Where to stay in Phuket for first time: 9 Safe areas

Finding where to stay in Phuket as a first-time visitor can be a daunting task. That’s why, in today’s article, I will help you to find the safest places to stay in Phuket for first-timers and tourists.

I’ll provide you with my recommendation for the best areas to stay in Phuket, along with a helpful map and the areas to avoid. I’ll also share where I stayed in Phuket and suggest some of the best hotels for all budgets.

Phuket is a popular tourist destination in Thailand and South East Asia. It is  known for its stunning beaches, vibrant nightlife, and a wide range of water activities. Located in the Andaman Sea, it is the largest island in Thailand and is connected to the mainland by the Sarasin Bridge. 

The island boasts numerous beautiful beaches, including Patong Beach, Karon Beach, Kata Beach, and Nai Harn Beach. Each beach has its own unique charm and attracts different types of visitors.

It offers a variety of activities, such as snorkeling, scuba diving, island hopping, and water sports like jet skiing and parasailing. Phuket is also known for its vibrant nightlife, especially in areas like Patong Beach, where you’ll find bars, nightclubs, and entertainment shows.

Beyond the beaches and nightlife, Phuket has cultural and historical attractions. The Old Town area features colorful colonial architecture, and there are temples like Wat Chalong that showcase Thai culture and traditions.

One of the iconic landmarks in Phuket is the Big Buddha, a large marble statue sitting atop Nakkerd Hill. It offers panoramic views of the island and is a significant religious site.

While visiting Phuket, you can take a day trip to the nearby Phi Phi Islands. Known for their stunning landscapes and vibrant marine life, these islands are often visited by tourists staying in Phuket.

Phuket hosts various festivals throughout the year, such as the Songkran water festival and the Vegetarian Festival, which involves colorful processions and traditional ceremonies.

Is Phuket Safe to Visit? 

Phuket is generally safe for visitors. However, like any travel destination, it’s essential to exercise caution and be aware of their surroundings as tourist scams and pickpocketing can occur. It’s also advisable to follow local regulations, respect cultural norms, and take standard safety precautions.

Where to stay in Phuket for the first time?

The best and safe areas to stay in Phuket for first-timers and tourists are Patong, Kata, Karon, Phuket Town, Kamala, Nai Harn, Rawai , Bang Tao, and Mai Khao. It’s essential to always stay alert, take care of your belongings, and avoid poorly lit areas at night no matter where you stay.

Patong Beach is one of the most popular areas to stay in Phuket for first-timers. It’s a hub of activity that is known for its vibrant nightlife, shopping, and entertainment. But, the nightlife can be lively, so it’s essential to be cautious and aware of your surroundings.

Karon Beach is less crowded than Patong but still offers beautiful beaches and a range of accommodations. It’s a good option for those who want a more relaxed atmosphere.

Kata Beach is known for its excellent surfing conditions and is a bit quieter compared to Patong. It has a good mix of restaurants, shops, and nightlife.

Bang Tao Beach, located on the west coast, is a more tranquil area with a mix of luxury resorts and villas. It’s suitable for those seeking a more peaceful environment.

Rawai, situated in the southern part of the island, is a quieter area with a local feel. It’s a good choice if you prefer a more authentic experience away from the tourist crowds.

Nai Harn is known for its stunning beach and is a quieter option compared to some of the busier tourist spots. It’s popular among expats and long-term visitors.

Phuket Town, the capital of the island, offers a mix of cultural attractions, shops, and restaurants. While it’s not a beach destination, it provides a different experience and is generally considered safe.

During my trip to Phuket, I spent 4 nights in Patong and 2 nights in Phuket Town. In Patong, I stayed at the 4-star mid-range Hotel Clover Patong Phuket. It was a great hotel in a prime location within easy distance from the beach, shopping malls, and nightlife areas of Patong. My room was clean and cozy.

In Phuket Old Town, I stayed at the French Colonial style Casa Blanca Boutique Hotel in the heart of the old town. The hotel had a half-day tour at a reasonable price. It was easy access to all shops, restaurants, and museums.

Below is a map of the popular areas in Phuket for first-time travelers. You can scroll down to view the live map.

Map of the safe areas to stay in Phuket first time
Map of the safe areas to stay in Phuket first time

Let’s get into the details of the recommended areas to stay in Phuket, especially for first-time visitors. I’ll provide you with some suggestions for the best places to stay in each area, catering to every budget. 

All hotels in Phuket have been carefully selected by me, with guest review scores of at least 8.0 or higher at the time I chose them. If you don’t like my suggestions (perhaps they don’t suit your budget or preferences), you can click the “MORE HOTEL DEALS” button where you can choose your own hotel.

9 Safe areas to stay in Phuket for first-timers and tourists

1. Patong Beach

Patong is one of the best places to stay in Phuket for first-time travelers and those who enjoy vibrant nightlife. Patong is famous for its lively and bustling nightlife.

Bangla Road, the main street in the area, comes alive at night with numerous bars, nightclubs, and entertainment venues. The street is lined with neon lights and offers a variety of entertainment options, including live music, dance shows, and more.

Patong Beach is home to a plethora of shops and markets. You can explore the local markets, such as the Banzaan Market and the Malin Plaza Market, to shop for souvenirs, clothing, and local products.

The beach itself offers various water activities, including jet skiing, parasailing, and banana boat rides. The soft, sandy shoreline is also a great place to relax and soak up the sun.

Patong Beach has numerous massage parlors and spas offering traditional Thai massages and other wellness treatments. You can indulge in relaxation and rejuvenation after a day of exploring.

Patong has a diverse range of dining options, from street food stalls to upscale restaurants. You can enjoy a variety of Thai and international cuisines, catering to different tastes and preferences.

While known for its vibrant nightlife, Patong also has some cultural and religious sites worth exploring, such as the Wat Suwan Khiri Wong (Patong Temple).

The area offers a wide range of accommodations, ranging from budget guesthouses to luxury resorts. Many hotels are located within walking distance of the beach and other attractions.

While there are family-friendly activities, Patong is generally known for its more adult-oriented entertainment. It is a great base if you enjoy a lively atmosphere and don’t mind a bustling environment.

Best places to stay in Phuket in Patong for first-time visitors :

  • Luxury ($$$): Hotel Indigo Phuket Patong, an IHG Hotel, popular 5-star hotel located in a great location, easy access to the beach and the nightlife area. It is close to Boxing Stadium, Bangla Road, Banana Walk, and Jungceylon Shopping Center. It has a rooftop pool, free parking, 2 onsite restaurants, and wonderful breakfasts.
  • Mid-range ($$): Four Points by Sheraton Phuket Patong Beach Resort, great 4-star beachfront hotel, featuring a 24-hour front desk, airport shuttle, and a children’s club. You can find many food trucks in front of the hotel. It has wonderful Buffet breakfast with a good variety of food.
  • Budget ($): Ruen Buathong Boutique Hotel, 3-star good value for money accommodation located within a short distance from Patong Beach, 7-11 stores, entertainment district, and Banzaan market.

2. Kata Beach

Kata Beach is a popular destination in Phuket known for its beautiful sandy shores and a more relaxed atmosphere compared to the bustling Patong Beach. It is generally more family-friendly compared to Patong, with a range of activities suitable for all ages.

Kata Beach is situated south of Patong Beach and Karon Beach and is approximately 20 km from Phuket Town. The northern end of the beach is usually more crowded and has more amenities, while the southern end is quieter.

Kata Beach is particularly popular among surfers, especially during the monsoon season (May to October) when the waves are more consistent. There are surf schools along the beach offering lessons for beginners and board rentals.

While not as lively as Patong, Kata still has a decent nightlife scene with bars and beach clubs.

Kata Beach has a mix of small shops and markets where you can buy souvenirs, clothing, and beach gear. The Kata Night Market is a popular spot to explore in the evening.

You can visit the nearby Wat Kittisangkaram Buddhist temple. It’s known for its serene atmosphere and a giant Buddha statue.

Phuket International Airport is the nearest airport, and from there, you can take a taxi or shuttle to reach Kata Beach. Transportation within Phuket is relatively easy, with options like tuk-tuks and taxis.

Best places to stay in Phuket in Kata for first-time travelers:

  • Luxury ($$$): Katathani Phuket Beach Resort, 5-star accommodation situated just across from Kata Beach. The hotel provides shuttle services to Phuket Town and Patong Beach. 
  • Mid-range ($$): BLU PINE Villa & Pool Access, a popular 4-star hotel located within a short distance from Kata Beach, and the hotel offers a free one-way bus to Kata Beach. It has a 24-hour front desk, car/motorbike rental, and 2 swimming pools.
  • Budget ($): Thalassa pool Kata Beach, great 3-star guest house in Kata Beach, 15 mins walk from Karon Beach. It has an onsite Outdoor dining, pool, family rooms, and free parking.

3. Karon Beach

Karon Beach is a popular destination located just south of Patong and north of Kata. It is a great base for couples, families, and those who want a laid-back vacation while still having access to a variety of amenities and activities.

Karon Beach is situated about 8 kilometers south of Patong Beach, which is one of the more bustling and vibrant areas of Phuket. It’s known for its relatively calm and peaceful atmosphere compared to Patong.

Just a short drive from Karon Beach, there’s a popular viewpoint often referred to as the Three Beaches Hill, where you can get panoramic views of Karon Beach, Kata Beach, and Patong Beach.

Best places to stay in Phuket in Karon for first-time tourists:

  • Luxury ($$$): Pullman Phuket Karon Beach Resort, 5-star beachfront resort, offering a paid airport shuttle to Phuket International Airport, which is 50 mins drive away. The hotel has many pools and spacious rooms. 
  • Mid-range ($$): JonoX Phuket Karon Hotel, 4-star hotel located within walking distance from Karon Beach and Kata Beach. It has an outdoor swimming pool, free private parking, and a 24-hour front desk.
  • Budget ($): Memory Karon Resort, 3-star accommodation located within a short distance from Karon and Kata Beach. It provides a daily free shuttle to Karon Beach.

4. Phuket Town 

Phuket Town, the capital of the island, is a good base for travelers who don’t mind commuting to the beaches and prefer a more authentic and cultural experience during their stay in Phuket. It offers a unique experience compared to the beach areas like Patong, Kata, and Karon.  

Phuket Town is rich in history and culture. You can explore Old Phuket Town, which is known for its well-preserved Sino-Portuguese architecture, vibrant street art, and charming cafes.

The town has lively markets such as the Sunday Walking Street Market and the Indy Market, where you can explore local crafts, souvenirs, and try authentic Thai street food.

Phuket Town is home to a diverse range of restaurants, offering both traditional Thai cuisine and international dishes. It’s a great place to explore local flavors.

The town has art galleries, museums, and cultural centers, providing a different experience from the beach areas.

Phuket Town is generally less touristy compared to the beach destinations, giving you a chance to experience local life and a more authentic side of Phuket.

Best places to stay in Phuket Town for first-timers:

  • Luxury ($$$): Royal Phuket City Hotel, 5-star hotel located on Phang Nga Rd in central Phuket Old Town, within walking distance from Hok Nguan Kung Shrine. It has Free airport shuttle, free parking, and very good breakfasts.
  • Mid-range ($$): Courtyard by Marriott Phuket Town, 4-star hotel located in the city center of Phuket, close to the Old Town, shopping malls and market places.
  • Budget ($): The Memory at On On Hotel, great 3-star accommodation located on Phang-Nga Road, in the heart of Phuket Old Town. Close to many  local and international restaurants. It has a 24-hour front desk, laundry services, and a tour desk.

5. Kamala Beach

Kamala Beach is a quieter and more laid-back destination located just north of Patong, offering a more relaxed atmosphere compared to Patong. The beach is generally more family-friendly, with a gentle slope into the sea, and there are family-oriented activities available.

Kamala Beach is set against a backdrop of lush hills, providing a scenic and picturesque setting for beachgoers.

There are various restaurants and beachside cafes along Kamala Beach, offering a mix of Thai and international cuisine.

While not as vibrant as Patong, Kamala has some nightlife options, including beachside bars and a few entertainment venues.

Kamala is relatively close to attractions like the Phuket FantaSea cultural theme park, making it convenient for those interested in exploring nearby sites.

Best places to stay in Phuket in Kamala for tourists:

  • Luxury ($$$): InterContinental Phuket Resort, 5-star beachfront hotel, featuring Excellent Breakfast and comfortable guest rooms. 
  • Mid-range ($$): Glam Habitat – SHA Extra Plus, 4-star accommodation located close to Kamala Police Station, Big C Market Kamala, Phuket FantaSea. It is a short walk from the beach and the restaurants/bars on the beach.
  • Budget ($): Kamala Beachfront Apartment, great seafront accommodation with a private beach, 5 mins walk from Phuket Fantasea. It has a saltwater pool with views of the Andaman Sea.

6. Nai Harn Beach

Nai Harn Beach is a popular beach located on the southern tip of Phuket and is about 18 km from Phuket Town. The area attracts those looking for a quieter and more laid-back experience.

The area is relatively undeveloped compared to some other beaches on the island, providing a more tranquil and less crowded atmosphere.

The southern end of the beach has better conditions for swimming, while the northern end is popular among surfers during the monsoon season.

Close to Nai Harn Beach is Promthep Cape, a famous viewpoint that offers panoramic views of the Andaman Sea, especially during sunset. 

The beach is close to the local village of Nai Harn, where you can experience a more authentic Thai atmosphere. There are local markets, shops, and eateries that provide a glimpse into the daily life of the residents.

Best places to stay in Phuket in Nai Harn for travelers:


7. Rawai Beach

Rawai Beach is an authentic fishing village located on the southern tip of Phuket. While it may not be the typical sandy beach for swimming, it offers a picturesque scene with long-tail boats, fishing boats, and seafood restaurants lining the shore.

Rawai is a hub for boat tours and charters. Visitors can arrange trips to nearby islands, such as Coral Island, Racha Island, and Phi Phi Islands. These excursions often include activities like snorkeling, diving, and beach hopping.

Rawai is close to Chalong Bay, which is another major departure point for boat trips and is known for its marina. Many diving and snorkeling tours depart from Chalong, making it a hub for water activities.

The area around Rawai has several cultural and religious sites, including the Windmill Viewpoint and the Rawai Sea Shell Museum.

Compared to some of the more popular tourist beaches in Phuket, Rawai tends to be less crowded. It attracts visitors looking for a more relaxed and laid-back atmosphere.

Best places to stay in Phuket in Rawai:


8. Bang Tao Beach

Bang Tao Beach is an excellent choice for those seeking a more upscale and tranquil beach experience. It is one of the longest beaches in Phuket situated between Kamala Beach and Nai Thon Beach. 

The area is home to some upscale resorts and villas, providing a luxurious and comfortable stay for visitors. Laguna Phuket, a large resort complex, is located near Bang Tao Beach.

Laguna Phuket complex hosts the Laguna Golf Phuket and The Canal Village Shopping Centre, part of the Laguna Phuket complex, provides shopping opportunities with a range of boutiques and shops. 

Bang Tao Beach is easily accessible from various parts of Phuket. It’s about a 30-minute drive from Phuket International Airport.

Best places to stay in Phuket in Bang Tao:


9. Mai Khao Beach

Mai Khao Beach is an excellent base for couples looking for a romantic getaway or those who prioritize relaxation and natural beauty over a bustling atmosphere. The proximity to the airport also makes it convenient for short stays or as a starting/ending point for your Phuket journey.

Located on the northwest coast of Phuket, Mai Khao is one of the least developed and busiest beaches in Phuket, making it an ideal choice for those seeking tranquility and relaxation.

The beach is surrounded by natural beauty, and it’s not uncommon to find stretches of untouched coastline. The area is close to Sirinat National Park, providing opportunities for nature lovers.

The area is home to some luxurious resorts that offer private and upscale accommodations.

The Mai Khao Marine Turtle Foundation is located in this area, contributing to turtle conservation efforts. Visitors can learn about and participate in turtle release programs.

Best places to stay in Phuket in Mai Khao:


In conclusion, Patong, Kata, Karon, Phuket Town, Kamala, Nai Harn, Rawai , Bang Tao, and Mai Khao are the best places to stay in Phuket for first-timers and tourists. There are generally safe areas to book hotels, but you should always practice common common sense wherever you stay.

You can continue reading about Phuket and other destinations in Thailand in these articles:

There you have it, my recommendations for the most popular and safest neighborhoods that you can stay during your first trip to Phuket. I hope you enjoyed my article and find it both informative and helpful.

If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Your feedback is invaluable and helps me continue to create more quality content.

About Author: Ocean Cameron

I'm Ocean, founder and main editor of travelhotelexpert.com. I’m a passionate traveler who specializes in uncovering the best hotels and locations in every city, especially for first-timers, all without the need for a car.

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