Jamie's Phuket Blog

Jamie's Phuket Blog - Discover The Real Phuket!

Top 10 Best Phuket Hotels 2019

It's time for the 2019 Top 10 Phuket Hotels list. There are 3 new entries compared to 2018 and a new number 1. For each hotel there are links for checking online rates and availability with Agoda.com. As for all previous year's top 10 hotel lists, I based this on Tripadvisor rankings which may be imperfect and change all the time. You'll find links to reviews for each hotel. Hotels get scores out of 10 on Agoda so you can compare reviews, and importantly reviews can only be made by guests who have actually booked the hotel, so you can see if real hotel guests agree with TA ratings!

1. Ayara Kamala

Ayara Kamala Resort

Ayara Kamala Resort was new in the top 10 last year and now jumps right to the top! Despite the name, the resort is not right on Kamala beach - you'll find it on the headland south of Kamala along with several other very nice resorts and private villas. This stretch of coast has great views and the resort is quite exclusive, with just a dozen or so villas. The area is called Millionaire's Mile. From the resort to Kamala beach is about 2km, so hopefully they have a free shuttle!

Ayara Kamala - Information & Booking
Ayara Kamala - Reviews

2. The Chava Resort (Surin Beach)

Chava Resort

The Chava hit the top 10 in 2015, hit number 1 in 2016 and was number 2 last year too. Surin Beach always has something in the top 10! The Chava Resort features a collection of 2 - 5 room apartments (this seems to be called an "apartment resort"), some are run directly by the hotel, while some on the same property are privately owned and privately rented. Rooms are really enormous, not normal hotel size, great for families and groups. Like Ayara, it's a place with sea views, slightly up in the hills, not right on the beach but just few minutes walk from Surin beach.

Chava Resort - Information & Booking
Chava Resort - Reviews

3. 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 - Information & Booking
BYD Lofts - Reviews

4. Trisara Phuket Villas & Residences


Trisara has been either 1 or 2 on this list for about 5 years, so a surprise to find it ranked 4th! I would really really love to stay here a few days and do nothing at all! Are you listening Trisara 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 - Information & Booking
Trisara - Reviews

5. Navatara (Rawai Beach)


Navatara first appeared on the list at number 7 in 2016, and has been at number 5 for 2 years. 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 37 rooms, built with some "Thai style". Some rooms have pool access, and all rooms look pretty big! This is a smaller, Thai style resort away from the main beaches, but not too far - many people ask me to recommend a hotel like this! Like many of the very best hotels, it's not on the beach. Navatara is about 500m from Rawai beach and a few minutes drive from Nai Harn beach and Phromthep Cape. One of my favourite corners of Phuket.

Navatara - Information & Booking
Navatara - Reviews

6. Avista Grande (Karon Beach)

Avista Grande

The top 10 in the last couple of years has almost entirely been missing hotels at the main beaches, but the Avista Grande at Karon Beach leaps into the top 10. The full name is Avista Grande Phuket Karon MGallery by Sofitel .. bit of a mouthful. Sofitel is a chain, part of the Accor group, with MGallery being a more boutique luxury style of hotel. I work at Karon beach at the Sunrise Divers shop and we have had a fair number of customers staying at this hotel in the last year.

Avista Grande - Information & Booking
Avista Grande - Reviews

7. Chanalai Flora Resort (Kata Beach)

Chanalai Flora Resort

And another on a main beach! There are several Chanalai resorts in Phuket (Garden, Hillside, Romantica, Flora) and all are in Kata or Karon. Note - if you stay at one of these, be sure if you book tours that you know which Chanalai you are at! And note that this is not the same place as La Flora, which is in Patong. Chanalai Flora is in a great location just a few minutes walk to Kata beach, and there are plenty of shops and all kind of restaurants nearby. And the price is quite a bit lower than most of these top 10 resorts!

Chanalai Flora Resort - Information & Booking
Chanalai Flora Resort - Reviews

8. The Surin (Pansea Beach)

The Surin

The Surin (formerly called The Chedi) reopened with the new name about 8 years ago, but The Chedi had already been in Phuket for many many years, with it's uniquely excellent location on a "private" beach between Surin and Bang Tao beaches in the north of Phuket. I'd stay here! Another resort that is a little remote but you can get to Surin or Bang Tao for restaurant options. I'd rent a car if I stayed here. And The Surin is not ridiculously expensive compared to the neighbour - the beach is shared with the very very fancy Amanpuri.

The Surin - Information & Booking
The Surin - Reviews

9. Renaissance Phuket Resort (Mai Khao Beach)


Renaissance is one of the various 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 2018 and 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 and a quiet base for exploring the Phuket area!

Renaissance - Information & Booking
Renaissance - Reviews

10. Pacific Club Resort (Karon Beach)

Pacific Club Resort

Pacific Club has been lurking around the top 10 for years, sometimes in and sometimes just out. Located on the hillside above Karon beach near the also-popular Mandarava resort, Pacific Club is a bit off the main strip, quiet at night, great views, has a popular restaurant and various room types including suites and small apartments with kitchens. It's about 10 minutes walk down to the beach.

Pacific Club Resort - Information & Booking
Pacific Club Resort - Reviews

And that's the Top 10 hotels in Phuket as of early 2019. 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 TA ranking up! Phuket has been on the mainstream tourism route for nearly 30 years now, and there is a great mix of old and new resorts (hard to keep up with openings and re-brandings!), big hotels, guesthouses, villas, apartments, hillside, beachfront, busy areas, quiet areas. There is something here in Phuket for everyone. Any budget.

For anyone thinking of coming to Phuket - doing your research is very important especially regarding the hotel location. Look at a map, please! I read too many reviews complaining about location. Check the map! In recent years, as this list shows, many top class resorts have opened in more secluded areas and the trend is for sea view hillside (not on the beach) hotels and villas. Land prices (buying or renting) are so incredibly high that beachfront would be a mega-investment. Although Phuket does get many package tourists these days there is also a big luxury market, 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.

For hotel booking, reviews, information ... check agoda.com or booking.com! See you in Phuket!

Jamie's Phuket Review of 2018

Happy 2019 to everyone! Or, if you are using the old Thai calendar, Happy 2562! Every year on Jamie's Phuket Blog, I have a look back at the previous year. The year of 2018 was mostly good, including a very nice long holiday to England in the summer with my wife and kids. The first time we've had a chance to do this. I had been waiting until both kids were old enough to really appreciate the trip. And then, just as we planned to travel in 2014, my Mum got sick, passed away, and Dad began to suffer from severe dementia that came on very quickly since they had both visited Thailand in 2013. From 2014 to 2017 I made 5 trips to England myself for family reasons. Not holidays, just seeing Mum pass away and seeing Dad and getting him in the right place. Since 2015 he's been in a care home in my home town. I was happy that we could all visit him this summer. I had a feeling we'd not see him again.

Dad passed away on December 17th 2018, so the end of the year was not really happy. I was not feeling at all festive, was very busy in the dive shop and things were a bit of a blur for a couple of weeks. Dad (and Mum) made many trips over the years to Phuket. We did lots of exploring and they enjoyed sometimes just driving around on their own finding back roads and small beaches. Well, I think Mum enjoyed it more than Dad, as he was not really a fan of the hot weather or all the "funny food"! The photo below was taken at the beach in Khao Lak in 2013. I am hoping Mum and Dad are together somewhere like this now, only a bit cooler and with some proper English food available.

Mum and Dad at Khao Lak

The last night of 2018 I did at least feel a bit happier. Happy to have my family with me. Looking forward to 2019.

Jamie Monk and Family

(above) The Monk family, photo taken on Christmas Day 2018

Phuket - New Years Eve

(above) We did New Years at The Beach Bar, Cape Panwa. Food, drinks, fireworks, family.

And now, back to January 2018. Start of a new year, now an old year. During 2018 I did slow down on the blogging. We have not had a huge amount of cash to spare, so have had less trips, have been eating out less, and that trip to England was a wallet destroyer! And I'm getting older and lazier. Must try better! I am pretty active on Twitter - please do follow me @jamiemonk. And I do post on Instagram quite often too - you can find me there @phuketblog.

2018's blog posts began with my usual list of the Top 10 Phuket Hotels (updated every year). If you want to book hotels and want to help this blog, please start by clicking on any of the Agoda links on this blog, so I can make a few Baht, thanks for the help!

I started the year trying to do a lot more exercise and did manage to drop about 8kg in weight though ended up later in the year with a bruised heel and no money to buy better running shoes! I (and my wife) often run, jog, walk at Bang Wad Reservoir in Phuket which is only a short drive from our house. We are lucky to have it there.

Bang Wad Reservoir Phuket

(above) Bang Wad Reservoir

And in February my wife, my son and I all signed up for the Phuket Night Run - a run around old Phuket Town starting 10:30pm. A fun event and very busy with thousands of people taking part. If my heel is better this year I will upgrade to a 10km run.

Phuket Town Night Run Finishers

(above) Phuket Night Run finishers!

Life these days is very normal - it's mostly work and school for much of the year, but we do try and have some days out. We had a very nice day in February heading to Khao Lak, plus Ton Prai waterfall and lunch next to Wat Khao Waterfall. Nothing really planned, we sometimes just "go for a drive"!

Ton Prai Waterfall

(above) My wife and boy at Ton Prai Waterfall

In March I hiked to the Big Buddha from Karon beach again - an older blog post from some years ago needed updating. It's not a super hard hike, but certainly a bit sweaty!

Steep path - hiking to the Phuket Big Buddha

(above) A steep section of the hike up to the Big Buddha

During the first half of the year I did blog about a few restaurants and cafes. There are so many restaurants and cafes in Phuket and we should try new places more often, but I think my wife and I are settling into middle age and we like things that we like! Also, I don't often blog a restaurant on the first try - it has to be a place I have been to a few times. And, in case you are wondering, I don't do paid reviews or take any freebies. A new Italian place opened not far from our house - La Casina Rossa was a place we tried a few times in 2018, very good Italian food, with an owner from Napoli. I also blogged a nice Phuket Town cafe called Bookhemian, good for a drink on a hot day. And I wrote about the Klang Dong restaurant at the previously mentioned Wat Khao Waterfall. 3 very different places. Klang Dong is good for local food.

Pizza at La Casina Rossa Restaurant

(above) Pizza at La Casina Rossa

Yam Gung Siap

(above) Local style dried shrimp salad at Klang Dong

And something I need to do again .. I took the kids plane spotting at Mai Khao Beach - you can stand on the beach right at the end of the runway so the planes fly right overhead!

Plane Takeoff at Mai Khao Beach, Phuket

(above) On the beach next to Phuket Airport.

Also found time in May to walk around old town finding yet more street art - more keeps appearing! Read more @ Phuket Town Street Art.

Old Phuket Town Street Art

Phuket these days has a lot more modern infrastructure and amenities compared to when I arrived in 1999. We have a huge cinema at the Central Festival mall, and that's only 10 minutes from our house :) Went a couple of times to watch movies in 2018 - sorry to say my taste is not so arty. Went to see Solo (Star Wars movie) and of course Avengers Infinity War. And then I wrote a blog post about Going to the Cinema in Phuket.

SFX Multiscreen Cinema at Central Festival Mall in Phuket

(above) Cinema at the Central mall in Phuket

And another enjoyable evening in June was a comedy show at the Marriott Merlin Beach resort featuring a couple of 'Celtic Comedy Legends'. They were pretty good, I hope more of these events happen, although I read that the guy who was arranging it passed away later in the year. Bill Bailey has been on back in April but I could not make that one. Shame.

We were in England for almost a month from mid-June to mid-July. England is not Phuket, so I won't post photos here. Great holiday. Weather was amazing. Well, OK .. 1 photo :

Swaledale, Yorkshire Dales

(above) Not Phuket. This is Swaledale, in the Yorkshire Dales. My favourite part of England.

Back to Phuket! I wrote a little blog post about Phuket Airport. A useful information blog post. Should maybe do more of these.

Flying in to Phuket

(above) Flying in to Phuket Airport from the east over Phang Nga Bay

Our neighbours opened a cafe this year so we have visited quite a few times - Khun Aey bakes all the cakes herself, I can recommend the lemon meringue tart - have a look at Bukit Cuppa.

Coffee and Cake at Bukit Cuppa

Always some new places to explore. A new museum has opened in old Phuket Town - the Peranakannitat Museum found in the old Chartered Bank building, it was still under development when I visited .. was meant to open a couple of years ago, still a work in progress, but entry is free and if you are taking some time to explore old town, do have a look!

Standard Chartered Bank Building in Old Phuket Town

(above) The Peranakannitat Museum in old Phuket Town

With Phuket being big, and with me having limited free time, there are places that I have been to, but not visited for many years. I took a half day to re-visit Ao Sane Beach, just round the corner from Naiharn Beach in the very south of Phuket. It had not really changed in 10+ years! Still small, quiet, one restaurant, a few cheap bungalows for rent. Give me more free time and I'll spend more time relaxing here!

Ao Sane Beach

(above) Ao Sane Beach

And I found a new temple to visit! In the early days of the blog, I was trying to blog every temple in Phuket. Still missing a few. Doi Thepnimit temple opened earlier in the year in the hills above Patong beach. Great view from here.

Doi Thepnimit Temple

In 2017 we'd made 2 trips to Krabi, each for 2 nights and we'd hoped to find tine for another Krabi trip in 2018. We just about managed to squeeze in a 3 night trip in October, before high season kicked off. Another very nice trip. Krabi is quieter than Phuket. I like it for a few days. On this trip - see Krabi Holiday 2018 - we stayed in a nice cheap hotel in Krabi Town again and went to the Emerald Pool, took a trip up the river to Khao Khanab Nam cave, visited Huay Toh Waterfall, ate a lot and just generally had a relaxing time!

Emerald Pool, Krabi

Khao Khanab Nam Cave, Krabi

(above) Exploring in Krabi - Emerald Pool and Khao Khanab Nam cave

In November we floated our krathong for the Loy Krathong festival and I think the highlight of the month was my dear wife, having worked very hard on getting fit in the last couple of years, completing a half marathon! Proud husband!

The end of the year - back to the work and school routine and wishing we had more money! Had a nice day out at the end of November revisiting Samet Nangshe Viewpoint in Phang Nga and testing our non-4WD car to it's limits on a hill up to Kuan Ta Eiam Viewpoint! Another one of our "take a drive and see what happens" days. Good days.

(above) At Samet Nangshe Viewpoint

After Dad passed away, I was thinking I'd need to fly to the UK for Christmas, but it's worked out that his funeral will be January 11th. The Christmas period for me was just about work, having 1 nice day with the family on the 25th and lots of communication with family in the Uk about my Dad, about the funeral and being very thankful that I have a large family some of whom are very kind and able to arrange things locally, while I feel a bit useless being so far away! I was glad of a distraction on December 29th - a Phuket Instagram Meet Up in Phuket Town, a walk around, meet new people, have a few drinks, take some photos, an enjoyable afternoon.

One of many great examples of street art in Phuket Town

So we reach the end of 2018 - a sad end. I am flying to England in a couple of days for about 2 weeks. End of an era for the Monk family. I end my 2018 review with another photo of Dad in Thailand.

2019. Welcome. Let's see what happens. The world is changing. Best wishes from Phuket.

Previous Yearly Blog Reviews : 2017 - 2016 - 2015 - 2014 - 2013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2010

Phuket Instagram 'Instameet' December 2018

Had a very nice afternoon a few days before New Year wandering around old Phuket Town taking some photos and even finding some street art that I had not seen before. This was the second time I have met people for an Instagram meet-up, the first being back in 2014 (see Phuket Instagram Meet Up 2014). Both were arranged by Amy, who has lived here for many years and she uses the Instagram username phuketstagram. It was good to have a day off in the middle of peak season after a lot of busy days in the dive shop, the weather was very warm and sunny, and I enjoyed meeting some new people and realised I'd not wandered around town taking photos for quite a long time - I used to do this a lot! Probably I'm getting old and lazy, and days off in high season are often spent relaxing at home. Glad I made the effort this time!

Instagram - I guess most people are aware of Instagram? I have been uploading photos from my iPhone since I first got an iPhone in March 2013. Sometimes I post daily. Sometimes less often if all I'm doing is working every day! I suppose a good New Year's resolution (aside from drinking less beer and exercising more) would be to try and post on Instagram daily. You can find me with the user name phuketblog. Please do follow!

We met at the Phuketique Cafe, right on the corner near the main Phuket Town market. I've not been in there before - I'm not really the type to hang out in cafes, normally drink only 1 coffee per day, although Phuketique does have imported bottled beers too which is of interest even if imported bottled beers tend to be a little pricey here! Right next door is a small, very local style restaurant called Naowarat which I have eaten at many times with the family. On a busy Saturday afternoon in Phuket Town I had to drive around the block a couple of times looking for parking spaces before eventually parking in Mongkhon Nimit temple (parking fee 20 Baht) and walking a couple of blocks to Phuketique. A fair crowd of people were there and we all introduced ourselves briefly before wandering off towards the market just along the street.

Tuk Tuk at the circle near Phuket Town central market

(above) Circle at the junction of Ratsada Road and Yaowarat Road.

Phuket Town fresh market

Limes for sale at the market

(above) At the fresh market in Phuket Town.

There's a section of the fresh market leading north to Krabi Road. Just before you reach a narrow alley leading into Krabi Road you see this street art ...

One of many great examples of street art in Phuket Town

Instameet Group on Krabi Road, old Phuket Town

(above) Some of our Instameet group on Krabi Road next to the alley leading to the market.

Reflected old street in tailors window

(above) Reflections of shophouses in an old tailors on Krabi Road.

Old tiles in old Phuket Town

(above) Old tiled floor outside a house on Krabi Road.

Wandering along everyone was taking their own time, so I would be chatting with one person then meet another who had stopped to take photos, while others moved on ahead. I do admit that sometimes my life is rather hermetic, and meeting a lot of new people these days is hard work! But this was a very pleasant afternoon. Among the Instagram users with us, please do follow phuketpaparazzi, ojash008, pimmmchanok, bikkiebites, maireadmcgowan, girl_with_bear, sindbadthebiker, tobias___k, fitness.criminal, ghislainebovy, bestlifephuket and I am sure a couple more and if I forgot sorry!

Wandering onwards, after a quick look at Soi Romanee, a very popular little street connecting Thalang Road with Dibuk Road. At the east end of Thalang Road, we headed south, passing Phang Nga Road ...

Phang Nga Road looking west from the old Chartered Bank

(above) Looking west along Phang Nga Road in old Phuket Town.

Singer Electronic Display in old Phuket Town

(above) Singer Electronics display in one of the old Electronic stores in town.

Graffiti / art by Mue Bon on an old gate in Phuket Town

Graffiti by Mue Bon on an old gate on Phuket Road .. you can also follow mue_bon on Instagram!

And then, some new street art .. or at least something I did not know about. I have blogged about Phuket Town Street Art, and sometimes I hear about new paintings or see that older paintings have gone. These paintings are in an abandoned building on Taling Chan Road close to the Surin Circle close to Yameay Mosque.

Graffiti or Art in Phuket town

Graffiti or Art in Phuket town

Graffiti or Art in Phuket town

(above) Street Art in an abandoned building in old Phuket Town.

Heading back to the start point .. back up to Ratsada Road and lo! Hidden down a side street behind the Siam Commercial Bank building is an old mansion from the tin mining days, probably built around 100 - 120 years ago when Phuket Town was in it's heyday.

Abandoned old mansion in old Phuket Town

And then a small detour onto Phang Nga Road to visit the Shrine of the Serene Light which used to very very hidden away down a narrow alley, which got widened in 2013 to allow easier access to the shrine.

Shrine of the Serene Light

Next to the shrine is a very good secondhand bookshop, Southwind Books. I have been in here many times!

Southwind Secondhand Bookshop

By this time we'd all been walking around for 2 hours on a hot Phuket afternoon. Drinks needed! Phuketique, our start point, is a small place, so I suggested we check Kopitiam, which has been a favourite of mine since 2011. They are often very busy, but luckily had space for our group. Kopitiam has great local food and a huge drinks list. Naturally I just had a Chang beer (or 3), but they have a long list of herbal drinks, teas, coffees. A nice relaxing place to finish the Instameet and you can also follow Kopitiam's own wiwan_view on Instagram.

After chatting during the walk it was time to chat with a drink. A pleasure to meet everyone on the meet up. Should do it again on a more regular basis!

Please do follow me - phuketblog - on Instagram!