The Sea Gypsy community in Rawai has been living in the same parcel of land for many decades now and continue to sustain itself thanks to the skills of its fishermen and the influx of tourists buying souvenirs and eating in its restaurants.
Phuket sure is famous for its fresh seafood and stunning ocean view from all around the island. Whether you are a first-time traveler or an expat willing to spend some quality time at a local venue while gazing at the stunning views of Phuket’s south coast, the Rawai Sea Gypsy Village is a great option to consider.
Moobaan Chaolay [Sea People’s Village], also known as Thai Mai Village [New Thais Village] houses the Urak-Lawoi sea gypsy tribe. Most of the villagers here still make a living by fishing and then sell their catches, alongside other fresh products such as vegetables, fruits, meat, and spices, in the market adjacent to their village.
The fishermen from the village still fish the traditional way. They usually use a traditional long-tail boat and a fishhook, using a metal bead to sink the rope. Some of them also prefer to go fish diving or use a traditional fishing net. The freshness is 100% guaranteed as the seafood are being sold right once they come back onshore.
You will find several restaurants near the sea gypsy market in front of Rawai beach, that serve delicious seafood using several recipes. The gimmick here is that you can select your preferred protein at the market, such as fish, crab, lobster, rock lobster, clam, oyster, prawn or squid/octopus, and then carry the fresh ingredients to the restaurant you like, which will weigh your seafood and suggest the price for cooking. By sitting near the entrance of each restaurant, you will enjoy the stunning view of Rawai beach, especially during sunny weather, when the blue sea is contrasting with the long row of colorful long-tail boats parked in the shallow water.
Once you have indulged in delicious fresh seafood, time to go for a digestive walk inside the sea village of Rawai. You can still see the authentic, traditional lifestyle of the villagers here, especially the area in front of the beach where they keep their long-tail boats, home-made fishing nets and more. You will surely get some shots of local kids running around, jumping in the water and play alongside the many boats.
The sea gypsy people do not have traditional religion like Buddhism. Instead, they believe in and worship the spirit of their ancestors and the goddess of the sea. The Loy Rua [floating the boat] ritual is an important annual ceremony sea gypsy across Thailand carry on for many generations during October, to help to eliminate evil and unfortunate events from the village.