If you’re heading to Thailand for the first time, chances are Phuket is definitely on your itinerary! And no wonder why – the country’s largest island is filled with white sandy beaches, exciting nightlife, and stunning temples. There is so much to do and explore, and choosing the right place to base yourself here is essential, so let’s dive in:
Best Areas to Stay in Phuket
Phuket is huge! There are 44 beaches around the island and deciding where to stay will significantly impact your experience on the island. We have broken down the best 9 areas to stay in below:
- 🥳 Patong Beach: popular backpacker party area (18+)
- 💰 Karon Beach: great budget option
- ❤️ Kata & Kamala Beach: peaceful spots for a family or couple’s holiday
- 🌴 Bang Tao & Nai Harn Beach & Sirinat National Park: less touristy areas
- 😋 Phuket Old Town: super charming, perfect for cultural travelers & foodies
- 💎 Surin Beach: luxury beachfront resorts destination
Pro tip: the west coast of Phuket is where you’ll find the most beautiful and best beaches on the island.
We highly recommend booking your accommodation in advance for the high season, mainly December to March, as prices skyrocket by then. We use Agoda here in Southeast Asia for the best deals, although Booking also works just fine.
1. Patong Beach
The most popular section of the island, Patong is where you’ll find most of the restaurants, bars, shops, and well… tourists. Being a bit of a controversial area, some people love the chaotic nightlife and the never-ending options of malls, shows, accommodations, massage houses, and water sports, while some people hate how busy it is.
Personally, we think this is a good spot for backpackers or whoever enjoys partying. A night out at Bangla Road is a crazy experience, especially if you’re staying at a hostel and going out for a pub crawl. We had a great time staying here, but if you’re looking to experience authentic Thailand, this is definitely not the place to stay.
Pro tip: we had the chance to work with Lub D on a content creation trip and they granted a special discount for our followers and readers: use the code FLOW at lubd.com for 10% off on top of other promos! Lub D is also available in Bangkok, Koh Samui, Siem Reap in Cambodia, and Makati in the Philippines.
2. Karon Beach
Only a few minutes South of Patong, Karon Beach is another popular area. The impressive 3,5 km long white-sandy beach never feels crowded and the area offers lots of activities, restaurants, and great resorts. The nightlife here is generally more family-friendly than in Patong, although still very lively! You will also find plenty of decent budget accommodations in Karon Beach.
A good hostel option at Karon Beach is the Fishtail Hostel.
Pro tip: Karon Beach is a great spot to watch the sunset and is also a popular surfing destination during the off-season, from mid-May to October.
3. Kata Beach
Along with Patong and Karon, Kata Beach is one of Phuket’s most popular beaches. The beach is actually split into two parts – Kata Yai to the North and the more secluded Kata Noi to the South. It’s a much quieter area, perfect for a family or couple’s holiday, that still offers plenty of activities, nice restaurants, and trendy nightlife.
4. Kamala Beach
Kamala Beach, located just North of Patong, is slowly becoming more popular for its chilled-out vibe. Unlike many beaches in Phuket, there is no road parallel to the beach here, only a small paved promenade lined with charming (and cheap) restaurants. This is the perfect destination for anyone who prefers a laid-back and relaxing beach holiday.
5. Bang Tao Beach
One of the longest beaches on the island, Bang Tao is perfect for those looking for a less touristy area. Here you’re guaranteed to have your own palm tree and to be completely undisturbed! It’s located in the northwestern part of Phuket, close enough to the Big Buddha and the pristine Surin and Banana Beach. Bang Tao is a bit on the pricier side though, with many high-end resorts and sophisticated restaurants and bars.
Pro tip: the northern part of Bang Tao Beach is less developed and therefore more pristine!
6. Nai Harn Beach
Thankfully protected as part of a National Park, Nai Harn Beach has not been yet stormed by hotels and remains a very pristine and secluded cove. Located on the very South of Phuket, most of the accommodation here is located within 15 minutes from the beach in a small town. Nai Harn is the go-to place for those who enjoy an easygoing holiday.
Another great mid to high-end accommodation is the Sunsuri Phuket.
7. Sirinat National Park
On the northwest coast of Phuket, you’ll find the beaches that make up the Sirinat National Park: Nai Thon Beach, Nai Yang Beach, and Mai Khao Beach. Just like Nai Harn, these beaches are protected and remain quite unspoiled compared to the rest of the island. If you’re looking for tranquility and good resorts, this is definitely your place!
Of these three beaches, we would recommend Nai Thon Beach the most. Mai Khao and Nai Yang Beach are beautiful, but we find them too close to the airport and the noise can be a nuisance at times. Here are our top resorts for each location:
Nai Thon Beach
Nai Yang Beach
Mai Khao Beach
8. Phuket Old Town
Most people have no idea that the mansions in Phuket Old Town were renovated and transformed into some of the most lovely boutique hotels on the island! The area is super charming, with cozy cafés, designer shops, and Phuket’s absolute best food (make sure to visit the famous Sunday Night Market). Given that the town is located so far away from the beaches, we would recommend staying here for one or two nights only.
9. Surin Beach
Home to the most luxurious resorts on the island, Surin Beach is a small cove located between Kamala and Bang Tao Beach. The beach here is stunning and it’s easy to see why so many celebrities and wealthy people own places around it!
Pro tip: from here, you can get a boat to the hidden Laem Sing Beach!
Bonus: Phuket Islands
Phuket is Thailand’s largest island but surrounding it there are quite a number of smaller islets that are usually visited on day tours, some of which you can also spend the night! Here are some of the islands that have great accommodation options:
The Racha Islands comprise Koh Racha Noi, which remains uninhabited, and Koh Racha Yai, where you can find the beautiful 5-star The Racha. A couple of budget bungalows are also available on the latter.
Located just 750 meters away from Phuket, Coconut Island has been inhabited by generations of fishermen and farmers who live by fishing and planting coconuts, rubber trees, and local fruits and vegetables. In recent years, the island became a luxury island escape with beachfront villas and resorts. We highly recommend The Village Coconut Island Beach Resort here!
Naka Yai Island
The bigger of the two islands that form the Naka Islands, Koh Naka Yai is located on the northeastern coast of Phuket and boasts some paradisiacal white sandy beaches. Here you’ll find the beautiful The Naka Island a Luxury Collection Resort, with breathtaking views of Phang Nga Bay.
Tip: the tiny and uninhabited Koh Naka Noi is home to a pearl farm and can be visited on a day tour!
You can also visit these and other uninhabited islands on a day tour from Phuket! Here are some day tours that we recommend: