Planning a holiday to Phuket? Then here’s the next question – what part of the island are you going to stay in? There’s something for everyone here: party towns, quiet beaches, rain forest hills. To help you get started, here’s our pick of the best neighbourhoods in Phuket.
Rawai – where the quiet beauty of nature is felt in all its subtlety
Located at the southern tip of Phuket, Rawai is far quieter than its busy neighbours like Kata and Karon. The main Rawai beach itself may not be your ideal one because it is a working beach – this is a starting point for boating tours, which is a great advantage if you have island hopping on your itinerary. But that shouldn’t dishearten you – just a few minutes from here, you will find some beautiful beaches like Nai Harn and Ya Nui. And what’s more, you will not have to share those with crowds of tourists.
We suggest you rent yourself a two-wheeler or a car, as the attractions in Rawai are pretty spread out. Hit the road and visit attractions like the Big Buddha and Wat Chalong. Fancy a distillery tour? Visit the Chalong Bay Rum distillery for some rum tasting. In the evening, head to Promthep Cape at the tip of the island, from where you get beautiful views of the island, the sea, and stunning sunsets.
For a taste of local life, spend an afternoon watching the sea gypsies return with their haul of the day’s fishing. The day’s catch is then sold at the Rawai fish market, right next to the pier.
And here’s our pick of where you can stay in Rawai.
1. Villa Yamuna
This sophisticated three-bedroom HomeAway comes with gorgeous views of the sea, laced with green hills. It is a short walk from the Rawai beach and has some excellent seafood restaurants nearby. When you aren’t at the beach, you could sit back on the deck of this villa and gaze at the sea instead.
Average price per night per person: SGD 121
2. Villa Virote
This is luxury on a budget. This three-storied, three-bedroom HomeAway comes with an indoor pool, which means you can take a dip no matter what the weather is like outside. Completing the picture are two Jacuzzis, a dining area out on the balcony, and hammocks from which to look out at the hills beyond.
Average price per night per person: SGD 65
Kamala – for the introspective yet adrenaline-seeking souls
Kamala beach lies to the north of Patong, far enough from the hubbub of the latter, but close enough to be just a tuk-tuk ride away. A relatively quiet bay surrounded by green hills, Kamala is peaceful and cleaner than the other more popular beaches of Phuket. That said, it does have its share of beachside cafes, massage shops, and water sports – get your hair braided, play in the surf, and soak in the sun. Look out for the Tsunami Memorial Park towards the middle of the beach.
The distances in Kamala are mostly walkable – you will find restaurants, convenience stores, and hotels at walking distance from the beach. If you are heading further out for sightseeing, we suggest you hire a taxi. There’s Patong to the south and Surin to the north, if you are looking for a change of scenery. For a spot of adventure, head to the Flying Hanuman, where you can zipline across the thick jungles.
Kamala is also home to Phuket FantaSea, where every evening a grand stage show is put up, complete with extravagant sets and acrobatics, showcasing Thai culture. Enjoy a buffet of Thai cuisine while enjoying the stunts on stage.
Here are some accommodation options if you plan to stay in Kamala.
1. Luxurious penthouse
Pamper yourself at a penthouse, which comes with a rooftop terrace that has a private pool and Jacuzzi, an al fresco dining area, and a sun deck. You would also have access to the building’s larger pool and gym. Surrounded by greenery, this HomeAway is a short drive away from Kamala Beach.
Average price per night per person: SGD 30
2. Three-bedroom house
Located within a gated residential estate, this spacious three-bedroom HomeAway gives you access to beautiful pools, gym as well as the sauna room. The terrace has an outdoor dining area from which to enjoy peaceful evenings.
Average price per night per person: SGD 27
Karon – buzzing neighbourhood that offers the best of both worlds
One of the most popular neighbourhoods in Phuket, Karon has something for everyone. A long beach with soft, white sand, clear waters and a line of trees to offer some shade, there are beach chairs available on rent and water sports also. There are dive shops along the beach that will take you out for a spot of diving. If you don’t want to do that, you can go snorkelling closer to the beach.
Karon town itself is a bustling place with shops and restaurants. Visit the Karon Temple Market that happens every Tuesday and Saturday on the temple grounds – it’s a great place to try local street food and pick up some fun beachwear or souvenirs.
Rent yourself a vehicle and visit the Karon View Point from where you get an uninterrupted view of Karon and Kata beaches. Mind you, it does get crowded here during sunset. For a truly quiet time, it’s Freedom Beach that you should head to. Getting here isn’t easy because it involves a rather steep trek down a hillside. Or you could take a boat from one of the neighbouring beaches. You also need to pay an entry fee to access the beach. But it may be well worth it because the beach is divinely beautiful, never gets crowded, and there’s snorkelling to be done.
1. Katamanda Villa
This beautiful three-bedroom villa gives you a lovely view of the sea and a roof terrace from which to enjoy it. It is only a short distance from the Kata and Kata Noi beaches and thanks to its location on a hill, you will have uninterrupted views of the both the sea and the surrounding greens.
Average price per night per person: SGD 69
2. Baan Thale sea-view villa
Here’s a holiday home with your very own infinity pool and sun deck. The three-bedroom HomeAway’s rooftop pool also comes with great views of Karon beach. It is an ideal location from which to enjoy Phuket’s legendary sunsets.
Average price per night per person: SGD 59
Patong – where the party begins every hour and continues all day
The party capital of Phuket, the place where the buzz begins, the place you rush to for music, food and a whole lot of beachside fun from jet skis to temporary tattoos. This is not where you go for a quiet family holiday; this is where you go for an action-packed vacation.
The long stretch of sand is packed with colourful beach umbrellas and there’s the ever-present bustle of many activities – from hair braiding to jet-skis and parasailing, you’ll find them all. It’s not the ideal beach to go swimming because it tends to get dirty, given the number of people visiting it.
Patong town gets its party mode on by nightfall. The heart of action is Bangla Street, which is lined with restaurants, Go-Go bars and night clubs, with thumping music setting the pace. There is some great seafood to be had in this part of the town too. The Patong night market is also a good place to try delicious street food.
The main interest points in Patong can be covered on foot and you won’t really need a vehicle at your disposal. But if you do rent a vehicle, find your way to Paradise Beach, which is great for snorkelling and far quieter than Patong Beach. Or, to keep up the crazy quotient of your holiday, go bungee jumping at Phuket Jungle Bungy, which is set over a natural lagoon amidst a forest.
1. Condominium with scenic views
With floor-to-ceiling windows and a balcony, this stylish condo offers views across Patong town, all the way to the beach and to the surrounding hills. It has a shuttle service every few hours, which will take you to Patong beach. If you don’t fancy that, you could also rent bikes at the condominium itself.
Average price per night per person: SGD 41
2. Well done-up, two-bedroom apartment
This cosy HomeAway is set on a hillside, amidst lush green foliage, giving you a lovely view of Patong. It has direct access to Patong Centre, ensuring you waste no time in getting to the happening places. The private pool overlooks the hills that ring the town.
Average price per night per person: SGD 16
Thalang – where nature and history blend in seamlessly
In northern Phuket, at Thalang, you will find yourself amidst rainforests and hills. This is where you could go hiking to find waterfalls and attempt birdwatching in national parks. This is also where you will find gorgeous, casuarina-lined beaches.
To explore Thalang, it is best to rent a car. While driving around, don’t miss one of Phuket’s main cultural landmarks, the Heroines Monument. This is a statue to honour two women who led the locals in a battle against an invading Burmese army in the 18th century. For more history, visit Thalang National Museum.
Head to the Khao Phra Thaeo National Park, which offers hiking trails of varying difficulty levels, with some of them leading to beautiful waterfalls. The park is home to the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project, where you can see rescued gibbons.
Beaches of Thalang are mostly quiet and clean. Mai Khao beach remains largely undeveloped as it is part of the Sirinat National Park. Nai Yang is very close to the airport and very laidback. Bang Tao is another quiet beach with calm waters and is lined with luxury villas. And of course, there’s Surin beach, which is quite the haunt of celebrities.
Thalang is also home to the Splash Jungle water park, where you could head to when you’ve had enough of beaches.
1. Penthouse on the beach
Located right on the Bang Tao beach, this luxurious two-bedroom penthouse is just what you need for a relaxed holiday. Needless to say, the view is brilliant, with its large windows framing the sea and its changing colours. The building has facilities like a large pool, gym and a restaurant.
Average price per night per person: SGD 70