Where To Stay in Phuket

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by Santorini Dave • Updated: August 16, 2019

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See Also:

The 10 Best Places To Stay in Phuket

Best Beach Towns to Stay in Phuket, Thailand

Where to stay in Phuket? Beautiful Kata Beach is a great choice for first time visitors to Phuket. (Karon Beach has a similar vibe.)

The Best Beaches in Phuket

Many beaches are beautiful but are not good swimming beaches (e.g. Rawai beach). And the monsoon season (September and October are the most intense) 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 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 the 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. This is also the best scuba diving area in Phuket. 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. 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 both ends of the beach (longtail 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 its 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.

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