The last leg of our Southeast Asia trip was spent on Karon Beach in Phuket, i.e. the “Pearl of the Andaman” and Thailand’s largest island. We planned this so we would end our action-packed adventure relaxing on the beach and getting lots of Thai massages before flying back to India and then, all the way back to the United States.
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Picking a Beach in Phuket
We considered several beaches, all on the west coast, before deciding on Karon Beach. Karon Beach is one of the longest beaches on the island and is most popular with families and couples.
Patong Beach, the most popular and crowded of Phuket’s beaches, is deemed a major party spot and is lined with nightclubs and bars. Well-known for its Bangla Road, one of the craziest party streets in all of Thailand, Patong has a bit of a risque vibe, which really wasn’t what we were looking for after a few weeks of traveling.
We were hoping for a more laid-back, quiet experience. That’s not to say that Karon Beach doesn’t have restaurants, bars, shops, nightlife, night markets, etc., but they’re just more low-key than Patong. We also considered a couple of other beaches that seemed to be even more low-key and secluded than Karon Beach, but we settled for a happy medium.
Khao Sok National Park to Phuket
We had a three-hour journey after staying overnight in a Khao Sok National Park floating bungalow, and made it to Phuket in the afternoon.
Where to Stay on Karon Beach
We chose to stay at the Karon Cafe Inn, which we booked very last minute. Even booking just a week in advance, we ended up getting a steal and paid just $12 per night plus taxes! And, the place was perfect for us! It had a king bed, a TV, a full bathroom with shower, air conditioning, and a safe. What else do you really need?
Similar to all of the other places we visited in Thailand, the staff were very pleasant and accommodating, but at times, it was difficult to communicate due to the language barrier. The only time this was even remotely a concern was when coordinating our airport drop-off, since we had a long drive and a very early flight. We ended up asking them the night before our departure and this resolved any confusion we may have caused during check-in. And, we were indeed picked up in a timely fashion and had no issues!
A Broad Recommendation: I booked all of our hotel stays throughout Thailand and Vietnam via hotels.com. They offer great deals and give you one free night for every ten nights you complete. I also used Rakuten when I booked to get some cash back. Of course, the cash back was nominal on these purchases, since everything we did was so darn cheap, but I love free things, so I did it anyway!
Day 1 on Karon Beach
A Dip in the Indian Ocean
Although late in the day, we were still able to catch some rays on the beach and to feel the water. This was our very first time experiencing the Indian Ocean, which was just so cool!
Dinner at the Deepavali Indian Restaurant
The first night, we just did some exploring to get a feel for the area. We checked out the shops and searched for souvenirs before eating dinner at Deepawali Indian Restaurant. Obviously, we didn’t get enough Indian food in India, so we needed more in Thailand, haha.
Drinks at The Garage OG
After dinner, we made our way to The Garage OG, where we had a couple of Chang beers – when in Thailand, have Thai beers! – and listened to a fun band covering some popular American music. We also made friends with the stray pup that was hanging around our table, but we didn’t pet it just to be safe.
Day 2 on Karon Beach
A Morning on the Beach
The next day was a beach day! Finally, some much needed relaxation after all of our flights, long drives, and boat rides. First, we picked up a couple of towels for 300 Thai Baht (~$10 USD) each, since we hadn’t packed any.
A Broad Recommendation: we recommend not packing bulky items like towels when traveling to another country. You can always pick these up during the trip and even take them home as souvenirs, space permitting! Worst case, they’re relatively cheap and can be left behind if you don’t have enough room.
We’d made friends with one of the chair rental guys the day before when he let us sit for free, since it was already so late in the day. Because of his kindness, we promised to rent our chairs and umbrellas from him the rest of the trip. This was only around $5-10 USD per day, if I’m remembering correctly, and totally worth it for the shade.
There’s lots to do in Karon Beach like windsurfing, kayaking, banana boat rides, water skiing, wakeboarding, jet-skiing, parasailing, etc. Karon Beach is also the ideal snorkeling and diving spot on the island. But, being the avid readers we are, we just brought along a couple of books to read while relaxing by the water. Even without doing any of these other activities, we had a wonderful time!
A Broad Recommendation: If you see any sea turtles on the beach, let your hotel know because the Phuket Marine Biological Center has efforts to help grow the sea turtle population and will rescue any injured turtles or eggs left behind in the sand.
Lunch at Mama Restaurant
Just as it started to pour down rain, we headed to lunch and found a small spot right off the beach called Mama Restaurant. Luckily for us, we made it just in the nick of time and didn’t get wet. Here, I enjoyed a tasty bowl of green curry with white rice, and we caught up with the rest of the world for a bit, since they had WiFi.
A Swim at the Karon Whale Resort
Since our hotel didn’t have a pool, we decided to go to the Karon Whale Resort to use theirs. They do ask you to pay a minimal fee to use the pool, but I can’t remember exactly how much – it was no more than $10 USD per day from what I recall.
Behind the pool was a serene garden for all of you folks out there who love to meditate. It was definitely a cute spot to relax and cool off.
Dinner at Two Chefs Bar & Grill
Later that evening, we discovered our favorite restaurant ever, Two Chefs Bar & Grill, since even on the other side of the world, I have to do ‘Taco Tuesday’, haha. Not only was the food great here, but we also enjoyed live music from two gals who came to recognize us over the next couple days, since we ended up back here again – ha!
Day 3 on Karon Beach
Rinse & Repeat
Our last full day on Karon Beach was basically a repeat of the above to include the same restaurant for dinner. We enjoyed it so much the first time that we didn’t even bother looking for other options after that.
An Evening of Thai Massages
Then, because we’re super extra, we decided to book another three-hour massage session. I say “another” because we did the same thing in Chiang Mai and basically had the best massages of our life, so we weren’t missing another opportunity to experience our beloved Thai massages!
Unfortunately, I can’t remember the name of the place we went to, but in our opinion, you really can’t go wrong with any Thai massages in Thailand. We thoroughly enjoyed ours in both Chiang Mai and Phuket.
Ice Cream from Tutti Fruitti
We ended the evening with some Green Tea Fried Ice Cream, which was oh so yummy, before heading back to the hotel to pack up for our early morning departure back to the Phuket Airport.
Other Things to Do in Phuket
We researched lots of things to do in Phuket, but because we were feeling lazy, we opted out on these. Here are some great ideas in case you want to check them out:
- Big Buddha: a giant white marble statue sitting on top of a high hill with beautiful views of Chalong Bay. This is one of Phuket’s most popular landmarks!
- Wat Chalong: the largest and most well-known temple in Phuket.
- Karon Viewpoint: located in Kata, it has stunning views of the ocean and the beautiful beaches.
- Bang Pae Waterfall: a National Park with hiking trails, beautiful scenery, and swimming opportunities.
- Phi Phi Island: one of the most scenic islands in Thailand that offers great snorkeling due to the vibrant corals and diverse marine life. Note that this area is a couple hours away and requires a full-day excursion at a minimum.
Karon Beach to Phuket Airport
Early the next morning, we made the hour or so drive to Phuket Airport. From there, we flew back to Delhi, India, since Candace had stored all of her luggage from her six weeks in India at the hotel.
I spent the day working out and chilling by the pool at the Trident Hotel Gurgaon, and Candace went for another massage. She had so many hotel credits from staying all summer at the Trident both in Gurgaon and in Hyderabad, so she needed to use those up!
We had dinner at Konomi, the Japanese restaurant in the hotel, which was yummy, then headed onward to our respective flights out of Delhi. After spending several hours at the airport due to a flight delay and rushing through security in Frankfurt, I was on my way back to Houston.
What a wonderful and inspiring adventure! Our Asia trip had come to a close, but we have so many wonderful memories to last a lifetime. For more about the other places we visited during this trip, check out some of these blog posts:
- The Best Spots to Visit in Jaipur, India
- How to Spend Two Action-Packed Days in Delhi, India
- How to See the Taj Mahal in Agra, India
- How to Explore Chiang Mai in Two Days
- A Full Day at the Elephant Nature Park in Thailand
- What to Do and See During a Quick Trip to Hanoi
- An Amazing Overnight Cruise to Bai Tu Long Bay
- Stay Overnight in a Khao Sok National Park Floating Bungalow
And, don’t forget to pin it!
XOXO Travel A-Broads
Looks amazing! I went to Phuket but made the mistake of staying in the city, which was 30 minute drive from the beach LOL. Would love to do it over again!
We looked at various places to stay and landed on Karon Beach to avoid the crowds mainly, but we ended up really liking it. Hope you’ll get to go back sometime!
Great review, the trouble I had with is over populated with tourist. Hopefully due to Covid19, Maya Beach today is a little cleaner.
Can definitely understand that, especially with some of the other beaches in Phuket. Karon Beach wasn’t too crowded and was clean, which is why we chose this one versus some of the others we researched. We had no problem finding spots to hangout all day and relax, and loved the water, but we have heard mixed reviews on other people’s experiences of Phuket too.