Patong Beaches: Sun Loungers
Most of Phuket's beaches have sun loungers for rent. At the busy beaches such as Patong, Karon and Kata they line the entire length of the beach, sometimes in rows three or four deep. At the quieter beaches they are more spread out. There are a handful of beaches that do not have sun loungers.
The sun lounger rent varies from beach to beach. In October 2006 most beaches increased the rent to 100 baht per lounger from the previous charge of 50 baht. There are a few beaches that charge more.
At the busy beaches the sun loungers are grouped into blocks and a group of Thais manages each block. The good sun lounger managers will be friendly, provide refreshments at reasonable prices and will keep an eye on your possessions when you are swimming. If you are a regular beach visitor, you will probably find a group you like and make it your beach spot.
Patong Beaches: Water Sports
There are a variety of water sports available. The busy beaches are a hive of activity with banana boats, parasails and jet skis fizzing across the water. These beaches have cordonned off sections where bathers can swim safely. You will pay from 500 to 1000 baht for these activities. The prices tend to be un-negotiable.
Some of the quieter beaches have kayaks for rent so you can go and explore around the headlands.
There is some good snorkeling as long as you find an area where a jet ski will not inadvertantly take your head off. See our section on the best snorkeling beaches.
Patong Beaches: Dangers
The waters around Phuket are generally very safe but a few words of warning.
Patong Beaches: Rip Tides
The biggest danger while bathing in the waters around Phuket is getting caught in a rip tide. Phuket averages around 20 drownings a year. They almost all happen during the rainy season when the waves are big. If there are red flags flying at the beach this indicates potentially dangerous conditions and you should not swim.
Rip tides occur when the water that the waves push into the beach funnels together and channels back out to sea. This can create a very strong drag that can pull even the strongest swimmers out to sea. If you are caught in a rip tide you should not try to swim against the current; you will just exhaust yourself. Remember the current is only a channel covering a small section of the beach. You should swim sideways, horizontal to the beach until you exit the current and then swim back to the beach.
Patong Beaches: Sharks
There are a few species of shark around Phuket’s waters but none that are dangerous to people. There have been absolutely no recorded shark attacks.
Patong Beaches: Trees(No, Really!!)
Most of Phuket's beaches are ringed with trees. There are several species but the two most common are palms and casuarinas
Palms - There are several varieties of palm tree. The most common is the iconic image of tropical beaches - the coconut palm. You will see them everywhere with tempting bunches of coconuts clumped under the wide, feathered leaves. The coconuts are not easy to get at and they do not taste that great until they have been chilled. There will usually be a local food vendor selling them for 10 to 20 baht each.
Do not sit under coconut trees - a surprising number of people are injured or killed by falling coconuts. Here is a slightly silly statistic - every year worldwide, the number of people killed by falling coconuts is much higher than the number killed by shark attacks.
Kalim Beach is really an extension of Patong Beach separated by a small rocky headland.
It is a stonier beach not well suited to bathing. There are two sandy stretches split by some rock formations. The entire length of seabed is rocky. If the tide is in there is some snorkeling in this area with a few corals to explore.
Being adjacent to Patong, it is of course a very developed area. There is not a lot of nightlife but there are a few quiet bars. There are several nice restaurants overlooking the beach.
There are no sun loungers or water-sports at this beach as there is little demand for them. It is the sort of beach you visit once for a look before moving to Patong Beach.
There is a lot of accommodation available in this area. It is an option if you do not need a good beach on your doorstep and you want the nightlife of Patong within easy reach but also easy to get away from.
How to Get There
You can't go far wrong. Go to Patong Beach and turn right. It is the rocky beach before you reach the big hills.
'Patong' is Thai for 'banana leaf forest'. Well that was a long time ago. Patong Beach is now the biggest tourist resort in Phuket. It is a large town with many hotels and guesthouses. There is a mass of shops, bars, restaurants and most of the amenities any visitor could ever want. If you like plenty of action and nightlife then Patong is the resort for you.
The beach is a stunning three-kilometer stretch of golden sand, enclosed by two long headlands. The beach slopes gently into the sea making an absolutely perfect bathing beach. A road runs the full length of the beach. Hotels, shops, restaurants and bars line the entire length of the road. There is a built-up area on the beach side of the road between Bangla Road and Sawadirak Road with beachside restaurants, shops and guesthouses.
During the high season, the sun loungers are in rows four to six deep. The sun lounger rent is 100 baht each.
The beach is a hive of activity with parasailing, banana boats and jet skis fizzing across the water. Even in the low season, this beach is busy. The northern end of the beach is a little quieter than the south end.
Vendors patrol the beach selling all kinds of refreshments and merchandise. It is possible to get some good deals from the beach vendors as they do not need to pay the huge rents that the beachside stallholders are paying. However if you do not want their goods some of them can be persistent and annoying.
We have given the beach a low water quality mark. The number of visitors and amount of activity inevitably means a fair amount of garbage gets into the water. There have also been problems in previous high seasons with build-ups of algae and seaweed in the bay. The main cause of the problem was a wastewater outlet at the south end of the beach. During the high season the placid sea simply did not sweep the waste out of the bay. The situation is improving and they have recently opened a new wastewater treatment facility which seems to have vastly improved the situation. Because of the low water quality, we have taken a star from the bathing rating on what would otherwise be a 5-star beach.
Tri Trang Beach
This is the first of four beaches in the headland south of Patong Beach.
The beach is fine white sand. The seabed is rocky so it is not well suited to bathing. The water is too shallow for it to be a good snorkeling beach
It is a nice spot for a relaxing walk or a getaway from the hustle-and-bustle of Patong which you can see across the bay.
There are a few sun loungers dotted along the beach which cost 120 baht each. They can also arrange water activities such as jet-skis or kayaking. However, the prices here generally seem to be higher than average.
How to Get There
Drive up the ramp at the very south end of Patong Beach and follow the road for two kilometers until you reach the bottom of a narrow uphill track. You are now at the western end of the beach. There are a couple of small, pleasant restaurants here.
This little gem of a beach is at the end of the headland south of Patong beach. The two hundred meter long beach is in a small sheltered bay lined with trees. There are rocks at both ends and a small extension to the beach around the other side of the western rocks. It is generally a very beautiful location.
You cannot wade very far into the water as there is a coral reef close to the beach. At low tide you cannot bathe at all but when the tide is in you can have a little swim.
When the tide is in it is a good beach for snorkeling. There is a coral reef offshore with plenty of colourful fish. Unfortunately, you will also see a lot of flattened, dead coral. This is the work of the tsunami and it will take time to fully recover. However, there is still plenty of colourful sea life to enjoy.
There is a restaurant by the car park. You can rent sun loungers for 100 baht each. You can also rent kayaks to explore the rest of the headland.
A chunk of land around the beach was recently bought by a developer and they are going to build a resort. Fortunately, the owner of the rest of the land around the beach is in no rush to sell so the route to the beach remains open.
How to Get There
Drive up the ramp at the very south end of Patong Beach and follow the road until you reach the bottom of a narrow uphill road. Drive up this hill and the road turns into a dirt track to go over the final hill to the beach. It is a one-kilometer drive along this track which has some steep inclines. If it is dry then a jeep or pick-up will make it comfortably although it is slightly nervewracking in the wet.
You are crossing private land. There is no charge for crossing the land but the owners do like you to hire a sunlounger or spend some money at the restaurant so you are making a contribution to the upkeep of the beach.
Alternatively, you can rent a longtail boat from the south end of Patong Beach. Should cost no more than 1000 baht for the return trip. Even cheaper - ask one of the jet-ski renters to drop you off.
Tri Trang Beach
This is another one of the beaches in the headland south of Patong. Merlin Beach Resort dominates the location. To their credit, they have made no serious attempt to block access to the beach. At the left-hand side of the hotel is a short track to the beach. The more cynical might suggest that the reason for this is that nobody wants to go to this beach.
The beach is rather stony and the seabed is rocky right up to the shoreline making it totally unsuitable to bathing.
There are two attractions for this beach. Firstly, when the tide is in there is some good snorkeling. Secondly, it is the closest beach to the much more charming Freedom Beach. You can rent a longtail boat to make the trip from here much cheaper than from Patong. You may need to wait a little for a boat to arrive as they are not always waiting here but you should get one eventually.
The Goodview Restaurant is a simple but pleasant restaurant overlooking the beach. There are also a few open-air massage stalls.
How to Get There
Drive up the ramp at the very south end of Patong Beach and follow the road until you reach the Merlin Beach Resort on the left. Immediately before the hotel is a dirt track leading around the back of the hotel to the beach.
This is a lovely beach. You can only reach it by boat but it is worth the effort.
It is a stretch of white, powdery sand in a small bay. The beach is surrounded by hills and ringed with trees.
The boats deliver visitors to the center of the beach. The north and south ends of the beach are cordoned off for swimming.
The cordoned off section at the south end of the beach (the end with the small restaurants) is one of the best snorkeling locations in Phuket. The rocks and corals start close to shore. Initially it looks like it might be disappointing with cloudy water and lots of flattened coral destroyed by the tsunami. However, as you push out into the deeper water the visibility clears and a lot of the corals survived. There are plenty of colourful fish including some large specimens.
If you are looking for a Patong Beach Hotel in Phuket try Kelly's Hotel which offers 4Star accommodation at 2Star rates.