Budget Beach Bum’s guide to Phuket

Thailand’s idyllic beaches offer a splendid destination for long, relaxing walks or a refreshing swim, especially since these two activities have the added advantage of being absolutely free. Yes, it’s no secret; economically speaking, times are hard. Still, poverty and fun aren’t mutually exclusive, especially not with my list of the best beaches of Phuket, a stunning, tourist-friendly Thai island. Before I begin, let me just clarify one small point: ‘tourist-friendly’ does not necessarily mean ‘prohibitively expensive’, especially not with the current extremely friendly exchange rate of 49 Bahts to the pound.

Kata Beach

Kata Beach usually refers to Kata Yai, a picturesque beach on the west coast of Phuket. Being cheap and easy to get to from the airport (180 baht/£3.60 by minibus), I made this beach my first experience of Phuket. Kata Yai was a beautiful and surprisingly affordable place to call home during my stay – I stayed in the friendly dorms of the Rumblefish Adventure Inn (€6.34/£5.31 per night) for my whole stay in Thailand. Kata has some great restaurants, my favourite being The Red Chair Cafe, a cheap place to get some delicious Thai food in your belly. I ate there so much that I felt like a regular by the end of the week! My personal top tip for Kata, however, is to walk down to Kata Noi beach, Kata Yai’s quieter cousin… It’s just as beautiful and you get much more of the beach to yourself!

Cape Panwa

For relaxed yet inquisitive back packers, Cape Panwa offers a splendid beach that isn’t too noisy or crowded while still offering some great activities. Besides the usual attractions of fine dining, swimming and sight-seeing, Cape Panwa is home to the Phuket Aquarium, a cheap alternative to scuba diving. Yes, I know; it’s not quite the same experience, but I personally found the entry price of 100 bahts (about £2) much easier to stomach.

Bang Thao

Bang Thao is one of Phuket’s longest beaches and was probably the most luxurious place I found on my trip. There’s a big shopping centre, a golf course, several spas and five-star hotels here, all linked by free shuttle buses. However, luxury wasn’t the reason I came to this beach several times over the course of my trip – I came for a nearby Reggae bar made almost entirely from wood washed up on the shore. Chilling out in this bar was definitely one of the highlights of my trip.

Patong Beach

The ultimate party destination, Patong Beach’s vibrant nightlife left me wishing I could spend my entire gap year here. Though it’s very expensive, I recommend exploring Patong beach for at least one evening just to soak in the atmosphere of this lively resort. Whether you’re a Patong partier or a Bang Thao lounger, Phuket has the place for you!

Author Bio: Louis Jobin is an undergraduate studying English and Japanese Studies. His passions are European literature, Asian cuisine and Scandinavian music

2 Comments

  • Monica

    February 24, 2011

    Thanks for the guide! I’m heading to Phuket next week so hopefully I’ll get chance to check out all these gorgeous sounding beaches!

  • Annie

    February 24, 2011

    Great tips! I can’t wait to get to Thailand but I have heard that Phuket is overrun so it’s nice to hear of some ‘secret spots’ or places at least that are a little less crowded!

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