Phuket Beach Guide

Phuket is a world famous tourist destination and the reason for that is quite simple; its fantastic beaches and great weather. Warm, blue waters, soft, white sand and a near-perfect tropical climate combine to make Phuket beaches among the best in the world. The inviting waters of the tranquil Andaman Sea are perfect for swimming, snorkelling, diving and other water sports.

The island has plenty of beaches to choose from and, not surprisingly, the best ones are well developed and usually busy, though not packed. Choosing the right one for you is important, of course, and each has a different character, from party scene to escape and exclusivity. We’ve covered each in this section; read below to decide which suits you best.

Patong
Phuket’s liveliest and most developed beach offers the best party and activities, enjoy good dining, pubbing, shopping or escape to its lovely long beach; you’ll either love it or hate it…more

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Kata
Perhaps the nicest commercial beach in Phuket, with its upmarket feel and sheltered beach; bring a surfboard, or enjoy the exclusivity of adjacent Kata Noi beach…more

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Rawai
A bit of a locals’ beach, where Thais come for cheap seafood, quiet atmosphere and no pretensions; enjoy resorts opposite the sea and a natural, shaded beach…more

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Bang Tao
Home to the pretty Laguna complex, with its expensive resorts set about lagoons and a sweeping lonely beach; great if you don’t intend to leave your hotel and like golfing…more

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Karon
This beach seems to go on forever, deserted in parts, but the town is more down-to-earth with great views from the elevated resorts behind, plus shopping and some evening entertainment…more

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Kamala
Ideal for families, with its village-like feel, rustic restaurants and low-rise apartments; there’s plenty of room for everyone, Phuket FantaSea, and a tsunami memorial park…more

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Surin
A small, pretty and unspoilt beach to the north of Patong and co is popular with long-stay villa residents and those looking for quiet. Come for the day but don’t expect a beachfront hotel…more

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Nai Yang
Low key and miles from everywhere else, except the airport, this cool beach has rustic digs and is about as quiet as it gets; a million miles from Patong…more


Note: We recommend you to look online at Agoda.com for the best rate hotels and resorts in Phuket. They seem to be the most competitively priced of the hotels sites.

Exploring Phuket Beaches

Not everyone gets to stay right near the beach in Phuket; in fact, the commercial districts with restaurants and bars and shops dominate the beach roads and blocks behind in several areas. As the land rises behind, you get some excellent views from some hotels and can be at the beach in a few minutes by tuk-tuk or scooter.

It’s just as easy to rent a bike and go looking for a small, secluded beach tucked away somewhere on the island. Most of the swimmable beaches are found on the west-facing side of Phuket island. A few exclusive resorts enjoy the privacy of their own small beaches in between the larger bays, or on the east side of the island. 

Each of the commercial beaches on Phuket cater well to all public visitors, with sun loungers and umbrellas for rent and vendors strolling the beach selling fruit, snacks and ice cream. Most Phuket beaches have a number of restaurants and stalls offering food and drink either on the beach itself or within a 100m or so. Beachfront massage stands are also common.

If you’re here for the party, then it’s best to stay in Patong where most of the night action is. Karon, Kata and Kamala have smaller night scenes, although all come with the ubiquitous girlie bars. The main thing to consider is having to negotiate hilly headlands between bays on a rental scooter – when you’re not totally sober, it can be deadly.

Those who prefer a hotel near the beach, and where you can walk everywhere without too much chaos, should consider Kamala or Bang Tao, which are quieter and have plenty of accommodation near the beach. Several privileged hotels enjoy exclusive positioning right on Kata Beach (separated only by a lane), while those on Kata Noi are even more exclusive.

If you’re on a budget, you’ll have to settle for one of the many hotels set a few hundred metres back from the beach. You can, though, get something near the water for less than US$50 a night if you settle for Rawai or Nai Harn, but they are somewhat downmarket and out of the way.