Bang Tao Beach (or Bangtao) is one of the longest beach in Phuket, half way between airport and Patong Beach on the west coast of the island, where all the beaches are. With its beautiful stretch of sand, Bangtao is always associated with the gigantic resort complex known as ‘Laguna Phuket’.
This area was one of the tin mines that made the fortune of Phuket long ago, but was abandoned later as the land was consider worthless. Laguna Phuket managed to transform it in an very profitable award winning ‘eco project’ with international resorts such as Banyan Tree Resort, Dusit Thani Resort and Laguna Beach Resort.
In the recent years, an incredible amount of luxury villas and properties were built in the back of the Bangtao Beach hotels. Laguna used to be the ‘high-end’ part of the island, but the shine has slightly faded and it feels more of a mass tourism complex, you just have to look at the size and amount of the ‘local restaurants’ on the beach to get the picture. The high-end seems to have moved to Mai Khao Beach with the JW Marriott, Sala Phuket and Renaissance Phuket Resort.
The Laguna Complex is very self contained and guests from any of the five resorts are welcome to use other resorts facilities. Restaurants of course, but also pools, spas and the Laguna Golf. If you choose to stay there, you might also want to visit the ‘Canal Village’ shopping plaza near the Dusit Thani, but it was never a real success and often looks half deserted. However have a look at the Jim Thompson outlet and take a break at the ‘Albatross Bar & Restaurant’. To get there, a shuttle boat is permanently circling the five resorts and marks a stop at Canal Village.
Thinking of it, it’s obviously all benefit for the hotel group, everything is far, so guests can basically spend all their holiday money right there! Of course, locals wanted their share of this tourist gold mine and unfortunately, the beach access of most resort became blocked by one row or more of shops and shacks. Resorts couldn’t do anything about it but on the other hand you have more choice to buy drinks, snacks, souvenirs and tours. Several seafood restaurants, ranging from small to huge like the ‘Lotus Seafood’, serve a good choice of live seafood at a more affordable price than resorts, but more expensive than any other local restaurants on the island.
Near Bangtao is Cherngtalay, a village offering nice dining alternatives to the many resorts restaurants: Tatonka, Supper Club or Black Cat, but also many bars and pubs, souvenir shops, spas and massages plus a long time established horse back riding that offers fun horse strolls along the beach. If you are lucky you’ll meet one of the baby elephants from the hotels, an amazing photo opportunity!
Then you have the Bang Tao village, probably the original fisherman area, but this part of the beach is not as attractive. You will find several less luxurious but more affordable hotels with beach access over there, a good one would be the Best Western Bangtao Beach Resort and quite a few beach front restaurants as well.