Phuket is bigger than many realize. In fact, Phuket is not only the country’s largest island with another 32 smaller islands off its coast – it’s a province with three districts grouped into 17 sub-districts consisting of 103 villages. Patong is the most popular resort town, famous for its nightlife with go-go bars lined up at Bangla Road and the 3½ km long beautiful beach. If Patong doesn’t suit you, don’t worry – Phuket has something for everyone which I will guide you through in this post.
Known as “Millionaire’s Row,” Surin Beach boasts several luxury resorts where many celebrities choose to stay when vacationing in Phuket. The five-star Twinpalms Phuket Resort gets a mention in most Boutique Hotel books, and The Surin Phuket with its private beach is another exciting resort.
Why stay in Surin? If you want a relaxing vacation without the hustle and bustle of Patong with a little luxury in terms of hotels and shops, then Surin might be the place for you. The beach is palm-lined with fine sand, and you can relax here without the noise of jet-skies.
Kamala, the closest village north of Patong, was originally a Muslim fishing village which now consists of two villages; the Muslim village and the touristic part of the beach with hotels, restaurants, and shops.
Why stay in Kamala? The 2 km long beach is a perfect place if you want to get away from the crowds. Phuket is a world famous destination for spa and wellness treatments, and Kamala is no exception with the highly recommended Oasis Turquoise Cove Spa. Kamala is also home to Phuket FantaSea – a cultural theme park with a spectacular Las Vegas-style show. If you’re looking for a beach lounge, HQ Beach Lounge Phuket is the spot!
Don’t miss: In between Surin and Kamala is the 200 meters long beautiful Laem Singh Beach.
Patong is the most touristy resort town in Phuket, and it’s not just because of the beautiful white sandy beach; the nightlife is world famous, and in high season it can be terribly crowded. This is the kind of place you either love or hate.
Why stay in Patong? Because you love to party! Every night, Bangla Road turns into a festival of go-go bars and neon lights. If you’re into clubbing, you should check out Illuzion with a 250 sqm stage, eight different VIP lounges, and more than 200 VIP tables. Also, Patong has cheaper accommodations than other resort towns.
Karon, the closest resort town south of Patong, features the second longest beach in Phuket which is also one of the most popular after Patong and Kata with good shopping and dining options.
Why stay in Karon? If you want to stay close a long, wide beach with fine white sand (who doesn’t?) Karon might be just the place for you. There is an excellent range of hotels right by the beach like Beyond Resort Karon (adults only) and beach clubs like COAST Beach Club & Bistro Phuket.
Kata is the second most popular resort town after Patong. Kata Road has a good selection of bars and restaurants without the craziness like Patong. In the low season when the monsoon sweep in, Kata Beach is considered the ‘Surfing Mecca’ of Phuket.
Why stay in Kata? Kata is a good choice for almost everybody; not too much and not too little. The beach is excellent, and families love to come here in the high season just as much as surfers do in the low season. There are hotels for all budgets, but if you’re looking for one of the most luxury five-star resorts in Phuket, Kata Rocks is the place!
Don’t miss: Next to Kata Beach is the smaller Kata Noi Beach which was voted one of the world’s Top 25 beaches by TripAdvisor’s Traveller’s Choice 2016. At the very end of Kata Beach near Kata Rocks and Kata Noi Beach, you’ll find the trendy daytime beach club RE KÁ TA Beach Club, part of the lovely Boathouse Resort.
Rawai Beach is not a good swimming beach, but a great place to sample some of the outstanding seafood Rawai is known for, or just strolling along the pier by the colorful longtail boats with beautiful views of outlying islands.
Hotel recommendation: Navatara Phuket Resort
Why stay in Rawai? Rawai has laid back atmosphere, and you come here to relax with the locals. The major attraction is Promthep Cape which is the most popular spot to watch the sunset in Phuket. A trip to Rawai should also include a visit to the lovely Kan Eang @ Pier restaurant located at Chalong Pier.
Don’t miss: Rawai is a quite large area and includes the two beaches of Ya Nui and Nai Harn which are excellent for swimming.
Phuket Town is the capital of Phuket with old Sino-Portuguese buildings like Casa Blanca Boutique Hotel Phuket. The town also boasts nice shops, bars, and restaurants.
Why stay in Phuket Town? If you want to have a unique holiday without the crowded beaches, Phuket Town might be something for you. Drinking and eating with the locals at Ampfine Restaurant & Bar is a lovely experience. Exploring Old Town with its narrow colorful streets like Soi Romanee is a must do no matter where you stay on the island.
Mai Khao Beach
Mai Khao Beach is an 11 km long sand stretch, making it the longest beach in Phuket. The beach is deserted at most places, but the International Airport on the south end has become a popular plane spotting location.
Why stay in Mai Khao? Belonging to Sirinat National Park, there’s not much shopping and dining around Mai Khao. You stay here to relax and enjoy the nature and long beach. The only real attraction, except for the plane spotting scene, is the Splash Jungle Water Park, part of the five-star Centara Grand West Sands Resort located next to the airport.
Don’t miss: Just five minutes south of the airport is Nai Yang Beach, popular among both locals and tourists. Here you can dine right on the beach!
No matter where you stay on the island, there are lots of things to discover like the 45 meters tall Big Buddha, the Chalong Temple, the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project, island-hopping sailing cruises, world-class golf courses, cooking classes, stunning viewpoints, incredible restaurants, and many more beaches.
My wife lived in Phuket for seven years where she first studied tourism industry at Phuket Rajabhat University and later worked at places like Phuket FantaSea in Kamala and Sugar Marina Resort at Kata Beach meaning I could not have had a better guide in Phuket.