Karon is the second largest of Phuket's tourist beaches at 3 km length. It is 8 km south of Patong on Rte 4233 and 20 km from Phuket town.
Few, if any, hotels have direct beach frontage. Most are across the road (which usually is not a busy one). The entire beach is public (as are all beaches in Thailand). Large resort complexes line the opposite side of the road from the shoreline, but the long, broad beach itself has no development. The sand is very white, and squeaks audibly when walked upon. The southern point has a fine coral reef stretching toward Kata and Bu Island. Also, there is a wide pedestrian / bicycle path on the beach side of the road running the length of the beach.
Most restaurants, bars, tour companies and other non-hotel businesses are at the north central end, near the traffic circle, or near the south end, on Bangla Rd (not that Bangla Rd!) connecting the back road with the beach road. Nightlife is pretty much confined to dining and a few beer bars.
The northern third of Karon Beach is essentially undeveloped and flanked by Nong Harn Lake which is the largest beach side park in Phuket offering a nice exercise/jogging/cycling path. North Karon also offers white beach and clear water with no crowds.
At the south end of Karon, a narrow road between Kata and Karon has a number of small businesses.
There is a regular daytime bus service to and from Phuket Town.
If coming from Phuket Airport, you can pick up a voucher from the airport transportation booth for a flat rate of 750 baht. The drive is just under an hour. Many hotels offer transport from airport to the hotel for around 1,000 baht.
You can also take metered (yellow) taxis at about 650 baht. Turn right as you exit the airport building (ignore the touts) and you'll see a stand at the end of the walkway. You tell your destination to the staff at the stand and they will give you a paper with the taxi driver number for you to keep in case you need to report a problem. Fares to other destinations in Phuket cost around 300 baht and up. The rate is what is displayed by the meter plus 100 baht airport fee. The meter will start with a 50 baht display. You may stumble upon a freelance taxi driver that will take you from the airport to Patong for the flat fee of 400 baht. If the driver is pleasant, you may wish to ask for his mobile number for the return trip later. The same driver can take you from Patong to Phuket Town for 350-400 baht.
For those who are price conscious, the transportation booth inside the airport also sells seats on a minibus for 200 baht. The minibus makes several stops along the way to drop off other passengers.
For those who want to save even more, take a near-hourly (till 20:45) airport bus to Phuket Town (85 baht, 1 hour). From there, go to the downtown market (around 1-2 km away, but motorbike taxis will offer you rip-off prices like 40 baht, bargain or wait for a public songthaew), then wait for a bus/songthaew to Karon Beach (40 baht).
Probably the cheapest and most convenient way to get around is to rent a motorbike for yourself which is suitable for one or two people. These can be rented at various shops around the island, with one located a few hundred metres to the east of the traffic circle on Patak Rd (east). Typical rates run 150 baht (manual) to 200 baht for an automatic. This would allow you to get around anywhere on the island for one flat rate for 24 hours. Be careful with this though, as driving up and down the winding mountain roads, as well as the unpredictable Phuket traffic, is not necessarily for the first-time driver. A wise strategy is to take public transport for a short period to orient yourself, then hire a motorbike.
You can easily get around by tuk-tuk or taxi, which are mostly needed to go to other parts of the beach or nearby towns. To get to Phuket Town taxis are available and cost around 400 baht. There are also public buses (songthaews) which leave from Karon to different places every hour for around 20 baht.
Karon-Patong will cost you 400 baht per tuk-tuk ride, though if you keep moving through the drivers you may eventually find one for 350 baht. (The local tuk-tuk Mafia seem to have stitched up the prices.) From Patong-Karon Beach should be cheaper as there are a lot more tuk-tuks vying for passengers.
Unlike the bigger, busier, and noisier Patong further north, Karon offers visitors a nice long quiet stretch of sand, with plenty of beach umbrellas available for rent. Facing west, it gives a beautiful view of the sunset.
- 1 Freedom Beach. Beautiful beach with just a few people compared to Karon or Patong. On the east side of the mountain separating Karon from Patong. You can either charter a long boat from Karon or Patong for about 1000 to 2000 bath flat (negotiate) to drop you off at the beach and collect you there or pay a taxi (tuktuks can't go up the steep mountain) around 600 bath (haggled down from 1000) to drop you off at the gravel road above the beach. Pay when you are picked up again! The "access fee" to the beach is 200 baht per person, although all beaches in Thailand are said to be open to the public. The trail down from the gravel road is steep. A bar and a toilet can be found on the beach.
- There are some nice snorkelling and diving sites located off Karon Beach. Always seek local information before diving and snorkelling in Phuket. There can be dangerous currents present at certain times of the year.
- Dinos Park Mini Golf (ไดโนปาร์คมินิกอล์ฟ) (beside the Marina Phuket Resort), ☏ , fax: . Daily, 10:00–24:00. This 18-hole mini-golf course in a primitive atmosphere uses light and sound techniques to feature dinosaurs and an erupting volcano. 240 baht for adults and 180 baht for children.
- Sunrise Divers, ☏ . PADI 5 Star dive resort.
Bars, tailors, and clothing markets are plentiful in Karon, either in the main part of town or along the beach front. There are also a number of supermarkets, convenience stores, and pharmacies; there's not much you need to travel elsewhere for.
- The Dining Room, 16 Patak Road Soi 24 (Pacific Club Resort). Super beef burger, 185 baht.
- Karon Cafe, 526/17 Patak Rd. Established in 1989, the oldest foreign owned restaurant in Karon Beach. Also has good clean fully-equipped rooms at rock bottom prices. Peppersteak, 396 baht.
- Sawasdee, 38 Katekwan Rd, ☏ . 06:00-23:00. Hotel dining.
- Angus O'Tool's Irish Pub, (opposite Centara Karon Resort), ☏ . 10:00-Drunk. Restaurant open 10:00-Midnight, all day breakfasts. Live music and sports on two big screen. Families welcome. Draught Guinness, Kilkenny, Magners, and Heineken. Free Internet and Wi-Fi. Also has air-con rooms from 600 baht. Guinness, 210 baht per pint.
|This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:|
|Budget||Under 1,000 baht|
|Mid-range||1,000 baht to 2,500 baht|
|Splurge||Over 2,500 baht|
- Divers Inn. A friendly, cosy little hotel located centrally at Karon Beach. The hotel is on a quiet street only a few minutes walking distance to the beach, shopping, restaurants and nightlife. You have the choice of sea view or mountain view. A find for budget travellers.
- Jor Guest House ((จอ เกสต์เฮาส์), 102/11 Moo 3 Patak Rd, ☏ . 9 rooms 300-500 baht.
- Legends Guest House, 516/6 Patak Rd. A hostel, but you have your own room with air-con, TV, free tea, coffee, water, and private bathroom. Only a few minutes from the beach, with plenty of bars close by. It is almost like staying at a hotel.
- Pang & Pum Guest House (opposite Karon View Resort). A very friendly place for people on a tight budget. They have about 10 rooms in different sizes. 300+ baht.
- Pineapple Guest House, ☏ . A friendly budget guesthouse with 20 well-equipped private rooms, a ten bed dorm and a small cafe/restaurant. Free Wi-Fi and Internet. 350 to 1,000 baht depending upon season.
- Baan Karon Resort (บ้านกะรน รีสอร์ท), 213 Patak Rd, ☏ . 45 rooms. 800-1,900 baht.
- Honey Resort, 100/69 Kata Rd, ☏ . Deluxe rooms with pool access, Air conditioning, cable TV, and mini-bar. Swimming pool, restaurant, Internet. From 800 baht.
- Karon Living Room. Very clean and friendly hotel with new room furnishing and air-con rooms, friendly service, about 10 min walk from the beach. 1,400+ baht.
- Paradise Inn Phuket. Modern economical accommodation, 2 min walk from Karon Beach. Free Wi-Fi. Low rates, nice rooms, with friendly service in a laid-back atmosphere.
- Ramada Resort Karon Beach. Designed for kids and young families featuring the first and only magic castle of Phuket, the longest water slide and the most diversified Kid's Club under the umbrella of the Siam Adventure Club. 1,440+ baht.
- Access Resort & Spa ((แอกเซส รีสอร์ท แอนด์ สปา), 459/2 Patak Rd, ☏ . 129 deluxe pool rooms, 3 deluxe family rooms, 8 pool villas. 4,500-15,000 baht.
- Andaman Seaview Hotel (อันดามัน ซีวิว), 1 Karon Soi 4 Karon, ☏ . Check-in: 14:00. 161 rooms. 1,500-8,800 baht.
- Ban Karon Hill Phuket ((บ้านกะรน น้อย), 8/3 Moo 1, Patak Rd, ☏ , fax: . 19 rooms. 1,800 baht.
- Baan Karonburi Resort (บ้านกะรนบุรี รีสอร์ท), 194/1 Karon Rd, ☏ . 48 rooms. 1,800-4,500 baht.
- Centara Karon Resort Phuket, 502/3 Patak Rd, ☏ , fax: , email@example.com. Modern mid-rise 316 room resort with panoramic views. 3,000+ baht.
- Centara Villa Phuket ((เซ็นทารา วิลล่า ภูเก็ต), 701 Patak Rd, ☏ . 72 villas. 2,200-7,180 baht.
- Hilton Phuket Arcadia. Large hotel complex located on the main Patak Rd and popular with Asian tourists. The hotel has a Caffe Cino, similar to the one in Hilton's Petaling Jaya Hotel (Malaysia). 3,400+ baht..
- Horizon Karon Beach Hotel, Soi 2, ☏ . 90 rooms in 3 & 4 storey buildings. The resort is surrounded by nature and is spread over 16,000 square metres. Also, its elevated position ensures great views and privacy.
- Le Meridien Phuket ((เลอเมอริเดียน ภูเก็ต บีช รีสอร์ท), 8/5 Karon Noi, ☏ . 470 rooms. 8,700-37,500 baht.
- Mövenpick Resort and Spa. Swiss-run resort located in the centre of Karon and is just across the road from the beach. 3,600+ baht.
- Pacific Club Resort, ☏ . Voted #1 Resort in Karon Beach on TripAdvisor six years running. Peaceful quiet location with spectacular views, only ten min walk from Karon Beach. Free Wi-Fi. May-Oct 1,500+ baht, Nov-Apr 2,500+ baht.
- Thavorn Palm Beach (Next to Hilton Arcadia). 209 contemporary Thai-style furnished rooms in 3 interconnecting low-rise buildings, and five swimming pools in exotic landscaped gardens.
- Woraburi Phuket Resort & Spa. 1,161 baht if booked 14 days in advance.
Beware of rip tides at the beach, especially during the summer rainy season — they killed 10 people in 2009 alone.
Transport back to Phuket Town is relatively easy, local buses (rather large contraptions with wooden benches in back) run between Phuket and Karon/Kata. The fare is 40 baht per person. From Phuket Town, connections to buses to Bangkok or other destinations on the Thai mainland are available, as are shuttles, taxis and/or minibuses to transport you from the city centre to Phuket Airport.
Alternately, you can go straight to the airport by taxi, which would be more expensive (unless travelling in a sizable group) running about 600 baht. Phone number for the Phuket International Airport Taxi is +66 86 4781234.