Where to Stay in Phuket?
Where should I stay in Phuket? Where should I book my hotel? What beach is best? How is that neighbourhood? So many questions! Deciding which beach is best to book your hotel can and will have a significant impact on your holiday.
There are 40 beaches in Phuket, and we could divide them into two categories:
- Beaches where you will stay (Hotels are available on only a dozen beaches)
- Beaches you only go to spend a day and play
1. Patong Beach
Patong was initially one of Phuket most beautiful beach and became popular with the younger crowd for its notorious party atmosphere. With easy access to a vast amount of restaurants until very, very late at night, Patong is a convenient base to go in any direction and can be a lot of fun if fun is what you are after. Read more about Patong
Who is Patong for?
- Younger crowd
- Party people
- Travellers who want to have everything at hand and at all times.
- Large beach with beach chairs with umbrellas, drinks, food and massage available
- Incredible choice of nightlife options: clubs, bars, go-go bars: you can party most of the night
- Easy access to shops, night markets, shopping malls and all kinds of international restaurants.
- You’ have access to a massive choice of accommodation at all prices.
- Patong is not really Thailand, and the vast majority of people are not Thai
- Beach can get crowded
- Streets are very, very busy
- It’s not a relaxing holiday at all
- Parking can be challenging
- Real Thai food is hard to find (it’s often toned down and adjusted to tourists’ taste)
Patong offers a massive amount of hotels mostly from cheap to mid-range budget, but very few luxury or romantic resorts. Quite a few hotels are along the beach road but with minimal sea views because of the trees and a lot of ugly electric cables. Lots of homestays, guesthouses, Airbnb and privately owned apartments. See the best hotels in Patong Beach
2. Kata Beach
Kata is the second most popular beach in Phuket. It usually offers a right balance between too crowded and too quiet, but at the high season the beach can get really busy. You can easily find cheap to mid-range restaurants serving all kinds of food including a decent Thai food. However, don’t expect to enjoy much real local Thai food as far as we know, it is a tourist town. The north end has a nice set of small beach restaurants where you can eat on the sand. Read more about Kata Beach
Who is Kata Beach for?
- Kata Beach is good for those who want to have everything nearby but find Patong too busy and overwhelming.
- Ideal if you want to stay at a remote beach because you have no transportation.
- Everything is more or less at a walking distance (unless you booked your hotel on the back road!).
- Superb beach with beach chairs with umbrellas, drinks, food and massage available
- Good for first timers
- Amazing sunsets
- Kata has a lot of restaurants, shops and hotels
- Easy to go around without car or motorbike
- Lots of hotels in the cheap to mid price range
- It can get hectic at high season
- Narrow streets and permanent traffic makes it pedestrian unfriendly
- Lack of parking
- Only two hotels with beach views
There are only 2 hotels by the beach: Kata Beach Resort and “The Boathouse’. In the back streets you will find a very large choice of cheap to mid-range hotels at good prices. If you are in the middle part of Kata it can mean a bit of walk to reach the beach. Kata Beach being a very popular area, don’t wait the last minute to book a hotel in high season, you might have to pay a lot more or even get no room. See some great hotels in Kata Beach
3. Karon Beach
Karon is a very long and wide beach with a small town at each end where you will find a lot of food and shops. The beach is beautiful and pleasant, never crowded, and with a decent amount of beach chairs, umbrellas, drink and snack vendors and beach massage. The north end is where the small town of Karon is, with a night bazaar and a famous temple market, some excellent seafood restaurants by the beach and even a beach club. Read more about Karon Beach
Who is Karon for?
- For those who want to have enough facilities accessible but a lot more quiet than Patong
- Those who like a vast and beautiful but not isolated beach with loungers and umbrellas, drinks and massage.
- Beach is superb with beach chairs with umbrellas, drinks, food and massage available
- There is enough to eat and shop anytime
- You can enjoy both towns of Kata or Karon
- Good strategic location to be to explore the south of Phuket
- If you are the middle part of the beach, you might have to walk a lot to reach any of the two villages
There are only 2 or 3 hotels with real beach access: Centara Grand Beach Resort and Beyond Karon. There are many hotels along the beachfront and from those you can reach the beach just by crossing the road, best known are Movenpick Resort and Hilton Arcadia. If you stay in the centre part, but you might have to walk quite a bit to reach most restaurants and shops. See some great Hotels in Karon Beach
4. Kamala Beach
Kamala beach was an underrated beach for a long time, mostly loved by Scandinavians who would return year after year. With the opening of 2 beach clubs, the village atmosphere has disappeared, but it is still very peaceful and relaxing. Kamala feels ‘relatively’ more Thai than Patong, Kata and Karon. Read more about Kamala Beach
Who is Kamala for?
- Those who prefer a more quiet neighbourhood
- Good for relaxing and an easy-going holiday
- You can eat on the beach at a good set of local restaurants
- It’s slow-paced and relaxing, especially outside peak season
- Two cool beach clubs to enjoy during day and night
- Short driving distance to Patong if you feel like partying
- Beach is less attractive than Kata or Karon but still beautiful in the north part
Kamala beach stretches across two beaches, the central Kamala Beach and a smaller one in the south called Rayee beach. Make sure you know on which beach the hotel you booked is.
Bangtao has evolved from an isolated luxury enclave to a fun and lively neighbourhood with plenty of choice for all budget. Bangtao has become a very cool place to be if the madness of Patong is not on your list. Nightlife and dining are more sophisticated than anywhere on the Island but still affordable. With a lot of large resort, Bangtao is excellent for families and couples who want to have everything in one place. The southern part of the beach (near Outrigger) is very young and lively, great for dining by the beach while the north part (around Banyan Tree) has almost not changed with a peaceful beach and small restaurants in the shade of tall trees. Read more about Bangtao Beach
Who is Bangtao Beach for?
- Couples and families
- Travellers not interested in Patong madness
- Good overall atmosphere
- Many hotels are by the beach
- Large choice of fun beach restaurants plus some of Phuket best restaurants
- Three cool beach clubs
- Large beach not too crowded
- If you stay at one of the main resorts, you can freely enjoy the facility of the other resorts
- Beach is less shallow than main beaches
- Sand is a little coarse
- Places are not at walking distance from each other (but hotels often offer shuttle services)
The leading hotels are five huge resorts built by the beach, part of the Laguna Phuket Complex. They have large pools and a lot of outlets and facilities to choose from. Once you are guest at one of them, you can enjoy facilities of the other resorts for free. The Laguna Phuket Complex is very well-organised and stress-free, with plenty of shuttles to take you around. Outside the Laguna, hotels are a few more stand-alone hotels such as the ‘Anantara Layan’
Maikhao is the longest and most peaceful beach of Phuket, part of a national park. It has remained mostly untouched and quiet, making it a perfect romantic weekend escape for those who prefer to stay away from tourist areas. Mai Khao is mostly home to very luxurious hotels and villa resorts and doesn’t offer much in terms of shopping, or nightlife. The whole areas is a little isolated, so renting a car to explore around is a good option. Maikhao (and Sai Kaew beach in its continuity) has a lot of real local Thai and seafood to enjoy if you take the time to find them. Read more about Maikhao beach
Who is Maikhao Beach for?
- Romantic hideaway for those who want to find total peace
- Long walks on a deserted tropical beach (no coconut palm trees for your photos though)
- Those who plan to spend time enjoying the hotel itself
- Immense deserted beach
- Close to the airport (it’s not disturbing, and you can go see the planes landing)
- Some local Thai
- Far from everything
- Hotels can be expensive and you will use their facilities quite a lot so expenses can add up fast fast
Several luxury hotels are very close to the beach, but not on the beach itself as Mai Khao is a national park. You have to walk through and a small garden to reach the sand. If you stay at one of these, you probably will spend most of your time in the hotel, using the hotel facilities (spa, bars and restaurants). Transportation provided by the hotel can be costly so renting a car is a good option. You can also stay at one of the few mid-range resorts (Holiday Inn Maikhao).
Nai Harn is a trendy and fabulous beach in the very south of Phuket. As it is part of another national park, it was not invaded by hotels and remained relatively untouched, but can get busy during high season. You can enjoy a decent amount of cheap restaurants near the beach and a few luxury venues at The Nai Harn resort, including a superb rooftop. Read more about Nai Harn beach
Who is it for?
- Those who searched for a beautiful beach with soft sand and easy-going tropical feel
- Fantastic beach with powder sand and clear blue water (high season!)
- A decent choice of small restaurants and fruit vendors
- Not invaded by greedy businesses
- Some hidden beaches nearby (Ao Sane)
- A bit far from the main towns
- Can be busy at peak season (January, February)
There is only a handful of hotels in this neighbourhood, but The Nai Harn is a fantastic resort to enjoy this part of Phuket.
8. Rawai Beach
Rawai in the south of Phuket has long been home of expatriates, often ignored by tourist because Rawai itself has no swimming beaches. However, the superb Nai Harn beach is not very far. In recent years, maybe because of the many local seafood restaurants and markets, Rawai has become more and more popular. Read more about Rawai Beach
Who is it for?
- Those who prefer a quaint neighbourhood and don’t mind the lack of beaches
- Lots of good local seafood restaurants
- Nice views on the islands
- Not too busy
- Good access to nearby islands
- No swimming beach
- Quite far from everything, you should consider a car the explore the island
A lot of small privately owned cheap hotels and bungalows in this area, but none with sea views or seafront.
9. Phuket Town
Phuket Town has a lot of charm and has grown in popularity since it was renovated. With a magnificent Sino-Portuguese architecture, the heart of Phuket town is now a must-see attraction for visitors and a lot of fancy cafes, beautiful restaurants and hotels opened.
It can be busy on the weekend, especially with the Sunday walking street market.
Who is it for?
- Those who like old streets and a great photo playground
- Those who want to see more Thai people than tourists
- Great for a day of exploration in the old street
- A lot of good local food
- Several fun night markets
- It’s far from any beaches
- Nightlife is very limited and often very local
A lot of small and cheap hotels opened in recent years, taking advantage of the old Sino-Portuguese architecture. Just remember that Phuket town is far from any beach and therefore not a strategic location if you expect a mix of city and beach.