February 29, 2024

Where to stay in Phuket: a neighbourhood guide

Phuket is the perfect introduction to Southeast Asia’s laid-back island life for newbies embarking on that first big backpacking trip. And choosing the best area to stay in Phuket is absolutely vital for making the most of your time on Thailand’s largest island.

Phuket has everything you’d expect a dreamy Thai island to have – an epic coastline made up of white sand beaches filled with tropical palm trees and coconuts on tap, beautiful Buddhist temples, and of course that wild nightlife with buckets of unidentified brightly coloured alcohol costing 40THB each (roughly £1). Set in southern Thailand in the Andaman Sea, Phuket and its international airport are often used as a jumping-off location to other islands in the area. But considering Phuket is roughly the size of Singapore, it’s also got plenty to offer every type of backpacker.

Phuket is split up into three main districts: Thalang eats up the whole top half of Phuket, Mueang Phuket covers the southeast coast and Kathu is in the middle and across a bit of the west coast, too. Each district has smaller towns and neighbourhoods that vary dramatically from one another, which may be surprising to anyone who hasn’t visited Phuket yet. Cities on the west and southern coasts tend to be where the fun is, but there are some exceptions!

Firstly, if you’ve heard anything about Phuket, you’ll have heard of Patong on the west coast. Most backpackers are drawn to Patong like magnets thanks to its three bs: buckets, beaches and Bangla road! These are what Patong does best and we love it for that, but there’s a perception that all of Phuket is the same, which simply isn’t true! Phuket Town, near the southeast coast, is the complete opposite, with candy-coloured Sino Portuguese architecture, stunning street art and a laid-back café culture. Karon and Chalong in the southwest are also much more chilled with fantastic scuba and snorkelling spots, and are a great base to learn Thailand’s national sport, Muay Thai. Sa Khu in the north is much more ‘off the beaten path’, and is perfect if you want to trade sun loungers for jungle hikes and ethical animal encounters. Like I said, there’s a side of Phuket for every traveller!

Taxi prices in Phuket are eye-watering compared to Bangkok, which is why so many backpackers choose to hire a moped. In comparison, a taxi in Phuket can be up to 1000THB for an hour-long round trip (around £25), whereas hiring a moped for 24 hours in Kata Beach will only set you back 170THB (just under £5). But Phuket’s traffic can be hectic, so don’t forget to put safety first and check that your travel insurance allows you to hire mopeds.

And with that, let’s take a look at the best area to stay in Phuket for you!

where to stay in phuket - boats on the beach on koh phi phi island

? @fr33water

Jump straight to:

Phuket Town: the best area in Phuket for culture and cafes

      1. What to do in Phuket Town
      2. Places to eat in Phuket Town
      3. Best hostels in Phuket Town

Patong: the best area in Phuket for next-level nightlife

      1. What to do in Patong
      2. Places to eat in Patong
      3. Best hostels in Patong

Karon: the best area in Phuket for water sports and temples

      1. What to do in Karon
      2. Places to eat in Karon
      3. Best hostels in Karon

Sa Khu: the best area in Phuket to get close to nature

      1. What to do in Sa Khu
      2. Places to eat in Sa Khu
      3. Best hostels in Sa Khu

Chalong: the best area in Phuket to get lean and ripped

      1. What to do in Chalong
      2. Places to eat in Chalong
      3. Best hostels in Chalong
  1. Phuket Town – the best area in Phuket for culture and cafés

If you still don’t believe that Phuket is more than boozy beach parties and street markets selling elephant pants, then you need to know more about Phuket Town. One of the oldest parts of Phuket, Phuket Town (or Phuket City as it’s officially called now, though the original name has stuck) was previously home to both Chinese and Portuguese settlers, so the architecture in the Old Town reflects the city’s diverse history. Think cute AF rainbow-coloured houses with Portuguese tiles and traditional Chinese lanterns decorating the streets. Honestly, there’s nowhere in Thailand quite like Phuket Town.

The city has a strong hipster vibe. You’ll feel a million miles away from the beach in Phuket Town (though you’re not!) with its cosmopolitan mix of modern urban street art, brunch and café culture and a range of artsy boutique shops. It’s also not very crowded and most of the top attractions are walkable.

Phuket Town is the perfect stopover town to spend a night or two before exploring more Thai islands. Many backpackers stay in Phuket Town before or after travelling by ferry to Koh Phi Phi, because it’s so near Rassada Pier in the southeast where most ferries depart from.

where to stay in phuket - street with pink houses and plants

What to do in Phuket Town

There’s not a better (or cheaper!) way to explore Phuket Town than by taking the scenic route and wandering through the streets. Start by walking up Thalang Road, checking out its gorgeous independent boutique clothing and gift stores. This is right in the heart of the Old Town. Soi Rommani, Yaowarat Road and Talat Yai are also charming streets you should wander around. In fact, this whole area is just so pretty and needs to be explored!

Old Town is where you can find fantastic pieces of street art too. In 2016, 12 graffiti artists came together to produce amazing murals and artworks all over the city which paid homage to Phuket’s multicultural past. Just on the corner of Thalang Road and Soi Rommani (where the Phuket weekend market is held) are a couple of huge murals representing popular Phuket sweet treats that are probably the most photographed in Phuket. The best-hidden street art has to be the Chinese deities and street food pieces on a side street near South Wind Books on Phang Nga Road (near the Chinese gate), and most of the murals are along Phang Nga Road itself.

where to stay in phuket - colourful street art

? @cbarbalis

Phuket Town is a cultural spot, so there are plenty of cool museums to check out too. The Thai Hua Museum is one of the top cultural things to do in Phuket Town, detailing the history of Chinese people in Phuket. It’s situated in a stunning, grand house which was built in 1934. The Phuket Trickeye Museum is also very popular, but a little on the pricey side.

Pretty much every neighbourhood in Phuket has an amazing Buddhist temple you can visit, and in Phuket Town it’s Wat Khao Rang. With only a 30-minute trek from the heart of Old Town, you can be at a beautiful Buddhist temple with amazing views over the city. It’s a bit of a trek to the top though, so don’t forget to buy water and snacks from the nearest 7/11!

Best places to eat in Phuket Town

Let’s start with how every good weekend should begin: brunch! Phuket Town is one of the best places for brunch in Phuket and we’re not just talking about poached eggs, pancakes and French toast (though that all sounds amazing), but Thai favourites too.

One of the best cafés for a budget brunch is Mame Homemade Cake where you can get waffles, eggs and local Thai fruit. To eat a traditional Phuket breakfast, head to Boonrat Dim Sum for Phuket-style dim sum (called siew boi), but make sure you get there early as they open at 6am and the tastiest fillings sell out fast to the early bird locals!

Did you know that Phuket Town is a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy? Food in Phuket Town has influences from Chinese and Malay cultures so embedded in its cuisine that it’s considered a whole different type of Thai food known as ‘baba’ food. Street food stalls and markets are almost always the best way to sample a lot of different local food in Thailand, and Phuket Town is no different. Stay away from the pad thai and instead go for hokkien mee (fried noodles) or kanom jeen (curried rice noodles). Indian dishes like roti are also really popular here.

Lock Tien food court is the perfect spot in Phuket Town to grab an authentic, cheap lunch and taste a range of local dishes. And you can sit down too if the place isn’t too packed with locals! At night, the best market for street food by far is the energetic Phuket Weekend Market that consumes Thalang Road with bustling stalls and music, but it only runs every Sunday evening. Alternatively, head to Phuket Indy Market for a selection of local street food stalls selling sticky meat skewers and roti with a huge selection of fillings!

Best hostels in Phuket Town

Phuket Town may be more known for its boutique hotel scene and romantic private suites, but there are still so many options for backpackers on a budget. Actually, Phuket Town’s hostel game is on point, and there’s so much value for money here if you love your creature comforts. There aren’t as many party hostels to choose from – you need to head to Patong for those!

There couldn’t be a more beautifully decorated hostel than The Neighbors Hostel, with its exposed brick and chic flowery accents. Housed in one of those oh-so-beautiful Chinese-Portuguese houses with a wealth of history in the middle of Old Town, this hostel is right in the centre of the action but has a chill, relaxed vibe. The Neighbors has all the amenities you’d expect in a modern hostel, plus some of the most generously sized bunk beds you’ll ever snooze in.

where to stay in phuket - wooden dining table in the neighbors hostel

? The Neighbors Hostel

If you want a hostel that takes budget luxury to the next level, you have to check out Borbaboom Poshtel. They boast a rooftop pool no less, with stunning views over Phuket Town from the heart of Old Town. As well as dorms and private rooms, they also have single and double capsules which are perfect if you’re a travelling couple who want to be kind to your wallet!

And if you prefer slightly quirkier themed hostels, Eco Hostel Phuket has got you covered. The decor includes grass-covered staircases and heaps of indoor plants, natural wood bunk beds and trees and branches painted on the walls. Their café has lots of yummy cheap eats, like fresh exotic juices and homemade cake. You’ll find it hard not to feel relaxed in this hostel after a long day’s sightseeing.

  1. Patong – the best area in Phuket for next-level nightlife

Patong is the hedonistic, wild side of Phuket and it definitely lives up to its infamous reputation. Travellers head to Patong in search of epic nightclubs, boozy beach parties and a huge choice of bars, shows and other nightlife activities that don’t stop when the sun comes up.

Honestly, Patong is not for everyone, and just because you’re a backpacker it doesn’t mean you’ll love it. Many travellers make the mistake of thinking Patong is the only place to stay in Phuket, because that’s where all their friends stayed, so they end up with a one-sided view of the whole island. What you see is what you get with Patong, and it’s perfect for a one-of-a-kind, intense experience.

Those that manage to drag themselves out of their dorm before midday can chill out on Patong beach, get a reviving Thai massage and drink all the coconuts and cocktails they can stomach. Since Patong is further up the west coast than most other popular tourist spots, it’s actually one of the best places to stay if you want to book a day trip to Phang Nga Bay to see James Bond Island.

where to stay in Phuket, Patong Beach Street with little red an and motorbikes

Patong Beach Street

What to do in Patong

Patong is all about finding the most epic parties, having the best sesh of your life and making all your friends jealous on Instagram the next day. Well, maybe it’s not all about that, but it’s a big bonus!

Bangla road is the epicentre of Patong nightlife, and it seems to get bigger and crazier every year. It’s a long street starting at Patong beach, lined with go-go bars, beer bars and street food. Think Khao San Road in Bangkok but with the neon lights of Soi Cowboy and many, many more nightclubs. Tiger Nightclub is known as one of the top clubs on Bangla road for its all you can drink deal for 599THB deal (roughly £15), very strong cocktails and its adventurous clientele. Illuzion Phuket is a winner if you’re into the sort of internationally renowned DJs who grace their decks. If you want to party on the beach Koh Phangan-style, look no further than Paradise Beach Club.

where to stay in phuket, girl standing under patong beach sign with drink
? @nikita_khattri

Patong has a range of nightlife options beyond clubs and bars, and it definitely knows how to put on a good show. Muay Thai is Thailand’s national sport and can be pretty hardcore – which is why it’s so fun to watch! Bangla stadium or Patong Boxing Stadium are both great options to watch a fight from a safe distance. And there’s no better place for a cabaret night than in pleasure-seeking Patong. Among the best are Soi Freedom and the bars on Soi Sea Dragon just off Bangla road.

If you do manage to find time to explore Patong during the day then you’ll want to take it easy. Patong beach is almost 2 miles long and you can always find vendors along the strip selling delicious detoxing fruit smoothies and real coconuts. You can even relax with a Thai massage to help those tired feet to recover just in time for the antics to start all over again!

where to stay in phuket, bay in thailand with boats and rocks

? @andrzejsuwara

Best places to eat in Patong

You mean you can’t survive on buckets of funky coloured liquor and Chang beer alone? Then you’re in luck, because Patong has some fantastic cheap eats and classic Thai street food. If you’re anywhere near Bangla stadium you’ve got to try the street food stalls at Banzaan Fresh Market. It’s less busy and offers better quality dishes than Bangla Food Street for the same low prices. The seafood here is spot on (as you’d expect for an island!) and you need to try an o-tao omelette crammed full of oyster. The food on Phuket is incredibly diverse, so while o-tao might be traditional Chinese food, the locals have made it their own.

Look out for kanom jeen, Phuket’s favourite breakfast dish that’s served all day on the streets of Patong. The noodles are made from fermented rice and served with fermented vegetables in a rich, creamy coconut sauce. Usually, the bigger street food stalls selling deliciously fragrant kanom jeen in Patong have tables and chairs and serve from huge, metal pots.

where to stay in phuket, dish of noodles with yellow sauce and coriander topping

If you’re a solo backpacker who’s looking for a crowd-pleasing, sit-down restaurant with your new travel buddies that’s lively and welcoming, then you need to go for Indian food! Tandoori Flames is right on Patong Beach. It’s cheap and cheerful, vegetarian-friendly and serves very nearly authentic Indian food for a Thai beach town.

Best hostels in Patong

We’re not sure if you’re quite ready for the calibre of hostels available in Patong. We’re talking about decked out hostels so epically next-level that they’re not only some of the best hostels in Thailand, but the best hostels in the world.

Let’s dive straight into the best of the best: Lub d Phuket Patong is the Disneyland of hostels. It won Best Large Hostel in the 2019 HOSCARs and one of the best new hostels in 2017. Chill out in their huge, see-through swimming pool, or maybe catch a fight in one of the only hostels to have a full-sized Muay Thai ring! They have all the amenities you could possibly hope for in a buzzing party hostel, like a huge common area with every game imaginable, a dedicated activities team and skilled mixologists. Yes please!

where to stay in phuket, view of Lub D Patong hostel swimming pool

? Lub D Phuket

Another fantastic party hostel in Patong is Slumber Party Phuket, a great alternative if you’re looking for something a little smaller and more intimate that still has beautifully modern décor and heaps of activities. They have a happy hour every day and organise their own activities, so you can explore the rest of Phuket with your new hostel pals. It’s the perfect hostel for solo travellers to make friends, and they have four hostels in other locations around Thailand to keep the party going.

If you’re less #PartyHard and a full night’s sleep is your priority, then Patong does have some chill hostels. Hip Hostel is really well located in the centre of Patong, but it’s hidden down a quieter side street that’s shielded from most of the nightlife noise. This hostel has all the modern touches, cool decor and is a great option for couples.

  1. Karon – the best area in Phuket for water sports and temples

Though it’s a Phuket neighbourhood that attracts families because of its numerous resorts and child-friendly activities, Karon might actually suit more backpackers than Patong does. Karon is one of the biggest, most diverse and popular neighbourhoods in Phuket on the Southwest coast, offering couples and solo travellers alike a chance to recharge and get moving.

Karon has way more tropical beaches and picturesque coastline to explore than most other neighbourhoods. The crystal-clear turquoise waters are spot-on for water activities like snorkelling and scuba diving, and there are many more cultural things to do in Karon like visiting temples and holy structures. It also has more cracking viewpoints that look out across the Andaman sea than most other parts of Phuket. And if you’re itching to hit the bars and clubs, the legendary Patong is still only a 15-minute taxi ride away.

Just a small note, Karon has many popular elephant trekking sites. Please try to be as ethical as possible when you travel and do your research on the realities of riding an elephant before you book this activity. There are plenty of ethical ways to admire these beautiful, majestic creatures, which I’ll explain later in this guide!

where to stay in phuket, empty beach with turquoise water

? @deepain108

What to do in Karon

One of the top things to do, not just in Karon but the entirety of Phuket, is to visit the Big Buddha temple. You’ll be able to see the Big Buddha from most places in southern Phuket because it’s perched high on one of Phuket’s hills, and yes, it is very big. And not only is the temple itself majestic and beautiful, but the view is pretty amazing too. And if visiting the Big Buddha temple in Karon doesn’t satiate your desire for beautiful temples, then Wat Karon and Wat Suwan Khiri Khet certainly will.

Just remember that in Thailand it’s super important to cover up from your knees to your shoulders whenever you visit any temple. The Big Buddha offers scarves to borrow for free, but that isn’t the case everywhere.

where to stay in phuket, person sat on steps by big Buddha statue

? @wesleyvanhart

The view from the Big Buddha isn’t the only viewpoint in Karon; there are a couple of good hikes in this part of Phuket if you want to enjoy some killer sunrises and sunsets (and why wouldn’t you?!) Karon viewpoint is a popular option for travellers, as you can either walk or take a scooter to the top, and you’re rewarded with phenomenal views of the glittering sea and the vast green forest which goes on for miles and miles. It does get a little busy at sunset, so Black Rock viewpoint is a less-touristy option that takes approximately one hour to walk to from the main road.

But the absolute best things to do in Karon all involve the sea: snorkelling, scuba diving and surfing. There are three main beaches in Karon: Ao Sane beach is fantastic for snorkelling, Karon beach is great for scuba diving and Kata beach is the most ideal for surfing. Expert tip: peak season for surfing in Phuket is actually Thailand’s low season, April-September.

Best places to eat in Karon

Karon Temple Market should be the first place you visit for classic Thai street food in Karon. It’s a pretty sizable complex with temples and markets selling locally made gifts and products, the usual market stall clothes and cheap ‘branded’ goods, so make sure you leave room in your backpack! The market also has a fantastic selection of street food. Thai classics like pad thai, khao pad and a whole range of soups with seafood like prawns and crab are available, but of course this is Phuket, so Indian treats like chicken and potato samosas or rotis with a selection of spicy fillings are all under £1!

If you’re looking for a sit-down meal, Karon has a huge range of restaurants to enjoy on a budget. You’ll be spoilt for choice! Sabaijai Cafe, which is close to Karon beach, should definitely be on your list of cheap eats in Karon. Its main clientele are Thai locals – you might be the only backpacker here. It’s all about the veggies, curries and stir-fries in Karon, so you’ll be able to replenish all the vitamins you’re probably missing from a lack of sleep and drinking a few too many Changs!

If your hostel is in the Kata end of Karon, you won’t find a better budget restaurant than Wok Street Food. Like Sabaiji Cafe, it serves delicious red and green Thai curries with veggies and a vast amount of vegetarian options. Basically, all the Thai street food favourites you’d expect at markets but in a cosy little restaurant. Perfect for a laid-back lunch and definitely one to keep in mind if you’re a picky eater or new to Thai food, as a lot of dishes are served with the ‘spice’ separate.

Best hostels in Karon

Karon isn’t a typical backpacker neighbourhood, but it’s a trusty option if you’re looking to get back to basics in relaxed, chilled-out hostels with a laid-back, beach bum vibe.

Pineapple Guesthouse is only a 5-minute walk from the uber-long stretch of Karon beach, and it’s everything you imagine when you think of a low-key hostel. Pineapple Guesthouse may not have all the plug sockets in the right places or contemporary minimalist design (we love jazzy bedsheets anyway!) but it’s friendly, clean and provides the quintessential Thai hostel experience. It’s perfect for backpackers who love authentic, family-run accommodation.

If you like your hostels with a beach and sea view then Doolay Beachfront Hostel is the hostel for you. It’s perfectly situated, so you can walk 5 minutes in one direction and reach Karon beach, or 10 minutes in the other direction to Kata beach! This is an intimate hostel with only six dorms, where guests watch films and play Jenga in the common room together, so it’s definitely a great choice for solo travellers wanting to make friends.

Do you prefer hostels away from the main tourist areas and prefer hanging out at the best scuba diving and snorkelling hotspots? Then FIN Hostel Phuket is an ideal choice. Just a 2-minute walk to Kata beach and close to the main strip, the hostel is decorated as an ode to surfers with surfboards all over the place. Think bright colours and a beachy vibe. They even have a BBQ! It’s an excellent hostel for digital nomads thanks to their peaceful co-working space. Plus it’s great for couples on a tight budget, because it’s got private pods with double beds for a bit of privacy, meaning you won’t need to spring for a whole private room. Score!

where to stay in phuket, group of people eating at FIN hostel

? FIN Hostel

  1. Sa Khu – the best area in Phuket to get close to nature

You heard it here first: Sa Khu is a seriously underrated neighbourhood in Phuket, so this is your chance to visit before everyone else descends on its amazingness! Unlike the other top neighbourhoods in Phuket which are all in the south, Sa Khu is a neighbourhood on the Northwest Coast in the Thalang district. It’s normally used as a quick stopover destination as it’s so close to Phuket International Airport, but it deserves to be explored. It’s the perfect area to spend one or two nights if you have a super early flight or arrive into Phuket really late. Sa Khu is hands down the best place to stay in Phuket if you’re a nature or animal lover because it has both in abundance, whilst also being home to some of the most remote, unspoiled beaches in Phuket.

As I said, this is an up and coming neighbourhood in Phuket, and for good reason! I won’t hold back as to why any longer…

where to stay in phuket, girl looking out over lake in Sa Khu district

? @pimchu

What to do in Sa Khu

The Sirinat National Park consumes almost half of the entire neighbourhood of Sa Khu, including its main beach, Naiyang beach. While most of Phuket’s other areas of natural beauty and beaches are covered with palm trees and soft sand, Sirinat National Park consists of thick, dense jungle, with some of the waters being closed to swimmers due to the delicate coral and sea urchins living beneath the surface. It’s the perfect spot to unleash your inner Indiana Jones and it’s totally unlike anywhere else in Phuket. And get this – because the national park is so close to Phuket airport, you’re able to see planes flying incredibly low as they go to land into the airport. It’s really an extraordinary sight!

Naiyang beach is the longest beach in Phuket by far and it’s also one of the most serene and unspoilt. If you’ve not been keeping active while backpacking Thailand, then a few hours walking up and down this wild and rugged coastline will change all that! Naithon beach is a much, much smaller and more remote beach on the southern edge of Sa Khu. This is the perfect beach to sunbathe, swim in the jade green sea and explore the rocky caves. It’s also close to restaurants and other amenities without being too crowded.

Within Sirinat National Park’s grounds is an Elephant Jungle Sanctuary camp, where you can get up close and personal with, let’s be honest, the best animals in existence. You can spend half a day or a whole day with the elephants, including feeding, swimming, walking with them and cleaning up after them. There are other camps in Kathu in the centre of Phuket, but if you’re staying in Sa Khu, this is the nearest. Less time travelling on a bus means more time with the elephants!

where to stay in phuket, girl crouching in front of elephants

? @eyskebalwanz

Best places to eat in Sa Khu

Foodies will love Sa Khu because all the restaurants and bars cater to locals first and visitors second, meaning everywhere serves delicious traditional Phuket cuisine. There isn’t a big street food culture in Sa Khu, but there are plenty of laid back, family-run restaurants.

If you’ve been travelling for a while and are starting to get tired of only eating mango slices for breakfast (budget problems, I’ve been there) then you won’t have to stretch the baht too far to indulge in Hideaway Cafe’s western or Thai style breakfasts. Like everywhere else in Sa Khu, there’s a sweet combination of beachy decor with acoustic guitars, touches of colour and natural wood furniture and lots of leafy jungle trees right outside. Whether you’re in the mood for French toast with maple syrup and a fancy latte, or a dragon fruit salad with mango juice, Hideaway Cafe is the place for you! Digital nomads love this place for its cheap and strong drip coffee and abundance of table space.

One of the most loved eateries in the neighbourhood is Heng Heng Restaurant. They provide menus in English and put an island spin on classic Thai dishes, serving seafood curries and soups as well as mussels and Jungle curry, which is a Thai dish primarily found in forested areas. This restaurant is right in the heart of Sa Khu, so it’s the perfect place to grab a nice dinner on a budget after a long day’s adventuring.

And if you want to grab lunch somewhere affordable yet delicious in the centre of Sirinat National Park, look no further than Look Tan restaurant. Look Tan has a beachy vibe, serving everything on a banana leaf and all the drinks embellished with flowers. Couples and groups may feel more comfortable grabbing lunch here than solo travellers because they only to have tables of four or more, but hey, you do you. Maybe you’ll meet some new friends!

Best hostels in Sa Khu

There aren’t many hostels in Sa Khu, but they do have some cute little guesthouses that are great for backpackers on a budget who are happy to pay just a few baht more for private rooms and great views. There are also lots of accommodation options at the airport.

Pensiri House is a budget guest house that’s only 5 minutes’ walk from Naiyang beach. You can get a private room and bathroom with a TV, fridge and air-con for around £9 a night! Some rooms have balconies, which you’ll definitely put to good use with views over the beach and Sirinat National Park just outside the guesthouse.

If you would prefer to stay in a hostel that’s a bit more social, Take A Break @ Naiyang Beach is the perfect choice in Sa Khu. This is a really cosy hostel with both private rooms and dorms on offer. Situated on the very edge of Sirinat National Park, the hostel has simply stunning views across the countryside while still being close to all the restaurants and bars. The hostel is clean and white with simple, minimalist decor which gives it a more luxe vibe than what the extremely low price tag would suggest!

The Snug Airportel is ideal for travellers who need to be nearer the airport while wanting to take full advantage of all that Sa Khu has to offer – which is very easy with their free bike hire and motorbikes to rent from reception! The Snug Airportel has a gorgeous pool onsite that’s surrounded by palm trees and loungers, bringing the beautiful landscapes of Sa Khu right to your accommodation. Private rooms and dorms are available, and they’re all decorated with a subtle beachy theme. The perfect place to stay as you begin or end your time in Phuket!

where to stay in phuket, double private room in the snug airportel

? The Snug Airportel

  1. Chalong – the best area in Phuket to get lean and ripped

Chalong is not as noteworthy as Patong or Phuket Town, or any of the other neighbourhoods in Phuket on this list. To be honest, the average backpacker may discover a cool temple in Chalong, but after a few hours be itching to explore other, more exciting parts of Phuket. But then, the average backpacker might not be interested in learning Muay Thai or getting fit on a budget. And if you are, I doubt there’s a better place in Thailand for you to visit than Chalong.

Backpacking can be so meaningful and life changing. Exploring new countries and cultures and having stories and memories that will last a lifetime – it’s not something to take for granted. And travelling for an extended period gives you time to pick up hobbies that become passions back home (if you even decide to return home!) Chalong on Phuket’s southern coast is a beautiful part of the world where you can stay cheaply for an extended period and learn the ancient martial art of Muay Thai.

And while you’re in Chalong, there are one or two other top attractions you can see if you have time between intense workouts. Chalong may just change your life, so let’s have a look at how to make that possible!

where to stay in phuket, girl in hat standing looking up at temple in chalong

What to do in Chalong

Muay Thai is also known as Thai boxing, and it’s a combat sport that uses all the limbs to fight an opponent. Not only is Muay Thai a fantastic way to get and stay fit, but it’s also an exceptional cultural experience. Especially if you’re training with locals in Chalong!

There’s no better gym to ace Muay Thai than Tiger Muay Thai in Chalong. Not only do they teach Muay Thai, but they also offer a wide range of sport and fitness classes including strength and conditioning, MMA, jujitsu, yoga and boot camps right on Chalong beach. And they even provide accommodation and meal packages if you want to stay up to three months! Tiger Muay Thai is world-renowned for being one of the best training centres in Thailand. Packages begin at £350 a week for meals, accommodation and world-class training, which I think is worth every penny!

There’s a lot of choice in Chalong for fitness facilities and Muay Thai training gyms. In fact, most of them are minutes away from Tiger Muay Thai. Rattachai Muay Thai Gym and Suwit Muay Thai Training Camp are other alternatives, and Unit 27 Total Conditioning & CrossFit is a great gym if you’re not too bothered about Muay Thai.

And if you do have any downtime in between all that kicking and punching, you should check out Wat Chalong and Phuket Botanic Gardens. Wat Chalong is one of the most popular temple complexes in Phuket, second only to the Big Buddha, and it’s such an incredibly overwhelming and humbling place to visit. The Phuket Botanic Gardens are a huge, sprawling garden filled with native trees, flowers and vegetation, as well as traditional Buddhist statues and small buildings.

Best places to eat in Chalong

If you’re already changing your life by kicking ass with Muay Thai, why not be open to more new experiences? Surprisingly Chalong is home to the top-rated vegan restaurant in Phuket, but there are many other spots to dine on Thailand’s traditional delicious meat and seafood dishes.

Pure Vegan Heaven serves 100% plant-based, all-vegan deliciousness. They have an epic smoothie menu (order the ‘Pure Joy’ smoothie – you can thank us later) and a range of vegan meals which aren’t necessarily all Thai-inspired but are flavourful, rainbow plates of paradise. And while the restaurant might be a smidge pricier than the pad thai you can find on the streets of Bangkok for £1, most meals are well under £5 and are packed with protein, vitamins and all the good stuff.

But opting to eat vegan and vegetarian food in Thailand doesn’t mean you can’t eat local food. In fact, Thailand is a great place to visit if you’re veggie! If you fancy a sit-down dinner while you’re in Chalong and you want a range of meat, seafood and veggie options then Baan Noy is a great choice. It’s no more expensive than Pure Vegan Heaven (in fact, most meals are just over £3) and every soup, curry and fried dish always has a veggie option of either tofu (also known as bean curd) or soy.

Chalong is a little thin on the ground when it comes to street food, but you know what is an amazing budget option for dinner that there definitely should be more of? Buffets. Who doesn’t love a good buffet? Especially if you’re in a new country and aren’t sure what flavours you like, then you can try everything! Phuket Seafood Buffet is the perfect place to try a range of local seafood like squid and crab with a range of rice and noodles. You’ll need to restore your energy after a full day working out at the Muay Thai gym!

Best hostels in Chalong

Chalong is an overlooked part of Phuket so there are (as yet) only a few budget accommodation options, but what it does have are fantastic. Phuket Marine Poshtel is more of an affordable guest house, with a mix of private rooms and dorms, situated right next to Chalong pier. Their rooftop bar is the place to hang because the views over the island are five star, and they even have yoga mats available to use.

Coconut Wells Phuket isn’t a hostel but it’s not exactly a hotel, guesthouse or resort either. It’s a property of modern yet modestly sized bungalows with private bathrooms and its own roof terrace. There’s also a communal swimming pool and a common room with board games and video games! It would be perfect for a couple or a digital nomad who wants their own space (or even a solo traveller who wants a little bit of luxury on a budget!) but still wants to meet other travellers. There aren’t many accommodation options quite like Coconut Wells Phuket!

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? Coconut Wells Phuket

We hope that this insider’s guide to Phuket’s top cities and neighbourhoods has shown you just how diverse Thailand’s largest island is, and has helped you to discover the best area to stay in Phuket for you. Whether you’re a Patong partier, Phuket Town hipster, Karon beach bum, Sa Khu nature lover or Kathu adventurer, we’ve no doubt there’s a Phuket neighbourhood for you! Let us know which Phuket hostel you’d choose, or whether there’s another town or neighbourhood in Phuket you think other backpackers should know about. Have an awesome trip to Phuket!

About the author:

Rebecca Sharp is a freelance content creator and blogger based in the UK. Her blog, Almost Ginger, combines her two passions of film and travel by featuring filming locations, film festivals and wanderlust-inspiring films.

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? The best hostels in Phuket: Thailand’s beach paradise

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? The 20 best hostels in Chiang Mai for every type of traveller

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