Returning travellers to Thailand may long for the days when Phuket was a little-known island paradise, but even following the huge surge in tourism and extensive development, Thailand’s “Pearl of the South” has still held onto its natural charms, especially when it comes to beautiful beaches.
Whether you’re looking for a party, thrilling water activities or a peaceful retreat, Phuket is easily reached via domestic and international flights. Here are some of the area’s best beaches to consider visiting.
If you’ve visited Phuket before you may cringe at the inclusion of the island’s famous party beach, but there’s no denying that Patong is a major drawcard for many travellers. Patong is loud and lively all day and into the night, from the beachfront bars and restaurants where international visitors and ex-pats share stories over drinks to families lounging on sun beds and more active surfers and jet skiers at the north end of the beach.
If you’re eager to leave the crowds behind though, or you’ve just arrived on a long flight and looking for something more relaxing, you’re in luck – Patong also puts you a short distance from some of Phuket’s most tranquil beaches that offer all the seclusion you’ll need. Paradise Beach is sheltered by rocks on both sides, keeping the water clear for snorkelling, and the pristine white sand is perfect for sunbathing. Freedom Beach is a less accessible alternative, but well worth the boat trip or trek through wild jungle.
Phuket’s second largest beach, Karon, is close to some of the island’s top hotels and tourist facilities. As a more relaxed alternative to Patong, it’s especially popular for families with children. Karon is right next to the busier Kata Beach, which is worth visiting to wade through the colourful shoals of fish that inhabit the shallow waters at the south end.
Surin boasts some of the clearest waters in Phuket, making it a natural haven for snorkelling and diving enthusiasts, and popular for other water sports like surfing and parasailing. This one-kilometre stretch of golden beach is fringed with restaurants and bars serving Thai and international favourites, so you could easily find yourself passing the whole day here.
Home to the extensive Laguna Complex of resorts and golf courses, Bangtao is popular with upscale tourists and offers all the amenities of the busier Patong in a more peaceful environment. At eight kilometres in length, Bangtao Beach is one of Phuket’s biggest and is exceptionally well maintained.
It may not be possible to discover something completely new in one of the world’s favourite holiday destinations, but there are still plenty of remote and less well-publicised beaches in Phuket for travellers in the know. Banana Beach and Laem Singh Beach have both become better known in recent years, but they remain pristine and undeveloped compared to the busy tourist beaches.
Start planning your trip to Phuket and make your way around the beaches yourselves.