Central western Phuket beaches
The western beaches of Phuket are where the action is. PhuketSpace customers looking for peace and solitude will find that this is not the place to be! Although the beaches of western Phuket are pleasant enough, it’s the nightlife that attracts most people to the area.
Located just to the north of Patong, Kalim is quiet and relaxed. This area is much quieter than Patong although the beach is not as good for swimming as there are a few rocks and a coral reef. The reef is exposed at low tide and you’ll find locals collecting crabs and shrimp.
There are a few hotels here, but overall the area is pretty quiet. Kalim is a good alternative if you want to be relatively close to the bars and restaurants of Patong, but still want peace and quiet.
During the rainy season, Kalim can be a great surf spot at high tide with some really long rides. However, the beach is not suitable for beginners and you need to watch out for the sharp rocks and reef below.
For more activities see Patong below, as Kalim is really just the quieter end of the same beach.
Phuket’s busiest resort area, Patong has the greatest concentration of bars, restaurant and shops on the island. Patong has suffered from a little from negative publicity in recent years for being over-developed and its hedonistic party scene. However, the majority of visitors to Phuket still choose to spend their time in Patong and for good reason. Patong has much to offer and despite its reputation for naughty nightlife, Patong is also very popular with families.
The 3km-long beach is still graced with beautiful white sand and clear water. The sunbeds and umbrellas are out in force, providing an ideal place to relax and soak up the sun with all the conveniences you could want nearby. There are numerous shops and stalls, as well as other leisure and recreational activities. However, if you are looking for a quiet beach retreat, you probably won’t find it in Patong.
Patong is the busiest beach on the island and you will never be short of something to do here. If you like watersports, then this is the place. There’s jet-skiing, water-skiing, windsurfing, sailing, or parasailing. You can snorkel on the reef at the southern end of the bay or take a longtail boat round to Freedom beach for better coral viewing. Should you rent a jet-ski, check it carefully for damage before you take it out, as unreasonable demands for ‘damage’ are not unknown.
The sea is generally calm all year round and the seabed shelves gently making it quite safe to swim in. For even more relaxation, there are usually plenty of masseuses nearby who give massages right on the beach.
There is a huge variety of restaurants in Patong. Cuisines you can choose from include Thai, seafood, Italian, Scandinavian, Japanese, Indian, French and British pub food plus a lot more. Some restaurants offer menus with a combination of different cuisines, usually a selection of European and Thai. There are also plenty of hawker stalls, where you can sample authentic Thai cuisine and eat like the locals do. Even if you aren’t staying in Patong, it is worth the effort to spend a few evenings eating out there.
Patong’s lively nightlife scene is what draws many people to the island, with most of the action centred around Bangla road. There are also many places where you can enjoy a quiet drink, listen to live bands or go dancing with friends. Banana Disco on the beach road is a Phuket institution and is usually packed late into the night. People watching also a popular pastime!
For shopping, there are stalls all the way along the beach road (Thaweewong road). Stalls operate during the day but it is in the evening that it really gets going. You can buy all kinds of clothes, souvenirs, sunglasses, CDs and much more. Always haggle at the roadside stalls. As a very rough guide, try and get the price down to about 50% of the quoted price.
In the headland south of Patong, there are two beautiful beaches that remain relatively unspoiled. They are not as undiscovered as the other beaches we mention on this list but still a break from the heaving masses at Patong. The first is Paradise Beach. Right at the tip of the headland, you can reach it by road (track) or boat.
It is a beautiful beach with overhanging trees. There is no accommodation but there is a restaurant and there are plenty of sun loungers. The beach is not the best for bathing due to the rocky seabed close to shore but there is some excellent snorkeling. There are usually plenty of people around but still it is surprising how many people in Patong do not know this beach is here.
Tri Trang beach is located in a scenic bay South of Patong Beach in front Merlin Beach Resort. The cosy atmosphere and peaceful silence is only interrupted by the occasional longtail boat to and from nearby Freedom Beach.
As popular the beach is for snorkeling, Tri Trang is definitely not to be recommended just for swimming, as by low tide there are many rocks in the rather flat seabed.
Tri Trang is very near one of the finest beaches on Phuket, Freedom Beach.
Local guides will tell you can only reach this stunning beach by boat, but it’s a well-kept secret that there’s a dirt track to the beach overland, accessibly by driving south from Patong, keeping the coast as close as possible to the right. It is in a hidden headland a fair way around, towards the Karon Beach side. Freedom Beach is well worth the effort to get there, with fantastic bathing and snorkelling.
There are a couple of restaurants and plenty of sun loungers under the trees. The locals take great care of the beach and it is always pristine. Plenty of people do make this a day trip from Patong but the beach is never crowded and surprising how many people in Patong do not even know this beach is there.
Just south of Patong, Karon Beach is a long stretch of powdery white sand, and at 4km in length one of the longest beaches on Phuket. Although there are a few large resorts and hotels, they are spread out and the area feels very relaxed.. The beach is very long so it never feels overcrowded.
Although there are a few large resorts and hotels, they are spread out and the area feels very relaxed. As in Patong, the hotels are separated from the beach by a road. However, unlike Patong, the beach is always fairly quiet. The beach itself is quite exposed, with little or no natural shade. Uniquely, the sand is so fine and powdery that it squeaks when you walk on it.
The southern point has a coral reef that stretches towards Kata and Pu Island. During the rainy season Karon can be good for surfing but particularly dangerous for swimming due to the large waves and strong rip currents. Watch for red flags or warnings before venturing into the water.
Like the nightlife, Karon’s restaurants are centred around the traffic circle, at the northern end, and also at the southern end of the beach before you get to Kata. There is a fair selection of Thai and international cuisine. For more lavish dining, most of the beach front hotels have some upmarket restaurants.
Karon’s nightlife is laid back and friendly. Most of the bars are found in the area around Karon circle at the northern end and at the southern end around Luang Pho Chuang road. There are a fair amount of beer bars in Karon, but the scene is not as lively as Patong.
Kata is divided into two parts: Kata Yai and Kata Noi. Both beaches offer stunning scenery and a relaxed atmosphere.
This is the larger of the two beaches. The bay is very picturesque with Koh Pu (Pu Island) at the northern end. Half of the beach is bordered by a road, while the southern half has a few resorts right on the beach. Club Med occupies a large portion of the land behind the beach road towards the northern end of the beach, keeping that end of the beach fairly quiet.
Due to its relatively small size, Kata has a cosy feel about it and is perfect for families. There are quite a few shops, restaurants and bars around Kata Centre and between Kata Yai and Kata Noi. Kata is perhaps the best compromise between the hectic pace of Patong and some of the quieter beaches on Phuket.
Kata Yai is home to the only place in Phuket where you can surf on a non-stop artificial wave, at Surf House Phuket. It pushes a continuous sheet of water up a trampoline-like surface, creating ideal conditions for surfing, plus bodyboarding, skateboarding, wakeboarding and snowboarding. All of this on land, facing Kata Beach. A unique experience.
Kata Noi only has a few hotels and is dominated by the Kata Thani Hotel. The beach is pleasant enough, but you may want to spend time at the southern end of the beach where there has been less development directly on the beach.
There are plenty of water sports to enjoy at Kata. The bay is excellent for sailing and plays host to the annual King’s Cup Regatta every December. Both Kata Yai and Kata Noi are popular with surfers during the rainy season. You can rent all kinds of boards on the beach. It is also one of the best beaches on the island for snorkelling. Confident swimmers can try swimming out towards Koh Pu to view the beautiful coral there, although don’t attempt this during the rainy season. The area to the South of Kata Noi beach has some decent coral that is worth exploring
There is a good variety of restaurants in Kata, especially around Kata Centre. Restaurants serving Thai, Italian, Scandinavian and of course seafood can all be found here. Restaurants right on the beach can also be found at the southern end of Kata Yai.
Nightlife in Kata is pretty laid-back although there are quite a few bars to be found, mostly around Kata Centre. There are also a collection of beer-bars heading inland from the junction at Kata Center. However, for a big night out you are better off heading to Patong.