Five quiet Phuket beaches

By Andrew Bond

Laem Singh is tucked between Kamala and Surin

As Thailand’s most popular beach destination, Phuket can get busy. There’s plenty of room for everyone, with some of its beaches stretching for several miles, but if you’ve come for privacy and peace it is possible to escape to some hidden gems. 

Phuket’s west coast is blessed with a gorgeous series of sweeping bays lined with near perfect beaches. They’re large enough that you need never feel crowded, yet lively enough to provide some atmosphere. Patong, for instance, can seem a bit chaotic with its jetskis, parasails and endless activity but can be great for a sunset stroll. Bangtao goes on for miles but does serve quite a number of resorts that virtually claim ownership of their little stretch. Others position themselves exclusively around a small private beach, excluding access to the public.

But if you’re staying in one of the popular areas, such as Kata or Kamala and yearn for a bit of privacy, there are beaches that are inaccessible to commercial enterprises – vendors and the motorised ‘toys’.

With a rented scooter you can find your way to them easily and enjoy a quiet afternoon. Here’s a few suggestions that are practical to get to.

Tri Trang Beach 

The easiest and closest to Patong, thus offering a needed relief from the bustle of Phuket’s busiest beach. It’s located to the south side of this vast bay and easily reached by continuing on the road at the southern end of Patong (the one that crosses a bizarre lopsided bridge), and following the road for two kilometres to this quiet decent sized beach. It’s best accessed via the Tri Trang resort road, and has a restaurant on site but little else other than shady coconut palms and calm swimmable beach occupied by a handful of others.

Freedom Beach 

Freedom beach is tricky to find, but worth it

Located in Freedom bay, on the headland as you go over to Karon, this one shouldn’t be confused with Tri Trang which is also referred to as Freedom. Keep you eyes open for the only proper road off to the right as you drive over the bluff to Karon from Patong, and follow the road for several kilometers until a parking lot and sign indicate steps down to this near deserted beach. Bring your own beers and avoid it on blustery days.

Friendship Beach

Favoured by the locals since it’s one of the few nice beaches in Chalong bay on the east side of the island, this little beach is only accessible via a resort (they don’t seem to mind, but buying a drink or two at their bar is polite). There’s not much there and it can’t compete with West coast beaches but is the best option if you’re in the area. Look out for signs to the left as you take the road to Rawai from Chalong.

Na Nui Beach

This tiny beach, not to be confused with the much more inaccessible Nui Bay beach, is a barely big enough for a row of deckchairs and has some good snorkelling. Everyone gets to see it since it appears miraculous as you come of a hill en-route to Promthep Cape, but few ever stop in their haste to reach the cape. The road runs right past, but you’ll have enough privacy without having to trek to get there, and there’s a bar and small Thai eatery on hand.

Laem Singh Beach – Surin

Those who are staying in the Kamala or Bangtao area will benefit from the closeness of this lovely beach which is only accessible down a 500m steep footpath. This however does not stop hordes of adventurous backpacker types finding their way here. The word’s out, and as more bikes amass at the carpark on the main Patong-Kamala road the secret becomes less and less. All the same, on a quiet day it can prove to be a gem of beach experience, far removed from the commercialism of the bigger beaches. Food and drink are available too.

Nai Ton beach goes on for miles and is quiet

Some other out of the way beaches

Phuket has several more large and small beaches that are yet to become popular, and those with a rental and nose for exploring will delight in discovering these. More on Phuket beaches.

Nai Thon, is a medium sized beach north of Bangtao which has been favoured in recent years for development by exclusive resorts, knowing its far away from the mainstream tourist areas. You’ll have fun exploring the coast en-route though you have to ask directions to find your way there via the limited-access Laguna complex in Bangtao.

Further north is the unpretentious Nai Yang resort, which is down to earth and much as Phuket was in its earliest days of tourism. This nice quiet beach has just enough facilities to make it practical, without being crowded or spoilt, though it lacks any upmarket appeal. It’s easy to find by turning left at the T-junction approaching the airport, but is obviously miles from anywhere else on the island.

North further still is the endless windswept and wild beach ofMai Khao, yet to be developed. There’s not much here and finding a way to it is a bit tricky, since you have to drive beyond the airport.

Then there are the east coast beaches of Panwa Cape and Makham peninsula. There are several here, such as Makham Bay beach, and the small beaches near the Phuket Aquarium in Yon Bay. But some are the exclusive domain of the resorts that have shutout the access land. It’s best to take a drive over there yourself, starting near Phuket Town and discovering the beaches as you go. Some of them are spoilt by the unsightly location of light industry and marine services in this part of the island however.

When looking for a place to stay on Phuket with a budget, you’re unlikely to get near the beach, and should avoid the popular areas, but there are some cheap options tucked away behind the action and these are best found on hostelbookers.com which has a good selection of all budget accomodation types.

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