Where to stay in Phuket, Thailand as an expat
Phuket is the largest island of Thailand and is a great destination for people who want to surround themselves with nature.
There’s a great mix of nice beaches, forests, caves and animal resorts that are all worth seeing.
This article will help you decide where to stay in Phuket.
Where to stay in Phuket? Our top 3 areas:
|Where to stay in Phuket, Thailand|
|Best area for first-timers||Kata Beach|
|Best area for the nightlife||Patong Beach|
|Best area for long term stay||Phuket Town|
Transportation – Getting around Phuket
Once you’re at your base of operations, getting around Phuket can be done in four ways:
- Songthaew – this passenger vehicle mainly serves as a bus or a shared taxi. In Phuket, public transportation songthaew are recognizable by their bright blue color. For the most part, there are no official bus stops, when you want to jump off you can just wave at the driver and he’ll stop. They’re very cheap but slow and often overcrowded.
- Tuk-tuk – The Auto Rickshaw, known as the Tuk-tuk, is a three-wheel motorized version of traditional rickshaws. This unique-looking vehicle is a standard form of transportation and substitution for taxis. In Phuket, official tuk-tuk taxis are red. However, they won’t have taximeter or fixed prices, so you’ll have to bargain. Since they’re a tourist attraction on top of the service they provide, prices can be a bit higher.
- Bike Taxis – You’ll find many of them on busy street corners. Again, there are no official prices, at least not available to tourists. They’re easy to spot, can be found 24/7, go relatively fast and they avoid traffic. The official ones will have drivers wearing vests in distinctive colors – such as red or green – which often have numbers and some information about the driver.
- Rent-a-bike – If you plan to drive yourself around and outside the area, you’re staying in, renting can be an option for you. One day of rental can be anywhere from less than $10 a day to over $100, depending on your choice of bike. However, if you only want them for basic transport, really good, brand new scooters are easily found within a $10-20 price range. While some may be hesitant to pay $150-200 just for a bike rental, you can always think of it this way: it’s better to pay that much and be as mobile as you want, than having to pay every time you need a ride, which can easily outweigh the cost of rentals.
Best for first-timers – Kata beach
People looking for a full package with a good amount of everything should look no further than Kata beach. It’s one of the most developed areas on the island and very tourist-oriented.
Where to go and what to see in Kata beach?
Hike to Big Buddha statue
Lovers of the outdoors and exploring nature should go on a hike from Kata to the statue, located east from the map. Those who want to go by vehicle can do so, but they need to understand the path circles around a lot before actually getting there, which will cost you more. Hiking can be done on your own, there is a beaten path that’s well-marked that leads through the jungle. There are also tour groups you can join, where you can pay to be escorted by a tour guide.
Diving (or snorkeling)
Kata beach water is very clean, considering how popular the beach is. This makes for nice snorkeling or even gearless diving. Across from the beach is the island of Ko Pu, between the two, is a coral reef with rich marine life. You can buy cheap snorkeling gear all around the beach, or you can pay for scuba diving lessons (or expeditions) to explore the underwater landscape.
Fair warning, the possibility of seeing sharks near the coral reef does exist, although none of the species are dangerous to humans and there have been no recorded shark attacks in Phuket.
Visit Karon Viewpoint
About 10 minutes ride or an hour on foot is the beautiful hilltop spot known of Karon Viewpoint. Along the way, you’ll find drink and snack bars alike and plenty of tourists. Once you get to the top, you can enjoy and take photos of the panoramic view of the surrounding beaches.
Where to stay in Kata beach? Our top AirBnB’s
Affordable price range: Attractive Kata Beach Studio – practically a steal at this price
Moderate price range: Ozen-Kata studio – great location, and rooftop pool as a bonus
Luxury price range: Seaview Loft – a luxurious place with a great view and outside pool
The best area for the nightlife – Patong Beach
People whose idea of a vacation doesn’t involve resting as much as days of hardcore fun and nightlife should look at Patong beach.
Where to go and what to see at Patong beach?
Visit the Tiger Kingdom
Although slightly outside the beach area (10-minute ride), this tiger resort is a big tourist attraction. Get up close and personal with these majestic cats, they are friendly, even if they look scary. Snap some photos and enjoy petting them.
Visit Elephant Jungle Sanctuary
Another 10 minutes away from the Tiger Kingdom is this haven for the largest land animal. Not only will you get the awe-inspiring experience of watching the elephants, but this place also has a strong ethical mission-statement as well. The policy is no touching (sadly that means no rides) too, as the elephants present in the park are often those rescued and rehabilitated from the exhausting tourism industry. You can walk with them, take pictures or feed them, as you watch them enjoy newly-found freedom in their natural habitat.
Take a walk down Bangla Road (more than once)
Bangla road is the place for nightlife in Patong. Explore the Bangla night market for a great assortment of food at great prices. After that, pick and choose your activities down the road, as there are plenty of bars, clubs, street food vendors and many more things to keep you entertained throughout the night.
Shop at Jungceylon
This modernized shopping center has everything you’d expect from such a place: shopping, food, entertainment and more. Apart from international and local stores and restaurants, there’s also a cinema, arcades, massage parlors, and the occasional live performance. The highlight of your time spent there will be crowned with a music fountain show.
Where to stay in Patong? Our Top AirBnB’s
Affordable price range: Patong Condo By Sasiri – amazing place for the price range
Moderate price range: One-Bedroom Central Patong – great-looking apartment in a well rounded residential area
Luxury price range: Patong Luxury 2-bedroom Apartment – very spacious, with local pools and a gym
Best area for long term stay – Puhket Town
If you don’t mind being a bit away from the action, Phuket Town (or Phuket City) is a good place for the most authentic Thai experience. This area is ideal for those looking to stay long term and embrace the islands’ lifestyle.
Where to go and what to see in Phuket Town?
Phuket Weekend Market
Located along Chao Fa West Road, it’s the biggest area for authentic shopping and dining in Phuket. Among the large variety of local food, souvenirs, clothing, etc. the place is known for having everything at a bargain price. It’s only fully open on Saturdays and Sundays though, hence the name. Street performers also come out to showcase their skills, to entertain the crowd and earn some money from their art.
Jui Tui Shrine Phuket
This temple will help you in connecting to the spiritual side of Phuket. Many locals come to the Shrine to celebrate a life event, both joyful and sad. The temple is also home to the annual Phuket Vegetarian Festival held each year in October. Although it may sound like a westernized festivity, the festival is known for its brutal ceremonies that feature physical self-harm.
Gaze at the city from Khao Rang
Khao Rang, or Rang Hill in English, is a summit located in the north-western part of the city. Known for its panoramic view of the city from the top viewpoint, the town’s coast and nearby islands can also be seen, as well as the statue of Big Buddha. The walk to the summit features many parks and a Buddhist temple called Wat Khao Rang, that has a large golden Buddha statue outside. Along the hill are multiple cafes and restaurants.
Where to stay in Phuket Town? Our top AirBnB’s
Affordable price range: Rang Hill Residence – great looking apartment in a nice area
Moderate price range: 2-bedroom Phuket Oldtown – colorful and spacious apartment
Luxury price range: Swimming Pool Villa – spacious, luxurious villa with private swimming pool