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Where to Stay in Phuket?

Choosing where to stay in Phuket is tricky, its a large island , with at least six very developed tourist beaches, and plenty of less well-known beaches to chose from. Alternatively you can stay inland in Phuket City or semi-rural areas such as Chalong. So there is no real one answer fits all answer to this question. Instead find your own answer by considering:

  • what do you want from your trip to Thailand? Do you want to spend the entire time in an up-market resort or do you want to explore the local culture?
  • is your vacation all about the beach? Or do you want to get out and see some other sites, take some day trips.
  • how long do you have for your vacation? Are you going to move hotels in that time?
  • do you have children or people with accessibility issues?
  • how much does driving or hiring a taxi bother you
  • how important is nightlife to you?

Backpackers Don’t Care About Hotels – Package Holiday Makers Do

One of the biggest disadvantages of booking a package in advance is that the hotel becomes very important. For example we stayed at this pleasant hotel in Southern Kata, for the price I thought we got good value. The property was down an alley, about 300m from the beach, had a large and pleasent pool, and our room was quite dark and on the ground floor – which made it quiet and cool.
However we met a family there who weren’t impressed at all by the hotel – I’m not sure what the mis-match was – but I got the impression they thought it would be nearer the beach, and they didn’t like being down an alley. Now I’ve been to Thailand a few times and because of the 2004 tsunami there are very few absolute beachfront properties- those that exist – charge, a lot more than we were paying for this hotel. The down the alley thing is very common too – generally street front is the restaurant, often owned by the hotel and /or shops.  Given the traffic in Phuket I can see no good reason for having my bed anywhere near the road.
Typical place to stay hotel Kata beach phuket

Typical mid-range hotel - Kata Beach

Cheap Places to Stay in Phuket Town

If you want a cheap guest house or hostel in Phuket, you will have to look quite hard.  For actual hotels the cheapest options are definitely in Phuket Town itself. There are a number of clean and pleasant options:
  • On On Guest House – well pretty rough around the edges – but forever famous for staring the locally filmed The Beach (no Leonardo diCaprio did NOT stay here!)
  • Old Town Hostel
  • Phuket Town Backpackers
The disadvantage of staying in town is of course the lack of beaches, apart from that its a pleasent place – so if you arrive late don’t stress about getting to a beach resort late, just stay a night in Phuket City.

Cheap Places to Stay in Patong

Patong of course has the “best” nightlife. Well it certainly has the most nightlife anyways – and its the largest beach-side resort area so it has every accommodation option, including the cheapest ones. Particularly if you are coming in low season and are prepared to wait to book last minute then you can actually get  a hotel or apartment in Patong for less than you’d pay for a guest house in Phuket Town or Kata or Karon! So search the hotel book websites because you may well be surprised at just what you can get for 600B / night – including swimming pool. Of course cheap won’t get you very near the beach  – but Patong is relatively flat and you won’t be further than 500m from the beach.
Often the only difference between a hostel and a hotel (yes hostels have pools too in Phuket) – is that the cheaper option will offer non-air-conditioned rooms, and usually free WIFI in the rooms as well as the lobby.

Cheap Places to Stay in Kata Beach

As I mentioned in my Kata Beach  article, Central Kata, at the northern end of the bay is the cheapest area. Although a few guest houses are bookable – the cheapest ones aren’t – you will have to hop on over and walk the streets to find the right place – or look from recommendations from recent travellers. Guesthouses in the area include:
  • Fantasy Hill  Bungalow
  • Little Mermaid

Cheap Places to Stay in Karon Beach

Karon is the original beach development in Phuket,, and there are still a number of fairly central cheap options. Check out:
  • Little Mermaid (yes another one)
  • Pineapple Guest House
  • Bukit Karon Beach

Best Places to Stay in Phuket For Airport Access

Phuket International Airport is at least 50 minutes by taxi from the main beach resorts of Patong, Kata, Karon and even further from Cape Panwa. Although there are a couple of dismal and over-priced hotels 5 minutes from the airport – if you can handle a 10 minute drive you have the option of staying at  Nai Thong beach or the even closer Nai Yang beach, both of which are slightly south of the hotel. Now this is not the place to stay if you want to party until the small hours – but the beaches here are clean, sheltered, and there is range of hotels (middle to upper price levels). You can also get cheap rooms – but you will have to arrive and find these on the ground. There is a great range of restaurants, and although you will be able to buy necessities (sun tan lotion, beer) you may struggle to find an ATM or money exchange.

North of the Airport is  Phuket’s longest beach : Mai Khao, which even though the Holiday Inn has just opened there, is still basically a deserted beach with a few expensive hotels on it.  If you can afford it and want comfort a stunningly beautiful beach with easy access to not just the airport but all roads north to Khao Lak and Phan-Nga Bay – this would be my pick.

Best Places to Stay in Phuket For Nightlife

Well who can spell Patong – yeah everything you’ve heard about it is true: loud, tacky, over-the-top. Subtle Patong is not.  But if bar girls and loud music is your thing than really Patong is the only place to stay.  If you want some nightlife – or want to inspect Patong from a safe distance than Kata or Karon beaches are pretty close, have their own (less intense) nightlife, and you can visit Patong easily enough.

Best Places to Stay in Phuket For Shopping

If you want to experience a real Thai night market – then head out on a weekend to Phuket Town. There are shops everywhere in the main beach areas.

If you are looking for larger air-con malls then Patong‘s Jungceylon is a flashy big one. On the outskirts of Phuket Town is Central Festival which has a large food court, several food markets plus the usual range of stores.  Many of the songathews routes to the west coast beaches pass by Central Festival, or coming from the south or the north is a quick taxi or tuk tuk trip. Often your hotel will also run a regular share-taxi service there.

So yes shopping pretty much anywhere except for the quieter northern beaches and Cape Panwa in the south.

So if you are looking for the best place to stay in Phuket – the answer is: it depends. Depends on sort of beach you like, whether the quiet life or night life is your thing, how long you have and what your transport options are.

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One Response to “Where to Stay in Phuket?”

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  1. But still it’s still backpacking and you have no choice if the place is far from the beach. 🙂
    But I suggest that if you choose to travel and enjoy the view and the services go to Philippines. hehehehe.. 🙂 This is just an advice.

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