I’m often asked about where to the best place to stay in Phuket is and what the different areas are like in Phuket, some people want party central and others want something more relaxed and calming with the option to go to those “party areas” or busy markets. Keep in mind there are plenty of other locations to stay in Phuket, however today I’m just touching on a few of my favourite (and not so favourite) locations.
You can also check our my article on “where to go shopping in Phuket” for the best shopping hot spots in Phuket. The Crazy Tourist has a great article about the Top 25 things to do in Phuket, check it out for some great ideas.
Quick note: Prices will obviously vary from high season to low season, in some cases by almost 50%! Low tourist season is from May to October and high tourist season is November to April. Personally I think Phuket is the best in October as it is the last month of the low season and there doesn’t seem to be much rain to ruin your holiday.
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Party central/busy areas in Phucket
Patong is the main tourist area in Phuket, the beach is often filled with hundreds of people on lounge chairs, jet ski’s and people selling everything from Ice cream to massages and “lucky Balloons” (aka lanterns). The streets are littered with bars, lady boys, tailors, ping pong shows and actual litter… The Patong aroma is one that burns your nostrils but don’t worry, you’ll soon get used to it, luckily when it rains the smell goes away but beware the pong comes back with a vengeance!
Patong beach is thought to have some of the best shopping in Phuket, it has a great selection of markets that sell “designer” clothing, hang bags, watches, shoes and much much more as well as normal watches, wallets, clothing, shoes, hats etc . Most of the vendors all seem to sell the same thing for varying pricing, depending how you ask, what you say or what you look like. To get by unscathed, check out Our top 10 hot tips on how to barter your way to the best price in Thailand.
There are also a few stores that sell souvenirs you would usually find in a tourist area such as, postcards, little elephant statues, I Love Phuket T-shirts and so on.
I would characterize Patong as frantic or organised chaos and we were there in the low season, which was apprently pretty quiet! It would be nothing short of chaotic in high season, what an experience that would be!
Best Places to Stay in Patong
Karon is not as frantic as Patong but often referred to as “Patong’s Little Sister. In Karon you will find a range of hand made items, shops, a bar or 2 and good restaurants and cafes. Not as many lady boys or ping pong shows (unless you go down Bangla Plaza). Most of the bars are just off Patak Road and are similar to Patong in that they have a few “hostesses” that you can enjoy a few beers or games with, they are sure to keep you “company” for a fee………As for shopping you can head to
Karon Bazaar, here they sell every from dvds to clothing, suitcases and beachwear, oh and you wont be hassled by tailors. Alternatively you can head to the Karon Market on Tuesday and Saturday afternoon/evenings, they sell similar things to the Bazaar but you can also find food and fruit, many of which most westerns have never seen before. Its always interesting to wander round these markets, seeing and smelly new and wonderful things.
Best Places to Stay in Karon
Kata is generally favoured by families, no matter what time of year with Its beautiful white sand, almost crystal clear waters and palm-lined beach. Kata has some really good restaurants and lively nightlife! It has plenty of shops from souvenir shop to clothing stores to 7-Elevens and local supermarkets. As far as night life goes Kata is not as crazy as Patong and is a little smaller than Karon, you will find that the nightlife is fairly tame as it is aimed toward families and couples rather than single men (or men in general). If you do want some “girlie bars” then head to Kata Road as there aren’t any in other area. If you are a fan of great views head to the “3 capes” look out at Kata view point, where you can see Patong, Kata and Karon.
Best Places to Stay in Kata
Quiet more relaxed areas in Phuket
Rawai is one of my favourite areas to stay while in Phuket, its approx. 45mins from Patong and short drive away from Chalong pier. Rawai is a place where you can relax by the beach, with very few people around and breathe in some fresh air, rather than smelly smog in Patong. Rawai beach is known as a working beach where you can easily hire a long boat to take you to neighbouring islands like Bon or Coral island for a day of snorkelling or relaxing. It’s more of a local area and only has a few hotels around the place. The locals often have “pop up” markets and easy to access 7/11 stores.
This is not an area to go shopping or party in, it’s an area to relax and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. We usually stay at Serenity Resort, this resort doesn’t have a very swimmable beach but they do have a great pool and a few rooms with private pools. They also offer a free shuttle to a local beach if you do want to spend the day under an umbrella with sand between your toes.
Rawai beach is close to the very popular Phromthep Cape look out, where people go to see beautiful sunsets each night. If you are in the area check it out!
Best Places to Stay in Rawai
Nai Yang is my next favourite area to stay in. It’s only 5 mins from the airport and about an hour away from Patong. Here you will find a fine white sand beach with a few little stores, beach massage parlours, restaurants and an old abandoned hotel or two. It’s a great beach to relax without being bothered by people trying to sell you something or by other guests or visitors. The water is warm and fairly clear, you can even go snorkelling at the reef at northern end of the beach, kite surfing is fairly popular in this area too if you want to try your hand at it. We usually stay at Indigo Pearl resort, it’s a huge yet beautiful resort but can be a little on the expensive side. Nai Yang has different ranges of accommodations for different budgets so its no excuse to miss this slice of paradise! (Cliché, I know BUT this beach is beautiful and very relaxed!). This is also a beach known for beautiful sunsets, grab a cocktail and relax.
Best Places to Stay in Nai Yang
Luxury (and family friendly):
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