Phuket may be an island but at around 50km long and 20km wide, it’s bigger than what you might think before you visit. There are many different areas and choosing where to stay in Phuket Thailand can be tough. The choice can be overwhelming.
There is good news though and that is that there are very few bad areas to stay in Phuket. There are many different beach areas and it’s easy to find somewhere that has as little or much action as you like. It can take longer than what you might think to get between the different places – as an example it took us 1.25 hours to get between Karon and Mai Khao in a taxi – so when you are wondering what area to stay in Phuket, I recommend staying as centrally as you can to the things that interest you.
Don’t worry, I will make this easier below!
I have visited Phuket quite a few times now, both with kids and without. Every visit we have stayed in different areas and we usually stay in a couple of different areas per visit, so we have experienced first hand staying in 6 different Phuket areas. We have also visited many more of the best areas in Phuket which has helped us make the list below of the best area to stay in Phuket as well as the best hotels in Phuket. Hopefully, this list will help you work out which area is the best place to stay on Phuket for you.
You don’t have to pick just one!
I do want to point out that if you are struggling to pick which area will suit you best, you can also move around. It is not difficult to move between areas if you want to combine two or more different places. For example, if you would like a few days at a more isolated resort to relax and then want the rest of your time somewhere with more action. There are plenty of taxis which can move you between the top places to stay in Phuket.
Hot budget saving tip…
I also want to point out that there is a huge difference between prices for the top hotels in Phuket in low season compared to peak season. I don’t think I have ever seen such a big difference especially as the prices literally change overnight. Low season is May to October with peak season November to April. We visited Phuket once right when the seasons changed and everything doubled in price overnight on November 1.
It’s monsoon season during the low season so there can be a fair amount of rain. However, this is the tropics so often the rain is over quite fast and doesn’t interrupt things too much. The beaches can be affected though and are often unsuitable for swimming at this time of year, so if you are a big beach person you should consider avoiding this period. If you are like us and prefer a pool then low season can be an absolute bargain. Ideally, visit in late October when the weather is likely to be good and leave by November 1!
Below you will find our list of the top areas to stay in Phuket (and why they make the list and who they suit) along with some of the best resorts in Phuket at each location.
Patong is one of those places that is either your cup of tea or it isn’t. This is the tourist central of Phuket and is full of bars, clubs, shopping, shops and restaurants. It also has a nice (but crowded) beach. Unfortunately, it is also home of the sex industry of Phuket and the main strip, Bangla Road, is full of scantily clad girls dancing on bars, tables, wherever. It is definitely the best place to stay in Phuket for nightlife.
It can be lots of fun and I have enjoyed visiting Patong. I spent a few days basically partying the whole time with a mate last year and we had a great time. We also checked it out when visiting with our one year old and enjoyed the energy, but I would definitely not want to go to the main strip with my kids in the evening now they are a bit older. I would definitely consider staying in the outer parts of Patong with the kids though as it is perhaps the best location to stay in Phuket to be centrally located and has the widest range of accommodation.
Patong is the best place in stay in Phuket for….
Patong is home to the sex industry in Phuket and you may want to avoid Bangla Road and its surrounds if this bothers you.
Best place to stay in Patong
Karon is the second biggest beach town in Phuket. It is spread out along the lovely Karon Beach which helps with crowds. There are both nightlife and markets in Karon but not in the crazy way that they are in Patong – and Patong is only a short drive to the north away. This makes Karon a good compromise for people who like to be somewhere lively but do not want to stay in Patong.
The beach in Karon is lovely with golden sands, pretty water and palm trees. However, the water can be a bit rough at times. When we visited in September, there were lifeguard patrolled small sections for swimming. There are many of the top resorts in Phuket in Karon with a wide range of choices.
Karon is the best place in stay in Phuket for….
Karon is quite spread out. If you want to be close to the action, stay near Karon Centre. The sea can be rough in the low season. However, there were still lifeguard patrolled sections when we visted in September.
Best place to stay in Karon
Kata is the next beach down from Karon and is another great choice for the best beach to stay in Phuket. It is often touted as the best area to stay in Phuket for families which is why we ended up there and we have to agree that it’s a great spot whether you are with kids or not.
The central Kata area has a small group of shops and restaurants as well as access to one of the best beaches in Phuket Thailand – a beautiful, white sand beach which was calm and worked perfectly with our toddler when we visited (note that during the monsoon the water becomes more rough and is better suited for surfers). There are also some great places to eat by the beach and all in all, it’s a really beautiful area to stay.
Kata is the best place in stay in Phuket for….
The sea can be rough in the low season. Some of the accommodation options can be quite far from the beach.
Best place to stay in Kata
Rawai is located at the south eastern tip of Phuket and is perfect for people who like a more relaxed beach destination. It is nowhere near as popular as the eastern coast beach towns. Instead, this is one of the best Phuket areas to stay if you want to relax at the beach without being surrounded and want a more local experience.
Despite this, there is a still a decent range of top Phuket resorts in different price brackets as well as places to eat and things to do. It’s easy to hire a long boat from here to visit nearly islands. We very much enjoyed this part of Phuket.
Rawai is the best place in stay in Phuket for….
The beach at Rawai is not suitable for swimming but it’s a quick ride to beautiful Nai Harn beach. There are not many shopping or nightlife options
Best place to stay in Rawai
If your best area in Phuket would be just outside of Patong so that you can get into the centre of things in a flash but you want to have a more local experience then Kalim is a great choice. It’s located just to the north of Patong.
We stayed here on our first trip when we wanted a taste of Patong, but we wanted to escape the craziness while still having cheap places to stay in Phuket.
The beach is small and not the reason why you would come here. What I did like was that there were a few places to eat around our hotel but I only had to walk 5 minutes away and I was surrounded by locals just living their lives. There isn’t much to do in Kalim itself.
Kalim is the best place in stay in Phuket for….
There is not much here to do and the beach is not great. You may spend a lot of time travelling elsewhere.
Best place to stay in Kalim
Kamala is our choice of the best place to stay in Phuket for families. It’s also good for other travellers as well but families are going to especially appreciate the quieter beach town that still has many eating options and other services that you need. It’s our personal favourite area in Phuket.
The beach is lovely and one of the reasons we love it so much is that the restaurants line the beach (rather than being across the road) and many have big toys out the front that kids can play with. It makes it all very easy, especially with toddlers and preschoolers.
It’s only about twenty minutes to Patong so it’s easy to get to other places when you want. It’s also home to our choice of the best place to stay in Phuket with kids – the Sunwing Kamala (more information about this below).
Kamala is the best place in stay in Phuket for….
It’s quiet at night and the sea can be rough from May to November when it’s better suited for surfers.
Best place to stay in Kamala
Surin is the best place to stay in Phuket Thailand for travellers who are looking for a high end beach town which is surrounded by natural beauty. Surin is known for being exclusive and luxurious and is popular with visiting celebrities and millionaires.
Surin is peaceful and not for people who want lots of action. It does have some high end shops and beach clubs but not much else. It is a great choice of which area to stay in Phuket for people who want privacy, luxury and beauty.
Surin is the best place in stay in Phuket for….
This is not much to do except the beach.
Best place to stay in Surin
If you are looking for which beach to stay in Phuket then this is a good choice – at 11 kilometres long, it’s Phuket’s longest. It’s also beautiful with palm trees and tropical plants. Most of the beach is part of Sirinath National Park which is part of the reason why you will not find many people here. It feels far from everywhere but has the convenience of being very close to the airport – making it a top choice for where to stay near Phuket airport.
If you want to feel like you have a beach to yourself then this is where to stay on Phuket especially as there are some beautiful luxury resorts. In fact, it’s home to some of the best best beach resorts in Phuket. It’s also home to Splash Jungle Waterpark which is what attracted us to this part of Phuket!
Mai Khao is the best place in stay in Phuket for….
This is not somewhere to come for people who want action and nightlife. You are a long way from Phuket’s more popular areas.
Best place to stay in Mai Khao
Phuket Town is the main town on Phuket and the gateway to local transport on the island. It is not really a tourist destination although it does have some attractive Sino-Portuguese architecture. It’s relatively quiet and would not be my choice of a base on Phuket. I’d recommend staying elsewhere and visiting on a day trip (which is what we did) if the area interests you (read more here).
It is, however, good for people on a low budget as there is cheap accommodation here and it’s the hub for public transport. There are also plenty of cheap eating options and markets.
Phuket Town is the best place in stay in Phuket for….
There are no beaches and it’s quiet at night.
Best place to stay in Phuket Town
Hopefully this list has helped you find the best place in Phuket to stay for you. Enjoy your trip!!
Travelling with kids? Check out our guide to the best family resorts in Phuket and our complete guide to things to do in Phuket with kids.
What’s your best area in Phuket to stay?
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