Karon Beach is located on the western side of Phuket island in Thailand. To the north of Karon Beach is Patong the original and very popular tourist town. To the south of Karon is the bohemian Kata Beach. Karon Beach is in the middle – geographically and ambience wise. As Goldilocks once said, “it is just right!”. There are plenty of things to do in Karon Beach Beach that makes it one of the best areas to stay in Phuket for families, couples and empty nesters.
You’ll find diverse Karon Beach activities including spending days soaking up the sun, being pampered, shopping, eating out and discovering some wonderful unique attractions from beautiful natural scenery to mesmerizing stage shows.
So let’s find what to do in Karon Beach during your trip to Phuket.
In this Article About Karon Beach Attractions and Activities You Will Learn:
- What’s available on the beach
- Where to go shopping in Karon
- The variety of day spa options
- The best day trips from Karon
- Where the Karon Beach restaurants are located
- What nightlife there is in Karon
- Tips to plan your trip to Karon Beach
- How to get in, out and about Karon
- What to pack
- More information on Phuket and Thailand
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Things to Do at Karon Beach
The Karon Beach attractions extend further than the fun activities available beachside including shopping, wellness centres
The Karon Beach
Once you’ve settled into your Karon accommodation the first place to head is the beach. With three kilometres of white sandy beaches, there’s something for everyone.
You can just relax and sunbake, on your little patch of sand or hire deck chairs with a brolly.
If the kids start getting tired of building sandcastles there are plenty of playgrounds along the green-shaded grassy expanse of Karon Park that separates the Karon Circle road from the beach.
You can even work out on the free exercise machines if you’re feeling a bit lazy just hanging on the beach.
If you are a bit more of a daredevil there are paragliding excursions to enjoy and view Karon Beach from the sky.
Top Trip Tip: The sun is fierce in Thailand ensure you always have sunscreen and a hat
Karon Beach Shopping
Then stepping away from the beach the first thing you will see is a street filled with shops, day spas and restaurants.
When I first visited Karon about 20 years ago there really wasn’t much available beyond a mini-mart and the odd restaurant. But boy have things changed. Yes, there are still plenty of little mini-marts to get your essential drinks, snacks and laundry service but now holiday shopping is close by.
If you’re looking for great market buys no longer do you need to head to Patong or the Phuket Town Weekend markets. There are market options in Karon.
The best is the Karon Temple Markets located within Wat Karon on Patak Road. It is open Tuesday and Friday (not Saturday as you may find other websites advising) from 1600-2200. The market offers everything from deep-fried bugs, satay sticks, t-shirts, scarves, pashminas, bags, to soaps and jewellery.
Can’t wait for Tuesday or Friday the Karon Bazaar located on the beachside road about 300m south of the Karon Circle offers a good array of market goodies. It is open daily from mid-morning til late at night
If you want some bespoke clothing there are plenty of tailors along the main streets to make a suit or that special dress.
However, shopping in air-conditioned comfort isn’t something you will find in Karon. You will have to take a short taxi ride for THB400 to Patong’s Jungcelyon shopping centre. This is the most modern shopping centre in Thailand and offers more than just shops with kids play zone, cinema, bowling and a large upmarket day spa.
Due to the pandemic, most of this shopping complex has closed. A few shops at the back are still open, but it is not what it once was. However, as tourism is re-opening keep an eye out for more stores to open.
Top Trip Tip: When shopping at the markets and small shops you will need cash (Thai Baht). Only at Jungceylon will you get to shop with a credit card.
Get a Massage in Karon
After all that shopping you’ll need to relax with a massage. Most resorts offer a day spa but you will find prices are, well, pricey. At our resort in the Spa Cenvaree, full-body massages start at THB1895.00
You can find a similar upmarket spa for half the price near Karon Circle at:
- Let’s Relax Spa
- Primnara Spa at Karon Beach
If this is all still a little too rich for you there are plenty of local little massage shops along the main streets. Finding a good one is trial and error. At the first one I visit on Patak Road the staff chatted non-stop, and even though I can’t understand a word of what they were saying, I cannot relax due to the constant chit-chat. A few days later, I venture out again. This time I walk along the beach road and come across Thai Karon Massage, just south of Karon Circle. I wish I’d found this earlier, very tranquil and relaxing.
At any one of the local Karon Thai massages, day spas expect to pay approximately THB350 for a 60-minute full body massage.
Top Trip Tip: You will find day spa menus with prices out the front of all-day spas
Day Trips from Karon
Once you’ve started to unwind on your Phuket holiday it’s time to start exploring further afield. you’ll discover there are so many more things to do near Karon Beach on Phuket Island.
This is our second family holiday to Phuket. The first time in Phuket we:
- Took a Walk on the Wild Side at Siam Safari Elephant Camp. Siam Safari is now closed, a bit of a shame as it was an elephant camp that treated its elephants humanely.
- There are still plenty of elephant trekking companies about. I would suggest you do your research as to how the animals are treated.
- This goes for elephant bathing as well.
- The most humane elephant experience I have researched is the Phuket Elephant Sanctuary where you only feed and observe the elephants.
- Then we enjoyed the Spectacle that is FantaSea. This is truly a magical performance. However, it does include performances by many different animals including elephants.
- More animals can be experienced at close range in the Phuket Zoo. You can get a photo taken with a tiger. We haven’t visited the zoo but just wanted to let you know it was there.
Times have changed and we in the world are becoming more educated and compassionate as to how we treat animals.
So this Phuket holiday we stepped away from the animals and explored Phuket’s natural beauty:
- Sailing out to James Bond Island in Phang Nga Bay
- Taking a Phuket ATV Tour up to Big Buddha.
More on these day trips coming soon. Follow us on Facebook to learn when these posts are published.
More theme parks and shows we didn’t get to include:
- Dino Park Mini Golf is located in the far south of Karon
- Temporarily closed
- Splash Jungle water park
- Simon Cabaret – a ladyboy show
Karon Beach Restaurants
At the end of your day trips you are always brought back to your accommodation and it is time to find dinner. There are so many options for eating out in Karon Beach.
Most of the Karon Beach restaurants can be found on Patak Road. This is the road heading inland from Karon Circle. You will find food options from grilled street foods, pizza, pasta, schnitzels, fresh seafood and Asian cuisine. Just about all the Karon Beach restaurants offer kids’ menus as well. And most restaurants offer an inclusive salad buffet.
Top Trip Tip: We didn’t have a bad meal during our entire Phuket holiday, but our favourite Karon restaurant was Louis Kitchen
Nightlife in Karon
Early in the evenings, Karon is quite lively. No doubt due to the bulk of the tourists being a family or empty nesters. We are all early starters.
But this doesn’t mean we are all tucked up in bed by 8pm. Once the meals are finished people wander the streets, perusing the little street stalls, making their way to or from the Karon Temple Markets or Karon Bazaar. Then for dessert, they get one of these freshly made fruit icecreams for THB80. They are really filling. – it’s best to share.
There are also a couple of local pubs with live classic rock music enticing the older crowd in for an after-dinner drink or three. These are not pubs aimed at the super young hip crowds. They are focused on entertaining couples and senior singles looking for a fun evening.
I have to admit I’m not sure what time it all finishes up as we are on a family holiday in Phuket with a ten-year-old, we don’t stay out too late.
And that’s because there are so many things to do in Karon Beach, we need our sleep to enjoy the next day’s adventure in Phuket.
Plan Your Visit to Karon Beach, Phuket.
Karon Beach is located on the western side of Phuket Island in the south of Thailand. Phuket can be reached by air landing at Phuket International Airport, by the road crossing the Sarasin Bridge built in 1967 or by cruise ship docking at Phuket Port about a one-hour drive to Karon, unless your cruise ship is tendering boats to the Patong Bay jetty for day excursions then you are only 5-10 minutes away from Karon.
Getting About on Your Karon Beach Holiday
Transferring to Karon Beach
It takes about 45minutes to an hour to drive from Phuket International Airport to Karon Beach.
This transfer can be arranged by:
- Including it as part of your travel booking package
- Booking the transfer through a private company – we used Phuket Shuttle
- Getting a taxi at the airport
If you want an even cheaper option there are two bus services available. Just remember taking a bus will make the journey longer.
- There is the local blue bus service
- Or the new Phuket Smart Bus. The Phuket Smart Bus is a cashless system. To use this new bus service you have to purchase a smart card first (can be done at the airport) and then loaded with Thai baht.
Getting About During Your Phuket Trip
Once you have settled into your accommodation it is time to explore. Karon is about three kilometres in length making it easy to walk. If you find the heat too oppressive and can’t face walking back to your Karon Beach accommodation you can always catch a red tuk-tuk. Tuk-tuks are everywhere and try to charge the same as a taxi. However, whereas taxis have a set price, tuk-tuks can be negotiated down. Just remember to be polite with your negotiations.
If you are going further afield you may prefer the air-conditioned comfort of a taxi. As I just mentioned taxis have a set fee – it is very rare to find a metered taxi in Phuket. All taxis charge the same amount for getting from one village to the next. We even found that booking a taxi from our hotel concierge at the Centara Grand Beach Resort Phuket charged the same amount as if we’d flagged the taxi down on the street.
Top Trip Tip: Before heading off in a taxi or tuk-tuk ensure you agree on the price before you depart
There are plenty of official exchange booths along the main streets of Karon. Most offer the same exchange rate but not all. Double-check a couple before making your exchange. Some exchange booths may also ask for your passport. They are not doing anything dodgy with your passport, it is actually more official if they have asked for it. But if you have forgotten your passport just move onto the next booth.
Roughly the exchange rate as of May 2018 is:
- $1AUS = THB24.24
- $1USD = THB32.23
Please remember the exchange rate is constantly changing refer to Currency Exchange for today’s rate.
What to Pack for a Phuket Holiday
Our Ultimate Trip Packing List will have you covered for packing for any trip including a holiday to Phuket or use our dedicated packing list for Thailand beach and island trips. But just ensure you prepare for these unique conditions:
- Be sun smart pack a hat and sunscreen.
- You’ll want to swim. Pack swimming clothes and thongs/flip-flops.
- Prepare for treacherous walks. There are potholes and the concrete drain covers are not the most sturdy. Pack good quality walking shoes.
- It’s not fancy at night. You don’t need your high heels let alone your best frock. The evenings are still very hot so try to stay as cool and comfortable as possible.
- The mozzies come out in the evenings. Pack insect repellant.
Karon Beach Accommodation
There is a huge range of accommodations available in Karon. You’ll find boutique establishments right on the beachfront, villas up in the hills behind the main street and three, four and five-star hotels spread along the beachfront road. But if you want a hotel right on the beach there is only one – the Centara Grand Beach Resort Phuket. This is where we stay and I have to say, “it is lovely.”
Learn More About Karon
To find out more about Karon Beach, the island of Phuket and Thailand visit Thailand’s official tourism website Amazing Thailand.
Or read one of these popular Thailand travel guides:
More Information to Plan Your Trip to Phuket
- Tours and Attractions
- Accommodation and Airline Reviews
- What to Pack for a Thailand Beach or Island Holiday
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