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Phuket Beaches Thailand

The west coast of the island has some of the best beaches to be found anywhere and, during the sunny and dry November-May season, the water is calm, clear and warm.

Each beach has its own style and distinctive points of interest. Some, like Patong are hot spots for nightlife, while others, like Nai Yang are quiet havens away from the crowds.

Patong Beach (15 km from town)

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Phuket's most developed beach offers numerous leisure, sporting, shopping and recreational options along its 3-km long cresent bay. Windsurfing, snorkelling, sailing, swimming and sunbathing number among the many popular daytime activities.

Centered on Bangla Road, Patong's nightlife is legendary in Asia and many visitors book a hotel in Patong just to experience its lively after-hours scene. By day, the beach bustles with parasail and jet-ski operators, boat drivers, beach vendors and masseuses vying for the attention of visitors relaxing on the beach chairs. The whole length of the Beach Road is full of a wide variety of restaurants and cafes, and the small stalls and markets lining the streets offer everything from T-shirts to bootleg DVDs.

Besides surfing, snorkeling and volleyball, sun-seekers can rent jet-skis, banana boats, and go waterskiing and wakeboarding. Away from the beach, activities include cable skiing, shooting ranges, Thai cooking classes, bowling, batik painting classes, elephant trekking and go-karting. Patong is also home to the Simon Cabaret cabaret show, the Jungceylon Mega Shopping Centre, Patong Boxing Stadium, and the beautiful Wat Patong.

Patong is a fairly large town with hotels catering for every budget and taste. The beach road is a prime location for hotels with many rooms on the beach road having wonderful sea views. Patong can just about be covered on foot, but there are plenty of taxis, motorcycles and songthaew to transport visitors. Phuket International Airport is located 35km to the north of Patong, around a half-hour drive away.

Karon Beach (20 & 17 km from town)
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South of lively Patong Beach, Karon Beach is a much quieter town with shops, restaurants and bars that cater specifically to tourists. There is an abundance of good local restaurants, and accommodation ranges from small guesthouses to family resorts. Hotels line the road behind the shoreline, but the long, broad beach itself is free of development. Clothing can be purchased from markets in the main part of town or along the beach front, and there are a number of supermarkets, convenience stores and pharmacies in the area.

Snorkeling is best at Karon's southern end, which has a coral reef stretching toward Kata and a small offshore island, Boo Island. From November to April, Karon offers perfect conditions, but from May to October swimming can be dangerous because of strong undertows, and visitors are advised to always observe the warning flags.

Restaurants, bars, and tour companies are at the north end, near the traffic circle, and at the south end, on the little road connecting the back road with the beach road. A surprising number of restaurants cater to Scandinavian tastes. Nightlife is much more subdued than in neighboring Karon.

Besides taxis, there is a regular daytime bus service to and from Phuket Town. Probably the cheapest and most convenient way to get around is to rent a motorcycle from one of the many shops around the island.

Kata Beach (20 & 17 km from town)
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For most of Kata beach, there are shaded areas under the palm trees that make ideal spots for relaxing in hammocks and enjoying beachside Thai massage. Sun loungers are available along the whole beach, and the area has a wide range of accommodation options, many of them on the beach itself.

Year-round beach activities include volleyball, kayaking, parasailing, windsurfing, waterskiing and wakeboarding and banana boating. From November to April, the warm sea is flat, crystal clear and turquoise in color. However, from May to October, swimming conditions become rougher and surfers flock to the southern end of the beach, where boards can also be rented. The waves are a suitable size for beginners, and surfing tuition is also available.

Towards the end of the year, over a hundred yachts arrive from all over the region to compete in Asia's premier sailing event, the King's Cup Regatta. The colorful Kata Temple and Three-Beach Hill, which overlooks the area, are both popular attractions, while the nearby Dino Park mini-golf park next to Marina Phuket Resort is a kids favorite.

An abundance of restaurants line the southern part of the beach serving seafood, Thai and European dishes at reasonable prices, and hawker stalls can also be found at both ends of the beach road. The nightlife is less hectic than Patong, and more compact than nearby Karon, making Kata an ideal compromise between the two. Most guests arrive from Phuket International Airport via taxi cab.

Kata Noi Beach (20 & 17 km from town)

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South of Kata is Kata Noi, a smaller beach with only a few hotels and little other development. The beach is superb. Many fish inhabit the rocks and corals along the beachless shoreline stretching south.

How to get there : Take the narrow beach road up over the hill from kata.

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Naiharn Beach (18 km from town)
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South of Kata Noi and north of Promthep Cape, Naiharn is not Phuket's longest beach, but it borders the most gorgeous lagoon on the island. The middle of the beach is dominated by the Samnak Song Nai Han monastery, which has obstructed excessive development and is the reason that the beach is generally less crowded than other spots on the southern part of the island.

A wide variety of water sports can be enjoyed, but swimmers should be alert for the red flag which warns of dangerous currents during the monsoon season from May to October. One can walk to nearby Promthep Cape to observe sunsets, which are often fiery and spectacular.

Kamala Beach
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Located on Phuket's west coast, just north of Patong, Kamala is far less hectic than its neighbor. Although the southern end of the beach can get busy in the high season, the northern end is peaceful all year round.

The beach itself is home to a number of small bungalows and huts, as well as several restaurants offering delicious fresh seafood. Capitalizing on the wonderful sea and mountain views, secluded resorts are usually nestled higher up amongst the trees on the headland, and are only a few minutes' walk to the northern end of the beach. On Beach Road, visitors can also find an abundance of eateries serving both Western and Thai dishes. Cheaper food options, and market stalls can be found on the main Kamala Road. There are a growing number of bars in the area, mostly catering to tourists.

There are a number of attractions in the area, chief among them being Phuket FantaSea, an exuberant show and cultural theme park that combines the rich heritage of Thailand with unique 4D effects and animals. The 140-acre park includes a 4,000-seat restaurant offering a grand buffet of Thai and international cuisine and a shopping street selling local products.

At the southern end of the beach stands the lovingly-restored Kamala Wat. A memorial tree in the garden holds a dedication plaque to those lost in the tsunami and the temple walls are a beautiful depiction of Buddha's story.

Most guests arrive from Phuket International Airport via taxi cab. Taxis, songthaew and local buses are also available to take visitors to nearby Patong. However, the cheapest and most convenient way to get around is to rent a motorcycle from one of the many shops around the island.

Kalim Beach
Just north of Patong Bay, starting from about the Novotel Resort Hotel Patong to Thavorn Bay Resort, this area consists of rocky but quiet beaches, and an interesting road leading up into hills with high viewpoints and a few good quality restaurants perched on the edge and top. Some housing compounds are now being built on the hillsides and the whole area is steadily moving upmarket.

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Singh Beach (About 1 km from Surin Beach)
The name means Lion's Point. The beach is in a small, curving bay with rocky headlands atthe foot of forest-fringed cliffs and is among Phuket's most beautiful spots. Look for signs indicating the path down to the beach.

Karon Noi Beach

A 4 km long straight beach with fewer visitors than its big sister, Karon. Nightlife is pretty much confined to dining and a few beer bars.

Panwa Beach (10 km from town)
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The southernmost tip of this cape is home to a Marine Biological Research Centre and Phuket's Aquarium where visitors may inspect several hundred exotic, grotesque, and flamboyantly colourful marine species found in the teeming waters of Phuket and elsewhere.

Surin Beach
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Evergreen trees line this small, curving bay, beneath the foothills north of Kamala. Surin is home to Phuket's first golf course, a nine-hole course laid out more than sixty years ago during the reign of King Rama VII. It is now largely in disuse except as a park.

The steep incline of the beach, turbulent water, and big waves make Surin a dangerous place to swim.

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Pansea Beach(24 km from town)
Pansea is a mouth-wateringly scenic enclave dominated by two deluxe resorts: Amanpuri and the Chedi. Film stars or VIPs like to stay there, as they can get away from the crowds. There are just a few restaurants and shops nearby.

Bang Thao Beach / Laguna

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Bangtao is a large open bay with one of Phuket's longest beaches. It was once used for tin mining, but has since been developed into a luxury resort. Most of it is occupied by the Laguna complex, a massive five-hotel development with golf course. There are, however, accommodations available outside Laguna at the bay's south end.

Dry season swimming is excellent, and at the bay's north end is a smaller bay, almost completely enclosed, at the mouth of which is some fine coral. Plenty of places to eat, tour companies, and other tourist facilities are available either at Laguna or in the nearby town of Choeng Thale.

Nai Ton Beach
This quiet bay nestled at the foot of high hills has a fine strip of sand. There is some accommodation but virtually no other business.

How to get there: Located between Bang Thao Bay and Nai Yang Beach, Nai Ton Beach can be reachd by taking Thepkrasatri Road. Turn at the first traffic light north of Thalang Town to Nai Yang Road. Look for signs indicating the turn-off to Nai Ton.

Naiyang Beach / Naithon (30 km from town)
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This is where the National Park office is located. The beach itself is on a long curving bay lined with evergreens that provide shade to picnickers. The large coral reef is home to many different species of fish, and Nai Yang is well known as a site where sea turtles come to lay their eggs during the period from November to February; the population of these has however, dropped off greatly. First class accommodations are available and small food vendors cater to the many day trippers. How to get there: Take the Nai Yang road, and look for signs indicating the park entrance.

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Rawai Beach (17 km from town)
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The palm-fringed beach is best known for 'sea gypsies,' a formerly nomadic fishing minority believed to be of Melanesian descent.

Mittrapap Beach
Just south of Chalong, , there are several low-key and peaceful bungalows but the beach is muddy at low tide, when you can almost walk halfway to Koh Lone.

Friendship Beach Resort, on Mittrapap is the usual meeting point for Americans on the island, and holds regular Sunday jam sessions for any rockers, jazzers or bluesmen who happen to be passing.

Mai Khao Beach (40 km from town)
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Many kilometers of deserted beach characterize Mai Khao where there is little tourist business. The water is fine for swimming during the dry season; the rainy season brings big waves and strong currents that are dangerous. This lonely beach is another area where sea turtles come to lay eggs. It is also home to what the Thais call a sea cicada, which is a form of marine life. How to get there: Go to the northern tip of Phuket; the beach lies along the road's length.

Promthep Cape
Promthep Cape is a headland forming the extreme south end of Phuket. "Prom" is Thai for the Hindu term, "Brahma," signifying purity, and "Thep" means 'God.' Local villagers used to refer to the cape as "Leam Jao", or the God's Cape, and it was an easily recognisable landmark for the early seafarers traveling up the Malay Peninsula from the sub-continent. Wind tattered palms cling to the steep hillside, and emerald currents swirl in the deep waters below, while breakers hurl themselves in vain against the rocky point. It is one of Phuket's most inspiring vistas, and is the most beautiful place on the island to watch the sunset. From Promthep Cape a road leads northwest to Naiharn Beach How to get there: From Rawai Beach, turn right and go for 2 km.

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Laem Ka Beach
Just south of the Phuket Island Resort hotel, and north of Rawai is a small rocky bay, popular with Thais at the weekend.

Ya Nui Beach
Tucked between Promthep Cape and Rawai, Ya Nui Beach is small but perfectly formed. Steep headlands at either end hem in this slice of sand which is visited by gentle waves from December to March. However, the onset of the monsoon season brings with it crashing surf and swimming during these months is not advised. A few small, inexpensive bungalow operations have esteblished themselves in the wooded area to the rear of the beach.

Ao Sein
Often overlooked due to its proximity to Naiharn, and because the connecting road runs through and under the Meridien Phuket Yacht Club, Ao Sein has a wan air of long lost glamour to it. Those who visited the island two decades ago recall that it was once one of the most popular and populace of the island's southern beaches, and the bungalow operations still in situ attest to its headier days. Today, a treacherous road - suitable only for experienced motorbike riders and four-wheel drive trucks - runs down to the small beach of sand and boulders and its cheif appeal is the epic view it offers of Naiharn and Promthep Cape.

Nui Beach
Possibly the most difficult beach to visit on Phuket, Nui lies between the Kata Viewpoint and Naiharn. A new, wide, dirt road has recently been cut through the forested hillside to replace the winding track down to the beach, however this is just as steep and difficult to traverse and should only be attempted by four-wheel drive trucks and moto-cross bikes. The company which built the road and operates the only restaurant on the beach charges a small fee for its facilities and does not allow visitors to bring their own food and drink onto the sand.

 
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