Click to enlargeKaron, featuring an incredibly long stretch of squeaky white sand, is less hectic than Patong but it still offers a full range of facilities, dining and activities. While it's a fast-growing area, Karon is nicely spread out and rarely feels crowded.

Karon is concentrated around three main areas. In the Karon Plaza area on the south end there a number of budget guesthouses, restaurants and bars.

The side sois are worth exploring, particularly the one that leads to a small art community, where some budding Thai painters have built a complex of huts, pubs and art galleries in which they live and work. Nearby, on the beach road leading to Kata, is the Karon football stadium, which hosts both local and international sporting events.

The sprawling grounds of Thavorn Palm Beach Resort and the Hilton Phuket Arcadia Resort and Spa dominate much of the central part of Karon, then just north of these is Aroona Plaza.

Aroona Plaza houses a range of nice handicraft shops, good restaurants and cafes, a few bars and a hotel modeled after the Sino-Portuguese architecture of Old Phuket. The nice, wide avenue is ideal for taking an evening stroll and doing some shopping.


The north end features the Karon Circle, which has sculptures of workers commemorating Phuket's tin-mining and agricultural past. The busy Patak East Rd leading back from the circle is a jumble of bars, restaurants, all kinds of shops and small hotels.

While Karon's nightlife is more subdued than Patong, the bars along this road can get lively and loud in the evenings. Just north of the circle is a small lake, around which a public park and outdoor theatre are being developed.

Unlike Patong Beach, big-name restaurants and fast food chains have yet to arrive in Karon, but it is by no means lacking in dining options. The restaurants of the larger resorts offer gorgeous settings and fine food, while the streets are clogged with a range of seafood, Thai and Western restaurants. For a spectacular sunset view, drive just a few minutes' north of the beach and stop in at one of the cliffside restaurants up the hill.

For lunch, the stalls set up on the beach just north of the circle are worth trying for their curries and other Thai dishes at reasonable prices, and also for the sheer pleasure of feeling only sand underfoot and an unfettered view of the sea as you dine.

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