Maybe it’s the idyllic ocean and sunsets, lush tropical forests, or amazing spice-fueled dishes that make Phuket such an attractive place to visit. Either way, there’s something about Phuket that lures in people around the world.
Many celebrities have discovered the sun-soaked wonder that is Phuket. Leonardo Dicaprio’s name is synonymous with Thailand. After all, it was his role in the popular “The Beach” film that sparked interest in Thailand’s southern islands. Celebrity model Naomi has been known to frequent Phuket and other areas of Thailand with fellow supermodel Kate Moss; the two have been spotted on Phuket’s white-sand beaches time and time again. And even The Kardashians lived in lavish luxury while visiting Phuket, where they formed an episode of their show. Other celebs include Mick Jagger, Snoop Dogg, and Paris Hilton.
Whether you’re seeking to buy a home in Phuket or rent a place to stay, it’s important to understand where you’re staying. The phrase “location, location, location” is so popular in the real estate industry because it holds true.
With that in mind, here’s the ultimate guide to help you decide the best place to live in Phuket. For more tips about Phuket, check out the Phuket 101 Travel Guide and Blog.
Bangtao is a charming coastal area located on the western coast of Phuket. Known for its pristine beaches and serene atmosphere, it offers a relaxing getaway for visitors seeking tranquility. The highlight of Bangtao is its beautiful Bangtao Beach, a long stretch of golden sand fringed by swaying palm trees. The area is home to luxury resorts, upscale villas, and a few beachfront restaurants. Bangtao also boasts a vibrant local community with traditional markets and a mix of international and local dining options. With its idyllic setting and a balance of modern amenities and natural beauty, Bangtao is an ideal destination for a peaceful Phuket vacation.
Patong beach is the ultimate place to party and play, and if your goal is to stay out among the crowd until the morning, there’s no better place to do it. Screaming discos, rowdy crowds, and glitzy neon lights are galore. This beach party resort area is chock full of nightlife and activities, and there are endless options for restaurants, dance clubs, and bars. The buzz is centered around Bangla Road, an infamous strip of neon lights and wild fun. For the conservative type, Bangla Road might be a little intimidating. If you’re looking for something a bit more subdued, there are plenty of other spots to try.
According to Lonely Planet, Karon is like a cross between Kata and Patong, largely because it’s both relaxed and glamorous, with a little bit of rowdy character to it. Still, there’s more sand here than in both Kata and Patong, and the further north you go, the more beautiful the beach gets. Package tours are aplenty here, and two megaresorts set the scene. For food, head to Karon Cafe for some of the best steaks on the island.
Karon is also home to Kata Beach, which is ideal for families, with its calmer crystal-clear waters and slower pace. Kata is divided by a rocky outcropping, where one side caters to Phuket’s millionaires and the other to the chilled-out bohemian crowd. Kata Beach is one of the best places in Phuket to go surfing. Regardless of your age or style preference, Kata Beach provides for everyone. Aside from the beautiful beaches, expect bustling restaurants and a thriving social scene. There are a few well known and sought after projects in Kata such as The View Phuket, The Heights Phuket etc.
Phuket Town is at the center of Phuket, and while it doesn’t have some of the pristine beach views that other areas of Phuket afford, it makes up for it in other ways. This area is rich in historical history, and visitors to Old Phuket can savor what Phuket used to be like while hanging out at local eateries. It stays busy from sunrise to sunset, and its streets are lined with markets, shops, bars, and restaurants. This might be a good option for those that enjoy being at the center of everything but prefer to stay away from the craziness of Patong.
Kathu covers the central part of the island with Phuket Town to the east and Patong and Kamala Beaches to the west. This is a great area to stay for families with kids in the school-age, as living in Kathu you’ll have several international schools and several large shopping malls nearby. You can find private pool villas and condos in the area, and the closest beach, Patong Beach or Ao Yon Beach on Cape Panwa, is just a 10-minute drive away.
If you’re staying for the longterm, Kamala may be the right option for you. Tucked away, for many, Kamala is considered a hidden gem. It’s about 20 minutes away from Patong and is similar to Kata and Karon. This is the perfect way to access some towns and shops without the noise and hurried tourism of some of Kamala’s neighbors.
Nightlife isn’t Kamala’s strong suit, namely because there are few bars on the beach, but for those seeking tranquility, this is exactly what makes it an attractive option. The water here is like turquoise glass, and along with Kata, Kamala is one of the better places in Phuket to break out your surfboard.
Just five minutes away from the airport is Nai Yang, an area that’s popular among Thai locals. Beach life is front and center here, and it’s one of the most popular places for relaxation. This is the site of the Sirinath National Park, which can be accessed by some parts of the beach. This marine national park protects resources such as coniferous forests, coral reefs, and beaches. Among the wildlife, there are plenty of animals and plants.
During the dry season, there’s plenty to see if you go out snorkeling, and during monsoon season, the surfing is particularly supreme. Sometimes, you may be able to see sea turtles laying eggs on the beach. Nai Yang is also one of the best places to go kiteboarding as well, with popular operators including Bob’s Kite School Phuket, Kiteboarding Asia, and Kite Zone.
When it comes to Rawai, relaxation immediately comes to mind. It’s far enough from the hustle and bustle of the touristy streets to have a quiet, peaceful stay, but close enough to get there with a quick drive or long-tail boat. The region is defined by lush coastal hills that tumble into the Andaman Sea. Rawai beach is home to the popular Phromthep Cape lookout, where many people go for some of the best sunrises and sunsets on the continent. The area is rapidly developing, which makes it not just a popular place for tourists to visit, but for transplants to settle down.
“Real estate cannot be lost or stolen, nor can it be carried away. Purchased with common sense, paid for in full and managed with reasonable care, it is about the safest investment in the world.”
- Franklin D Roosevelt