Are you thinking about traveling to Karon Beach in Phuket? Then you have come to the right place! Here is a complete travel guide to Karon with everything you need to know about Karon beach, including what to do, where to eat, and where to stay in Karon.
As our first stop in Phuket, we chose Karon Beach, a beautiful white-sandy three km long beach on the west coast of Phuket. Karon has long been among the most popular of Phuket’s beaches, along with neighboring Patong Beach (to the north) and Kata Beach (to the south).
As we arrived at our hotel relatively late, we immediately dropped off our luggage and wandered down to the ocean to enjoy the sunset and check out the beach. The long stretch of soft white sand that appeared before us was everything we had hoped for. Standing there barefoot in the sand watching the sky turn pink as the sun slowly set on the ocean, we knew that the long hours of traveling to get here had been worth it.
Karon Beach, or Hat Karon as it is called in Thai, is a stunning 3,5-km long beach with super soft white sand and clear turquoise sea. The sand makes this funny squeaky sound when you walk on it, which I find quite amusing. Just try it out yourself, and you will see what I mean. 🙂
There are no reggae bars in sight; actually, there are no beach restaurants or bars whatsoever directly on the beach. You have to cross the main road that runs along the beach to get something to eat or drink. Not having restaurants and hotels directly on the beach helps give Karon Beach a relaxed vibe.
Karon Beach Travel Guide
This Karon Beach travel guide gives you the best things to do and see in Karon, Phuket, as well as the best places to stay and eat. Karon’s top attractions, beaches, sights, and activities are listed and highlighted on a map. Have a great time exploring Karon! ♥
Table of Contents:
Karon Beach lays between Patong Beach and Kata Beach and has several family-friendly resorts, nice restaurants, a great temple market, and some bars and nightlife
Even though you find some of Phuket’s largest hotel resorts in Karon, the wide beach has more than enough room for everybody. It feels less crowded than Patong or even Kata since it is so big.
The sea is impressively clear and clean, and I love the beautiful turquoise color of the water. Karon Beach is just like those pictures of tropical paradise beaches that you can see on postcards and Instagram.
When we visited at the end of April, there were red flags set at several spots along the beach warning about strong currents. For me, the waves were too big for swimming, so I only went in the water for a quick dip to cool down a bit. Espen, however, had no problem swimming in the waves.
Karon Beach is sheltered by tall trees and palms which provide welcoming shade from the sun and some isolation from the traffic noise from the road that runs alongside the beach.
There are no hotels located directly on or along the beach, except for at the northern tip, which has the Centara Grand Beach Resort.
All the other hotels and resorts in Karon are located on the other side of the road that runs along Karon Beach. So the full 3,5 km long beach is accessible to everybody and not restricted to guests at a particular resort or restaurant, which is excellent.
Every afternoon, from around 5-6 pm, lots of people come down to the beach to see the sunset, and it got a bit more crowded. Although I would not say that it was a problem, and it is not certainly much less busy than Patong Beach!
The Northern End Of Karon Beach
The further north you go along Karon Beach, the more impressive, peaceful, and wider the beach gets.
The northernmost tip of Karon Beach can be accessed by a path north of the Karon roundabout. Here the water is crystal clear and has a marvelous greenish/ blueish color.
Coast Beach Club
If you go for a stroll along the northern part of Karon Beach, make a pit stop at the Coast Beach Club at Centara Grand Beach Resort at the northernmost tip of the beach. This is the only beach club in Karon and has lovely views of the beach and the sea.
Sink in one of the comfortable sofas at the club and have something cold to drink while you enjoy the sunset. You can also treat yourself to a massage or spa treatment at the Centara Grand Spa.
Karon Park & Khlong Bangla Park
Karon Park is a small park with an artificial lake, located just north of the Karon roundabout. The park has an excellent running track around the lake, perfect for a morning or afternoon stroll or a run while enjoying the birds and the view of the mountains. If you want to do some weight training, you can stop by the free to use gym machines in Karon Park.
Karon Park is a popular place to celebrate festivals, like the Loy Krathong Festival each November – The Festival Of Lights. You have probably seen photos from this festival as it is celebrated all over Thailand. A big part of the festival is to send off floating lanterns down rivers or out to sea, carrying good wishes for the future.
A little bit further south along the Karon Beach is the Khlong Bangla Park (close to the Mövenpick Resort & Spa).
The Khlong Bangla Park is a popular area for beach volleyball, where you can work on your volleyball skills together with both locals and other tourists. Beach volleyball nets are set up by the Phuket Beach Volleyball Club in this area every day, and everyone can have a try (it is free!).
Khlong Bangla Park also houses a giant golden statue that looks like a combination of a dragon and a big snake.
Some say that it is Hai Leng Ong, a mythical Chinese sea dragon, which is said to have formed Phuket Island and now has fallen asleep here by the beach. Others say that this golden statue is a “naga,” a creature in Buddism, which is a giant king cobra.
Hat Karon Noi Beach
Just north of Karon Beach lays the small but beautiful Hat Karon Noi. Unfortunately, this is a private beach and not open to the public. Even though, in theory, all beaches in Thailand are owned by the state.
You have to be a guest of the Le Meridien Phuket Beach Resort to use this beach, or pay an entrance fee of 2000 Baht = US$ 66 (!) to use the beach and the facilities of the resort (sunbeds, umbrella, towels, swimming pool, showers, and toilets).
Le Meridien Phuket Beach Resort is, however, a fantastic place to stay if you have the budget for it, with its private beach, and the enormous swimming pool.
The Southern End Of Karon Beach
The southern end of Karon Beach sees the most waves, and during the low season April to October, you can go surfing on this part of the beach. The south end is also fantastic for snorkeling and diving.
The southern end is also the place to head if you want to rent sunbeds and parasols. It costs 200 Baht = US$ 7 to rent sunbeds and umbrellas for a day.
You can easily walk from the southern part of Karon Beach to Kata Beach. We did that, and it only took us about 15 min. The road is paved and is easy to walk on.
What To Do In Karon Beach – The 10 Top Things
What is there to do in Karon Phuket, you might ask. While Karon is more quiet and peaceful compared to its neighbor Patong, there are still plenty of things to do in Karon, and below we have listed what we think are the top ten things to do in Karon.
1. Karon Temple/ Wat Suwan Khiri Khet
Karon Temple, or Wat Suwan Khiri Khet, as it is called in Thai, is a colorful and well-maintained Buddhist temple located at the end of Soi Patak in Karon. The temple is fun to photograph and to walk around in. Marvel at the colorful dragons and amazing gold-decorated roofs and doors.
Karon Temple Night Market
Tuesdays and Fridays are extra fun days to visit the Karon Temple as the temple houses a big lively market on the temple grounds.
Head here to play games, meet people (both locals and tourists), and eat lots of delicious local Thai food. You can do some shopping here as well, especially for souvenirs and cheap beachwear like t-shirts, caps, and sunglasses. The clothes and souvenir department is a little touristy, but the food is the real gem and highlight of this market.
Come to the Temple Market to enjoy delicious, cheap, and authentic Thai street food, and to shop for exotic tropical fruits like mango, mangosteen (my favorite!), passionfruit (Espen’s favorite!), dragon fruit, watermelon, and those small tasty Thai bananas. Or why not ask for the fruit to be mixed in a blender and formed into a delicious and healthy fruit shake?!
Other things you should try at this market are barbequed meat skewers, chicken rice, pad thai, roti/ pancakes, and last but not least, the famous Thai dessert Mango Sticky Rice. There are tables and chairs where you can sit and enjoy your food, beer, or a fruit shake.
Markets are a big part of the Thai culture, so if you have the chance, you should visit this market in Karon as it is a fun experience.
- Opening hours Karon Temple Market: Every Tuesday and Friday, 16:00 (4 pm) – 22:00 (10 pm)
- Where to find Karon Temple Market: At Karon Temple, on Parak Road in Karon
2. Karon View Point
Karon View Point is located a bit south of both Karon Beach and Kata Beach, between the beaches Nai Harn and Kata Noi.
It used to be called the Kata Viewpoint, which is more appropriate if you ask me since it is closer to Kata than Karon. I have no idea why they changed its name.
The viewpoint is called “Khao Saam Haad” in Thai, meaning “Hill of the Three Beaches“. A suitable name since Karon View Point has a fantastic view of the three beaches Karon Beach, Kata Noi Beach, and Kata Yai Beach.
The viewpoint has one of the best panoramic views of the Andaman Sea in the whole of Phuket. It is a popular place to come for selfies and photos both among locals and tourists, as well as a popular stop on the way to Nai Harn Beach or the famous Promthep Cape.
From Karon Viewpoint, you can capture much of what Phuket is famous for in one frame – turquoise ocean, curving white-sandy beaches, a small island (Koh Poo, meaning Crab Island), and the green and lush tropical jungle as a backdrop.
At the top of Karon Viewpoint is a Gazebo/ Pavillion where you can get some shelter from the sun while enjoying the view. You can also buy drinks and snacks from one of the small stands just below the viewpoint.
Karon Viewpoint is about 10 minutes by car or taxi from Karon Beach. It is open all day every day.
3. Dino Park Mini Golf
Who doesn’t love dinosaurs?! And how often do you get a chance to play mini-golf inside a jungle which looks like Jurassic Park meets the Flinstones!
If you’re traveling with kids, then this is super fun for the whole family. The Dino Park Mini Golf is a combination of an open-air dinosaur park and jungle, an 18-hole mini-golf course, and a restaurant & bar.
The whole park is built on top of an artificial “volcano.” The volcano erupts now and again, sending out smoke, fog, and lights. The whole park is surprisingly realistic with great light- and sound effects and huge life-like dinosaurs.
There is even a waterfall that you will have to walk under, a big cave filled with lava that you must go through, dinosaur poo, and a moving and roaring Tyrannosaurus Rex! And the heat (there is no air-con in the park) makes it even more realistic as you feel that you are in a tropical jungle.
The restaurant and bar area, Dino Bar, is set in a beautiful green and lush garden, and there is a calm river running through it among the tables. The waiters and waitresses are all dressed as Fred and Wilma from The Flinstones, so cute!
Fill up your energy level after the mini golf session with something cold to drink (you will need it!). Also, try the burger called the Dino Burger (it is, however, not made of dinosaur meat. I know, I was very disappointed about this as well…. ????).
The park opens at 10:00 in the morning but is best visited in the afternoon when the heat has cooled down a bit. Bring water and wear mosquito repellents, and you will have a fun hour or so doing mini-golfing in Jurrasic Park and Flintstones settings.
- Opening hours Dino Park Mini Golf: Every day, 10:00 (10 am) – 23:00 (11 pm)
- Price: 240 Baht = US$ 8 for an adult, 180 Baht = US$ 6 for a child
- Where to find Dino Park Mini Golf: Patak Soi 7. The park is part of the Marina Phuket Resort, located between Karon Beach and Kata Beach, on Beach Road (opposite Starbucks).
- Dino Park Mini Golf’s Webpage
4. Snorkeling & Diving
Diving and snorkeling is a big thing in Karon, and you will find several dive tour operators here. They offer everything from budget to luxury diving tours, and day trips to multi-day liveaboard trips.
Many of the dive tours will take you out to the islands Similan, Koh Phi Phi, and Surin, as well as Myanmar’s Mergui Archipelago. You can also do PADI certification courses in Karon.
5. Jet Skiing & Parasailing
Jet skiing and parasailing are popular in Karon Beach. We have not tried either of these beach activities, and it looks a bit crazy and dangerous, to be honest.
On parasailing, a “guide” will come with you on the balloon; only he is not wearing any safety equipment, not even a harness. He only hangs in the balloon by grabbing onto the ropes! Yieyks, it looks crazy!
Be careful if you choose to rent jet skis or go on a parasailing trip. Some of the tour companies do not have insurance, and there have been some scams reported.
Karon Beach is a great place to go surfing or to learn how to surf. One hour of surf lessons costs about 1200 Baht = US$ 39. To rent surfboards cost about 300 Baht = US$ 10 per hour, while bodyboards cost about 150 Baht = US$ 5 per hour.
Most of the surfing takes place at the southern end of Karon Beach.
7. Thai Cooking Course
Why not learn a new skill during your holiday in Phuket, like learning how to cook traditional and authentic Thai food? Learn how to make delicious Phad Thai, curry, Tom Yum, Papaya Salad, and Mango Sticky Rice.
Several of the big hotels in Karon Beach have Thai cooking courses, like Mövenpick Resort, Centara Karon Resort, The Front Village, and Thavorn Palm Beach Resort.
8. Thai Massage & Spa
Thai massage is a big part of Thai culture and something the Thais are very proud of. If you have not tried it, you definitely should. Karon Beach has some of the best spa and massage centers in Phuket. Try out the Hilton Phuket Arcadia Resort & Spa or the Mövenpick Resort & Spa for a top-notch relaxing massage and spa treatment.
There are also plenty of beach massages offered along Karon Beach, where you can have a quick massage for much less than at the resorts.
Karon has no fancy shopping malls, but you will find some small tourist shops. The shops mostly sell touristy things like souvenirs, t-shirts, and clothes, fake handbags, suitcases, shoes, toys, etc.
Don’t expect to find a shopping mecca in Karon, head to the neighboring Patong, or preferably Phuket Town for better shopping opportunities.
For shopping, head to the streets and market-like shopping centers listed below:
- Karon Night Temple Market – Every Tuesdays and Fridays on the grounds of Karon Temple.
- Karon Bazaar (Shopping Sale Karon Plaza) – A sizeable market-like center on Beach Road, between Woraburi Resort and Mövenpick Resort.
- Centre Point Village – A 100-meter long corridor covered by a roof with a dozen shops and restaurants. Located on Karon Beach Road, next to Karon Princess Hotel.
The nightlife in Karon is more laid back and family-friendly compared to the sleazy go-go bar scene in Patong.
The chic and modern Coast Beach Club at Centara Grand Beach Resort is the only real night/ beach club in Karon. It is a stylish place with a relaxed vibe and a cool place to watch the sunset with a cocktail in your hand. They have some light dishes on their menu, like tapas, cheese, and pizza, perfect to go with your wine and cocktail. Some evenings there is a live DJ playing music.
There is also a popular Irish pub in Karon, the Angus O’ Tool’s Irish Bar & Restuarant, with the biggest selection of draught beer in Karon. They also serve Irish pub food as well, like bangers & mash. Sport, especially soccer matches, are shown on big TV screens, but once in a while, they have live music evenings which are very popular. The pub also has a guesthouse, so if Irish pubs are your thing, you can even stay here.
Most of the nightlife in Karon is centered around Bangla Plaza, a bar and pub street off Patak Road. The bars that line this street all look very similar, with a bar inside, some tables outside, a snooker table, and several big screens showing sports.
They all open around 17:00 (5 pm) in the afternoon until late (or as long as they have guests).
Where To Eat In Karon Beach
Most of the hotels and resorts in Karon have excellent restaurants serving both international and Thai food, so there are plenty to choose from.
On The Rock Restaurant
A real gem is the romantic On The Rock Restaurant at Marina Phuket Resort, which is located right by the sea. A great place to eat and watch the sunset. Their specialty is seafood, and they have a great selection of wines. Opening hours: 12:00 – 22/ 10 pm.
For some cheaper dining options and delicious and authentic Thai street food, head to the Karon Temple Market, open every Tuesday and Friday.
The small family-owned beachfront restaurants in front of Karon Lake in Karon Park serve some cheap and delicious barbecued seafood. They also have standard Thai dishes like Phad Thai, Tom Yam, and chicken cashew nuts on their menus. The restaurants are small but have a fantastic location right by the beach.
Golden Paradise Restaurant
We love Indian food, and the Golden Paradise Restaurant in Karon serves excellent north Indian food. Here you can get those classic Punjabi curries, but also Thai food and international food (like pizza and kebab).
We stayed at the Avisa Grande Hotel in Karon and tried their excellent restaurant Portosino. Their Thai food is fantastic, and they also have international food on their menu like pizza, pasta (the Bolognese was some of the best we’ve ever had), steak, and hamburgers. We didn’t try the seafood, but it seemed popular and smelled delicious. Their signature cocktails with local fruits and herbs are really good too.
Karon Beach Square
For a more sophisticated and stylish dining and pub scene, head to Karon Beach Square, located on the ground of the Mövenpick Resort. Karon Beach Square is a dining and nightlife complex with some cool bars and restaurants set in a beautiful garden.
Karon Beach Square houses different restaurants:
A cool restaurant/ lounge bar selling international food and snacks like pizza and pasta. Sink in one of the comfortable sofas on the open-air terrace with a cocktail while enjoying the music from the DJ (the DJ plays from 20:00 until 23:00). Head here on Fridays to get TGIF promotions (30% off on all drinks). Opening hours: 16:00 – midnight
- Cafe Studio
A cozy bakery and cafe perfect for breakfast and lunch. They have delicious sandwiches, salads, fruit shakes, coffee, bread, pastry, cakes, and Mövenpick ice creams. The cafe both has an outdoor terrace and a beautiful air-conditioned indoor area. Opening hours: 10:00 – 19:00
- Orient Asia
Serves Asian food, especially Thai and Vietnamese dishes. Opening hours: 18:00 – 23:00
Most of the restaurants have tables outside as well, so you can enjoy something to drink and eat in the cozy garden under the stars.
- Where to find Karon Beach Square: On Karon Beach Road, towards the beach, just in front of Mövenpick Resort
Where To Stay In Karon Beach
We stayed at the Avista Grande Hotel in Karon and liked the hotel a lot. The hotel has a convenient location in the southern part of Karon, with a short walk to the neighboring Kata Beach and Dino Park. Hardly any hotels in Karon lay directly on the beach, but it’s only an easy 3-min walk from Avista Grande to the Karon Beach.
The rooms are big with beautiful modern decor and a great balcony with chairs and a table, and a beautiful bathroom with a bathtub. We particularly loved the hotel’s rooftop bar, which is cozy and relaxed with a great view of Karon.
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Centara Grand Beach Resort Phuket
Centara Grand Beach Resort is the only hotel in Karon that is located right on the beach. In addition to direct beach access, the hotel has a landscaped water park with four outdoor pools scattered around in a beautiful green and lush garden. Here you can also enjoy a lovely spa, play a game of tennis at the tennis court, or play some Nintendo in the game room. There is also a kids’ playroom with lots of toys and activities for kids. Centara Grand houses the only real beach club in Karon, the Coast Beach Club – a lovely place to chill in the afternoon watching the sunset. The Karon Temple Market is only a short walk away.
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Mövenpick Resort & Spa
Mövenpick is a big luxurious resort located just across the road that runs along Karon Beach. Many of the rooms have sea views and a private balcony perfect for watching the sunset. The hotel has four (!) outdoor swimming pools, seven restaurants, and a top-notch spa where you can get massage and spa treatments. The hotel is located in a beautiful garden right by the sea.
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Hilton Phuket Arcadia Resort & Spa
Another large resort with an excellent spa is the Hilton Phuket Arcadia. The hotel is located just across the Karon Beach road, in a tropical garden where many of the rooms have a seafront view. It is a family-friendly resort with five outdoor swimming pools, a two-leveled water slide, a kids club with a trampoline and ballroom, several restaurants, three tennis courts, two squash courts, and a spa. And if you don’t feel like walking, the hotel has golf carts that will take you around the property.
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Thira House has no swimming pool but is located only a short walk (10 min) from the beach, and there are plenty of restaurants nearby. It is on a quiet side street to the main road and perfect for a good night’s sleep. The rooms are spacious with a lovely private balcony and modern and chic designs. You will also have a fridge, microwave oven, kettle, and cups in your room, and you get to borrow free towels and mats to bring to the beach. Great value for your money (with free complimentary breakfast!).
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Karon Studio Apartment
If you want to stay in an apartment in Karon, then Karon Studio Apartment is a great value. It takes about 20 min or so to walk to the beach, but the hotel has a shuttle that will transport you right to the beach if you don’t want to walk. The apartments are spacious, clean, and have a modern design with a well-equipped kitchen (four hot plates, toaster, rice cooker, blender, and a kettle). There is a supermarket just a few minutes’ walk away.
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Wynn House is a small but very nice budget hotel located only a 5 min walk from Karon Beach. You can also easily walk to Kata Beach. The rooms are pretty big, clean, and very stylish in a cute maritime design, with a fridge, safety box, and an electric kettle. The hotel has a cozy cafe serving excellent coffee. The staff is super friendly and welcoming.
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Doolay Beachfront Hostel
If hostels are your thing, and you want to meet new friends, you should check out Doolay Beachfront Hostel, located just across the Karon Beach road. The hostel has bunk bed dormitories for females, or mixed. The living room is modern and has a fresh design, and you can make your food in the kitchen or order food. Clean, cheap, and close to the beach.
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How to Get To Karon Beach
Karon Beach is about 40 km south of Phuket Airport. The most comfortable and convenient way to get from Phuket Aiport to Karon Beach is by taxi or Grab car. It takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes to drive from Phuket Airport to Karon Beach.
After a long flight, nothing is better and more convenient than to have a private driver with a comfortable air-con car. The driver will be waiting for you at Phuket Airport and drive you to your hotel in Karon.
But how far is Karon Beach from Patong? Karon Beach is only about 6 km from Patong. You can walk between the two beaches in about an hour, but it is more comfortable and convenient to take a taxi (a 10 min taxi ride).
It takes about 35 minutes to drive from Karon Beach to Phuket Town.
To Sum Up Karon Beach
Karon Beach is a great mix of its two neighbors, Kata Beach, and Patong Beach. While it still has some nightlife and plenty of dining options, it is nowhere near as sleazy, busy, and noisy as its big brother Patong. Karon is comparable to Kata Beach, although, in my opinion, Kata offers more sophisticated options for dining and entertainment.
Karon Beach is a favorite among families because of its wide and relaxing beach, a great mix of lovely hotels for all budgets, a decent number of restaurants, lots of small local shops, a temple market, and some nightlife.
And if you want more action, you can quickly get to Patong Beach (just a 5-10 min taxi drive away) for some partying and shopping.
Every beach in Phuket is different and attracts different visitors, so if you’re still not sure where is right for you, read our guide to the best places to stay in Phuket. That article will give you an overview of Phuket’s areas and the pros and cons of staying at each one, along with our recommendations for hotels.
Read next – our other articles about Phuket:
- Where To Stay In Phuket – Our 10 Favorite Beaches & Hotels
- Tropical Beach Bliss – Bang Tao Beach, Phuket
- A Travel Guide To Patong Beach, Phuket
- Phuket Town Travel Guide
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