Most backpackers traveling around Thailand and exploring the Andaman Islands will inevitably pass through the largest of the islands, Phuket.
Phuket is now home to many locals and expats alike. You can expect plenty of creature comforts, beautiful beaches, and a raging nightlife that would please any backpacker on the search for bucket beers.
But there is so much more to Phuket than touristy bars that cater to backpackers. There’s so much to do and some of you may be wondering then “where is the best place to stay in Phuket?”
This island offers a piece of paradise for everyone, but with over 100 villages to explore, it’s best to have an idea of where to stay in Phuket beforehand. Our guide will breakdown Phuket island and help you sort through various attractions, such as beaches, nightlife, local hangouts, and more.
Table of Contents
- Quick Tips – Where to Stay in Phuket
- Phuket Regional Guide
- 5 Best Areas to Stay in Phuket
- 1. Phuket Town – Where to Stay in Phuket for the First Time
- 2. Karon – Where to Stay in Phuket on a Budget
- 3. Patong – Where to Stay in Phuket for Nightlife
- 4. Kata – One of the Coolest Places to Stay in Phuket
- 5. Kamala – Where to Stay in Phuket for Families
- Review of Where to Stay in Phuket
Quick Tips – Where to Stay in Phuket
Phuket Town – Where to stay in Phuket first time
Karon – Where to stay in Phuket on a budget
Patong – Best area to stay in Phuket for nightlife
Kata – Coolest place to stay in Phuket
Kamala – Best Place to Stay in Phuket for families
Phuket Regional Guide
Quick Summary: The Best Places to Stay in Phuket
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Phuket is a province in southern Thailand that lies in the Andaman Sea. Comprised of 33 islands, the province covers more than 575 square kilometres. The largest of the islands, Phuket, is home to a variety of exciting attractions, magnificent beaches and unforgettable experiences.
Less than 400,000 people call the province of Phuket home. Each year thousands flock to Phuket to enjoy the regions pristine beaches, clear turquoise waters and indulge in the areas infamous nightlife.
The province of Phuket is divided into three districts and 17 subdistricts. Within these districts and subdistricts, there are more than 100 unique villages to see and explore.
To experience the best of Phuket, we recommend each trip include visits to three or four villages, depending on the purpose of your trip.
Starting at the centre of Phuket’s west coast you have the village of Kamala. Ideal for young couples or families with children, Kamala is where you’ll find gorgeous and peaceful beaches, and paradise year-round. We’ll cover why Kamala is one of the best places to stay in Phuket below.
South of Kamala is Patong, the most popular tourist destination in Phuket. Home to Thailand’s (and Asia’s) most famous nightlife scene, here you’ll find a good selection of bars, pubs, clubs and restaurants.
Continuing south along the coast you’ll pass through the villages of Karon and Kata.
Less hectic than Patong, both of these small communities boast spectacular beaches, delicious restaurants, and unbeatable views.
Finally, heading towards northeast from Karon you have Phuket Town. The largest town in the province, Phuket Town is home to a number of attractions, great shopping and appetizing restaurants.
Still not sure where to stay in Phuket? Not to worry. Read on as we break down the must-sees from the top five villages in Phuket.
5 Best Areas to Stay in Phuket
The largest of Thailand’s islands, Phuket covers 539 square kilometres. Public transportation is very limited, with taxis and tuk-tuks being the only practical options.
The vast majority of tuk-tuks and taxis don’t have meters, so we recommend that you negotiate and agree to a price before starting your journey.
Although getting around Phuket can be a bit of a challenge, it’s definitely worth it. Each village offers visitors something different. Do you want to experience Thailand’s famous nightlife?
Are you more interested in exploring the local historical and cultural sights? Maybe you want to find a spot in the sand and soak up the sun. All of these things are possible if you’re in the right place.
Below we cover the five best towns in Phuket broken down by interest.
Phuket Town is the capital of Phuket province and the largest city on the island. Made up of narrow streets, Phuket Town is where you’ll find great restaurants, unique shops, and one-of-a-kind attractions. Enjoy a real local atmosphere and charming attractions in this urban environment.
Phuket Town is also ideal for travellers interested in history and culture. Home to Old Phuket Town, this city is where you’ll find a myriad of colourful heritage sites. From temples and shrines to museums and markets, visit Phuket Town for an authentic slice of Thai life.
Things to See and Do in Phuket Town
– Climb Khao Rang for a magnificent bird’s eye view of the city and the southern part of the island. On a clear day, you can even catch a glimpse of some of the offshore islands.
– Explore the rich history of Old Phuket Town, a charming section of the city where you’ll find temples, preserved shophouses, restaurants and cafes.
– Visit the colourful Shrine of the Serene Light and see the Taoist etchings on the walls.
– Hike up Monkey Hill and see dozens of monkeys in their natural habitat.
– Enjoy excellent street food as you browse Lard Yai, the Sunday Walking Street Market.
– Take in the breathtaking views at Windmill Viewpoint.
– Dive deep into Phuket’s past at Phuket Culture Museum, where the history is told through pictures and still scenes.
– Visit the largest temple in Phuket, Chalong Temple.
– Enjoy a typical Thai lunch and cultural show at Thai Village and Orchid Farm. Make sure you pop into the dining hall to see the more than 20,000 varieties of orchids that decorate the walls.
Best Hostel in Phuket Town: In PHUKET House in Phuket Town
Conveniently located near Old Town Phuket, this hostel is surrounded by shops, attractions, restaurant and bars.
It provides guests with a comfortable and clean environment and a range of amenities, including cable TV, free Internet, and air conditioning units. Enjoy the best of Phuket at this downtown hostel.
Best Hotel in Phuket Town: Casa Blanca Boutique Hotel
Nestled in the heart of Phuket Town, this hotel is perfectly located to explore the city’s offerings. Recently refurbished, this boutique hotel features modern amenities, elegant décor and comfortable surroundings.
Enjoy free wifi, an outdoor pool and an on-site restaurant at this charming hotel in Old Phuket Town. One night here and you’ll quickly see why this is one of the best places to stay in Phuket Town.
Karon beach lies on the west coast of the island of Phuket. Home to the second largest of the island’s tourist beaches, Karon is where you’ll find stunning views, shimmering turquoise waters, and white sand beaches that squeak when you walk on them.
With a number of cool restaurants and relaxed bars, you’ll have no trouble finding ways to pass the time in Karon.
But Karon is more than just a stunning location. It’s one of the best areas to stay in Phuket if you’re travelling on a budget. With a myriad of accommodation options, you’re guaranteed to find somewhere to stay that fits your style and your budget.
Things to See and Do in Karon
– Enjoy 3 kilometres of powdery white sand at Karon Beach, a relatively uncrowded beach featuring facilities, dining and outdoor recreation options.
– Visit the colourful and stunning Wat Suwan Khiri Khet temple.
– Hike up to Karon View Point and enjoy great views of the surrounding forests, beaches and sea.
– Sample delicious, unique, and exotic foods, including crocodile and insects, at the Karon Temple Market.
– Play a round of golf at Dino Park Mini Golf.
– Relax and take a break from the sun at Khlong Bangla Park.
– Grab a snorkel and explore what lies beneath the waves at Karon Beach. Currents can be strong in this area so always seek local information before heading out.
– Rest, relax and rejuvenate at Mantra Herbal Steam Sauna and Spa.
– Grab a pint and watch the game at Walkabout Sports Bar.
– Enjoy cheap and delicious local fare at the Pad Thai Shop.
Best Hostel in Karon: Doolay Beachfront Hostel
This hostel is perfectly situated to explore Karon. Located beachfront, Doolay Hostel is within walking distance of restaurants, bars, local markets and shopping areas.
It boasts a small bar and on-site restaurant as well as a comfortable and welcoming common area. Enjoy clean beds with personal reading lamps and shelves at this inexpensive and centrally located hostel.
Best Hotel in Karon: OneLoft Hotel
OneLoft Hotel is the perfect place to make your home away from home in Karon. These comfortable and contemporary lofts offer basic cooking facilities, free wifi and relaxing accommodations. Conveniently located, this hotel boasts amazing views and 5-star luxury at a fraction of the price.
Patong is the most popular tourist destination in Phuket. This picturesque coastal town has stunning white sand beaches, perfect for relaxing on a chaise, catching some rays, and getting lost in the beauty of the scenery.
Although beautiful, Patong is best known as Asia’s premier party destination. Bangla Road lies at the heart of the nightlife scene.
With the densest concentration of bars and clubs anywhere in Phuket, this hotspot is where you’ll find world famous bars, clubs, and entertainment complexes that cater to every taste, fetish and orientation. It’s no wonder Patong is the best place to stay in Phuket for singles.
Things to See and Do in Patong
– Explore Bangla Road, Patong’s central attraction and home to bars, pubs, nightclubs, exotic and erotic shows, and Thai restaurants.
– Drive to Paradise Beach to experience one of the most stunning beaches in all of Thailand.
– Visit Paradise Beach Club to drink and dance under the stars at Phuket’s biggest and first daily beach party.
– Take in a Muay Thai style boxing match at Bangla Boxing Stadium.
– Enjoy a moment of peace and tranquillity at the beautiful Suwan Khiri Wong Temple.
– Browse the stalls and enjoy cheap and tasty food at the Malin Plaza Patong market.
– Spend a day sunbathing on the radiant Patong Beach.
– Party from dusk until dawn at Seduction Complex, the largest nightclub in Patong Beach.
– Eat authentic Thai food and a great atmosphere at the Halfway Inn Restaurant.
– Grab a beer and enjoy a few games at Aussie Bar.
Best Hostel in Patong: GandM Hostel
GandM Hostel is the best budget accommodation option in Patong. Conveniently located near Bangla Road, this hostel is situated at the heart of Phuket’s notorious nightlife scene. Just a few steps from Phuket’s best bars, clubs and restaurants, you can’t get any closer to the action.
Enjoy hot showers, comfortable beds, and a great atmosphere at this Patong Beach hostel.
Best Hotel in Patong: Baipho Lifestyle Residence
This charming hotel is a peaceful oasis in the midst of Patong’s chaotic centre. It’s located within walking distance of Patong’s famous bars, restaurants, trendy nightclubs and relaxed pubs.
Enjoy comfortable and spacious rooms and modern amenities, including complimentary wifi and air conditioning. You won’t find a better hotel in the centre of Patong.
Kata Beach is one of the trendiest places to stay in Phuket. Located on the islands west coast, this village is perfect for travellers looking for a great mix of relaxed atmosphere, exciting nightlife, and a variety of great attractions.
More than just cool, Kata is also our pick for where to stay in Phuket for couples. Kata is home to a golden sand beach, world-class spas and wellness centres, and a number of top-notch restaurants.
Gone are the days Phuket was just a backpacker hang out as Phuket has rebuilt its tourism to cater more luxurious guests too.
The area is also a popular destination for snorkelers and divers thanks to Kata Beach House Reef. Home to parrot fish, seahorses, and the occasional turtle and octopus, Kata is a fun and interesting place for anyone looking to explore beneath the waves.
Things to See and Do in Kata
– Shop with the locals at the Thursday market where you can buy fish, spices, and other authentic Thai foods.
– Swim and play in the calm blue waters of Kata beach.
– Trek out to the sauna in the jungle where you can enjoy a relaxing steam, natural plunge pool, and a serene café surrounded by nature.
– Enjoy good drinks and a great show at Ska Bar, a funky reggae and ska music bar.
– Swim, dive, and snorkel around the Kata Beach House Reef to see colourful fish, sea horses and other sea creatures.
– Catch a few waves at Kata Beach, which offers decent surfing from April through November.
– Visit Big Buddha, a massive, white marble Buddha statue that sits at the top of Naka Kerd Mountain and offers great views over Phuket’s east coast.
– Devour cheap and delicious Thai fare at the Red Chair Café.
Best Hostel in Kata: Southern Fried Rice
This popular guesthouse and hostel is located within walking distance of Kata Beach. It’s close to great restaurants offering Thai and international cuisines, fun bars and many of the area’s top attractions.
With its clean, comfortable and spacious rooms, modern amenities and even Thai language lessons, you won’t find a better hostel in Kata.
Best Hotel in Kata: Alpina Phuket Nalina Resort & Spa
A short drive from Kata Beach is the luxurious and relaxing Alpina Phuket Nalina Resort & Spa.
Featuring an outdoor swimming pool, private beach and day spa, this four-star hotel is a great value for your stay in Kata. Enjoy modern accommodation, spacious rooms and private balconies a short distance from the area’s main attractions.
Look no farther than Kamala as the best place to stay in Phuket for families. This small village provides visitors with all the convenience of busy towns like Patong but without hustle, bustle and chaos.
Enjoy a quiet and relaxing atmosphere with an abundance of wellness centres, hotels and delightful restaurants.
The beach in Kamala is also particularly attractive to families with young children. Less frenetic than beaches in neighbouring Kata and Patong, Kamala Beach is made of powdery white sand perfect for sunbathing, playing, and building sandcastles.
The turquoise waters at the north end of the beach are nice and calm, making the conditions perfect for swimmers and splashers of all ages.
Overall, we rate Kamala as the best area to stay in Phuket for families.
Things to See and Do in Kamala
– Sample local snacks, treats, and delicacies at the Kamala Friday Market
– Enjoy cheap and cheerful authentic Thai food at PP&P. This legendary haunt can be a bit hard to find, but the tasty food makes the search worthwhile.
– Visit Laem Sing Beach for a relaxing day in paradise.
– Dig your toes in the sand and walk along a stunning stretch of Kamala Beach.
– View charming works of art the Kamala Beach Gallery.
– Visit Wat Baan Kamala, a classic Buddhist temple located on the beachfront and enjoy a peaceful moment of zen.
– Learn to surf in the clear blue waters of Kamala Beach.
– Enjoy delicious food and generous portions at Grill Bill, a family-friendly restaurant.
– Catch a colourful, exciting and enchanting Vegas-style show at the Phuket FantaSea Theme Park.
Best Hostel in Kamala: Ban Kamala Fantasea Hotel
This hotel has multiple types of accommodations, including dorms, private rooms and luxury facilities. Comfortable, clean and with a great atmosphere, this hotel is located in the heart of the village.
Five minutes to the beach and ten minutes from Patong, this hotel is perfectly situated near restaurants, bars, and attractions. Enjoy your stay in paradise at this Kamala hotel.
Best Hotel in Kamala: The Umbrella House
Located just minutes from Kamala Beach, this hotel is one of the best places to stay in Phuket for families. Each room is outfitted with air conditioning units, refrigerators and tea and coffee supplies.
It has an outdoor swimming pool as well as a kid’s pool where your little ones can laugh, splash and play. Close to restaurants, attractions and more, this is the best hotel in Kamala.
Review of Where to Stay in Phuket
Looking for a specific place to stay? These are our highest recommendations for places to stay in Phuket.
Best Hostel in Phuket: GandM Hostel
GandM Hostel is the best budget accommodation option in Phuket. Conveniently located near Bangla Road, this hostel is situated at the heart of Phuket’s notorious nightlife scene.
Just a few steps from Phuket’s best bars, clubs, and restaurants, you can’t get any closer to the action. Enjoy hot showers, comfortable beds, and a great atmosphere at this Patong Beach hostel.
Make sure to check out our post on the best hostels in Phuket too!
Best Hotel in Phuket: OneLoft Hotel
OneLoft Hotel is the perfect place to make your home away from home in Phuket. These comfortable and contemporary lofts offer basic cooking facilities, free wifi, and relaxing accommodations.
Conveniently located in Karon, this hotel boasts amazing views and 5-star luxury at a fraction of the price.
Best Airbnb in Phuket: Luxury Room & Rooftop Pool with Phuket City Views
Enjoy amazing views and modern amenities in this luxury condo in Phuket Town. Located on the 11th floor, this contemporary condo offers guests a king sized bed, colorful décor, and a comfortable living space.
With free wifi, two swimming pools and a fitness center, you won’t find a better Airbnb in Phuket.
Traveling with a group? Book an apartment and check out our Airbnb post for a 35% discount!
Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Phuket
Famed for its legendary parties and beaches, Phuket has been on the tourist radar for quite some time. Thailand’s largest island hosts an array of things to see and do, but its size and limited public transportation means you are better off basing yourself in the one or two areas that interest you most. What’s more is that it’s generally pretty safe.
Not sure where to stay in Phuket? That’s where this guide comes in. We’ve broken down the 5 best areas in Phuket.
Should you only have a couple days, check out this weekender guide on Phuket.
To recap, our top rated hostel in Phuket is GandM Hostel. Simply put, this is one of the best budget options in Phuket, and it’s conveniently located near the heart of Phuket’s nightlife on Bangla Road.
For something more luxurious, we recommend OneLoft Hotel, a comfortable and contemporary loft. This hotel hosts 5-star views at a fraction of the price.
Did we miss something? Let us know in the comments!
Don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers – check it out here, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favourite travel insurance provider.
If want to learn more about security in Thailand, check out our separate safety guide for insider tips and stories.
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Need More Inspiration?
- Backpacking Thailand on The Cheap
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- Full Moon Party in Thailand
- 15 Best Hostels in Phuket
- Is Thailand Safe?
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