How to enjoy Kata on a budget

Phuket cheap eats consist of more than just insects!

The Phuket resort of Kata is a fabulous holiday destination with a great beach as well as a diverse selection of accommodation, eateries, pubs, activities and entertainment venues. The beach is lined with gently swaying palms and soft sands, and is lapped by sparkling seas suitable for bathers of all age groups during the peak tourist season. But the whole island can get a little expensive, so here are our best tips on how to save those baht...

Thanks to Phuket’s warm weather, Kata is an all-year destination for holidaymakers. Monsoon rains in the months of May, September and October can be heavy, but temperatures rarely drop below 25°C and it is still possible to have a thoroughly enjoyable holiday. Between May and early October is the best time to enjoy Kata on a budget, as hotel accommodation is usually discounted to attract custom at this time.

Kata visitors have a good range of activities to choose from, with swimming and snorkelling placing no pressure on financial resources at all. Between May and October, the seas can be quite choppy, great for surfing aficionados in the know, but not for swimmers. It is probably better to take advantage of low season rates at hotels such as Katathani and Aspasia and enjoy the safety of a swimming pool during these times.

During the November to April high season, another daytime options is to take a long-tail boat out past the headlands at either end of the bay and indulge in a spot of fishing or snorkelling. Jet-skis are available, but these do not offer the cheapest way to enjoy the water.

A number of dive shops operating in Kata offer PADI courses as well as trips out to the Similan Islands and Koh Phi-Phi. The Oceanic Dive Centre and Phuket Scuba Club have both been highly praised in recent years for the expertise of their divemasters, attention to safety standards and the range of sites they visit. Some of the more remote sites, including the famed Richelieu Rock, are live-aboard multi-day excursions. It is a good idea to check the web pages of Kata dive operators as they often offer discounts for last minute reservations.

On land there are a number of activities for Kata holidaymakers. Phunaka Golf Course is around two kilometres from Kata and has a challenging nine-hole green and a driving range (club hire is available). The more famous Phuket Country Club is farther inland and has an 18-hole course. It is always worth checking the websites of individual clubs for ongoing offers.  

Heading north out of Kata towards Karon Beach, the road passes one of Phuket’s quirkier draws, Dino Park Mini-Golf. As its name implies, the facility’s theme is prehistoric, and it comes complete with Flintstones bar and restaurant. Dino is open until late and offers wholesome fun for children and adults alike at prices that won’t break the bank.

The legendary Mom Tri's Boathouse offers the finest dining experience on Phuket, but there are lots of other restaurants at Kata that offer great dining at much cheaper prices. In the environs of the Club Med resort, there are eateries that serve up basic Thai dishes such as prawn fried rice (kow pat gung) and green curry (geng ke-ow wan). Other great Kata eateries include La Gondola for Italian and On the Rock for exquisite Thai seafood gems. The Red Chair Café is a bit of a walk, but serves Thai cuisine at excellent prices.

Admiring underwater beauty costs nothing

Convenience stores, which include the omnipresent Thai 7-11, are economical places to stock up on snacks, drinks and holiday necessities. Other shops sell the whole gamut of Thai souvenirs, from colourful sarongs to hand-crafted wooden statues and games, and haggling will nearly always be rewarded with a better deal. A good rule of thumb is to half the asking price and then settle somewhere in the middle.

Nightlife in Kata is probably not as diverse as neighbouring Karon or Patong, but there are more than enough bars and cafés to satisfy most people’s preferences. People wishing to conserve their money should check around for happy hour offers. Duke's Sport Bar, a friendly pub with lots of TV screens, has a long late afternoon happy hour.  

The Ska Bar is another ambient location on a rocky promontory at the south end of Kata. The Bounty Bar, Sweethearts Bar, Bluefin Tavern and Easyriders are among other eclectic offerings. The latter opens late and usually has a live band on. There are numerous other open-sided bars with just a few stools, a pool table and bar staff eager to practice their English.

Kata features an excellent range of accommodation with options at the bottom end of the beach providing direct access to the sand, one of the few places on Phuket where this is possible. The Katathani Resort on Kata Noi Bay is one of these superb options, while other hotels close to the beach include Metadee Resort and Villas, Aspasia and the Hotel Ibis.

The Ibis has its own mini-golf course and is an excellent hotel choice for families. Staying a little farther away from the beach offers more economical rooms with the Amorn Kata Beach, Pineapple Guesthouse and Orchidacea Resort among establishments with rooms around the 1,000 Baht a night mark. Heading even farther into the backstreets can often bring up some even cheaper options, especially in low season.

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