Updated: May 11, 2018
Bang Tao Hotels
More affordable and convenient than most. Each of the 3 wings of rooms faces the gardens, creeks or separate pools, so none have sea views. The standard rooms are motel-style in design and décor, but spacious, with appealing wicker chairs and a few photos of Bang Tao on the walls. Rooms with pool views offer more space for an extra single bed, while the Family Room features twin bunk beds. But the balconies in all rooms are unnecessarily small, often barely large enough for two people to stand. A vast lawn peppered with pines angles down from the main pool to the broad beach, with extensive views to the headland and beyond. There’s a shady playground, but better facilities for families can be found elsewhere. The location is more notable than most, however: at the end of an access road and within 500m of a bunch of beachside cafés.
Luxurious, convenient, beachfront and excellent for families. One of few with a genuine Thai design and facing the beach, this place oozes opulence and charm. Rooms are in 3-level blocks, while a few villas and suites are scattered elsewhere, but less appealing is the accommodation facing the ‘tropical lagoon’ (an unexciting man-made lake). All rooms feature stylish Thai influences, with lots of colourful rugs and cushions, as well as a tiled floor, charming alcove sofa and unusual shower-cum-bathtub. Many boast world-class sea views from a balcony close enough for waves to be noisy at night. The wide beach faces a headland and offers extensive views in both directions, and the numerous sparkling-blue pools raised for maximum views feature spouts, waterfalls and slides. Facilities for families are excellent, e.g. there’s a kids’ club and numerous activities and courses, and it’s within 100m of a huddle of beachside cafés and easy to reach along an access road.
Convenient, beach frontage, and ideal for families. Renovated during mid-2017, the rooms (called ‘studios’) have views of the gardens and bright-blue pools, while many are angled towards the ocean for hopeful glimpses, and those on the ground floor have direct pool access. Rooms are more spacious than those in other resorts, with charming Thai influences among motel-style furnishings (e.g. fridge and microwave) and a sizeable balcony. Curtains separate the bedroom from the lounge area with a colourful sofa that converts to a single bed. The 6 lagoon-shaped pools feature ‘islands’ with palm trees and a swim-up bar, and part of the shady beach is cordoned-off from jet skis. And the facilities for families are extraordinary: evening entertainment, a kids’ club, special pools, playground, games room and a range of absorbing activities. It’s also within a short stroll of a bunch of beachside eateries and a few shops along the main road.
Good value and ideal for self-catering, but dreary area. Nowhere near as vibrant or scenic as Patong or Kata, Chalong Bay is based along a very busy road, with surprisingly few tourist facilities, and the beach is thin, gravelly and mostly commandeered by major resorts. This budget-priced bunch of bungalows is cushioned from traffic noise by a 50m lane, and doesn’t face the beach. They feature a spacious lounge/kitchen/dining area with a sofa (that can convert to a single bed), as well as a fridge, cooking facilities and table, and an undersized bedroom at the back with minimal views. The floor is covered with soothing mosaic tiles, while the commodious balcony with overhead fan overlooks the shady and inviting pool. Ideal for those who want to self-cater and escape the crowds, and have their own transport, the closest beach is 10 minutes on foot, while the far better Nai Harn beach is 5 minutes by vehicle.
Unashamedly chic, good for self-catering, but lacklustre area. This is another resort desperately searching for a patch of beach frontage, but Chalong Bay is narrow and gritty and stretches along a busy road with few facilities. Nonetheless, the Serenity is appropriately named, with traffic noise buffered by walls, and attractive grounds. While the sea may be uninviting, views of the scruffy harbour and islets are captivating. The large beachside pool features extensive wooden decking and a splash area for kids, but nothing else is set up for children. But it’s mostly about the views, which vary considerably, from those facing a wall to sublime panoramas from a private pool on top-floor suites. Standard suites are spacious and very modern, with floor-to-ceiling windows on 2 sides, a dining table, kitchen facilities, massive balcony, sofa and all the latest audio equipment. It’s on a noisy corner, convenient for transport, but only a handful of facilities are within walking distance.
Superlative elegance, family-friendly, but underwhelming area. The unattractiveness of Chalong Bay, with its gravelly beach and dearth of tourist facilities, is compensated with magnificent villas dotted among landscaped gardens of palms and ponds vast enough for guests to need buggies. Some feature a private pool and 2 bedrooms, but views vary considerably and promised sea views may disappoint. All villas are beautifully designed, spaced apart along meandering paths, and fitted with gates and fences ensuring total seclusion and serenity. Other features include high thatched ceilings, a lovely tiled floor, 4-poster bed and complete windows on 2 sides. And the private pool is not just a plunge pool. Guests can enjoy Thai yoga and botanical walks through the hotel gardens, and children would relish the kids’ club, games room and playground. The Infinity pool facing the beach has edges that seem to blend into the ocean, while the extended beach is scenic and virtually private.
Luxury in delightful low-key area, but adults only. One of very few resorts facing this pleasingly undeveloped beach, the Sunprime offers hundreds of rooms in attractive low-level blocks across grounds so colossal that guests frequently become disoriented. Most Deluxe Rooms overlook gardens and/or pools, with promised ‘sea views’ marginal at best. Rooms feature attractive dark-wood furnishings, polished floorboards and colourful cushions and linen, but are unremarkable otherwise: more like a functional motel. The balconies/verandas are spacious enough for 2 comfy lounge chairs, but many face other rooms or busy paths, significantly affecting privacy and peace. Fronting a particularly scenic section of the curved bay, the views are extensive and the shade plentiful. 2 of the 4 sparkling pools have swim-up bars, and some indoor activities are offered. It is in a very handy area, between a dead end street and the centre of Kamala, but note: no-one under 16 years old is allowed.
Unappealing exterior, but lovely position and family-friendly. The design – a hodgepodge of ochre- and grey-coloured boxes surrounded by artificial grass – is unattractive, but the location is superb: directly facing a serene beach at the northern end of the curved bay. All rooms feature a contemporary décor, with some indistinguishable Thai prints, extensive windows, and unimaginative motel-style appliances and furnishings. Barely 20m from the sand, the Ocean View Superior rooms have almost perfect sea views, while the Pool Villas (some with 2 bedrooms) are higher up, offering broader panoramas of the ocean. The Infinity pool facing the beach could get crowded and the attached bar is sometimes noisy, but it’s mostly about the views, probably the finest in Kamala. And with plentiful activities and adjustable bedroom layouts, it’s ideal for families. It is about 15 minutes via the beach to downtown Kamala, but a few cafés and shops are closer, and a free minibus shuttles guests to Patong.
New, serene, family-run and convenient. Very few hotels in Kamala face the beach, so the next best location is a quiet cul-de-sac still close to sand and shops. With a limited number of rooms in a 5-level block, the service is highly attentive and views on the upper floors are extensive from 2 (or even 3) floor-to-ceiling windows and elongated balconies. Vistas are however of hills, trees and distant buildings, so promised sea views may disappoint, while those on the ground floor have direct access to the pool. Some rooms feature a queen and single bed, yet still feel spacious, and a few have 2 bedrooms. And it’s charmingly quirky: some rooms have no wall between the bedroom and bathroom, and most appear unfinished (e.g. unpainted ceilings) but are otherwise faultless. A little hard to find among the backstreets, it’s 1 minute to the main road lined with shops and cafés and the same distance again to the beach.
Endless opulence, unique beach frontage, outstanding for families. Spread across low-level hills facing the beach and quietly hidden from the main road, the Centara is truly remarkable. The self-described ‘Sino-Portuguese’ design is charmingly colonial-style with tiled roofs, chunky columns and splashes of pink everywhere. The four lagoon-shaped pools with ‘islands’ of palms and even ‘beaches’ never seem to end, tropical plants invade every possible space, and the vast beach is virtually private. While most rooms face the sea, the ocean can be 100m away and views are often blocked by trees. Rooms are elegant and spacious, with more colonial-style touches, some featuring a plunge pool or Jacuzzi on the balcony, and an extra bedroom. And the young ones would adore one of Phuket’s finest kids’ clubs. In the far northern end of Karon, it’s the only resort directly fronting the beach. It can feel a little isolated, but is only 10 minutes along the beach to downtown.
Family-friendly mega-resort that doesn’t feel like one. A narrow entrance along the main road belies serene grounds so enormous that guests need buggies and can get easily disoriented. There’s an extraordinary range and number of rooms in 5-level blocks and villas dotted among tropical gardens. The design and layout of the villas differ greatly: some more modern, others with thatched roofs, a few facing the immaculate lawns, others overlooking a creek, and a handful with a private garden, plunge pool or extra bedroom. All rooms feature a likeable Thai décor, with exceptionally long desk, and bamboo curtains across the sizeable balcony. Very few rooms or villas however, have genuine sea views. The 3 lagoon-shaped pools are shady and immensely inviting, with a children’s pool and bar attached. And it actively welcomes families with numerous activities, a kids’ club, playground, and games room. Midway along Karon, it’s flanked by classy bistros and boutiques, and a short stroll to the town centre.
Dazzling design, breezy location, wonderfully family-friendly. With sizeable grounds and a serene setting in the uncrowded northern part of the bay, the sparkling-white exterior blends in perfectly with the sparking-blue pools. The main pool is lined with inviting cabanas, and features ‘waterfalls’, ‘islands’ and a swim-up bar. Another huge pool with a loopy water slide is popular with families. All rooms and villas overlook gardens, lawns or pools, so none have sea views. Of the 7 room types, the Plunge Pool Suites have an adjoining lounge room, 2 walls of windows in the bedroom, an inviting patio and massive bathroom. They are clustered tightly, however, so complete privacy is not always guaranteed. The spacious Deluxe Rooms feature a likeable contemporary décor, but balconies may not offer total seclusion either. Catering well for families with a children’s pool, kids’ club and family rooms, a lovely beach is just across the road and it’s only 5 minutes’ walk from downtown.
Exceptional style, graceful gardens, not just another resort. One of the first proper hotels on Phuket, the Thavorn is truly different: proudly Thai-owned for 3 generations, the gardens are more reminiscent of an English cottage than a tropical resort, the design is more colonial than Thai, and it’s the antithesis of a bland motel-style resort. The charm continues inside with a lovingly co-ordinated mix of Thai décor (colourful prints and elephant-shaped lamps) and old-world furnishings (white wooden table and elegant seats). A few contain 2 or 3 bedrooms, and some on the top floor may offer sea views. The 4 lagoon-shaped pools feature spouts, bridges and ‘islands’ of palms, but the public beach over the road is surprisingly scruffy. Understandably popular with families and returnees, it’s in southern Karon, walkable to the town centre and neighbouring Kata beach, with a better selection of facilities.
Incomparable setting, indescribable luxury, yet convenient. A path lined with giant urns meanders from the entrance to a collection of massive, 2-level stone villas that seem almost medieval in design and setting. Above the entrance at the mezzanine level is the opulent bedroom with a domed ceiling and bathroom with gold-plated sinks and a free-standing bathtub. The lounge room below contains state-of-the-art video and audio equipment, with an attached outdoor shower. The villas boast ‘triple pool access’, so there’s a jet pool inside the lounge room. From there, glass doors lead to a private pool and carved dungeon-style gates then swing open to the villa-guests-only 55m canal-shaped pool lined with waterfalls. Yet somehow it is all elegant, not garish or ostentatious. In stark contrast, a bundle of small, dark but quaint Grand Deluxe Rooms face a separate pool at the entrance, which is incongruously along a busy backstreet in Kata Yai, 500m from the sea.
Handy, trendy, unusual design, and couples only. The name indicates the preferred clientele, so children are actively discouraged. All rooms are in a five-level white block facing the elongated pool, with direct access from the ground floor. Rooms are modern and tastefully decorated, but sometimes impractically chic (e.g. there’s a window between bedroom and bathroom). They also feature wood paneling, a free-standing bathtub, shower floor with pebbles, and walk-through closet. What sets this resort apart is the self-described ‘Oriental-Arabic’ design, most obvious at the lobby, almost shaped like a mosque with a domed ceiling and gold-plated flourishes across the wall. (The design may be Arabic, but the rules are not: beer and bikinis are allowed.) Facing the main road in Kata Yai but still quiet, it’s conveniently flanked by numerous shops and cafés, and a minute from the beach.
Serene tropical setting, but not beachside. Club Med almost completely dominates the beach at Kamala, so it makes sense to utilise space inland. So, with an entrance only 300m from the main road in Kata Yai with all its facilities, and another 200m from the beach, the setting is genuinely tranquil. The deceptively large grounds contain tropical gardens and a glittering pool that almost wraps itself around all blocks of rooms, so those on the ground floor have direct access. Totally secluded behind lofty stone walls and dungeon-style wooden doors, the villas are accessible along a winding path. They are stylish and roomy, and feature a huge double-sized sofa, high ceilings, 4-poster bed, walk-through closet and balcony with extensive decking. Standard rooms in tasteful 2-level blocks are also lovely, with teak furnishings and wooden beams. Some villas are ideal for families, with up to 3 bedrooms and a private pool, but the kids’ club is underwhelming.
Refined, convenient to 2 beaches, loaded with ambience. 1 of several owned by a renowned Thai artist and royal descendant, this is perched above a rocky cove between the beaches at Kata Yai and Kata Noi, and within walking distance of both. All suites are truly classy with a charming Thai décor, while some have genuine sea views, others a pool, and a few are more secluded. Those in the Beach Wing feature a spacious open-plan lounge area alongside the bedroom, substantial balcony and an extra-large ‘oversized’ king bed. Others in the original building retain some colonial-style charm, and the Penthouse Suite is as luxurious as it sounds. Views across to Kata Noi from lounge chairs around the lush gardens and 2 raised pools are sublime, and an adorable bit of secluded beach is barely 3 minutes away via steps. Adding to the appeal is the library and award-winning Mom Tri’s Kitchen restaurant onsite.
Spacious and downtown location, ideal for the party crowd. The gardens are minimal, and the lobby is as welcoming as a shopping mall, but it’s all about the pools and location. In a massive block 150m from the esplanade, the rooms are in 4-level blocks in 3 wings, all overlooking separate pools – and each with a noisy swim-up bar. The overall design is appealing however, with sizeable balconies, and most on the ground floor have direct pool access. Standard rooms are functional but unremarkable, with wooden furnishings and some Thai-style décor. And the suites (with 2 or 3 bedrooms) spread across 2 levels are so big there’s not enough furniture to make it feel homey. But the location is the overwhelming attraction: midway along Patong, close to renowned fast-food outlets, and with endless shops and bars in all directions, but distant from traffic and crowds. Free shuttle buses to Phuket Town are a pleasing addition.
Unusual design, prime location, trendy and likeable. The instantly appealing Turkish design in the lobby doesn’t extend to the interior (an attractive brown and white) but does continue inside the rooms. All are in 3-level blocks facing inwards and overlooking the pools, so none have sea views, but they don’t suffer from traffic noise either. Rooms are brightly-coloured with plenty of windows; even the bathtub has views across the balcony. Most on the ground floor have direct access to a pool, while rooms on the upper levels feature an unusual extended balcony with a cushioned sofa. And the villas are opulent and hidden behind elevated walls. Both pools are particularly elegant, with statues, spouts and palms, and swim-up bars blaring music that can be heard on all balconies. More suitable for the younger crowd, it’s along a quietish side-street only 100m from the esplanade and within walking distance of everything Patong has to offer.
Massive, central, pleasingly elegant and families welcome. The extensive grounds fronting the esplanade house 2 wings with almost 400 rooms, suites and villas. Most face inwards, minimising traffic noise, although some overlook car parks and adjoining hotels and any possible sea views are blocked by trees. Rooms are as comfortable and functional as expected of this international chain, but also spacious and with a vague seaside holiday theme. The sofa is colourful, the décor modern and the luggage space plentiful, but the balconies are undersized. The separate adults-only Busakorn Wing features classy studios and villas, and those on the ground floor have direct pool access. Of the 4 mammoth pools, the main one is noisy and crowded, while the others are more relaxing and elegantly designed. And it is excellent for families. With access from the esplanade and quietish side-street, it’s very convenient to the beach and a myriad of tourist facilities.
Rare tropical gardens and beach frontage, yet convenient. The Impiana offers only 70 single-level bungalows among lovingly-designed lawns and gardens in an area that could easily accommodate a multi-storey mega-resort. It is also one of very few boasting genuine beach frontage, rather than facing the busy esplanade. Bungalows are in small clusters alongside a meandering path lined with palms, and a few face the sea. They are all compact, comfortable and stylish, with a sofa, lovely wooden desk, sizeable bathroom-cum-closet, and some Thai decorations. The delightful café and breakfast area is virtually on the sand, while the beachside pool is also very attractive. The resort directly faces a serene stretch of sandy beach, devoid of jet skis and with hammocks and lanterns swinging among shady mangrove trees. But a few rooms do suffer from traffic noise because it’s central, e.g. only 300m to infamous Bangla Road.
Central and noisy, funky but not always functional. This combined shopping plaza and resort is distinctly unconventional. The spa is remarkably elegant, while the dismal kids’ club is squeezed alongside a bar. The exterior of the rooms are shaped like boxes and the self-described ‘Sino-Portuguese’ theme is not remotely apparent. Most rooms face the crowded pool and raucous attached bar, while those above the shops and facing the street would be even noisier. Ground floor rooms have direct pool access, upper floors have pool views, and the Plaza Rooms have neither. All are spacious, but the décor and furnishings border on the bizarre: suites feature a garish crimson sofa, and rooms contain a purple desk, brown sofa and orange art, as well as a movable screen that doesn’t guarantee complete privacy between bathroom and bedroom. Nonetheless, most guests care more about the unbeatable location: midway along Patong, and 200m from the esplanade and notorious Bangla Road.
Contemporary, rare beach frontage and oh-so convenient. One of very few directly facing the sea, this is elegantly modern without being impractically chic. Rooms are in 2-level blocks overlooking 1 of 2 pools, and those on the ground floor have direct access. Each is spacious, with a décor of fashionable dark wood, a TV hidden behind an extended mirror, and feminine touches around the wall art and bathroom layout. All contain a veranda/balcony large enough for 2 inviting cushioned chairs, but most face another room just across the pool, while those near the road and lobby would be noisy. With some of Patong’s finest sea views, the 1- and 2-bedroom villas are particularly romantic and secluded, featuring a private pool, dining area, sundeck and living room with a home theatre system. But for many the attractions are the setting and location: facing a quiet stretch of sand shaded by mangrove trees, it’s also along the esplanade and barely 100m from the infamous Bangla Road.
For shopaholics: two hotels for the price of one. Wedged within the world-class Jungceylon shopping centre, the Millennium is based in two buildings about 200m apart and different in style, facilities, appeal and name: ie Beachside (although it’s 500m from the ocean) and Lakeside (although no lake is nearby).The former soars 5 floors above the shopping centre with cinemas, department stores, cafés and boutiques metres from the bottom of the hotel lift. The pool is smaller, but has better views, while some rooms face the car park or street, which still may be quieter than those overlooking the shops. Bland corridors lead to colourful rooms with an oriental décor, generous balcony, and inviting curved sofa. Separate, but still accessible from within the shopping centre, Lakeside is classier and has a larger pool, with a kids’ pool attached. The décor in these rooms is more tasteful, and some on the ground floor have direct pool access.
Quieter, more personable, for the younger crowd. Positioned in the more relaxed southern section of Patong, this boutique resort is set back from the main road and most rooms face inwards, but those with ‘city views’ would be noisy. Most rooms in the 6-level block overlook the pool, with a swim-up bar attached and direct access for those on the ground floor. A smaller pool on the rooftop offers delightful views of Patong and at a distance, the sea as well as a raucous bar. The comfortable rooms feature seascape paintings, colorful linen, and an oversized TV, but lack overall warmth, with stark furnishings of mostly black and white. With fewer rooms than neighboring mega-resorts, service is more personable, and it’s ideal for the younger set who want to be within walking distance of the beach and bars, but not stay among the crowds.
Immense, quiet, rare tropical gardens, ideal for families. The substantial grounds stretch from the main road to the esplanade in the more relaxed southern part of Patong, distant from the unsavory Bangla Road. The overall ochre-and-brown design is attractive, the balconies drip with bougainvillea, and the twisting paths are lined with palms and vines. Some rooms overlook the road and car park, but most face inwards, diminishing traffic noise, and none have sea views. Rooms are compact, functional (like a motel) and colorful, with a sizeable desk and lovely sliding doors leading to the balcony. More spacious and appealing are the Superior Rooms, while those on the ground floor have direct access to a pool for those guests only. The other 3 lagoon-shaped pools feature tiered sections packed with inviting lounge chairs. And the amenities for families are numerous, including 2 children’s pools, a colorful kids’ club with engrossing activities, and playground for toddlers.
Cosy, relaxed, friendly, but some unappealing rooms. Halfway along the main street of Surin (which is so much quieter than Patong) the Manathai offers only 52 rooms. The spacious and cheerful rooms in the larger block feature an unusual design with mosaic tiles and a balcony of cushioned benches, as well as tasteful Thai décor with statues, prints and purple dominating the furnishings. But rooms in the smaller block are less charming: cramped, with an oriental (not Thai) décor, and a second entrance door shared with a neighbour. These rooms are also considerably smaller, with a veranda/balcony so tiny that it’s barely usable, while those on the ground floor have direct access to the second pool that is sunless and uninviting. However, there is a welcoming sense of overall serenity, with plentiful lotus ponds and gracious staff. While it faces the sea, no hotel in Surin overlooks the beach, but a perfect cove of bleached sand and turquoise water is just 150m away.
Spacious apartments, handy location, ideal for groups and families. Only apartments are available, from 2 to 5 bedrooms, each with their own bathroom. All are very spacious and airy, with as many floor-to-ceiling windows as possible, some openable for welcome breezes. With a living area, dining table and fully-equipped kitchen (including freezer and dishwasher), they are wonderfully designed, with contemporary furniture, polished floorboards, and all the latest gadgets. Wall decorations would make it feel homier, and some of the smaller rooms are a little dark, but it is ideal for families – especially apartments with separate lounge rooms for adults and children. Most face the hills or overlook the sparkling-blue pool lined with cabanas of flowing white curtains, while those on the ground floor can boast a private plunge pool. Halfway along Surin (which is markedly smaller and more relaxed than Patong), a perfect uncrowded beach is only 150m in front. And youngsters can attend the kids’ club at the neighbouring Novotel for a nominal fee.
Luxurious, private, modern but a little charmless. Most rooms are in blocks, with an elegant brown, grey and white design featuring slate. Those on the corner feature floor-to-ceiling shutters that provide extra privacy (but were probably added more for design than functionality). Rooms overlook the main pool, with a kids’ pool attached, that stretches the length of the grounds and is lined with palms. Suites face a second pool, and villas boast a private pool among secluded gardens. Standard rooms feature a massive bathroom, with a tub overlooking an indoor garden; modern décor, with garish seascape prints; sofa; and veranda/balcony with cushioned lounge chairs. Welcome additions include a library and access to beach clubs at Kamala and Bang Tao, although a perfect bay is 150m in front of the hotel. Halfway along Surin (which is far smaller and quieter than Patong), the resort does lack some warmth and character because of the impersonal design and layout, particularly at the lobby.
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The Best Hotels on Phuket
- Six Senses Yao Noi – Best Luxury Hotel on Phuket
The views are amazing – it simply doesn’t get better than towering limestone karst formations rising from the powdery turquoise Phang Nga Bay. But the accommodation is equally world class, using materials like bamboo, thatch, and jungle-foliage to create exceedingly private, comfortable, and spacious villas that go far above and beyond most tropical island fantasies. Guests relax in the spa, by their own private pool or on the beach, or take part in any number of adventure activities from SCUBA diving to rock climbing. Hotel phone: +66 76 418 500
- Le Meridien Beach Resort – Best Hotel on Karon Beach
Modern and clean with white linens, wood floors and plenty of large windows to let in the seaside light, this resort is tucked into a private white sand cove. The massive complex is a world unto itself with 10 restaurants, two swimming pools that take up the same amount of space many places dedicate to gardens, and on-site facilities galore from tennis courts and a driving range to a children’s park, mini-golf and trampolines. Some guests never leave but the hotel offers taxi or shuttle services to the shopping and party areas of nearby Karon and Patong beaches. Hotel phone: +66 76 370 100
- The Shore at Katathani – Best Hotel on Kata Beach
Far enough away from the shopping and restaurant haven of Kata Beach to be peaceful, yet close enough to get there on foot, The Shore at Katathani gives you the best of both worlds. Warm-colored woods blended with white and cream décor make the spacious villas feel balanced and calming while views of the blue sea or lush gardens add a sense of luxurious tropical adventure. Relax in the seclusion of the villas’ privacy or socialize and use the many facilities (putting greens, another spa and even more restaurants) of the larger and less exclusive Kathatani Resort next door. Hotel phone: +66 76 330 124
- Amari Phuket – Best Hotel in Patong
This 380-room beachfront (and jungle hillside) resort features modern rooms and suites decorated in neutrals with bright accents; large (mostly seaview) windows let in lots of light. Splash around on the resort’s slim white beach or in the busy swimming pool, snorkel off the jetty or walk five minutes to the very bustling Patong beach for larger swathes of sand and a party vibe. Hotel phone: +66 76 340 106
- The Pavilions – Best Hotel for Honeymooners on Phuket
Up on a hill in Phuket’s quiet, lush jungle and blue-sea blessed northwest corner, come here for an intimate romantic escape far from the mini-skirt-clad bar scene of Phuket’s southern beaches. There’s a free shuttle bus down to nearby, mellow, golden-white Layana beach, but this resort is designed as a place you never need to leave, with each villa holding a personal plunge pool; fine dining, spa service and much more are available on-site. Villas are all you’d hope for with bathrooms rivaling the size of the bedrooms, dizzying views over jungle to turquoise waters, and elegant, light-filled modern-Sino style. Hotel phone: +66 76 317 600
- Millennium Resort Patong – Best Hotel for Shopping
Shoppers rejoice: this urban resort is located inside the large, modern JungCeylon shopping mall and is steps from Patong beach’s crazy party zone. Don’t expect sea views here – instead windows look out over busy streets and even the pool area is more concrete than garden. Rooms are modern and comfortable with a brown and bright color palette. Hotel phone: +66 76 601 999
- Centara Grand West Sands Resort – Best Family Hotel
The resort is attached to a huge water park (the largest in Thailand) with slides, water jets, and a lazy river. It’s clean, well run, and free when you stay at the hotel. Suites are huge and have a full kitchen. Downsides: food is average (walk out to the main road to find some good local restaurants) and the location is a little isolated (though a very short drive to the airport). My recommendation is to stay here for 2 nights and 1 full day at the start or finish of your trip. Kids love it. Hotel phone: +66 76 372 000
- Holiday Inn Resort – Best Value Hotel in Phuket
Family-friendly resort in the heart of Patong’s restaurant, bar, and beach scene. The hotel has a special wing for families with suites that include dedicated children’s bedroom complete with bright, cartoon-style landscapes painted on the walls, a chest full of toys and beds made to look like mini ships; the children’s bathroom even includes kid-sized bathrobes. Of course there’s also a kid’s club, featuring many activities so the grown-ups can get out to enjoy the spa, nearby shopping, and activities galore. Hotel phone: +66 76 370 200
- Mom Tri’s Villa Royale – Best Boutique Hotel
Mom Tri, one of Thailand’s better known architects, has taken his family home and turned it into Phuket’s most luxury boutique hotel. The location, straddling bustling Kata and quiet Kata Noi beaches couldn’t be better – close to shopping and restaurants or peaceful stretches of sand. The hotel restaurant, Mom Tri’s Kitchen, marries upscale international cuisine and a mile-long wine list with views over the Andaman Sea. Hotel phone: +66 76 333 569
- Andaman Seaview Hotel – Best Moderate Hotel
A good-value resort with a modern-tinged colonial feel, breezy coridoors connecting the 161 guest rooms over four floors. Designer maritime-inspired colors like dusty blue, mint green, and aqua set off wooden four-poster beds and antique-looking ceiling fans. The resort encircles a large pool with plenty of lounging space and busy Karon Beach is a five-minute walk away. It’s a good choice for families and couples not needing too much peace and quiet. Hotel phone: +66 76 398 111
- Sarojin – Best Hotel in Khao Lak
Peace and quiet are what you’ll find at this adults-only, Zen haven that takes in beach, mangroves, and coconut plantations. Khao Lak is not in Phuket but is only an hour north of the Phuket International Airport (Karon, Kata, and Patong beaches are about an hour south of the airport so not a big difference) and is much less touristy than the Phuket beaches. Accommodation at Sarojin is in one or two-bedroom “residences,” that include a spacious sitting area, gorgeous naturalistic bathrooms with round bathtubs and private gardens. The pricier options have their own small swimming pools. The spa is surrounded by nature (you may see buffalo meandering through the coconut palms) and is considered one of the best on this coast while the two hotel restaurants – one serving Thai food by a lotus pond and the other offering Mediterranean fare on the resort’s white sand beach – are also divine. Hotel phone: +66 76 427 900
The Best Beaches on Phuket
Many beaches are beautiful but are not good swimming beaches (e.g. Rawai beach). And the monsoon season (June to October) can change even the most tranquil of beaches into a rough, windswept, and uninviting terrain.
- Patong – Located on the white-sanded western coast, Patong is the most famous and most commercial resort. With a broad 3km (2 miles) stretch of sandy beach there is plenty of opportunity for natural shade from trees as well as having parasol-protected sunbeds sited along the entire length. Its sheltered location makes it ideal for all water sports and swimming and so it is popular with families and package holidaymakers. As with all the beaches on the western side, there can be a strong undertow and any red warning flags should be heeded. Patong is also home to tourist shops, an enormous shopping mall, cinemas and a bowling alley. A plethora of day trips and activities can be found, from taking a banana boat ride, snorkelling to renting a jet ski. It can be difficult to escape away from the notorious adult themed night-life with neon lit clubs and bars advertising stripper or transvestite shows. You can find scantily clad transvestites posing for photographs with tourists in many of the side streets in Patong.
- Freedom – If you are staying in Patong and want to get away from the hustle and bustle then Freedom Beach is a good choice. Even if you did feel like trekking through the kilometre of thick jungle to get there you would not be allowed, as the land surrounding this beach is all privately owned. The only way to access Freedom Beach is by a ten minute boat ride – most leave from from Patong beach. Freedom, undoubtedly, has the best snorkelling on the island and swimming areas are clearly marked and separated from the area where longtail boats arrive and depart. There are also beach volleyball nets and small restaurants along the south end of the beach but with no jet skis or banana boats to disturb the peace, probably the best thing to do is to find a lounger, sit back and relax.
- Karon – Far less lively and busy than Patong, Karon beach is yet another long expanse of sand, which at its northern end is likened to powder snow. There is little natural shade but there are plenty of sun beds and parasols available. Hotels and restaurants are located on the opposite side of a busy adjacent road; however there are plenty of small stalls selling drinks and snacks. The road is shielded from most of the beach by a bank of sand but it can still be easily heard. All the usual water sports activities are available with some reasonable snorkelling at the southern end. Surfboards are always available although Karon is not renowned for its breakers. It does though have the reputation of being the most dangerous beach.
If you feel the need to get away from sand, Karon Park is an area a short walk away which provides jogging and cycling paths as well as a large lake with pedalos. For children and ‘young at heart’ adults, Dino Park offers a chance to play crazy golf in a prehistoric atmosphere. Away from the beach, the side streets are home to a small artisan community where you can see painters and craftsmen at work. Karon can be located 5 km south of Patong on the coastal road between Kata and Patong beaches. There are regular bus and songthaew services from Phuket town.
- Kata – The attractive twin beaches of Kata Yai (Big Kata) and Kata Noi (Little Kata) are situated to the south of Karon Beach. Protected by rocky promontories, swimming and snorkeling is relatively safe here and strong swimmers often head out to Boo Island to the coral reefs. Reputably this is also the best scuba diving area on the island. Set away from the road, both beaches are very peaceful. Kata Yai can feel a little overlooked by two major resorts but the beaches are not private and the sun loungers are available for all to use. It can be difficult to see how to get onto the beach at Kata Noi but access is down to the right and just beyond the Thani wing of the beautiful Katathani Hotel. Buses and songthaews terminate on the headland between the two beaches where, if you don’t feel like the 10-minute walk into either resort, tuk-tuks will happily transport you to your destination. You won’t find a busy nightlife or extensive shopping here but If you are missing the hustle and bustle of Patong or Karon, both are within easy reach, less than 8 km away. Three Beaches Hill (sometimes called Kata or Karon viewpoint) is often busy as it is on many tour itineraries. Located a little south of Kata Noi, it affords an impressive eight-kilometer vista (4.5 miles) of the three south west coast beaches.
- Maio Khao – On the northwest coast, 39 km from Patong, this 11km beach is set within the Sirinat National Park. The sand here is fairly coarse, but you can walk along it for hours and not see another soul. There are no beach activities on offer here but swimming is allowed. However it is wise to be careful as there is a sharp drop in the ocean floor close to the shore and you can easily get out of your depth. If your idea of fun is plane spotting then this is a good place to be as the proximity of Phuket airport makes it feel as if their landing on the beach is an imminent possibility. Between November and February, turtles arrive to lay their eggs in the warm sands. Numbers have been dwindling over recent years and care has to be taken during this time not to disturb any such activity. The northern side of the beach can be reached from Thepkrassatri Road, just before the Sarasin Bridge. The southern end is best reached from Nai Yang and through the national park (fee payable).
- Nai Thon – Nai Thon Beach has some of the squeakiest sand on Phuket. It is within the Sirinat National Park and has thus far escaped over-development. The gently sloped beach is ideal for swimming and casuarina trees abound for shelter from the sun. The beach itself is not developed but there are a few restaurants and shops just across the street. There are no organized beach activities and no equipment for hire, but people snorkel and dive among the coral at the both ends of the beach (long tail boats with take you farther offshore for even better snorkeling). Nai Thon is 28 km from Patong, on the road that connects Bang Tao beach and Nai Yan Beach. There is only one road that runs directly along this part of the coast so it is fairly easy to find.
- Surin – This 1km stretch of beach is famous for its crystal clear water, which makes it a wonderful place to swim. It’s a shame that the snorkeling here is not great although that does not stop people from having a go. With all the major water sports on offer it’s surprising that this beach is as quiet as it is. It feels like it has embraced all that is good about Patong and left behind the bits that are less pleasing. The views are fantastic with plenty of local restaurants. Surin Beach is situated south of Bang Tao and north of Kamala Beach – 14 km from Patong – and is well signposted.
- Laem Singh – Laem Singh, 7 km north of Patong, on the Patong Surim Road is not easily found. The beach is accessed down a steep, stepped path, fairly comfortable to go down but excruciatingly difficult to climb back up. However it is worth all the effort for this beach is absolutely stunning and one of Phuket’s best for swimming. Many seem to agree as, once a secret cove, it is now one of the best used beaches in the area. Foot massagers ply the beach, jet skis resound along with all the usual paraphernalia associated with a busy beach. When the sun is not shining it returns to it’s natural quiet beauty. Once a month an early evening disco is held, best suited to those who are not looking for peace and tranquility. The restaurants are a little more expensive here but understandable when you consider that their supplies also have to be brought from the hillside above. Parking at the top of the paths is available but scarce so an early arrival at this beach is recommended. 1km to the south is Hat Kamala which is more developed.
- Nai Harn – On the southernmost tip of Phuket, the waters around Nai Harn are usually calm and crystal clear, except in monsoon season when the waves become huge and thus a haven for surfers. The Samnak Song Buddhist Monastery owns most of its central and southern area and has left it pleasantly underdeveloped. Upscale beachfront and family-friendly resorts dot the area. Nai Harn is divided into three segments, the beach and park, a small village with a few shops, and Nai Harn town. Bike hire and other services can be found in the town and as it is about a twenty-minute walk to and from the beach, many people take that option. Nai Harn is 20km (12.5miles) south of Patong.
Phuket Hotels with Private Pools
Hotels with Private Swimming Pools and Plunge Pools in Phuket
- The Shore At Katathani – Kata Beach
- The View Phuket – Kata Beach
- Metadee Resort & Villas – Kata Beach
- Centara Villas Phuket – Karon Beach
- The Westin Siray Bay Resort & Spa – Phuket Town
- Banyan Tree Phuket – Bang Tao Beach
- Anantara Phuket Villas – Mao Khao
- Renaissance Phuket Resort & Spa – Mai Khao
- SALA Phuket Resort & Spa – Mai Khao
- The Naka Phuket – Kamala Beach
- Sri Panwa Phuket – Panwa Beach
- The Slate – Nai Yang Beach