The beaches in Phuket are probably the island’s star attraction and a major reason why so many people come to this jewel in the Andaman Sea. Phuket boasts an abundance of beautiful sandy beaches with clear azure waters, a myriad of activities and water sports, and almost year round good weather. Whether you want the entire beach to yourself or prefer a more lively atmosphere, there is surely a perfect beach for you in Phuket.
The majority of the finest and most visited beaches are on the island’s western side, where you can find more than a dozen long and sandy stretches with gorgeous views, that are easily accessible from anywhere on the island. Since so many holidaymakers are based in Patong Beach, that’s where most of the action and activities can be found, but venture a bit farther afield and you can find deserted tropical beaches, each with its own distinctive character and popular for different reasons.
One of the longest beaches in Phuket at around 6 kilometres, Bangtao Beach is truly an ideal place to escape the crowds as it’s extremely quiet and seldom busy. You could easily spend all day here and not meet another soul, and the few activities and restaurants are widely spread out so it never feels crowded. The sand quality here is good and mainly clean, but there is some unsightly litter where developments have appeared and near the beach shacks and bars, but it doesn’t really detract from the overall beauty and is not that common. The beach is very popular with Russian tourists and there are several resorts here that have them in mind.
The route to the beach is not very obvious without a map as there is no parallel beach road, so you have to follow some small lanes quite a long way. When coming from Patong, continue past Surin Beach and just follow the signs to Laguna Phuket. Once you pass the Banyan Tree, you will shortly arrive at the beach.
Bangtao has no proper facilities but the nearby resorts and hotels all have sun beds and toilets for their guests. There aren’t many other sun beds around, but there’s plenty of space so you can always throw a beach mat down and claim a prime spot, as there probably won’t be anybody else to contend with.
Where to Eat
It might be a good idea to bring your own picnic and any supplies needed, as there aren’t many places to eat directly on the beach. The resorts and nearby hotels all have their own restaurants attached, and there are a few small ramshackle places near the southern end. The various beach bars such as the reggae bar in the centre, all serve drinks and some snacks, and are quite chilled out places in which to hang out, read a book or share some banter with the friendly locals.
There isn’t the range of activities at Bangtao as at some of the other beaches, mainly due to the lack of visitors (although that’s part of its unique appeal). There are a few things to do however besides walking on the beach and lying in the sun. A number of massage tents can be found with prices starting at 300 baht. It’s also possible to ride horses on the beach with the Bangtao Riding Club, based near the entrance of Laguna Beach Hotel.
Karon is just a stone’s throw from Patong and one of the first beaches you’ll come across when heading southwards. The beach itself is exceptional with superb quality golden sand that makes a very satisfying “crunch” sound (just like fresh snow) as you walk on it. The beach curves gently and stretches for several kilometres in either direction, affording splendid views out to sea and the hills on either side. It’s usually very quiet despite its proximity to Patong, and you may find you have it nearly all to yourself, especially at the northern end near the lagoon where there tend to be fewer people. Even on weekends it’s not crowded, and is a marvellous example of a serene beach with just enough things to do (apart from sitting and watching the world pass by of course) to keep you entertained.
Getting there is simple enough as there are prominent signs displayed on nearby roads, and if in doubt just follow the signs to Patong and go from there. It should take no more than 10 minutes by motorbike or tuk-tuk going south from Patong Beach, up and over a small hill and down to the beach’s northern end. Once in Karon, it should be obvious how to reach the beach as there is a long road which hugs its entire length.
Facilities on the beach are rudimentary, but include a small row of sun beds and umbrellas which can be rented out as a complete set per day, normally at a few hundred baht. There are no toilets down on the beach, but there are some small restaurants and shops along the adjacent beach road that you can use.
Where to Eat
Most of the sun bed vendors will happily provide a steady supply of ice cream, beers, snacks and other refreshments to keep you going, but for a proper meal you’ll have to try the restaurants on the road behind or pop into one of the nearby hotels. There are also the obligatory beach vendors that wander up and down selling freshly sliced fruit, nuts and other tasty delicacies.
It’s possible to swim at Karon, but heed the warning signs and red flags which indicate when there are dangerous swells and tides, especially in the monsoon season (May to October). Exercise caution and it’s certainly safe to swim here. There is also a lifeguard present (at least according to the sign), but you may not see anybody so don’t count on it. A few other water sports are possible at Karon beach, such as jet-skis and banana boats but it’s not as crowded as Patong and they don’t operate every day. There is almost no surfing here as the conditions are far from ideal. For surfer dudes, it’s better to try nearby Kata beach which has much more consistent and suitable waves, as well as some surf schools that can help you get up and running.
Amongst the other activities on Karon beach are Thai and oil massage, with several beach-side stalls where you can get pummelled and have your joints kneaded and stretched. Prices start at 300 baht an hour, but you can usually negotiate the price down when there are no customers. There is also decent snorkelling on the beach’s southern side where it’s much more rocky. If you don’t have your own mask and fins, they can be hired quite cheaply nearby.
Kamala Beach, pronounced more correctly by Thais as “Gamala”, is quite delightful as the beach is small and curved, with a low key atmosphere and fringed by palm trees and pines. The white sand is somewhat pebbly and rippled in places and the beach is rocky at one end. In the evenings there may be a few fishing boats and optimistic locals on the shore trying to catch fish, and you can hear the enticing sound of cicadas humming in the nearby trees. There are a few opportunistic beach vendors that will sell you a Chinese lantern to release into the night’s sky, which can be quite a remarkable sight.
To get to Kamala Beach, head northwards from Patong through Kalim, a journey which should take no more than 15 minutes and passes twisting and turning mountain roads with some splendid views on the way. It’s a really fun trip by motorbike in the daytime and when conditions are dry, as long as you’re competent and take special care when driving.
There aren’t many public facilities on the beach, but there are several rows of sun beds and umbrellas under the welcome shadow of palm trees. Since there are a few restaurants and resorts close to the beach, there are some toilets nearby. You can always head back towards the main road, and on the way you’ll come across many restaurants and bars.
Where to Eat
The best places to eat are the restaurants and hotels near the southern side of the beach, or even back in the town. There are usually a few hawkers farther up the beach that sell all kinds of Thai snacks, fresh fruit and delicious grilled foods, but they have usually gone home by early evening or when there’s nobody remaining on the beach.
There aren’t really many activities on Kamala Beach, and it’s more common to see people simply strolling around, taking a quick dip in the sea or lounging on the sun beds wearing headphones or reading a book. However, it is possible to snorkel near the rocks, and there are occasionally surfers in the monsoon season when the waves are much impressive.
The adorable beach at Kata is one of the most inviting and popular in Phuket, largely due to its winning combination of stunning location, clear turquoise water, diverse beach activities and decent facilities. The beach is 1.5 kilometres long and curves sharply on the northern side, near the tiny island of Koh Pu which is just off the coast. The beach exudes a very relaxed atmosphere and is rarely crowded, even in the high season. The sand quality is fine and clean, and the beach is rocky at the southern end where the restaurants and bars are located. Kata is the essence of why Thailand’s beaches draw so many visitors and is certainly well worth a visit or two.
The beach is a breeze to reach, and just under 10 kilometres south of Patong, with many convenient places to park on the road along the shore. Once on the beach, you might notice the Big Buddha statue perched on the big hill behind, which serves to remind you that you’re in tropical Thailand.
Beach chairs, tables and umbrellas run along nearly the whole length of the beach in several rows, but they don’t ruin the atmosphere and provide a welcome break from the powerful sun. The beach is fringed with trees which provide good shade, so a great place to just sit or lie in a hammock. There are also a few public toilets nearby on the beach road, or you can use the ones in the restaurants.
Where to Eat
Most places to eat are on the southern side, and serve typical but tasty Thai and western cuisines. There are a few holiday resorts nearby which all have attached restaurants and bars, so you won’t have far to go for refreshments. There is also a pleasant beachside restaurant, Kata Seafood, in the southern corner, and the funky Ska Bar that plays a great selection of reggae. It’s a serene spot to sit and watch people. There are also an abundance of beach vendors selling snacks and fruit, and they will even bring pizzas and other hot meals to your sun bed, so you don’t even need to move. Bliss, surely?
It’s quite possible to swim at Kata Beach as long as the flags indicate that it’s safe. There is a lifeguard present adding to the sense of security, particularly for families. Jet-skis, body boards and surfboards are all available here, and a few surf schools that rent out boards by the day or hourly (about 150 baht an hour), or smaller bodyboards for 100 baht an hour. Kata is suitable for beginners and usually has decent swells, especially during the south-west monsoon (between May and October). During the rest of the year, the sea is much calmer and is ideal for swimming. In December, dozens of yachts arrive and moor here, to compete in the famous King’s Cup Regatta.
The tiny Pu Island at the northern side of the beach, is a popular snorkelling and diving spot with decent reefs and abundant wildlife, and kayaks can be rented nearby to explore the surrounding area. The beach is also a popular spot with joggers, especially in the early evening and morning, and friendly football games take place each afternoon.
Kata Noi Beach
Kata Noi is compact but atmospheric with good quality sand, being only less than a kilometre long and set against an attractive backdrop of trees and forest. The southern end lies in the shadow of a small hill on which there are bungalows and other accommodation, and there are some basic facilities here. Kata Noi is a fantastic place to relax and unwind, and an ideal hideaway in which to escape the crowds. It can feel like you’ve discovered a hidden gem or secret beach to enjoy by yourself.
Kata Noi is just a few minutes further south by road when coming from Kata. Go too far and you’ll come to a dead end, so thankfully there’s not much through traffic or road noise.
The beach has the obligatory row of sun beds and umbrellas which can be rented as long as desired, with more at the Katathani Beach Resort for guest use. The ubiquitous massage tents can also be found on the beach, and the talented women with magic hands can help fix that niggling back problem, or just stimulate your senses. There are no public toilets here, but it’s not very far to the nearest hotel.
Where to Eat
There are several cosy little bars dotted around and on the way to the beach. The vendors here too sell all kinds of Thai snacks, but if it’s a more substantial meal you’re after, you could do worse than try the restaurant at the Katathani Resort, or the excellent, classy and highly recommended Mom Tri’s Kitchen on the way back to Kata.
Besides the recommended and strenuous activity of sunbathing, water sports are the most popular things to do at Kata Noi. Banana boats are a firm favourite with Thais, and there is a nightly volleyball game in which anybody is welcome to join in. The Thai locals usually seem to win, however. Perhaps the most impressive sight are the surfers who flock here when the weather is suitable and there are decently large waves, but only at certain times of year when the weather is more turbulent. Other fun activities include snorkelling around the rocks at the southern end.
Laem Singh Beach
Laem Singh Beach is arguably one of Phuket’s finest beaches, located on the West coast between Kamala and Surin beaches. The beach nestles between quite dense jungle down a very steep and hard to navigate path, and even though only 5 minutes from Kamala town it remains quite well hidden. The beach is wide and boasts clean and beautiful water, with lovely white picture postcard sand. The southern end is rocky with dozens of large boulders strewn about. Despite being somewhat hard to find, the beach is always popular with tourists, especially Italians, but you may not see many Thai visitors, except those working at the restaurants and the familiar sight of a Thai woman with a western man.
From the main road coming from Kamala, there are two separate entrances both with limited “valet” parking (a woman sat under a tree). The charge is 20 baht for a motorbike and 40 baht for a car, and they open between 9 a.m. and 6.30 p.m.. At the more southern car park is a small booth that sells drinks and can also arrange taxis. Getting down the slope to the beach is not that easy and will take at least 5 minutes fumbling down a slippery and muddy path. The southern entrance is under renovation and will have concrete steps, which should make access to the beach much easier.
Sun beds with attractive multicoloured umbrellas are everywhere, which can be rented by the hour or day. There are also a few informal “showers” on the beach, which are just a hose and pipe, and basic toilets at the restaurants. For some reason there is a tour office labelled tourist information at the northern side, which looks like it has seen better days.
Where to Eat
There are some small and cosy restaurants at the rear of the beach near the jungle. They serve typical but tasty Thai and western food, and have beers and other cold drinks. Papa Seafood Restaurant is in a pleasantly shaded spot with a sea view, and does a mean spicy grilled beef salad. Nearby Ristorante Da Ali aims to please the Italian crowd with reasonably authentic pizzas, and there are one or two more such as Adam Beach Restaurant. Everything here is within easy walking distance, and there are also beach vendors that can rustle up a tasty and inexpensive snack.
There are many things to do at Laem Singh Beach. Massage seems to be quite popular, prices start at 300 baht which is standard almost everywhere. Papa Seafood Restaurant also has a few covered massage spots where you can lie in comfort, with more located just a little farther up the beach. They can also do a great manicure and pedicure.
Body boards can be rented cheaply here and you might glimpse the occasional paraglider in the distance, but they are not available from this beach. Swimming is of course a great option and ideal as the water is warm and not too shallow, and there is some excellent snorkelling around the rocks.
For those that want to buy some novelty souvenirs, the beach vendors sell various items such as shorts and hammocks, and many other things that you really don’t need.
Patong Beach is an appealing 2 kilometres long sandy stretch that attracts thousands of visitors each day. Anybody that’s been to Phuket and not visited Patong Beach at least once hasn’t really experienced all that the island has to offer, and whilst the beach itself might not be to everybody’s taste, mainly due to it being crowded at times, it boasts enough activities and facilities that you could spend all day there without wanting for much. The sand quality is good and the water is usually clear and blue, but during the high season it can deteriorate slightly.
To find the beach, just head westwards from anywhere in Patong and you can’t miss it, since the whole town is built alongside the beach and is where everybody gravitates to. There is also a shaded path running between the shore and the road that is filled with small restaurants, motorbikes, beach vendors, sleeping dogs, taxi drivers, and all manner of people just taking a break. In the high season, the beach can become very crowded, though it’s still possible to find a decent spot to sit and enjoy the superb views.
There’s just about everything you can imagine on Patong Beach. There are hundreds of sun beds with umbrellas, chairs and tables, some small restaurants, and a couple of public toilets. Sun beds can be rented out daily or hourly, and the owners enthusiastically try to get you into theirs so they can also sell you food and drinks.
Where to Eat
There’s almost an overwhelming choice of food available all around the beach. As well as the usual restaurants and beach vendors, there are dozens of excellent restaurants of all kinds just across the Beach Road, ranging from inexpensive Thai and western food to snack joints, juice bars, coffee shops, hotel restaurants and even fast food chains; there is really something for everybody and you can be sure you won’t go hungry.
There are so many activities at Patong Beach for those wishing to do more than just sit under a sun lounger. You can’t fail to notice the ubiquitous jet-ski and parasailing operators every couple of hundred metres. This is a popular activity but there are a few dangers and risks, not least being that most operators do not provide any accident insurance, so make sure you already have adequate cover. There have also been tales of scams where the owners claim the machines have been damaged and attempt to extort money from the unsuspecting tourists. The jet-skis also cause quite a bit of noise pollution and don’t help the water quality, and can pose a danger to anyone swimming. We’re not saying don’t enjoy the jet-skis, but just be careful and considerate of others when doing so.
There are also banana boats everywhere as well as beach massage, games of football and beach volleyball, and half a dozen other beach sports. Surfing and bodyboarding is common here at certain times of the year, just make sure you heed the red flags and warning signs when they are present. At night time, there are of course all the other nearby activities and entertainment venues in the town, so it’s a very convenient location in which to be based.
Rawai used to be one of the most popular beaches in Phuket, but today is not visited by nearly as many people as those on the west coast, and as such is much less touristy. However, it’s still very popular on weekends especially with Thais from Phuket Town as a favourite place to relax and eat. The beach runs west to east with prominent capes at either end, and because it’s shaded it doesn’t endure the full force of the sun. The beach is quite rocky and muddy when the tide is low, and many boats are moored here so it’s not an ideal place to swim.
Rawai Beach is perhaps somewhat underrated, as it’s a pleasant spot and there are some worthwhile places to visit nearby such as the Laem Promthep viewpoint and Koh Bon, which is a lovely little island that can be reached by boat in 10 minutes, with excellent beaches and snorkelling. The only accommodation on Koh Bon is owned by the Evason Resort. Another island worth a visit by boat is Koh Kaew, about 30 minutes away.
To reach Rawai Beach couldn’t be simpler, as its located at one end of the main road (route 402) in Phuket that runs north to south the length of the island. Otherwise, take the smaller roads from Kata past Laem Promthep, and just follow the signs that point the way.
There are no sun beds at the beach. Since there are many boats here, it’s possible to take a longtail to many nearby islands such as Koh Bon and Koh Kaew Yai.
Where to Eat
Along the beach road are dozens of restaurants and bars, or you can sit on straw mats by tables on the pavement and enjoy the views and sunset. For a more upmarket dining experience, try the Evason Resort on the way to Chalong. Towards the eastern end of the beach is a small Sea Gypsy village with a daily market selling fresh seafood and restaurants where you can eat the day’s catch. The fish sold here include some very bizarre and colourful-looking fish species. At the prominent pier nearby, just follow the small road to the left and you’ll find the Sea Gypsy village and market.
Rawai Beach doesn’t have the normal water sports activities such as jet-skis and banana boats, but is mainly a working beach where you can watch the local fishermen bring in their hauls each day. As such, it’s a very interesting alternative to the other beaches in Phuket and shows a glimpse of the real and traditional Thai way of life. At the Sea Gypsy village are numerous stalls selling sea shells and other souvenirs, providing some limited but enjoyable shopping opportunities.
Surin Beach is long and attractive, and rarely becomes crowded. On arrival, a small Buddhist temple can be seen on the right hand side, followed by a decent sized parking area with dozens of hawkers and restaurants. The beach is pleasant and the sand is golden, and the quality is excellent. The atmosphere is rather laid back with many things to do, so it makes an enjoyable trip away from the hustle and bustle of Patong. Surin Beach is perennially popular with Thais as well as foreign tourists.
Surin Beach is several kilometres farther north than Laem Singh Beach, and close to Cherng Talay town. The journey from Patong should take no more than 20 minutes. At Surin just take the left turn at the main three-way junction in town.
The beach is lined with sun beds along almost its entire length, so it’s easy to find a place to sit and relax for the day. There are also many restaurants and resorts close by and around the nearby streets, so you should be able to find most things to hand.
Where to Eat
Surin Beach has some of the best and most diverse beachside dining in Phuket, with inexpensive restaurants along the entire beach. You could do worse than the trendy Catch Beach Club at the northern end, which has a stylish covered outdoor bar and wooden decking, and does some great (but not cheap) food. A similar venue not far away is the At Panta Beach Club.
There is an abundance of reasonably priced restaurants in the area, as well as local hawkers, which can be the cheapest and tastiest option, and the car park is jammed with vendors selling Thai favourites such as spicy papaya salad and meat on sticks. Furthermore, just a short distance away on Surin Beach Road, are many inexpensive places to eat as well as some fine and upmarket restaurants.
If just lazing about and enjoying the view isn’t reward enough, the more active types can snorkel (best experienced in high season when the water is very clear) at either end of the beach, and there are sometimes jet-skis for hire. Surfing and bodyboarding is possible but it’s rocky and the conditions are quite tough, so it’s only suitable for more experienced surfers. Massage is popular here and Surin Beach, just like almost every other beach in Phuket, has a proliferation of massage tents with fairly standard prices (300 baht for a massage).
Phuket’s Other Beaches
As well as the main beaches already mentioned, there are many smaller and little known beaches around Phuket. We cover some of these below, to give you a taste of the varied and wonderful beaches around the island.
Ao Sane Beach
Ao Sane Beach on Phuket’s south coast has managed to remain a fairly well kept secret. A rocky beach with coarse and clean sand, it’s a fantastic 200 metre beach with decent shelter and trees, but there are no sun beds, body boards, noisy jet-skis or other trappings of most beaches. There is also excellent snorkelling and diving to be had. There is just one small restaurant but no pesky beach vendors, so you don’t have that much choice of where to eat, but it offers decent, varied and inexpensive food.
Banana Rock Beach
Banana Rock Beach is unspoiled and even most Phuket residents don’t know where it is. Many consider this a secret or hidden beach, and it really is an exceptional place and one that deserves a visit to appreciate its beauty and tranquility. The beach is just north of Bangtao and Nai Thon beaches but it’s quite hard to find. There are two common routes to get there by road, or you can arrive by boat from other nearby beaches. There are quite a few sun beds as expected, and the swimming conditions are ideal in the high season only. A small restaurant is based here which serves delicious Thai food.
Laem Ka Beach
Laem Ka Beach is not far from Rawai but it’s totally different in character. It’s especially popular with Thai families and children, and even though rocky it’s very safe to swim and splash around here. It’s unlikely you’ll meet many foreigners at the beach, which is very small at just 150 metres long and faces eastwards. There is a car park nearby with access through a coconut plantation, but it’s not possible to get there on foot. A favourite activity at the beach is to take a picnic, and just spend the day sat on the large boulders with friends.
Mai Khao Beach
This very isolated beach is on the northwestern side of the island not far from Phuket Airport, and stretches more than 11 kilometres as far as the eye can see. There is very little encroaching development as it’s part of the protected Sirinath National Park, which means it’s a very peaceful and tranquil spot with very few tourists. The silence is only broken occasionally by planes flying overhead.
Nai Harn Beach
Nai Harn, at the southern tip of Phuket, is a splendid beach with clear blue waters and never becomes crowded. There is a freshwater lagoon nearby which flows down to the sea at the southern end where children like to frolic. Getting there takes about 20 minutes from Patong – simply follow the beach road through Karon and Kata and make a right turn at the Kata Beach Resort. Follow this to Nai Harn village and eventually you’ll come to a temple where there is ample parking. Occasionally surfers make an appearance, but it’s more suitable for body boarding. Throughout the high season, it’s perfect for swimming.
Nai Thon Beach
Located some way between Bangtao and Nai Yang, Nai Thon Beach is very quiet in the low season and can be reached by some lovely winding roads. It’s possible to walk the entire length in around 10 minutes, and development in the area is quite limited compared with other beaches. There are a couple of small resorts and some accommodation such as Naithonburi Resort. The sea is typically calm and flat in the high season. There’s not that much to do here, but it’s possible to take a longtail boat to neighbouring bays and coves, or just hire a sun bed and relax. In the high season it does become busier, but it’s still relatively peaceful and you won’t be disturbed.
Nai Yang Beach
The northern part of this idyllic beach is part of the Sirinath national park, and so remains unspoiled and very quiet. Farther south there is a proliferation of bars, restaurants and activities but thankfully it’s still not overdeveloped. There are dozens of sun beds for hire, and a wide selection of beach huts and restaurants that serve mainly inexpensive seafood. In the evening, the small bars stay open and some classy restaurants have been established in recent years. A couple of dive schools operate here, and the swimming conditions are fine all year round. A popular sport is kitesurfing, with a local Kite Board Asia (KBA) school midway down the beach. They operate just a few months each year, usually from June until August.
This remote beach should please anyone that appreciates peace and tranquility. The sand is coarse but good quality, but it’s not really a suitable place to swim. There is a mangrove swamp near the western end, and plenty of resorts and places to stay along its length. There are impressive views out across Chalong Bay, but few facilities can be found here. A simple and rustic beach bar serves drinks and snacks, and there are some worthwhile attractions in the local area such as the Panwa viewpoint. To reach the beach go south from Phuket Town on route 4023, then just follow road 4129 until you get there.
Just a few kilometres southwest of Patong, the small and cosy Paradise Beach certainly lives up to its name. With no noisy jet-skis or other unwanted disturbances, it remains a haven of calm and is always quiet. There is no development here and nowhere to stay close by. Both ends of the beach are rocky, but swimming is definitely safe all year round and there are some palms that provide welcome shade. There are plenty of sun beds for hire as well as snorkelling, body boarding, and kayaks. There is an inexpensive restaurant near the car park, which does some great seafood and other Thai cuisine.
Tri Trang Beach
Tantalisingly close to Patong on the nearby cape to the south, Tri Trang or Emerald Beach as it’s sometimes known, is not well known even amongst locals, despite its proximity to Patong Beach. It’s a really great spot to relax but there isn’t much shade, so make sure you take sun cream, a hat, and try to cover up in the midday sun. To get there take the main Patong Beach Road south and turn left at the Amari Coral Beach Resort, continue further on down past the Tri Trang Resort. Popular activities here include sunbathing, massage, jet-skis, snorkelling and sea kayaking.
Ya Nui Beach
The rather charming Ya Nui Beach is on the south coast near Laem Promthep viewpoint and very close to Nai Harn. The beach is quite private and the sand is fine and very soft. Kaew Noi Island is just a few hundred metres off the coast and can easily be reached when the tide is out, with a decent coral reef and snorkelling. In the low season there aren’t many visitors, but it can become busy in high season when a few restaurants also spring up. Popular activities at Ya Nui include swimming, snorkelling and kayaking.