Unlike most Thai islands, there are a number of wildly different towns that make up Phuket, thanks to the sheer size of it. Each one offers you unique experiences and a distinct vibe, so picking where to stay can be tough. To help you out, here’s a little more about the top towns on the largest isle in Thailand.
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Located on the western coast of the island is the bustling town of Patong. Well-known locally for its party scene, it’s the place to be if you’re planning on late nights and strobe lights. Though as well as the well-documented bars and nightclubs, there’s also a ton of other things to get up to in Patong. There’s a wealth of shopping opportunities, from the beach-side shops to the impressive Jungceylon shopping centre, as well as a number of great beaches, from the lively Patong Beach to the quieter Freedom Beach. Ideal for backpackers and party people.
The capital of the province of Phuket, what Phuket Town lacks in beaches it more than makes up for in architectural beauty. The Old Town quarter features colourful heritage buildings that host a number of quaint shops and cafes; it’s also home to the impressive, vintage-styled walking street market. Away from the shopping, Phuket Town is a great place to take in a spot of culture. Not only is it home to a couple of museums; it also hosts the impressive Jui Tui Chinese temple.
Much like Patong, Karon is home to a number of beaches, resorts, bars and restaurants, but it’s much more family-friendly and laidback. Despite being popular with tourists, the long length of Karon Beach means you’ll never feel overcrowded, while the calmer waves make it ideal for swimming and snorkelling. Away from the beach, the town centre features a number of different eateries and bars. There is nightlife here, but, unlike Patong, it tends to be less invasive. Whilst it may not have huge shiny shopping complexes, the Karon Bazaar is a great spot for souvenir buying and bargain hunters. For culture lovers, Wat Karon features a striking statue of a Naga, a creature from Buddhist mythology, and there’s an equally beautiful statue by the beach.
The go-to destination for the well-to-do of Thailand, Surin Beach plays host to a range of stunning luxury resorts and once hosted the former king for a round of golf. Both Surin and the nearby Pansea beach are the textbook definition of Thai beaches: soft, white sands and gleaming turquoise seas, with a backdrop of lush, green coconut trees. Away from the beach, Surin Plaza offers some retail therapy, while there are a number of high-end restaurants and spas nearby to take your pampering to another level.
Situated south of Karon is Kata. Popular all year round, the long beach never feels too cramped and crowded, and there’s always enough space to feel comfortable. Kata offers a wealth of activities, from watersports and surfing to scuba diving, whilst soft sand means it’s also perfectly okay to laze on the beach all day and catch some rays. There are numerous restaurants and bars nearby offering stunning views of the bays, and the modern Palm Square complex is a popular hangout. There’s also the opportunity to shop here, with Kata Night Market selling a number of handmade Thai crafts, clothes and foods. With enough to do to keep you busy, it’s perfect for families or those wanting a break from the likes of Patong.
Chalong might not have the beaches of Kata or the parties of Patong, but it’s home to two famous cultural sites. The Big Buddha statue is a top attraction and for good reason. At 45m (148ft) tall; this giant marble statue can be seen as far away as Phuket Town, and the views from the summit are breathtakingly beautiful. As well as the Big Buddha, Chalong is also home to Wat Chalong, a fantastically ornate temple that’s open to visitors. There isn’t much in the way of nightlife here, but there are enough eateries to keep yourself well-fed and busy. Plus, the Chalong Bay Rum Distillery makes for an interesting trip.