One of our travel goals has been to stay healthy while backpacking Asia. It’s not as easy as it sounds when you travel to a country where everything is fried, most dishes are noodles, or when you don’t eat meat.
Luckily, we found Rawai in Phuket offers tons of healthy food and delicious restaurants for expats or travelers looking to stay healthy. I even found plenty of vegetarian options to keep me busy for a month.
Where is Rawai?
Rawai is located at the southernmost point in Phuket. The drive takes about 1.5hrs from the airport, but well worth the distance, its great beaches and quiet town allows for the perfect vacation from party-goers.
Popular towns in Phuket include:
Patong which is full of crowds, lots of parting, and every shop you can imagine.
Karon is less hectic, but still a big city, more expensive and more family oriented.
Down a little further is Kata, a fancy, smaller town on a nice long beach.
However, if you drive a bit further south, you’ll reach Rawai. In my opinion, it is the least crowded and most beautiful in Phuket. Rawai has everything: from healthy food, fitness, perfect beaches, viewpoints, and even the occasional surf.
Living in Rawai
We were lucky to live in Rawai for a month. Larry went a week before I arrived and scouted out apartments and hotels all over the island. He also tested out 5 or 6 Muay Thai gyms to find a good spot for us.
He found Rawai through friends who live there year round. Our friends Anouk and V have their own amazing Airbnb: CoCo Casita, if you are looking or an adorable place to stay.
They helped us rent scooters and showed us some hotels. Larry found a good deal and a gym membership at Raw Fitness before I even arrived.
During our time, we focused on detoxing our body. Every day we trained in Muay Thai and took hot bikram yoga at Raw Fitness. It was perfect, waking up everyday, sweating out the toxins, not drinking, and swimming in the salt water after a bikram class (don’t know what bikram yoga is? Read about it here).
Who knew it would be so rewarding to take a fitness holiday?
It never crossed my mind to consider a vacation consisting of a two week detox and fitness camp, but now that I tried it I want to recommend it to everyone back home!
Needless to say, after training twice a day our bodies need fuel. So, we tried a mix between Thai and western cuisine and found plenty of options.
I have listed some of my favorite restaurants and dishes below, I hope they help improve your stay:
We frequently visited cafes in between workouts to work online and to fuel our bodies. Since I am 98% vegetarian and my boyfriend is a meat-eater, we found places for both of us. I guarantee if you are a vegetarian or vegan you can eat well.
If you really want to stay healthy my one recommendation is asking the Thai restaurants for food “mai wan.” In Thai it means “no sugar” because they put spoonfuls of sugar on everything!
The Book Cafe ($): My personal favorite — this spot has mostly outside seating with one table and couch in an air-conditioned room. The food is outstanding, all homemade and healthy! The owner Bev is wonderful and she prepares healthy, organic food. You can get juices, smoothies, amazing banana bread, sandwiches, and coffees. All the best price in Rawai. Apparently her chili con carne was recommended around town.
Pure Energy ($$): We found this restaurant courtesy of the bikrim yoga instructor at Raw Fitness. They are a small cafe off the main road with only four tables. Coffee is roughly 60thb and pancakes are maybe 170thb, other places charge 250thb, so comparably it’s priced really well. If you are focusing on dieting, they can prepare weekly meal plans for you. Definitely worth a meal (and a pancake!).
Wilson’s Cafe ($$): An artistic cafe, displaying local artists’ work located right on the main road. Wilson’s has is large and has both inside and outside seating. Food is really good, a bit on the expensive side, but it has good wifi and a good space if you’d like to get work done.
Coffee Tribe ($$): Also located right on the main road, serving the biggest coffee’s we’ve found in Rawai, but also a bit pricy. Serving up healthy meals, from breakfast to lunch, croissants, and juices, Coffee Tribe has everything. The staff is really welcoming and the space has big comfortable chairs with plenty of seating. It’s a great spot for the digital nomad. But, if you are on a budget, I suggest using the large air-con space for a cuppa coffee then grabbing healthy (and cheaper) lunch across the street at The Book Cafe.
A Spoonful of Sugar ($$$): On the main road, a teeny space, but quite cute. They have extravagant homemade desserts, juices, large (expensive) coffees, and apparently delightful pancakes. I only went there once for a coffee, but a local friend loves their pancakes.
Thai Lagoon: A local told us this spot near Nai Harn beach has some of the best curries in Rawi. Unfortunately, we didn’t have one, but we wanted to because she owns a restaurant in Rawai so her recommendation is highly reputable.
Street Hut: One of my favorite sweet and sour soup spots in Rawai. A huge spot with tons of seating and usually filled with locals and travelers alike. You can get a meal from 40thb on to 200thb. Priced well and flavorful food. Depending on your meal, expect the food to take maybe 15min + because they are made to order.
Thai Food Restaurant: Despite not being easy to find this place has cheap good meals. Most shops sell coconuts for 50thb, but you can get a fresh coconut here for 35thb. Glass noodles were top on my list as well as their vegetarian Massamon curry. Find it by the red shop out front selling juices
Enjoy traveling in Rawai
I hope this gave you some insight into restaurants and cafe’s in the area. I highly recommend trying a detox vacation. It was inspiring to meet people from around the world who took solo trips to Phuket JUST to eat healthy and workout daily.
Give it a try!
Here is a map of our favorite restaurants:
the one written in Thai is just about where that Thai Food Restaurant is — look for the red hut outside.