Jamie's Phuket Blog

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Top 10 Phuket Hotels 2018

Time for an update the Top 10 Phuket Hotels list, but I've made it a "Top 12" this year. There's only 1 new hotel in this new 2018 list - much of the top 10 is similar to 2017 although slightly re-arranged. For each hotel there are links for checking online rates and availability - try using Agoda.com to book your hotels in Phuket. As for previous top 10 hotel lists, I base this on Trip Advisor rankings which may not be perfect and do change all the time. You'll find links to reviews for each hotel - mostly from Agoda where possible. Hotels get scores out of 10 on Agoda so you can easily compare, and reviews can only be left by people who have actually booked the hotel, so you can see if real hotel guests agree with the TA ratings!

1. Trisara Phuket Villas & Residences

Trisara

Trisara was top of the top 10 for 3 years running, dropped to number 2 last year and is now back on top! I would really really love to stay here a few days and do nothing at all! Are you listening Trisara social media manager?! Trisara offers private pool villas by a private beach to the north of Bang Tao beach in the north of Phuket island. Trisara is what I'd call a "private, luxury, superb view view, relax and unwind" style hotel. Only 48 villas, acres of space, no crowds. There are also "private residences" (houses) with 2 - 6 bedrooms, ideal for families, big groups, or even wedding parties. Or just for a relaxing getaway for a romantic couple. The location - miles from any busy areas, so youll need your own transport or have to get taxis everywhere.

Trisara @ Agoda.com
Trisara - Reviews


2. The Chava Resort (Surin Beach)

Chava Resort

The Chava hit the top 10 in 2015, hit number 1 last year and now number 2. Surin Beach always has something in the top 10. The Chava Resort is actually a collection of 2 - 5 room apartments (this seems to be called an "apartment resort"), some are run directly by the hotel, while some are privately owned and privately rented. Rooms are really enormous, not normal hotel size, good for families and groups. Like Trisara, it's a place with sea views, slightly up in the hills, not by the beach but really only a few minutes walk from the beach.

Chava Resort @ Agoda.com
Chava Resort - Reviews


3. Andara Resort and Villas (Kamala Beach)

Andara

Andara remains firmly at number 3, same as 2016 and 2017. This is a 5 star resort, another resort on the hillside, located near Kamala Beach, another one with luxury villas. It also features on my best family hotel list, but with individual villas and private pools, will suit couples as well as families. Andara resort is in the hills, not right by the beach. Some (not all) of the villas have great sea views. There is a definite trend of non-beachfront luxury in recent years. Maybe because the beach areas - certainly the main beaches - are too full, and also because beachfront land is very, very expensive. Cheaper to get land in the hills. If you want luxury and seclusion, Phuket has plenty of it, but not right by the beach and not in the main tourist areas.

Andara Resort & Villas @ Agoda.com
Andara Resort & Villas - Reviews


4. BYD Lofts (Patong Beach)

BYD Lofts

BYD Lofts remains very popular - it's been in the top 5 for the last 5 years. Unlike the top 3 on this list - if you want a room near the heart of Patong Beach, close to the action and in the middle of the busiest beach area in Thailand, BYD Lofts offers serviced apartments with the hotel featuring a rooftop pool (and a view over the beautiful concrete jungle of Patong). There are 1 or 2 bedroom apartments of various sizes. I rarely venture into Patong myself - not my style, but Patong beach is very convenient for visitors, with huge numbers of restaurants plus shops/the big Jungceylon Mall and tour agents near you. And bars and nightlife too.

BYD Lofts @ Agoda.com
BYD Lofts - Reviews


5. Navatara (Rawai Beach)

Navatara

Navatara first appeared on the list at number 7 in 2015, up to 6 last year and now creeping up to number 5. Navatara opened in 2013, but with hotels opening all the time I'd not even heard of it until doing the top 10 list in 2016! Navatara has just 37 rooms, is built "Thai style", some rooms have direct pool access, all rooms look pretty big! A small, Thai style resort away from the main beaches, but not too far - sounds like what a lot of people ask me to recommend! Not by the beach, about 500m from Rawai beach and a few minutes drive from Nai Harn beach and Phromthep Cape. A very nice corner of Phuket.

Navatara @ Agoda.com
Navatara - Reviews


6. Como Point Yamu

Point Yamu Resort

Another very new resort (opened in 2014) with a great scenic location, if you don't mind being miles from anywhere! A few years ago when Cape Yamu started being developed we took a drive to explore and I was not happy. A beautiful natural headland covered in concrete and cranes. Of course now it looks totally amazing and I'd be very happy to stay a night or three here. Oh, by the way - it's not at all cheap! Cape Yamu is on the east coast of Phuket (a long way from the main west coast beach areas), and the views are truly superb. There are 79 rooms plus 27 private villas. With this kind of resort you always see reviews from people who have not looked at a map. YES, it's a remote location. For sure there are not many restaurants around this area - if you want to see Phuket or eat out you need a taxi or a rental car. What you pay for seclusion and luxury.

Point Yamu Resort @ Agoda.com
Point Yamu Resort - Reviews


7. Renaissance Phuket Resort (Mai Khao Beach)

Renaissance

Renaissance is one of the Marriott owned resorts north of Phuket Airport at Mai Khao Beach. Renaissance has been on this blog before as part of the Best Luxury Phuket Resorts list and was also in the Top 10 Hotels for 2017. Mai Khao beach is still really quiet and unless you stick to only the various Marriott hotel restaurants you'll need transport or taxis to get to other places. Rent a car, explore, drive just a few minutes from here and you're over the bridge into Phang Nga province. Ideal for a few days of relaxation or a quiet base for exploring the Phuket area!

Renaissance @ Agoda.com
Renaissance - Reviews


8. Amari Phuket (Patong Beach)

Amari Phuket

The Amari Phuket Resort was one of the first big holiday resorts in Phuket, opening way back in 1984. I'm surprised an old hotel like this can make the top 10! But Amari keeps renovating rooms and adding to the resort and they have a couple of very well regarded restaurants. Great location to relax at the far south end of Patong Beach - far enough from the madness, but you can still walk to the busy center of Patong in 15 minutes. A brand new "ocean wing" opened in 2016. Last time I looked at Amari, everything looked perfect. If you ask me to suggest a hotel in Patong - this one!

Amari Phuket Resort @ Agoda.com
Amari Phuket Resort - Reviews


9. The Surin (Pansea Beach)

The Surin

The Surin (formerly called The Chedi) reopened with the new name about 7 years ago, but The Chedi had been there for nearly 30 years already, with it's ridiculously good location on a private beach between Surin and Bang Tao beaches in the north of Phuket. I'd stay here! Another that is a little remote but you can get to Surin or Bang Tao for restaurant options. And it's not ridiculously expensive. The beach is not quite private, it's shared with the very fancy Amanpuri.

The Surin @ Agoda.com
The Surin - Reviews


10. Ayara Kamala

Ayara Kamala Resort

And the only new entry into the top 10 - Ayara Kamala Resort - not quite at Kamala beach actually, it's on the headland south of Kamala along with several other properties/hotels and villas. Great views, quite exclusive, just a dozen or so villas. The area is called Millionaire's Mile. A couple of kilometers to walk to Kamala beach, I assume they have some kind of free shuttle!

Ayara Kamala @ Agoda.com
Ayara Kamala - Reviews


11. The Pavilions (Layan Beach)

Pavilions

Just sliding out of the top 10, but worth a mention, The Pavilions was included a few years ago on my Top 10 Romantic Hotels list. The resort promotes itself heavily as a couples paradise - with individual villas, plus 2,3 and 4 bedroom villas. Located on a hill with sea views looking towards Bang Tao and Layan beaches, but not really near the beach at all. There are apparently 2 award winning restaurants and (quote from their website) the largest hotel pool in Phuket.

The Pavilions @ Agoda.com
The Pavilions - Reviews


12. The Shore at Katathani (Kata Noi Beach)

The Shore at Katathani

The Katathani Resort has been open for many many years at quiet Kata Noi beach to the south of Kata beach. The Shore is their newer luxury "pool villa" development, which opened in 2010 catching the popular wave of private villa style hotels - as you can certainly see from this top 10! And these villas look great. They are all private pool villas, some with seaview (note: if you read the reviews, you can see that the view does vary from villa to villa). A great hotel for couples. Most of the reviews are from couples and I see lots and lots of honeymoon reviews. Well, you have to spoil yourselves once before real life starts!

The Shore at Katathani @ Agoda.com
The Shore at Katathani - Reviews


That's the Top 12 hotels in Phuket as of early 2018. Have you stayed at a hotel that's not listed, but you think it should be? Go and give it a big review and get it's ranking up! Phuket has been on the mainstream tourism route for well over 25 years now and you can find a mix of old and new resorts, big hotels, guesthouses, villas, apartments, hillside, beachfront, busy areas, quiet areas. It's not a cliché .. There is actually something here for everyone. Doing some research is very important especially regarding the hotel location. Look at a map, please! In recent years, as this list shows, many new top class resorts have opened in more secluded areas and the trend is for sea view hillside (not on the beach) villas. Land prices and rents are so high that beachfront is a mega investment. Phuket has a big luxury market now, and most of this top 10 could be called luxury by my standards, but at the same time small hotels, guesthouses and "backpacker price" places are also plentiful.

Check agoda.com for hotel booking. There are many reviews on agoda for most of the hotels listed on this blog. Please do read the reviews, and do think carefully also about what suits you - location, resort size, hotel style, price(!), do you want something for couples, or suitable for families / kids, close to the airport or close to nightlife etc. Some like it quiet and secluded, others want noisy fun. Check the menu on the left of this blog page for more hotel information pages to help you make the right choice!

Questions - got something to ask? Please do ask on my Jamie's Phuket Facebook Page. See you in Phuket!





Phuket Airport

Back in 1999 when I arrived in Phuket, the airport was considerably smaller and quieter than it is now. Although Phuket was already a very popular tourist destination, and had been steadily growing since the 1980s, the airport had way less flights and way less arrivals and departures compared to now. I'm not quite sure where the figures come from, but the Wikipedia page on Phuket Airport has lists of passenger movements and flight movements. Back in 1999, the total passenger volume was about 3 million. This had increased to nearly 5 million by 2004, but dropped back to just over 3 million in 2005 (due to the tsunami on 26th December 2004). But by 2007, passenger volume was up to well over 5 million and it's been increasing ever since. The 2017 figure was over 16 million, with over half of this from international flights.

The airport was overstretched and getting rather outdated with just 1 terminal until the new international terminal opened in September 2016. I flew to the UK that September, out of the old terminal and back into the new one. Wow, a huge difference! Suddenly Phuket airport looked modern! The only issue seemed to be (and this continues to be an occasional issue) the lack on enough staff at immigration. There can be long queues sometimes .. with millions of people entering Thailand through Phuket airport .. there can never be enough staff! But at least the airport is bigger and more modern now. With the opening of the international terminal, the domestic terminal had 18 months of renovations that finished in June 2018.

Phuket International Airport

(above) Inside the new International terminal at Phuket Airport

Phuket Airport Location

This is something that many people don't realise. I know many people arrive at the airport and expect to be a short taxi ride from their hotel. Customers heading to our dive shop at Karon beach are surprised that the taxi can take 90 minutes. Phuket is bigger than you may realise. The island has an area of over 500 square kilometers and the airport is way up in the north of Phuket. From the airport to the main beaches on the southwest coast is a ride of 40 - 50km and at busy times, traffic in Phuket can be a bit slow! Sure if you choose a hotel at Nai Yang or Mai Khao beaches you are way closer to the airport (but further from the main tourism / nightlife / shopping centers). The runway starts right by the south end of Mai Khao beach, which means you can watch planes taking off or landing from the beach :)

Plane Takeoff at Mai Khao Beach, Phuket

Getting To Your Accommodation

There are plenty of taxi options from the airport to hotels anywhere on the island. My suggestion - pre-book an airport transfer. So nice after a flight to see a taxi drive holding up your name and head straight to the hotel without having to worry about arranging anything on arrival. My friends at Easy Day Thailand provide a very good airport transfer service either from the airport or back to the airport. Their rate is around 1000 Baht one way or 1600 Baht for return transfer. That's a fixed rate for any hotel, so a very good deal for hotels further away from the airport! If you book a taxi on arrival from a desk at the arrivals area it might work out a few Baht cheaper to some areas in Phuket. BUT getting back to the airport is trickier. If you get a taxi from outside your hotel for sure the asking rate will be more than you paid to get to the hotel. So that deal offered by Easy Day is a good one!

Phuket Airport Taxi

(above) Phuket Taxi Service by Easy Day Thailand

There is a lower budget option - a shared minibus service. Normally about 200 Baht per person and will depart when full .. then take longer to get anywhere as you're dropping people off all over the place and I do hear these cheap options try to make extra money by dropping everyone at tour agencies along the way. If you are a single, low budget traveler, this may be the way for you.

OR how about hiring a car? Many major rental agencies have services at the airport (Budget, Hertz, Avis for example). You can rent a car for about 1000 Baht per day. Good if you want to explore larger areas and not just stay by the beach and take a few organised tours. I know the traffic can be a little nuts, but if you are an independent tourist, consider renting a car. Be sure to have an international license.

The Future

Something will need to be done here in Phuket .. the numbers can't keep rising forever, but already the airport is a bit too busy even with 2 terminals. There is no space for a second runway in between the sea and the hills, but .. plans are afoot to maybe build a second airport a little north of Phuket island in Phang Nga province - see news here. Now I think the idea is that this would serve Khao Lak .. hard to see how to get everyone on the right flights. If that new airport got built it could be a 2 and a half hour drive to the south of Phuket, so things would need to be managed very carefully. Let's see what happens ...

Flying in to Phuket

(above) Flying in to Phuket from the east looking north across Phang Nga Bay

Related Links

Phuket Flight Radar - Live Air Traffic
Phuket Airport - Flight Arrivals and Departures
Phuket Airport Taxi Service
Hotels Near Phuket Airport

Phuket Airport Location Map





Bookhemian Cafe in Old Phuket Town

I was looking back at some older photos from the years 2002 - 2007. 16 years ago, old Phuket Town was certainly not ready for tourism. The old town streets looked rather dirty and there was really not much in the way of cafes and restaurants. I think things started to change about 2006, and there were plans made to remove overhead cables, the old town festival started in 2009, streets like Thalang Road and Soi Romanee got a facelift and restaurants started to open in the area but the strets still had a good mix of local businesses, homes, old buildings and some tourism. Thalang Road now is quite busy during the day. A lot of people taking photos and maybe 1 too many souvenir shops mixed with places like old printers, hardware shops, the old herb shop, Muslim Roti shops ... And quite a few cafes and restaurants too!

Bookhemian Cafe on Thalang Road

Bookhemian has been open for quite a few years now, located about halfway along Thalang Road - it's the place with the red second floor shutters in the photo above. And .. note the aircon! You'd not find any aircon cafe here 10 years ago. There are a few now (Kopitiam has an aircon room, so does Eleven Two. I remember first time I went into Bookhemian they had a book built into the large door handle, sandwiched between 2 thick slices of clear glass .. and the book was '100 Years of Solitude' which happens to be one of my favourites.

Bookhemian Cafe in old Phuket Town

Bookhemian Cafe in old Phuket Town

(above) Entrance to Bookhemian

Inside there are several different rooms, books lining the walls, it's quiet and cool. I mean "cool" because of the aircon and because it's arty.

Bookhemian Cafe in old Phuket Town

Bookhemian Cafe in old Phuket Town

(above) The front room in Bookhemian .. not a big place! Only a few small tables here, plus there's a table outside the front door if you don't want air conditioning!

I have only come here for a drink. I've been several times with the kids. My daughter loves the lime and honey soda drink. You can also get a beer or coffee here. And a cake! I think there is some food too, like breakfasts .. I have to go check the menu.

Bookhemian Cafe in old Phuket Town

(above) Lime and Honey drink .. the tables have old printing press letters under the glass. There are a couple of old printing shops along Thalang Road.

Bookhemian Cafe in old Phuket Town

Bookhemian Cafe in old Phuket Town

(above) The room at the back of Bookhemian, very arty. The stairs lead to an "art space" .. I better go take a photo up there! If I'm walking around old town, maybe looking around for new street art, this is a good place for a cold drink in a cool room!

Bookhemian Cafe - Location Map