Chalong is a subdistrict found on Phuket island’s southeast coast. The area’s most prominent feature is Chalong Pier on Chalong Bay, where dive boats, speedboats, yachts and long-tails come and go daily to take people out to the marine sights and surrounding islands including Coral Island and the Raya islands.
Though the area is changing in line with Phuket’s rapid development and the roads are busier, most of Chalong still has a local, relaxed feel to it. Away from the pier, you generally don’t have the same hassles you might find at Phuket’s busy resort areas of Karon, Kata and Patong beaches. You can still find rubber tree plantations and coconut groves, and see fishermen preparing their long-tail boats for a day’s outing at sea.
Due to the good range of facilities and services, local atmosphere and affordable accommodation in Chalong, a lot of expats and long-stay visitors have made their home in the area. In recent years many new services have arrived here, including a Tesco-Lotus department store, as well as the popular Villa Market in Home Pro Village.
Chalong is also home to many fitness centres including a branch of Elite Fitness, Studio 3 fitness classes and along the nearby Soi Taiad there are a number of Muay Thai and MMA training camps, Tiger Muay Thai and Dragon Muay Thai among them. In tandem with the growth of Muay Thai along this small road are other fitness/sports places including tennis courts, Unit 27 training centre and healthy restaurants.
Sailing is also a popular activity in Chalong, with sailing lessons and races held at Phuket Yacht Club, which also has a waterfront restaurant with views across the bay. Many Chalong based expats are involved in some form of marine leisure activities, including diving, yachting or fishing, all of which is easily accessible off the pier.
And as we’ve mentioned before, Chalong has a great dining scene, with everything from local noodle shops, somtam stands and fresh seafood barbecue places serving up inexpensive and delicious fare. Those seeking more international meals can easily find places to dine in Chalong, too, from fast-food KFC outlets at the shopping centres to the outstanding Vset restaurant attached to Kan Eang restaurant at the pier.
Chalong is also where you’ll find two of Phuket’s most iconic sights: the Big Buddha atop the Nakkerd hills, and Wat Chalong, Phuket’s largest Buddhist temple. Though both of these places see many tourists visiting every day, they are where you’ll have a peek into the more sacred life of Buddhist Thais, and find some interesting examples of Thai architecture and art. The Big Buddha, 45 metres tall and completely encased in white marble, is an awe-inspiring sight that can be seen from most everywhere in the Chalong area and beyond.
Chalong means “celebrate” in Thai, and certainly life here can be celebrated to the full, both on the water and inland. The arrival of the Chalong Bay Rum distillery has certainly helped make life more lively here. The white rum makes for a great gift, and the distillery puts on tours of its facilities for those interested in how the spirit is created. There are also cocktail events and even a cocktail making course for those wanting to learn to make their own refreshing mojitos at home.
Visit these sites to find out more about life in Chalong: