***UPDATED as of JAN 2020!! Including New and improved Hotels**
This article is designed to help YOU work out where to stay in Phuket Thailand and what the different areas are like in Phuket. Maybe you want to stay in party central (Patong), or something more relaxed and calming (Rawaii or Nai Yang) with the option to go to those “party areas” or busy market streets. Or you might want to know which is the best area to stay in Phuket with your family.
We will cover off all types of Phuket accommodation options from Hostels to luxury hotels that don’t cost the earth as well as how to decide where to stay in Phuket, the best Phuket hotels, best places in Phuket (to stay and to visit), the best places to stay in Phuket Thailand and many more.
If you need some discreteness during your visit in Phuket, you might also want to consider Phuket Luxury Villas. A luxury option, the luxury villas will provide a getaway experience, where you can enjoy fun-filled moments with your family and friends. Airbnb is also a great option for short or long stays.
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 Phuket
Patong Phuket – Where to stay in Phuket for singles
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, sun glasses, clothing, “lucky Balloons” (aka lanterns) and soooo much more! The streets of Patong are littered with bars, lady boys, tailors, ping pong shows and actual litter… Patong is also named Phuket walking Street as there is a large market area. 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 market shopping in Phuket, it has a great selection of markets that sell “designer” clothing, handbags, watches, shoes and much much more as well as non designer watches, wallets, clothing, shoes, hats etc . Most of the vendors all seem to sell the same thing for varying prices. The price will depend on how you ask, what you say or what you look like. To get by unscathed, here are some tips on how to barter your way to the best price in Thailand. It’s where to stay in Phuket for nightlife.
I would characterize Patong as frantic or organised chaos and we were there in the low season, which was apparently pretty quiet! It would be nothing short of chaotic in high season, what an experience that would be! As Patong is the main tourist area of Phuket, the hotels are cheap! If you’e wondering Patong is also where to stay in Phuket solo.
Where to Stay in Patong
Karon – Best place to stay in Phuket for tourists
The question is, do you choose Karon or Patong…… Karon beach is not as frantic as Patong beach but often referred to as “Patong’s Little Sister, located only 20 minutes away from Patong. In Karon you will find a range of small shops/markets, a bar or 2 and nice little restaurants and cafes. There are not as many lady boys or ping pong shows (unless you go down Bangla road) and 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, unlike Patong. Alternatively you can head to the Karon Temple Market on Tuesday and Friday’s, 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 Beach – Best place to stay in Phuket Thailand
Kata Beach is generally better suited for families, no matter what time of year, it has a beautiful palm-lined white sand beach with almost crystal clear waters. Kata beach is actually in Karon but i thought it would be a nice addition to the list. It has some really good restaurants and lively nightlife as well, just in case you want to go out a little but not have to deal with the crowds in Patong! It has plenty of shops from souvenir shop to clothing stores to 7-Elevens and local supermarkets.
As far as night life goes Kata beach is not as crazy as Patong and is a little smaller than Karon, you will find that the nightlife is fairly tame as it’s aimed toward families and couples rather than single people. If you’re 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 near Kata Beach
Phuket Town – Old Town places to stay in Phuket
Phuket town is located in central Phuket and not a typical tropical location with beach views (well not all areas have beach views), however it has its own flare of a mix of old and new. The centre of Phuket town is called Old Phuket Town or Thalang Road, which is lined with colorful 19th-century shop houses and Sino-Portuguese buildings, which were built in 1903.
Phuket town is fairly busy from dawn to dusk with markets along the main streets and a decent amount of restaurants and bars for those who enjoy a bit of nightlife (although not as crazy a Patong).
Best Places to Stay in Phuket Town
Quiet more relaxed areas in Phuket
Rawai – Where to stay in Phuket for couples
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 finally relax and unwind, rather than being crowded in Patong. Rawai is also a great place to stay in Phuket for honeymooners.
Rawai beach is known as a working beach where you can easily hire a long boat to take you to neighbouring islands like Bon Island or Coral island for a day of snorkelling or relaxing on a small island. It’s more of a local area and only has a few hotels around. The locals often have “pop up” markets and most hotels have 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’ve stayed at Serenity Resort, which is always very relaxing and out of the way however this resort doesn’t have a very swimmable beach but they do have a great pool and the majority of rooms come with a private pool.
If you want to do some swimming then I would recommend Rawai beach and Nai Harn beach, which are 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, its worth getting there a little earlier than sunset to get a good spot!
Best Places to Stay in Rawai
Nai Yang- Best place to stay in Phuket for families
Nai Yang is my next favourite area to stay in as 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 a few old abandoned hotels (a bit of adventure, if you dare!) and some nice resorts.
It’s a great beach to relax at 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 go snorkelling on 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 The Slate (formally Indigo Pearl ) Resort, it’s a huge yet beautiful resort but can be a little on the expensive side, but worth the price. Nai Yang has a few different ranges of accommodations for different budgets however it isnt packed like most other areas of Phuket. This is also a beach known for beautiful sunsets, grab a cocktail and relax as you want the sun go down (depending on the time of year, you might need to take your cocktail around the cove).
If you’re looking for another beach you can take a short 20 min tuk tuk to Mai Khao beach, it is a little more secluded and is one of the best beaches in Phuket.
Best Places to Stay in Nai Yang
Budget Hotels in Nai Yang:
Nai Yang Beach Resort
Kamala – Best area to stay in Phuket for families
Kamala is approx 20 minutes away (although it feels a long longer in a tuk tuk) from Patong but it’s far enough away to enjoy to serenity and peace but close enough to make a trip to Patong for a few hours or even the day. Kamala has a wonderful beach and luckily doesn’t attract crowds which makes it a little like a hidden gem (cliche i know sorry!).
It makes it easy to relax on the beach without getting hassled, Kamala beach also offers a number of beach hotels. Kamala is home to FantaSea, which is considered a “Cultural Theme Park” and very popular with tourists.
Best Places to Stay in Kamala
Bangtao Beach – Where to stay in Phuket for relaxation
One of Phuket’s longest, and least populated beaches, is Bangtao Beach. Located on the Western coast of Phuket, Bangtao is one of the more off the beaten path places to stay in Phuket. For nature lovers, Sirinath National Park is just 15 kilometers north of Bangtao Beach, where visitors might see nesting turtles or rare birds.
One of the best hotels to stay in Phuket is the Dusit Thani Laguna hotel, a tranquil oasis along a beautiful stretch of Bangtao Beach. While most of Bangtao Beach is fairly quiet, the southern end, at Surin Beach is quite lively. Surin Beach is sometimes called Millionaires Row, thanks to the many luxury hotels lining the beach.
Best places to stay in Bangtao Beach
Cheapest Backpacking Hostels in Bangtao Beach:
Mai Khao Beach – Places to stay in Phuket on the beach
One of the nearest beaches to Phuket’s International Airport, Mai Khao Beach is one of the least developed beaches in Phuket. Aside from the airport, the JW Marriott Phuket resort is one of the only places to stay in Phuket on the beach at Mai Khao. The beach here is a bit more coarse, but the lack of crowds makes up for it.
If you only have one day in Phuket, and want to save time commuting around the island, then Mai Khao Beach is one of the places to stay in Phuket closest to the airport. Nearby Nai Yang beach also has some accommodation options, and families visiting Phuket with kids will love the Splash Jungle Water Park.
Best places to stay in Mai Khao Beach
Chalong – Where to stay in Phuket for easy access to day trips
On Phuket’s East Coast, Chalong is popular for boaters. The shoreline is muddy, so it’s not a great beach destination in Phuket. The most popular attraction in this region is the hilltop Big Buddha. Other things to do near Chalong include the Botanic Garden and Phuket Bird Park.
Ao Chalong Pier is a busy hub of activity, with many pubs and restaurants catering to travelers heading out on sailing and diving day trips. If you are arriving by boat, you’ll find several options for mooring: Boat Lagoon, Royal Phuket Marina, and Yacht Haven. While Chalong is a more urban area of Phuket, there are still several places to stay in this area of Phuket.