Thailand Travel Update/2021 – Phuket Sandbox
Thailand is open for fully vaccinated tourists from countries or regions with a low to medium risk of COVID-19.
If you are eligible (YAY!!), you must follow the Phuket Sandbox procedures, which means that you must be fully vaccinated, your flight must be to Phuket International Airport, you have to present a negative PCR Covid-19 taken no more than 72 hours before your flight, and you must stay in Phuket Island for at least 14 days (not bad, right?!).
You can find all the info about Phuket Sandbox here!
Thailand Ministery of Healthy and Tourism created a list of hotels, transportation, and activity partners certificated with SHA Plus (Safety and Health Administration Certification), which means they are safe and prepared to receive tourists. And you must use their services for the duration of the Phuket Sandbox (14 days).
To make your travel planning easier, we already researched the SHA Plus hotels in Phuket for you. Click on the hotel name below for all the info, rates and discounts:
Now that you know how to travel to Thailand, its requirements and restrictions, let’s go move to our Karon Beach guide and tings to do in Phuket, Thailand.
Planning a trip to Phuket, Thailand? We got you covered! After our 4th trip to this beautiful Thai island we have some good tips to share with you and the first one is: stay in Karon Beach! There are so many great things to do in Karon Beach that your summer days will be packed with nature, fun, good food and stunning views.
For us Karon Beach is special, it offers a good mix of gorgeous nature and great infrastructure, including many good hotels, restaurants and shops. During our last trip to Phuket, Rob raced the Ironman 70.3 Thailand [triathlon competition] and after the race we spent a couple of days in Karon Beach. It was our little heaven on Earth. To convince you that Karon Beach is one of the perfect places to stay in Phuket, here it goes our list of top 10 things to do in Karon Beach that will make you book your flights to Phuket now!
10 Best things to do in Karon Beach, Phuket
1 – Stay in a top hotel that won’t cost you a fortune!
Everybody knows Thailand is a great travel destination for both budget and luxury travelers. But on Phuket, especially in Karon Beach, accommodation can be cheaper than you imagine. The best hotels in Karon Beach cost a fraction of similar hotels in Europe or the USA, making this beach a good summer destination for any traveler of any budget.
Among all the great hotels in Karon Beach we stayed at Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort and Spa and it was spot on! The beach in front of the resort is beautiful and the hotel offers everything you need for an awesome holiday, making it hard to leave the room or the pool area. We stayed in the Superior Plunge Pool, a spacious room with a contemporary design that connects you with nature. The pool is a few steps from your bed and it’s an invitation to relax, perfect for couples. If you are planning a romantic trip to Thailand check their Phuket Honeymoon Package.
Novotel Phuket Karon is one of the best places to stay in Karon Beach. It’s a complete resort with great restaurants, delicious breakfast, gym, two big pools, one pool for the kids, spa and a rooftop bar. Not to mention all the activities, the themed dinners and the pool bar with great happy hour offers. After our stay, Novotel Karon made to our list of the best Phuket Resorts.
2 – Enjoy the beach as much as you can!
One of the best things to do in Karon Beach is to enjoy the beach! But what makes this little paradise so special is that Karon Beach has a vast infrastructure, it’s quite urban yet you don’t have the feeling you are too close to the city.
The beach is surrounded by trees and plenty of grass. When you are sunbathing you don’t hear the sound of the cars, only the waves crashing on the sand. As you arrive at the beach you will find rental chairs and umbrellas, drinks and massage stalls. And they are not as pushy as in Patong Beach, in Karon even the locals are more relaxed.
Karon Beach is long but walkable both over the sand or the sidewalk along the beach. The north end of the beach is quieter than the south one, where you can watch the sunset in a bar on the rocks.
Karon Beach is perfect for families with kids. There are plenty of activities and things for them to do in Karon Beach from little kids to teenagers. Plus, you don’t need to rent a motorbike, neither get a taxi to enjoy Karon Beach, everything is close and you can explore the beach area on foot.
3 – Water sports in Karon Beach is a must
From swimming in the crystal clear water to flying over the sea, there are many things to do in Karon Beach for those who love being in the water.
In Karon Beach you can go parasailing, paddleboarding, kayaking, snorkeling or just floating on an inflatable bed. The sea is calm, the water is clear and there many stalls renting out all the water sports gears you will need for the fun. Snorkeling is our favorite Karon Beach activity and, for us, the best place to do it is in the south end of the beach where you can swim close to rocks. If you want to go deep, book a diving session in one of the dive shops located in front of the beach.
4 – Indulge yourself with heavenly massages
A trip to Thailand is not complete without a good massage, but don’t go for an ordinary one, pamper yourself with some proper spa time and leave the room willing more.
We went for a couple’s massage at the In Balance Spa and it was superb. I’m very sensitive to the traditional Thai massage so we chose an aromatherapy oil massage, one hour of pure relaxation. They have a great menu with all types of massages, facial and body therapies, pick one or two and enjoy it!
5 – Karon is much more than a beach
Take a break from the beach and go explore the streets of Karon. There are plenty of things to do in Karon Beach that are perfect for those cloudy days. What about visiting the traditional and beautiful Karon Temple? Or maybe go shopping for new clothes and fresh fruits at the Karon night market?
The Karon Temple Market is open every Tuesday and Saturday from late afternoon until midnight. It’s a good place to try street food, eat bugs and buy souvenirs. The temple itself opens daily and you can walk around and enjoy the peaceful surroundings at any time of the day.
The Karon Beach shopping area stretches along the two main streets, the beachfront road and Patak Road that runs parallel to the beach road. On the beach road you can find many restaurants and all kinds of shops. Patak Road is where the locals go, it has a wide range of shops, massage parlors, restaurants, banks and travel agencies.
Karon Beach nightlife will not disappoint travelers who want to have some fun. In front of the beach there are pubs and restaurants with live music and on Patak Road, just before Karon Temple you can find snooker bars and cheap drinks.
6 – Go on a tour to Phuket Town for a cultural day
Phuket town is one of the top places to visit on the Island and you can do it as a day trip from Karon Beach. To avoid all the hassle to book our transportation from Karon to Phuket town, and to understand more about the history of the island, we joined a private tour with TakeMeTour. Even though it was our 4th time on the island we chose a local guide to discover Phuket Town in a different way.
There are many things to do in Phuket Town and I’m glad our Local Expert convinced us to wake up at 5 am to watch the sunrise. We went to a park in Phuket Town full of locals cycling, running, jogging or only appreciating nature’s spectacle. No tourists around, only us mesmerized by the beauty of the sunrise and the hard work of the local fishermen catching shrimps and crabs.
After filling our souls up with a beautiful sunrise, it was time to fill our stomachs with delicious Thai food. Better than that, traditional Southern Thai breakfast. Think about aromatic curries, fish cakes, rice noodles, eggs, fresh vegetables and Thai tea. God, I could eat that every day!
With a full belly and smiles on our faces, we started our walking tour in Phuket town. We walked by temples, fresh markets, super cute cafes, shops and a well preserved Sino-Portuguese architecture that are perfect for Instagram shots. It was so good to have a Local Expert with us, he explained everything about the places, the traditions and the food. Knowing that it was our 4th time on Phuket, he and his father [our super funny driver] took us to some amazing viewpoints we had never visited before.
Watch our video and discover how is a perfect day in Phuket, Thailand!
If you are traveling to Phuket or anywhere in Thailand, I recommend you to take a look at TakeMeTour Day Trips. They are a Thai startup that connects travelers with local people who can show you a different and unique side of the country. They are not a tourism agency offering group tours and boring guides. All the trips and experiences can be personalized, before going on a tour you talk with the Local Expert and plan the trip. And during the tour you feel like you have a local friend with you, not a guide.
The tour we went on is called “A Touch of Phuket living & nature”, you get to know Phuket town and visit some of the most beautiful viewpoints on the island. Click on the name of the tour to know more about it!
There are many great day tours from Karon Beach, you can go on day trips to other beaches in Phuket or to other islands around. There are plenty of options and they do pick you up at the hotel in Karon Beach, so you don’t need to worry about anything.
7 – Viewpoints to die for
Prepare yourself for amazing views of Karon and the beaches around it. Karon Beach is on the way to the Big Buddha, a huge statue that you can see from almost every part of the island, and from where you can have a 360º view of Phuket. Take a taxi, a tuk-tuk or even venture yourself driving up there, the view from the Big Buddha is stunning. Don’t forget to take a jacket or a scarf with you, women need to cover their shoulders to get in the temple.
Another spectacular spot is Karon Viewpoint. Although it’s named after the beach, it’s not in Karon Beach itself. The viewpoint is 6 km away, passing by Kata Beach towards the south of the island. The view is worth the drive, especially for the sunset.
8 – Gourmet dinner and local food, Karon Beach has it all
What to do in Karon Beach when the sun is down? My suggestion is: go for a delicious dinner! We never thought we could find gourmet food in Karon Beach but it turned out that TAI Restaurant at Novotel Karon Phuket has a Fire & Ice menu that will leave you mouthwatering and impressed by the show.
They surprised us with sushi on fire, sashimi served on a boat floating on mist and drinks served in lightbulbs. Hot and cold tricks that will play with your imagination and satisfy your tastebuds.
Apart from the Fire & Ice menu, TAI Restaurant offers traditional Thai dishes cooked to perfection. Our recommendations are Nahm Tok Nua [a spicy grilled Australian beef salad with fresh lime juice and mint leaves], Pla Rad Prik [deep fried sea bass with sweet chili sauce, my choice] and Phad Char Talay [an aromatic red curry with king prawns that Rob loved].
For traditional street food and fresh seafood go to a local restaurant on the beach road. I couldn’t get the name of the place but it’s easy to find. As you are walking from Karon’s roundabout towards the south of the beach, you will find a restaurant called Red Lobster, a little bit further there will be a food stall right in the entrance of an alley that leads to Karon Fishing Lake. The food shop on the corner is the one, just beside a fruit stall. You can order anything from the menu, I bet it will be delicious. Thumbs up for the prawns with garlic and chili, and the vegetables in oyster sauce, our favorites.
There are many restaurants in Karon Beach, go and find your favorite ones! After some hit-and-miss, we found out these two are some of the best restaurants in Karon Beach that are worth trying.
9 – Learn Muay Thai
Time for some workout! Phuket Island is the perfect place to learn Muay Thai, Thailand’s martial art which is linked to the country’s religion and culture. There are many gyms around the island offering Muay Thai classes and the good news is: you don’t need to leave Karon Beach to do it.
After so many trips to Thailand [yes, we have traveled in Thailand a lot, check our travel guides to Thailand here], Rob decided to give it a try and learn the basics of Muay Thai. We booked a class at the reception of the hotel before breakfast and in the afternoon the instructor was ready to teach Rob some kicks, punches and jabs. It was a whole hour of exercising nonstop, a great work out. I watched the whole class and now I want to try it, maybe on our next trip to Phuket.
Don’t forget to buy your Travel Insurance!
10 – Relax by the pool
The last good thing to do in Karon Beach might be the best one: take your time and relax by the pool!! A hotel with a great pool is everything you need on a summer holiday, especially on a cloudy day or if you’ve had enough of saltwater and sand. Put your sunglasses on and order a Mango Daiquiri, the best combination for an afternoon by the pool. This will make good memories to warm your heart up when you are far from beautiful Thailand.
How to plan your trip to Phuket, Thailand
Everything you need to know about how to travel to Phuket, how to get around the island, beaches to visit and much more you can find on our super guide > What to do in Phuket – discover the island beyond Patong Beach.
Karon Beach is very well located, there are some nice beaches around as Kata Beach [1.3km away] and Kata Noi [4.6km away], and from Karon Beach to Patong Beach it is only 7 km. You can rent a motorbike to drive around or you can take a tuk-tuk from Karon to the other beaches around it. To go from Karon to Patong ask your hotel if they have a shuttle bus or ask them to call a taxi for you. Most of the resorts and best hotels in Karon Beach offer shuttle buses from Karon to Patong, in case you want to enjoy the shopping malls or a crazy night out.
Are you planning to travel to Phuket by bus or train?
Bear in mind that it’s a long journey from Phuket Airport to Karon Beach and you might face some traffic jams. It’s normal, you will have to cross almost the whole island and Phuket is huge. My suggestion is to book a hotel that offers airport pick up service, sometimes it’s better to spend a few extra dollars in a good hotel and have all the transportation sorted for you.
Three or four days are enough to discover the best things to do in Karon Beach and enjoy this little paradise, but if you can stay longer do it. Is Phuket only a part of your holidays in Thailand? So read all our guides and plan an awesome Thai trip.
Travel guides to the best destinations in Thailand:
- First time in Bangkok – what to do and where to stay
- Unique things to do in Bangkok – go beyond the tourist attractions
- Romantic Bangkok
- Most Instagrammable places in Bangkok
- What to do in Chiang Mai, attractions and our favorite spots
- Coffee experience and trekking in Chiang Mai
- Sak Yant blessed tattoo, a spiritual experience in Thailand
- Best hotels for a romantic trip or a honeymoon in Thailand
- How much does it cost to travel in Thailand?
- 11 reasons to travel to the Thai Islands now
- Clique here other posts and guides about Thailand
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PS: we received a complimentary stay at Novotel Karon Phuket Resort & Spa, but it doesn’t matter who paid the bill you always receive our honest opinion about the services and the destination.