Best Area to Stay in Phuket

Where to Stay in Phuket [A Guide to Phuket’s Best Areas]

Written By: author image Kyle Cash
author image Kyle Cash
Kyle is the writer behind The Travel Runner. He’s a full-time traveler and adventurer who’s visited over 20 countries, including places like Thailand, Mexico, Vietnam, and Albania.

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Deciding where to stay in Phuket can be difficult. But no worries. With this guide, I break down Phuket’s areas to find the best one for you!


Honestly, after reading the top posts for the best parts of Phuket to stay, I HAD to write this post.

After living in Phuket for three years, I couldn’t read places like Nai Harn (one of the most beautiful and popular beaches on the island) be called “hidden gems” or that Kalim is best for surfers when it’s obviously Kata Beach (there are surfing competitions there!).

So, I’m here to give you a real account of the best places to stay in Phuket — all with my experience of living there.

Let’s get started with the guide.

Best areas to stay in Phuket

Honestly, you may have come here looking for a simple answer.

THIS is the place you should stay because X.

But that’s too simplistic, and the answer is that it depends on what you want from your trip. Staying in the wrong place for your wants can give you a terrible impression of the place. And it’s why most people I talk to negatively view Phuket.

So, here’s a breakdown of where to stay based on who/what it’s best for, and in no particular order:

  • Patong Beach: Best for single people and nightlife. Not the place to go for relaxing. 🕺🍻
  • Karon BeachQuiet compared to Patong but still busier than other areas. Better for families and couples. 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦
  • Kata BeachA gorgeous area that’s usually fairly busy. One of the best beaches for surfing. 🏄🏻‍♂️
  • RawaiQuieter than areas like Nai Harn or Phuket Town. Not a swimming beach; great starting point for island hopping tours. 🚤
  • Nai Harn BeachOne of the most beautiful beaches on the island. Very popular. Excellent food. 🏖️
  • Phuket TownPopular with visiting tourists, but not to stay. Great for food and local activities. 🏘️
  • Kamala BeachNot as busy as Patong or Karon. More popular with older expats. 🌅
  • Bang Tao BeachMore affluent. Also one of the island’s best beaches. Popular with luxury tourists. 🏨
  • Nai Thon BeachQuiet, with few shops and restaurants. Mostly resorts and luxury hotels. 🤫
  • Mai Khao BeachSimilar to Nai Thon, but close to the airport. 🛬
  • ChalongExcellent food, more popular with expats and wellness tourists. 🏃🏼
  • KathuLocal, less tourists. Incredible food and not far from Phuket Town or Patong. Cheaper. 🍲

Patong Beach

Patong Beach is the epicenter of Phuket’s vibrant nightlife and is perfect for those who love to party.

The sun sets over Patong Beach in Phuket, casting a golden glow over the calm sea and silhouetted onlookers on the shore.

It’s also what MOST people think of when they think of Phuket. (I’d argue this is NOT what Phuket is, and you need to get away from Patong to experience it.)

But Patong is a spot you need to visit at least once. It’s a bustling hub where the nights are alive with neon lights, lively bars, and nightclubs. Here, the streets are lined with a variety of entertainment options, from bustling night markets to high-energy beach clubs.

Busy street scene at Patong Beach in Phuket, lined with tuk-tuks and local shops, bustling with tourists and locals under a clear blue sky.

Why Patong Beach?

  • You’re single
  • Looking for a party vacation
  • Want the busiest area on the island

What to Expect

Expect crowded streets, a mix of tourists from all corners of the globe, and an endless selection of places to eat and drink. Accommodation options range from budget hostels to high-end resorts, catering to a wide array of preferences and budgets.

Don’t Miss

  • Bangla Road
  • Patong Beach (of course)
  • Jungceylon Shopping Mall
  • Patong Boxing Stadium

Karon Beach

Karon Beach stands out as a quieter counterpart to the bustling stay in Patong.

A wide aerial shot of Karon Beach in Phuket, showing the long stretch of sandy beach, azure waters, and the expansive seaside town.

It gives you a more relaxed atmosphere that’s ideal for families and couples. This Phuket beach is known for its long stretch of golden sand and crystal-clear waters, making it one of the best beaches for a serene holiday.

Karon is actually where my fiancee and I first stayed when we moved to Phuket. We booked a guesthouse near the beach and had considered leaving because of culture shock the first day or two. It didn’t take us long to change our minds and fall in love with the island.

A solitary figure stands on Karon Beach in Phuket, silhouetted against the golden sunset reflecting off the calm ocean waters.

Why Karon Beach?

  • More family-friendly place for a holiday
  • Great for couples seeking a romantic getaway
  • Great balance of things to do and relaxation

What to Expect

Karon has a mix of luxurious beach resorts and affordable hotels in Phuket, catering to various budgets.

The beach is less crowded than Patong, but it’s still fairly busy. There are restaurants and shops lining the road across from the beach.

Don’t Miss

  • Karon Temple Market
  • Big Buddha
  • Wat Suwan Khiri Wong Temple
  • Karon Beach

Kata Beach

Kata Beach is one of Phuket’s best-loved beaches, famed for its surfing opportunities and picturesque setting in the south of Phuket.

Hand-painted sign reading '# Kata Beach' with a blue hashtag symbol, with the beautiful sandy shores of Kata Beach in the background." Nai Harn Beach: "A peaceful view of Nai Harn Beach in Phuket, featuring a hammock tied between two trees, with the beach's clear turquoise waters and sandy shores in the distance.

It’s a popular beach but retains a laid-back charm that appeals to both families and solo travelers. There’s also Kata Noi, which has a few resorts and hotels in the area if you want even more tranquility.

Kata Noi is one of my personal favorites to visit, but I normally lived on the northern part of the island so my visits were more rare.

A stunning panoramic view from Karon Viewpoint, overlooking the azure waters of the Andaman Sea and the lush, green headlands near Kata, Phuket.

Why Kata Beach?

  • Perfect for families and solo travelers
  • Best beach for surfing
  • Good mix of excitement and laid-back vibes

What to Expect

Kata has a bit of everything.

The beach itself is one of the more beautiful ones on the island. And it has plenty of bars and restaurants to choose from. It’s just south of Karon and Patong, so you can quickly head north for more options.

Don’t Miss

  • Karon Viewpoint
  • Kata and Kata Noi Beach
  • Wat Kittisangkaram Temple
  • Kata Night Market

Rawai Beach

Rawai Beach offers a more serene and local getaway, separate from the more tourist-centric areas of Phuket.

Silhouettes of traditional longtail boats anchored in the calm waters of Rawai at sunset, with the golden sun descending behind a mountainous horizon in Phuket.

It’s an excellent choice for travelers looking for a peaceful retreat away from the bustling beach crowds and is well-known for its picturesque views and boating tours. The beach here isn’t a swimming beach, and it’s only a stone’s throw away from Nai Harn.

So you have options to be away from the touristy areas, while not being too far.

A street food vendor in Phuket expertly preparing grilled seafood, with skewers of shrimp and other delicacies on display.

Why Rawai Beach?

  • Want a more local and laid back experience
  • Plan to take boating or island tours
  • Want to be close to things to do, but not in the center

What to Expect

Rawai is less commercialized than other parts of Phuket, offering an authentic experience of Thai culture and lifestyle.

The beachfront is lined with seafood restaurants offering fresh catches of the day. Accommodation options include charming boutique hotels and villas, ideal for a more intimate stay. Don’t expect a popping nightlife here.

Don’t Miss

  • Sea Gypsy Village
  • Rawai Seafood Market
  • Any of the amazing boating tours

Nai Harn Beach

Most people consider Nai Harn Beach the most beautiful beach in Phuket.

Many people consider Nai Harn the best area to stay in Phuket

And it’s really hard to argue with them. That’s one reason it’s super popular with expats and tourists alike.

Located at the southernmost tip of Phuket, it’s one of the first beaches I visited (and I promptly got sun poisoning because I’m stupid). But I fell in love with the beach and the surrounding area. Despite its popularity, it manages to maintain a sense of calm, making it an excellent choice for relaxation and scenic beauty.

But don’t expect to get this beach to yourself or even with minimal people. It’s definitely not a hidden gem.

It also has one of the best viewpoints in Phuket, so that’s a nice title to have.

A panoramic view from Black Rock Viewpoint overlooking the turquoise waters of Nai Harn area in Phuket.

Why Nai Harn Beach?

  • You’re a huge beach person
  • You want things to do and relaxation
  • Wellness is a priority of yours

What to Expect

Nai Harn Beach is surrounded by lush green hills and clear blue waters, creating stunning natural scenery. The beach area itself is well-maintained and less crowded than other popular beaches, offering a peaceful environment. You’ll find a range of accommodation options in Phuket, from luxury resorts to more modest hotels, all providing easy access to the beach. And plenty of food options as well.

Don’t Miss

  • Nai Harn Beach
  • Nai Harn Lake
  • Ya Nui Beach
  • Windmill Viewpoint
  • Laem Phromthep
  • Black Rock Viewpoint

Phuket Town

Phuket Town stands out as the island’s cultural heart, offering a blend of history, art, and culinary delights.

Aerial view of Phuket Town, showcasing the dense urban landscape with colorful buildings, streets, and the surrounding green hills.

It’s a popular place for tourists to visit, especially for those interested in experiencing the local culture and history of Phuket. But tourists don’t often stay in Phuket Town, instead choosing to stay closer to the beaches. That means you can get a more local experience, and also cheaper.

I loved visiting Phuket Town whenever I could (usually every three months to renew my visa). Great food, fun vibes — what’s not to love?

Vibrant street scene in Phuket Town with traditional Sino-Portuguese architecture, bustling with scooters, cars, and pedestrians

Why Phuket Town?

  • You travel for culture
  • History is a priority
  • Lower prices, great eats

What to Expect

The town is a lively mix of old and new, where traditional shophouses sit alongside trendy cafes and art galleries. Accommodations range from charming boutique hotels in Phuket Town to affordable guesthouses, all offering a unique stay experience. The area is also known for its fantastic food scene, with streets lined with local eateries and night markets.

Don’t Miss

  • Phuket Old Town
  • Thalang Road and Soi Romanee
  • Phuket Walking Street, Naka, and Chillva Markets
  • Thai Hua Museum
  • Upside Down House
  • Jui Tui Shrine
  • Central Festival Mall

Kamala Beach

Kamala Beach is known for its laid-back atmosphere and is particularly popular among older expats and those seeking a more relaxed holiday experience in Phuket.

The calm shores of Kamala Beach in Phuket, with soft waves, golden sands, and a scenic view of the surrounding hills.

It offers a quieter alternative to the bustling Patong Beach, yet it’s close enough to enjoy the lively scenes when desired. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that Kamala Beach is beautiful, and Keemala Resort is nestled in its hills.

While not as popular as other areas, it’s still a solid option if you want to head south to Patong’s craziness or north to Bang Tao’s luxury areas.

Luxurious Keemala resort in Phuket nestled among lush greenery, with traditional thatched-roof villas peeking through the foliage.

Why Kamala Beach?

  • More peaceful stay
  • Older crowd and laid-back vibes
  • Beach getaway

What to Expect

Kamala Beach features a beautiful stretch of sand that’s less crowded and ideal for leisurely days spent sunbathing or swimming. The area around the beach is home to a variety of restaurants and bars, catering to a more mature crowd. Accommodation options range from luxury resorts to budget-friendly hotels, all offering a serene environment.

Don’t Miss

  • Kamala Beach
  • Kamala Saturday Night Market
  • Phuket FantaSea

Bang Tao Beach

Bang Tao Beach is one of the most affluent areas in Phuket, famous for its long, beautiful beach and luxurious resorts.

A breathtaking sunset at Bang Tao Beach with vivid pink and orange skies reflected in the water, silhouette of a person standing in the surf

This area is popular among high-end travelers and those seeking a premium beach experience. The beautiful Surin Beach is also nearby, which is a great place to stay. And the lesser-known/hidden Laem Singh Beach is nearby if you’re adventurous enough to get to it!

I stayed just outside of the Laguna area in a small local neighborhood in Thep Krassatri. So I have a special love (and knowledge) for this area.

Secluded Laem Singh Beach in Phuket, surrounded by tropical greenery and clear blue waters, under a partly cloudy sky.

Why Bang Tao Beach?

  • You’re a luxury traveler
  • You’re a wellness/fitness traveler
  • Shopping is a priority

What to Expect

Bang Tao Beach is quieter than the likes of Patong, making it perfect for a relaxing holiday. The area is home to Laguna Phuket, a collection of high-end resorts and villas. Here, you’ll find a range of dining options, from beachfront cafes to fine-dining restaurants, alongside exclusive boutiques, beach clubs, and spas.

Just expect to pay more than other areas.

Don’t Miss

  • Bang Tao, Surin, Banana, and Layan Beach
  • Boat Avenue
  • Boat Avenue Market
  • Wat Cherngtalay
  • Laguna
  • Blue Tree Phuket
  • Thanyapura Fitness Center

Nai Thon Beach

Nai Thon Beach is one of the lesser-talked-about places in Phuket.

The tranquil waters and golden sands of Nai Thon Beach in Phuket, flanked by lush vegetation

This beach is perfect for those seeking a quiet retreat away from the tourist hotspots. It has a few restaurants, and the beach is beautiful. But don’t expect to come here and party the night away. That’s not its scene.

I enjoyed coming here and going to The Hill, which sits above Nai Thon. It’s a great spot to grab a bite/drink and watch the sunset.

Why Nai Thon Beach?

  • You simply want relaxation
  • Get away from people
  • Beautiful beaches

What to Expect

The area around Nai Thon Beach is relatively undeveloped, with few shops and restaurants, preserving its serene ambiance. The accommodation here is amongst the best in Phuket, with a focus on privacy and luxury. The beach itself is ideal for swimming, sunbathing, and enjoying quiet walks along the shore.

Don’t Miss

  • Nai Thon Beach
  • The Hill Restaurant

Mai Khao Beach

Mai Khao Beach is known for its pristine, unspoiled beauty and proximity to Phuket Airport, making it an ideal choice for travelers looking for convenience without compromising on tranquility.

Mai Khao Beach's serene coastline with gentle waves lapping the shore, a peaceful retreat in Phuket

It’s also very close to the airport. Like, so close you can watch the planes fly over the beach into the airport.

This is a pretty quiet area of the island, mostly luxury resorts and hotels.

Why Mai Khao Beach?

  • Close to the airport
  • Very quiet and relaxing
  • Beatiful stretch of beach

What to Expect

Mai Khao Beach is part of the Sirinat National Park and boasts one of the longest beach stretches in Phuket. The area is less commercialized, offering a peaceful escape. Accommodations here range from high-end resorts to more modest hotels, enjoying tranquil surroundings.

Don’t Miss

  • Mai Khao Beach
  • Mai Khao Marine Turtle Foundation
  • Sirinat National Park

Chalong

Chalong is a diverse and vibrant area, popular with expats and wellness tourists.

The intricate architecture of Chalong Temple in Phuket, featuring red and gold roofs, ornate decorations, and clear blue skies.

Known for its excellent food scene and various activities, it’s a great choice for those who want a more immersive experience in Phuket. Plus, if you’re into fitness, you can’t skip out on visiting “The Soi,” which has to be one of the most non-touristy things to do in Phuket.

Get in a workout, indulge in some of the most delicious food around Phuket, then head out and sightsee. Especially with Big Buddha overlooking the area, it’s hard not to enjoy it.

Why Chalong?

  • You’re a foodie
  • Less touristy
  • You love fitness/Muay Thai

What to Expect

Chalong has a more local atmosphere compared to the beach areas. The region is home to numerous fitness and wellness centers, including Muay Thai gyms and yoga studios. For food lovers, Chalong offers an array of dining options, from street food stalls to upscale restaurants.

Don’t Miss

  • Chalong Pier
  • Wat Chalong
  • Big Buddha
  • Chalong Bay Rum Distillery
  • Chalong Bay Viewpoint
  • Muay Thai class

Kathu

Kathu lies centrally between Patong and Phuket Town, offering an authentic local experience.

Aerial view of Kathu district in Phuket, showing the dense tropical landscape, residential areas, and surrounding hills.

It’s less frequented by tourists, making it one of the best areas in Phuket for those looking to escape the typical tourist trail. If you’re a foodie, this is your spot. The best (and cheapest) food can be found here.

While you’ll be away from the coast of Phuket, you’re in a good spot if you want to stay somewhere to get to Phuket’s best places. And it has easy access to some of the best hiking trails in Phuket, so be ready to explore! If you want a reliable map for hiking, AllTrails is a great option.

Why Kathu?

  • Local experience
  • Excellent food
  • Great location
  • Budget-friendly

What to Expect

In Kathu, you’ll find incredible food at local prices, vibrant markets, and a genuine sense of Thai community. The area is less about beaches and more about experiencing local life, with easy access to Patong and Phuket Town for exploring further.

Don’t Miss

  • Kathu Waterfall
  • Phuket Wake Park
  • Flying Hanuman Zipline
  • Bang Wad Dam and surrounding hiking trails

So, what area of Phuket will you stay in?

Phuket has tons of options.

And it can be hard to choose exactly where to stay. Each area offers something different, and also unique. None of them are better, it just depends what you’re looking for!

So, hopefully, this guide helped you find the most ideal place to stay for you.

Let me know if this guide helped you and where you’ll choose in the comments!

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Kyle Cash Owner
Kyle is the writer behind The Travel Runner. He’s a full-time traveler and adventurer who’s visited over 20 countries, including places like Thailand, Mexico, Vietnam, and Albania.