occurring on beachside steps leading to a rented villa, seemed at first glance a simple case of mistaken identity, with the aggressor mistaking the doctor and her friend for unwelcome trespassers. However, the ripples of this act spread far and wide when it was discovered that the steps, alongside a wooden walkway and a stone dyke, encroached upon the public beach and were consequently ordered to be demolished.

A clarion call was sounded by the vibrant local Facebook page, Laem Nga Phuket, urging the community to band together and reclaim their access to Laem Nga Beach. An access that had been obstructed by Laem Nga Development, a private entity, since the year 2011. Heeding the call, around 500 vibrant demonstrators descended upon the scene, their hands carrying placards etched with messages of unity and determination. “We want our beach back” and “Road No 4097 does not belong to a private company. We all have the right to use the road,” they proclaimed.

The saga of this rural road, stretching 1,290 meters into the heart of the contention, is a tale in itself. Constructed in 1994 by the now-dormant Accelerated Rural Development Department and later transferred to the Tambon Ratsada Municipality in 1997, only the initial 800-meter stretch remains accessible to the public, thanks to the daunting fences erected by the property developer over a 64-rai plot of land. “The title deeds were issued in 1982,” noted Mr. Nakarin Yosaengrat, Tambon Ratsada mayor, who also pondered the perplexing question of why the road was built through private property in the first place.

With the authority of the municipality handcuffed by legal limitations, since the contested portion of the road falls under the title deeds of the private company, the plot thickens. Chanchai Tanthavachiraphan, the village headman of Tambon Ratsada, highlighted the community’s plea for clarity. “We want to know the truth,” he stated, reflecting a sentiment echoed by the throngs of protestors.

A ray of hope in this saga was the intervention of Deputy Phuket Governor, Sattha Thongkham, who took it upon himself to visit the site. His presence was not just as an observer but as a listener, absorbing the grievances and calls for justice from the people themselves. This scene on the sands of Laem Nga Beach serves as a poignant reminder of the power of community, the complexity of development, and the enduring quest for access to the natural beauty that belongs to everyone. As the sun set on this eventful day, the question remained: would the people of Phuket reclaim their path to paradise?


  1. PhuketNative March 8, 2024

    Unbelievable that in 2023 we still have to fight for access to our own beaches. Public lands should be for public use, not fenced off by greedy developers!

    • IslandInvestor March 8, 2024

      It’s not entirely black and white, though. Developers often enhance these areas, driving up property values and boosting the local economy. Sometimes, it’s a trade-off.

      • PhuketNative March 8, 2024

        Enhance? By restricting access to what nature intended for everyone? No thanks.

      • EcoWarrior March 8, 2024

        Exactly, @PhuketNative. It’s about preserving natural beauty and public rights. Development should not come at the cost of access to nature.

    • BeachLover March 8, 2024

      This isn’t new in Phuket. Remember the beach clubs fiasco? Time for the government to step in and clearly demarcate public lands.

  2. LegalEagle March 8, 2024

    The real issue might be in the intricacies of land deeds and property rights. This situation seems ripe for a court case that sets precedence.

    • SunnySide March 8, 2024

      That’s a long and costly route. Why can’t this be resolved with community dialogues and mediation? Legal battles only profit the lawyers.

  3. SwissMiss March 8, 2024

    As a Swiss expat, I’m disappointed that it was a Swiss man involved in the altercation that sparked this. We should respect the laws and customs of the countries we live in.

    • PhuketResident March 8, 2024

      One bad apple doesn’t represent everyone. This is about broader issues of public access, not individual nationalities.

  4. TravelBug March 8, 2024

    Access to beaches should never be a question. It’s a basic right. Hopefully, Phuket sets a precedent for beaches everywhere.

    • InvestorJoe March 8, 2024

      Rights are one thing, but property is property. The law decides, not public opinion. There’s got to be a balance between rights and ownership.

      • TravelBug March 8, 2024

        Law is meant to protect public interests, not just private property. Balance is key, but access to nature should be non-negotiable.

  5. GreenThumb March 8, 2024

    It’s about time we stand up to protect our environment and public spaces. This movement in Phuket is inspiring!

  6. Realist March 8, 2024

    Every time there’s a development, people cry foul over public access. Not every square inch of beach can or should be public.

    • EcoWarrior March 8, 2024

      It’s not about denying all development, @Realist, but about ensuring that development does not infringe upon public rights and nature conservation.

  7. FactFinder March 8, 2024

    I wonder why the road was built through private property in the first place. Sounds like a planning oversight that’s now haunting everyone.

    • HistoryBuff March 8, 2024

      Often these issues date back to decisions made decades ago. It’s a tangled mess of historical documentation and changing laws.

  8. Fred Harris March 8, 2024

    If you look at Google Earth historical imagery you can see 20 years ago this was the forest so can’t be private land it’s very obvious that some wrongdoings have done here time to take confirmed action raise them to the ground plant trees prosecute everybody

  9. Fred Harris March 8, 2024

    If you look at Google Earth historical imagery you can see 20 years ago this was the forest so can’t be private land it’s very obvious that some wrongdoings have done here time to take confirmed action raise them to the ground plant trees prosecute everybody

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