The Quieter Side of Life: Karon Beach, Phuket
Enter Pure Relaxation at Karon Beach in Phuket
Karon Beach in Phuket is little brother to the larger and more famous Patong and Kata beaches. It’s small but perfectly formed and is the perfect destination for a day trip or for a few days relaxing on the sand. Not too far off from Bodega Phuket, it’s a great alternative to the often busy Patong Beach.
You may not have heard of Karon Beach like you’ve heard of Patong, and there are certainly fewer tourists here, but to our mind that’s a good thing. The crowds that throng Bangla Road are missing but there’s still a buzzing bar and restaurant scene here, and there’s plenty to keep you occupied on a relaxing break in this lovely part of the world.
There’s lots to see and do so let’s take a look at the best that Karon has to offer.
Getting Your Bearings
Karon Beach sits in quite a flat cove, so if you’re looking for a traditional curved bay then you need to head to Nai Harn instead. However what it lacks in shape it makes up for in space- there’s kilometers of golden sand here so you’ll never feel crowded, and if you grab a sun-lounger and umbrella combo then there’s ample shade to keep you protected through the day.
Karon is divided into three main areas: Karon Center, The Lake and Beachfront Road. Karon Center is based around Patak Road and hosts a bunch of restaurants, bars and massage parlors. This is a good place for a stroll and to get your bearings. The Lake area is supposedly a bit more upmarket, although to be honest the difference is minimal! Sometimes a fun fair sets up here which is a fun way to spend the afternoon.
The Beachfront Road area is probably where it’s at for most tourists. The road stretches from the lake to the beach and hosts the Night Bazaar and several upmarket hotels. Check out Soi Aroonson in the middle of the beach road for some higher-class massage centers and a few small local shops.
How to Spend a Day at Karon Beach
A great tourist activity is a trip to the Karon Temple Market which runs every Tuesday and Friday. There are a ton of local fairground-style games to enjoy and all the usual street food delights that you find in all Thai markets.
If you want some beachside fun then you can try a sunset parasailing session along the beach, or pop into one of the local tour agencies to hire a kayak to do some sea paddling along the coast. Swimming is obviously very popular but beware, in the wet season the sea can be really rough and every year there are some tragic drownings along this stretch of beach. Look out for the flags telling you where it’s safe to swim and always follow the safety instructions of the lifeguards.
Eating and Drinking Near Karon Beach
There are a ton of restaurants to choose from here, ranging from cheapie food stalls in the markets to high class Western places like the highly recommended Two Chefs. For a great view with your meal head to the ‘On The Rocks’ restaurant near the stadium where the ocean is the backdrop to your Pad Thai. If you want some authentic seafood then check out the stalls along the Lake shore where the prices are low but the quality high.
For a good night out, check out Angus O’Toole’s. Yes it’s an Irish pub but it’s a good laugh nonetheless. If you take a stroll through Karon Center or the Beachfront Road then you’ll find a ton of little bars to try out- they’re all pretty similar but that means you can’t really go wrong. The Chang is cheap (from 80 baht) and the snacks are always tasty. There’s a small ‘Bangla Road’ style street at the south end of the beach if you want to try something a bit livelier.
How to Get There
You’ll probably start your trip to Karon either at the airport, or at the bus terminal in Phuket Town. There are blue trucks that act like buses from both of these directions, and that’s your cheapest option, but if convenience is more important then just charter a red songthaew truck. They’ll drop you to your door and you won’t have to worry about following the route and working out where to get off.
Karon is an easy-going, laid-back place which deserves a few days of your time. Pack your beach towel and enjoy!