Where to Stay in Phuket for a Local Experience

Escape the tourist traps and experience a different side of Phuket at Keemala Tree Pool Houses
Escape the tourist traps and experience a different side of Phuket at Keemala Tree Pool Houses | Courtesy of Keemala / Expedia
Photo of Carrie Back
9 February 2021

Stay at these exotic hotels on Thailand’s largest island and you can easily explore bustling night markets and Buddhist temples as well as arrange boat trips across the Andaman Sea.

Connect with local guides and immerse yourself in unique experiences far from Phuket’s typical tourist spots. We’ve narrowed down the list of the best places to stay on Thailand’s largest island for a local experience – you can choose anything from family-run retreats to restaurant-rich resorts that embody the ever-evolving fusion of cultures that makes Phuket such an extraordinary place to visit.

Keemala Tree Pool Houses

Resort, Treehouse
Courtesy of Keemala / Expedia
Staying at Keemala will feel like opting to stay at an old friends’ place on a long trip. Inspired by Thai mythology, the 38 hillside villas, cottages, tree houses and pool villas are each constructed to loosely resemble ancient clan dwellings. Best of all, if you want to dive deeper into Thailand’s culture and history or simply relax, you villa host is on hand to help with spa, restaurant and day trip bookings to Phuket’s best sights. They can help recommend experiences off the beaten track such as long-tail boat trips to Paradise Beach, trips to Bang Pae Waterfall or Muay Thai matches at Patong Boxing Stadium, where you can mingle shoulder to shoulder with locals.
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The Blanket Hotel

Boutique Hotel
Courtesy of the Blanket Hotel / Expedia
This family-run boutique hotel blends in with the Sino-Portuguese aesthetic of Phuket’s Old Town, and features contemporary rooms as well as a cosy cafe. The owners built this boutique hotel in 2017 and are eager to share their passion for hospitality and their love of the old-world charm of their favourite city with guests. To start you off, a map provided at check-in will entice you to embark on an exploratory walking tour of the area’s best street art and points of interests – but don’t be too scared of getting lost, the sights are all within 10 minutes from the hotel.
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Blu Monkey Boutique

Boutique Hotel
Courtesy of Blu Monkey Boutique Phuket Town / Expedia
Blu Monkey Boutique is close to some remarkable sites in Phuket such as colonial-style buildings and local graffiti art in hidden alleyways. Known for their exceptional service, the staff are knowledgeable on all things Thai and can give you the best recommendations about nearby attractions and restaurants. Decorated in a contemporary rural Thai style, the hotel is decked out in bold colours mixed with traditional wooden furnishings, cast-iron beds and fine china. Start your day with a local breakfast of khanom chin, cold rice noodles with a curry of your choice, served to your room in a cute bento box.
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The Memory at On On Hotel

Boutique Hotel
Courtesy of the Memory at On On Hotel / Expedia
Built in 1927, the Memory at On On was Phuket’s very first hotel and is currently also a museum that showcases local history and the hotel’s valuable heritage. Additionally, this Phuket landmark was renovated in 2012 in keeping with traditional Sino-Portuguese style. Its old-world charm is best displayed in the lobby and the central courtyard, which are both decorated with Thai antiques, red Chinese lanterns, decorative tiles, intricately carved wooden doors and elegant arched windows.
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Peranakan Boutique Hotel

Boutique Hotel
Courtesy of Peranakan Boutique Hotel / Expedia
Discover the uniqueness of Peranakan culture at this boutique hotel. Featuring antique pictures, patterns and fabrics, the hotel’s interiors are a blend of Chinese, Thai and Malay influences, just like the city of Phuket itself. Best of all, the hotel is located near attractions such as the Phuket Walking Street which is a popular Sunday night market, Thai Hua Museum which showcases Chinese history on the island, and the Golden Dragon Monument in Queen Sirikit Park. After exploring the vividly coloured facade of the Old Town, Peranakan Boutique Hotel is a calming place to rest your head.
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  • Book a Bed Poshtel

    Courtesy of Book a Bed Poshtel / Expedia
    If you’re on the hunt for something laid-back, or travelling on a budget, Book a Bed Poshtel is exactly what you’re looking for. Trendy inside and out, there’s even an indoor slide that allows you to get to the common area from the second floor. If you’d rather head out and explore, you can rub shoulders with locals at Lard Ploy Khong, an independent night market perfect for practicing your haggling skills, right on the hostel’s doorstep. The helpful multilingual staff can also direct you to great local restaurants in the area.
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    The Slate

    Resort, Luxury
    Courtesy of the Slate / Expedia
    Designed by visionary designer and architect Bill Bensley, the Slate is located at Nai Yang Beach, on the northwest coast of the island. Inspired by Phuket’s mining past, this upscale hotel combines industrial elements and raw beauty. Beyond the hotel’s opulent interiors, the staff can help arrange activities that show guests a more authentic side of Phuket. Visit the 200-year-old temple of Nai Yang and join in the daily morning ritual of presenting offerings to the island’s Buddhist monks, or visit a bustling food market with the hotel’s head chef and learn to make tantalising dishes such as the spicy Thai soup Tom Yum.
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    The Gallery Hotel Nai Harn

    Courtesy of the Gallery Hotel Nai Harn / Expedia
    The Gallery Hotel Nai Harn is perfect for thrill seekers and explorers alike. Located just 800m (0.5mi) away from Nai Harn beach, guests can kayak, paraglide and surf in spots otherwise known only to locals. Our tip? Borrow a bike from the hotel to explore the surrounding countryside or cycle around the Nai Harn Lake loop. The Gallery also offers a number of hand-selected tours and excursions, such as boat trips to the neighbouring Andaman Sea islands of Koh Khai, Racha, Maithon and the Similan Islands National Park.
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    Sri Panwa

    Luxury, Resort
    Courtesy of Sri Panwa / Expedia
    On the southeastern coast of Phuket, Sri Panwa provides year-round opportunities for boating as eight beautiful islands are within easy reach. The hosts can arrange a memorable day for you onboard a private yacht – get ready for world-class cruising, beach-hopping and snorkelling. There’s a variety of suites and villas to choose from, all featuring infinity-edge swimming pools, sunbathing terraces and views overlooking the Andaman Sea.
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    Phuket Cleanse

    Luxury, Resort
    Map View
    Courtesy of Phuket Cleanse / Booking.com
    Phuket Cleanse is an award-winning, detox, fitness and wellbeing retreat near Nai Harn Beach. The all-inclusive resort has seven villas set among lush tropical gardens in a lovely residential neighbourhood. They offer a wide variety of activities such as meditation, yoga, high-intensity interval training, paddle-boarding, tai chi and hiking. Train with a local champion and immerse yourself in the country’s national sport, Muay Thai, to boost flexibility and increase strength. Best of all, many of the classes take place on the beach or at local scenic hotspots.
    These recommendations were updated on February 9, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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