Resort Towns in Phuket
Phuket is a large island with plenty of variety so you should be able to find somewhere that is right for your holiday. In this site, we describe over 40 beaches and we believe Phuket offers something for everyone. When you are planning your holiday in Phuket, one of the first things you will need to consider, even before you select your hotel, is which resort town or area is right for you. Do you want wild nightlife and partying, a relaxing getaway or something in between?
On this page, we will give you an overview of the major tourist towns and areas. You can browse through the descriptions of the various resorts and then click through to read more about the places that interest you most.
West Phuket, Southern Half
Phuket's best beaches are along the west coast. The most popular tourist resorts are on the southern half of the west coast.
|Distance to Airport||43km (45 mins)|
|Distance to Phuket Town||15km (20 mins)|
We must start with Patong. It is the heart of Phuket's tourism industry. This resort town has grown into a thriving mass of shops, bars, restaurants and hotels. If you want nightlife and action then Patong is the place for you.
Patong is flashing lights, people and noise. It has nightclubs and bars. It is also the center of the girly bar action with go-gos and sex shows.
Jung Ceylon is a new major shopping mall with a multiplex cinema and 10-pin bowling. There are also many other shopping outlets.
Patong has a fabulous 3km beach in a curving bay. It is always busy with jet-skis and banana boats buzzing across the water. The amount of activity inevitably means the water is not as clean and pristine as one would hope.
There are major hotels all along the beach. The town has grown amazingly over the last decade and it now sprawls back as far as the surrounding hills will allow. The backstreets contain guesthouses, bars and restaurants.
|Distance to Airport||48km (55 mins)|
|Distance to Phuket Town||20km (30 mins)|
|Distance to Patong||5km (10 mins)|
The next resort town south of Patong is Karon Beach. It is a popular and well-developed resort town but it does not reach the excesses of Patong. The beach is a 4km straight stretch of golden sand. There are major hotels all along the center of the beach. Apart from the hotels, there is not much activity in this central area.
The shopping and nightlife areas are at the north and south ends of the beach. There is a good selection of bars and restaurants but not an excessive number. The southern end has a wider range of options. There is a small smattering of girly bars around town but not to an extent where they annoy the people who are not interested.
Karon Beach is a good compromise for people who want amenities and some nightlife but who do not want the full on action of Patong.
|Distance to Airport||46km (50 mins)|
|Distance to Phuket Town||17km (25 mins)|
|Distance to Patong||8km (15 mins)|
The next resort town south of Karon is Kata. In fact, the two towns merge to form one long stretch of urban development.
Kata is similar to Karon in that it offers plenty of bars, restaurants and amenities but without the excesses of Patong.
Kata is a more tightly knit town. While Karon is spread out loosely along its long beach, the beaches at Kata are shorter and Kata Town is a much more compact place. This has the benefit that everything is much closer together, although some people prefer the open spaces of Karon.
Kata has two lovely beaches, Kata Beach and Kata Noi Beach. It is a good resort for families or couples who want plenty of things to do but are not interested in wild partying.
|Distance to Airport||48km (55 mins)|
|Distance to Phuket Town||19km (25 mins)|
|Distance to Patong||20km (30 mins)|
This is not really a resort town. It is a beautiful beach with just a couple of nearby hotels. Nai Harn is on the southwest corner of the island. There are a handful of restaurants and trinket shops near the beach. Other nearby attractions include two other nice little beaches, Laem Promthep viewpoint and the lagoon behind the beach.
A few hundred meters back from the beach is an area of residential properties. Nai Harn is quite a popular area for ex-pat residents and there are many local restaurants and bars serving a variety of western and Thai food.
If you want beautiful beaches, a nice hotel and a good variety of local eating options, then Nai Harn could be for you. There is little nightlife and the area is a bit remote from the rest of the island.
Phuket's southern coast does not have good beaches but it does have some lovely scenery, access to nearby islands and great seafood.
Rawai Beach and Friendship Beach
|Distance to Airport||40-45km (50 mins)|
|Distance to Phuket Town||13-18km (20 mins)|
|Distance to Patong||14-19km (25 mins)|
The southern side of Phuket does not have the best beaches. They are rather shallow, stony and muddy. What the area does have is great views to the offshore islands. You can take boat trips to the islands, which have some lovely beaches and snorkeling.
Rawai Beach and Friendship Beach are also known for their fabulous and reasonably priced seafood. There are some lovely beachside restaurants and a fair smattering of bars around. It is not a lively area but there are always a few people drinking in the local bars.
This area will appeal to people who enjoy boat trips to the smaller nearby islands. You can easily arrange fishing and diving trips from Chalong Pier. Throw in the great selection of local seafood restaurants and you have some people's idea of a perfect holiday base. It is not for the party crowd and it is a little remote from the rest of the island. You will probably want to rent a motorbike or car to get around.
|Distance to Airport||44km (50 mins)|
|Distance to Phuket Town||9km (15 mins)|
|Distance to Patong||25km (30 mins)|
Ao Yon Beach
This sleepy cape juts into the sea at the southern end of Phuket. It is a quiet area. There are a few beaches but like the rest of the south end of Phuket, they are not great beaches. Still a few hotels have set up shop here.
The real appeal of the area is the isolation. There are a few tourist bars and restaurants at the southern tip of the cape. Other than that, it is all local fare.
Local attractions include the aquarium and the viewpoint at Khao Khat. You are conveniently located for trips to Phuket Town. You are a long way from the good beaches along the western coast.
This area will appeal to those who want a quiet holiday. There are some reasonable hotels, some good local restaurants and a couple of passable beaches.
West Phuket, Northern Half
The northern half of Phuket's west coast has some fabulous beaches that are not as touristy or developed as the southern half.
|Distance to Airport||34km (35 mins)|
|Distance to Phuket Town||25km (35 mins)|
|Distance to Patong||10km (15 mins)|
Now we are heading north from Patong up the western coast. The next resort town north of Patong is Kamala. This used to be a sleepy Muslim fishing village.
It has now developed into a tourist town but it still maintains a strong Muslim influence. There are several local mosques and much of the local population is Muslim. The nightlife is quiet but there is a selection of bars and restaurants.
Kamala has a very nice beach and there are several reasonable mid-range hotels. The major local attraction is the fabulous Fantasea Show.
The main shopping malls of Phuket Town are some distance away but all the fun of Patong is just a short but winding drive along the coast.
Kamala will appeal to those who like a nice beach and quiet nightlife but with the option of a 15-minute trip to Patong if you fancy some action.
|Distance to Airport||30km (30 mins)|
|Distance to Phuket Town||26km (35 mins)|
|Distance to Patong||14km (20 mins)|
North of Kamala is Surin Beach. It is a lovely beach. There is a selection of restaurants by the beach and plenty of sun loungers on the beach. You get a few jet-skis but generally, it is fairly relaxed.
The hotels are all set back on the road, two hundred meters from the beach.
The beach is the main attraction of Surin. The surrounding area is a little upmarket and there are a few nice but moderately expensive nightlife venues. There are some nice restaurants and the occasional beach party but generally the nightlife is quiet.
You are a good distance from Patong and Phuket Town and there are not many nearby tourist attractions. Bang Tao Beach is not far away where there is a bit more life and a golf course.
Surin Beach is going to appeal to beach lovers who also enjoy a bit of stylish nightlife. You can spend the day lounging in the sun and then find a good restaurant or lounge bar for the evening.
Bang Tao Beach
|Distance to Airport||29km (30 mins)|
|Distance to Phuket Town||25km (35 mins)|
|Distance to Patong||17km (25 mins)|
North of Surin is Bang Tao Beach. This is a fabulous 8km stretch of sand. It is home to the Laguna Complex. The area behind the beach has many lagoons, a remnant of the old tin mining days.
20 years ago, developers believed the area was beyond repair and would be left scarred and ravaged by the tin mines. Then along came the Laguna developers who built a fabulous complex of five up-market hotels and a golf course. They re-sculptured the whole area into a beautiful, landscaped hotel complex around the lagoons. It is now one of the top holiday destinations in Phuket and Asia with the hotels offering their guests all kinds of facilities and entertainments.
There are now also several mid-range hotels at the southern end of the beach. There are plenty of restaurants dotted around the area and a few bars. The nightlife is not at all raucous but there are some lively little places around. Further from the beach, there are many residential developments with the area touted as highly desirable.
It is some distance to Phuket Town, the main shopping malls and the nightlife of Patong. However, if you are staying in one of the Laguna hotels, then you have so many entertainment options that it is not a big issue.
This area, and particularly the Laguna Complex, will appeal to those who want to indulge themselves. There is a good beach, plenty of activities and a good range of eating and drinking establishments. The prices here very much reflect the upmarket image the area is trying to promote.
Nai Thon Beach
|Distance to Airport||10km (15 mins)|
|Distance to Phuket Town||32km (35 mins)|
|Distance to Patong||28km (40 mins)|
Still further north is Nai Thon Beach. We are now approaching the much quieter northern end of the island.
It is a beautiful beach with squeaky white sand. A single road runs along the beach and on the other side is one large hotel, a couple of smaller hotels and a handful of shops and restaurants.
It is a very quiet area. You are a long way from the major shopping and nightlife areas. There are some other nice beaches nearby, including the sister beach at Nai Thorn, access to which is blocked by a hotel.
There are no other tourist attractions of note, apart from the convenient proximity of the airport.
This area will appeal to those who like a quiet beach holiday. It is a fabulous beach but the rest of the area is very quiet and remote.
Nai Yang Beach
|Distance to Airport||2km (3 mins)|
|Distance to Phuket Town||30km (35 mins)|
|Distance to Patong||34km (40 mins)|
Yet further north and we are now at the beach closest to the airport. Nai Yang Beach is a beautiful location and the noise from the airport really is not intrusive. The northern end of the beach is in a national park. It is a popular area for Thai families to come and play at the weekend.
The southern end of the beach has a few hotels. There are some nice little bars and restaurants. There are enough venues for a bit of variety during your stay. You can take a pleasant evening stroll, get a good meal and a few drinks.
The area is far from Phuket's main shopping and nightlife facilities. There is a small town 1km away on the airport road with a few convenience shops, a bank, car hire, etc. It is of course, very convenient for the airport.
This area will appeal to those who enjoy tranquility but also a selection of a few bars and restaurants. The scenery is very pleasant and you can take long strolls along the beach. You can actually walk on to Mai Khao Beach and if you have the energy, all the way to the northern tip of the island. It is a good 10km walk.
Mai Khao Beach
|Distance to Airport||10km (15 mins)|
|Distance to Phuket Town||35km (40 mins)|
|Distance to Patong||39km (45 mins)|
Sai Kaew Beach
Beyond the airport and we have now reached the northern end of the island. Mai Khao Beach is an 8km long, straight stretch of sand. It looks fabulous but it is not a good beach for swimming. The beach slopes quite steeply into the sea and during the rainy season, the currents are absolutely treacherous. Even in the dry season, swimming can be a little risky.
The area is very quiet and undeveloped but there are four 5-star hotels dotted along the beach. They all market themselves as luxurious escapes. They are top-class facilities but the surrounding area has very little in the way of development or attractions. The West Sands resort does have a good water park.
There are a few rustic restaurants at the northern end of the beach. There is also a small nature trail through a mangrove forest.
You could not be any further from Phuket's shopping and nightlife action.
This area will appeal to those who want luxury and a break from the outside world. If you are happy to mostly base yourself in your hotel and enjoy its top-class facilities then this is for you. You can take pleasant walks along the beach but you will need to arrange transport to visit the rest of the island.