What to Do in Karon Beach?
Karon is one of the longest beach in Phuket and the third in beach popularity. It enjoys a vast stretch of white sand with a decent choice of dining and nightlife but never seems to draw crowds of tourists (which might be a good thing). The beach is also known to make a fun squishy sound when walking on the sand.
Thai name: หาดกะรน
Beach length: 3.3 km
Nearest airport: Phuket International Airport
Distance from airport: 43 km
Distance from Patong: 7 km
Distance from Phuket city: 16.8 km
Two great hotels right on the beach you should consider if the price is right for you: Beyond Resort Karon and Centara Grand Beach Resort Phuket. Both have direct beach access. Mövenpick Resort and Hilton Phuket Arcadia Resort & Spa are popular resorts with good ratings, with just a street to cross to access the beach (Some of Hilton rooms have excellent sea view rooms).
Then you have a myriad of smaller hotels all around the place, and you shouldn’t have a problem to find accommodation according to your budget.
What to Do in Karon?
Apart from a fantastic beach, there is not so much to do around. The temple at the end on Soi Patak is an excellent photo opportunity and is famous for the popular Temple Market every Tuesday and Friday. Never miss a chance to visit it, it’s full of fun thing to try, games to play and fun local food. You might even get a chance to eat giant water bugs, or at least to take a photo to share back home. Enjoy a couple of drinks at Coast Beach Club at Centara Grand Beach Phuket and end the day with a spa treatment. The good old Dino Park Mini Golf is technically in Kata beach, but it’s not very far and good family fun.
- Temple Market
- Coast Beach Club at Centara Grand Phuket
- Dino Park Mini Golf
- Spa at Centara Grand Beach Phuket or Movenpick Resort
- Parasailing but it’s somewhat controversial regarding safety issues
Where to Eat in Karon?
The best view in the bay is without a doubt On The Rock restaurant near the stadium. More casual with delicious food is EAT Bar & Grill Restaurant on the back road. For seafood, you can choose one of the many seafood restaurants in front of the stadium or those by the lake. They are relatively cheap and more exotic.
Karon Beach Square is a group of restaurants on the grounds of the Movenpick Resort, mostly known for El Gaucho, serving Brazilian Churrasco and great steaks. For comfort food, Two Chefs and Karon Cafe are trendy.
There is a bit of nightlife in Karon beach. It’s modest but still fun. Angus O’Tool’s is a long time Irish pub and the area is full of tiny beer bars such as Clapton Bar, and a small equivalent to the famous ‘Bangla road‘ of Patong. Nothing exhilarating, but the place is very lively. There is another ‘mini Bangla street at the south end of Karon with beer bar and girls, but it seems to shrink a little more each year.
One of the favourite things to do after dinner is the Karon Temple Market that opens only twice a week: Tuesdays and Fridays, from 4 pm to 10 pm.
The Geography of Karon
Karon consists of 3 areas:
1) Karon Center (which is the small town), 2) the Lake area and 3) the long beachfront road that ends when reaching Kata Beach
1. Karon Center and Patak Rd
Patak Road is mostly a street going perpendicularly inland from the very fancy and convoluted ‘Karon Circle’ to the temple. It’s small, messy and feels rather old and additionally parking there is impossible. Around here you will find a few long-established restaurants, convenience stores and ‘Hellooooo you want massage‘ parlours and lots and lots of bars in all sizes and shapes. Just like everyone else, walk up and down Patak road and pick one bar, ultimately they are all ‘same same but different‘.
2. The Lake
The Lake near the circle has also been the subject of many attempts to make the area an upmarket zone or even a convention centre. Once in a while, it hosts a local fun fair which it’s fun, fair and crowded, but ultimately not upmarket.
3. Beach Front Road
The beachfront road goes all the way from the lake to Kata Beach, mostly occupied by large resorts with few small hotels squeezed in between. At the beginning of the beach road, you’ll find Karon Beach Square, the Night Bazaar, a temporary roofed market selling mostly tee-shirts and beach toys, including all the usual fake brands.
More interesting is Soi Aroonson, a small street in the middle of the beach road. Some good restaurants have opened here as well as lots of massage and a few convenience shops. It’s still a bit quiet but doesn’t feel as messy as Karon Center.
Then you’ll reach the end of the Beach Road when a small hill leads to Kata Beach (boundaries have never been visible). Noticeable around here is the restaurant built on the beach, a football stadium (also used for cricket competitions) and one of the two nightlife areas around. This very narrow and hard to spot ‘Soi’ (an alley) is called ‘Bangla Plaza’ and has always been here, but nothing to compare with Soi Bangla in Patong Beach nightlife. Not much more than a few beer bars with colourful spotlights and even more colourful staff and plenty of tiny shops and foot massage.