Karon Beach Hotels

Karon Beach is normally thought of as the second most touristy beach in Phuket after Patong. Probably true, but it's way quieter than Patong, much cleaner, and if you drive from Patong to Karon you will see what I mean. Like a breath of fresh air, with flowers, trees, a beach that has no direct development except for the new Centara Grand at one end, and just over 3km away the Karon Beach Resort right at the other end. The rest of the beach is natural - sand, some greenery, trees, and there is a drainage canal running along part of the beach, but it's been built to look nice, you have benches to sit on, plenty of beach access and a golden dragon statue too!

Check Agoda for a Full list of Karon beach hotels.

Karon has 2 main centers, the most developed near the north end with the road heading inland from the circle to the temple. I have written about Karon Beach on the blog already where you can find more general information. The north end can be quite busy. Lots of hotels and smaller guesthouses and lots of restaurants too. Past the circle further north are a few hotels - Phuket Ocean Resort, Front Village, Centara Grand and then just off the beach are Centara Villas and Karon Cliff which are on the hillside with a great view along the whole beach.

Then along the beach road (a small road runs all along from the circle to the south) you have resorts, some smaller, some larger, such as South Sea, Karon Princess, The Hilton, Thavorn Palm Beach, Moevenpick, Old Phuket, Karon Sea Sands and more. Each resort has its property and each one keeps itself clean. There are regular beach clean ups too. As you get to the south end, a road heads inland (I work up there at Sunrise Divers), and up that road is Phuket Orchid plus many smaller hotels like Karon Place, Casa Brasil, and some lower budget guesthouses like the Pineapple. Karon has accommodation to suit every budget. The last hotels to the south end are Andaman Seaview, Phuket Island View, Horizon and then Karon Beyond Resort and Marina Phuket. If you stay near the south end, you can also walk to Kata Beach in about 10 - 15 minutes

Recommended Karon Beach Hotels

Pacific Club Resort

Pacific Club Resort Karon

The Pacific Club Resort is at the north end of Karon, not right by the beach but on a hillside up a small road, great views, peace and quiet, a 10 minute walk into the busy end of Karon. This hotel consistently gets good reviews, and is in the Top 10 Phuket Hotels list.

Pacific Club Resort - Review on Jamie's Phuket
Pacific Club Resort - Check Rates and Availability
Pacific Club Resort - Reviews @ Agoda.com

Phuket Orchid Resort

Phuket Orchid Resort Karon

Phuket Orchid is quite a big hotel with over 500 rooms, the entrance is 1 minute walk to Karon beach. Great for families with several large swimming pools. It's on the side road heading off the beach - walk up that road for restaurants and bars and Sunrise Divers, where you can find me :) A friend of mine was manager of this resort for a while - he still works for the same company managing a resort in Khao Lak.

Phuket Orchid - Review on Jamie's Phuket
Phuket Orchid - Check Rates and Availability
Phuket Orchid - Reviews @ Agoda.com

Marina Phuket Resort

Marina Phuket Resort

The Marina Phuket Resort sits on the headland right at the south end of Karon Beach. The main entrance is up the road a little from the beach, but some of the rooms ahve a fantastic seaview and they have a restaurant called On The Rock which sits above the beach. Always gets good reviews, and close to Kata and Karon beaches.

Marina Phuket - Review on Jamie's Phuket
Marina Phuket - Check Rates and Availability

Old Phuket Hotel

Old Phuket Hotel

The Old Phuket is tucked away up a side road near the middle of Karon beach - the side road is for hotel access only, not a through road, so it's very quiet and just a couple of minutes walk to the beach. Hotel is designed in "olde Phuket" style - if you want to see the real thing, take a tour of Phuket Town!

Old Phuket Hotel - Review on Jamie's Phuket
Old Phuket - Check Rates and Availability
Old Phuket - Reviews @ Agoda.com

Boomerang Village

Boomerang Village

Boomerang Village - a bit of an oddity, not by the beach, I guess at least 10 minutes walk, it's up on the hillside between Karon and Kata off the "back road" called Patak Road (good for finding small local restaurants!). It gets great reviews, always sits in the top 10 on TripAdvisor,

Boomerang Village - Review on Jamie's Phuket
Boomerang Village - Check Rates and Availability
Boomerang Village - Reviews @ Agoda.com

More Karon Beach Hotels

Karon Princess review on Jamie's Phuket
Le Meridien Resort review on Jamie's Phuket
Phuket Island View review on Jamie's Phuket
Centara Grand Resort review on Jamie's Phuket
Hilton Phuket Info & Booking
Book Karon Beach Hotels Online

"Here comes the junk man"

 Here is the Junk Man always with a smile on his face
 Ciejay cleaning out the storage areas  of her saved  plastic and cans
 Sorting it out
Weighing each and puting in Big bags to haul away
In and out and off to another house , hopefully  to get a full truck today

That's a sound I love to hear , for one thing , it cleans out our storage room of all the plastic and cans and paper that Ciejay has saved to sell to the junk man.For Ciejay it brings a smile to her face , she saves the recyclable things to sell to the junk man and she calls it her "hair money" . The little bit of Baht that she gets adds to the (my) pocket change cup that she keeps on my computer table and when it's full it's time to go to the hair lady in the village, to get a cut and wash and style and sometimes even a dye job , ( when the gray comes peeking thru).
Recycling is sooo easy here in Thailand , because the junk man comes around with his truck and weight scales about once a month to buy from the folks, things that he can buy for a few baht per kilo and hopefully sell in the big city to the larger recyclers for a little profit . Some do this as a way of making a living and a few others in Wang Pho, do it for a week-in or part- time job to add to their monthly income or to help make the payments on the new truck or to pay for the building of a new home, that's the case, for one young couple that comes by.
Ciejay keeps her plastic in one bag and cans in another, all neat for the junk man , and me I am just happy to see it saved for a good cause ,and for the good of Mother Earth, the more we recycle and reuse , the less non biodegradable stuff that goes into the land fields and is dumped alone our highways and by-ways to stay forever polluting our land and landscape and adding another eyesore to our beautiful earth, and the area that we call home.
Do you recycle???  I remember in America it was a pain in the neck to do, because you had to have different color containers , and everything sorted out for the garbage men or they wouldn't pick it up and when they did , if it was something that they didn't want  they would just throw it back on your lawn and drive away , and you never saw a reduction on you (very high) garbage bill each month. Things here in are so different and the "JUNK MAN" makes it sooo easy to recycle , I have found it to be so , and I hope if you live in the LOS or in a place where they take recycling seriously that you do all you can to pitch -in and help , If we don't do it WHO WILL??.  Malcolm

Has the Novelty Worn Off ?...

I read about a longterm resident of Thailand the other day, who finally gave it up and moved home.  Among other things, he said the novelty had worn off.  Sadly, he wasn’t clear whether he took his Thai wife with him or not, as that would alter ones view of what he said.

Anyway, it got me thinking about why people come here, why some stay and why some leave. Putting aside the obvious response, from many a midlife-crisis-male, there must be something other than girls.  Perhaps it is nothing more than a manifestation of the grass being greener. Maybe some are escaping or moving away from something, while others are seekers of something new. Of course each individual will claim that his circumstances are unique, and no doubt there is some justification for such beliefs, but surely there are some lessons to be learned by asking the question.

I have heard many elderly new arrivals to Thailand explain, how much better their new lives are compared to their old ones, back home.  They were ravaged both emotionally and financially by past relationships.  Their dating prospects were limited at best and their finances stretched.  Here they were spoiled for choice, with twenty-something year old girls expressing keen interest and stroking their egos.  In these cases the lack of communication and understanding is almost seductive.  Ones imagination can run rampant, projecting whatever motivation one wishes onto this exotic young creature draping herself over your revitalized body and spirit.

This could be no more than a novelty, and the comparisons being made are often to a perfect storm or a worst case scenario, in which any comparison is going to be favorable.  Grasping at anything better than the past, can lead to well documented problems in the future as that novelty wears off. True I have seen many of these desperate relationships last for a very long time, perhaps due to having children to support or an inability to imagine anything better.  Yes, I know that when it comes to affairs of the heart, all advice falls on deaf ears.  So even when we say nothing, it doesn’t mean there is no desire to say something.  We just think better of it.

Still, that word ‘novelty’ struck a cord with me.  It has been a long time since anything in Thailand struck me as particularly ‘novel.’  But, what must it be like for the newcomer?  Surely there must be some attraction to the novel, the new, the different, the fresh, the unusual and not just an economic fixation on the Baht exchange rate and how much further your pension will go.

Even if we all go through the ‘novelty’ phase, how long can one stay in a foreign land without moving on to something else?  I have been asked before, what it is about Thai culture that keeps me here.  That question struck me as odd and irrelevant at the time.  Now I can see how that might have been one of the novelty factors for that individual, going through the process of trying be more Thai or understand Thai ways.  Come to think of it I believe it was a woman asking that question.  Not exactly a question one would expect from a male reader, enveloped in a hormonal fog.

I liken this process of discovering Thailand, to entering a large cave where one sees a kaleidoscope of unique forms and textures that beckons one to venture further in.  Like a child looking up at the shapes in the clouds, individuals imagine different things in what they see.  As one ventures deeper into the cave, the light begins to fade, things can get very dark and it is easy to lose your way.  Some turn around and go back to whence they came.  Others venture on and perhaps find that the cave is not as dark and unknowable as they once thought, or it turns into a tunnel and one can venture out the other side.  On the other hand, we have all seen those poor souls who lost their way in the darkness, falling victim to the frailties and vulnerabilities of human nature, or those who gave up and went home completely defeated.

One novelty that I could see wearing off quickly would be the somewhat emasculating act of being securely tethered to the wife or girlfriend’s apron strings.  Being unable to navigate life here on your own must be stressful.  I used to wonder why foreign males would open themselves to scorn and ridicule on expat forums, by asking questions that showed how little they knew.  Of course it would be better to go to the source for information and not to depend on a forum, but what if you can’t speak the language or don’t know where to go?  What if your partner doesn’t have the skills or social graces to go get you the answer?  What if she gets the answer but doesn’t have the language skills to explain it to you?  What if, what if, what if...?

Okay, perhaps I am just rehashing an old topic here and should let it go.  It just struck me as odd that someone would use the novelty wearing off as an excuse to leave rather than as a reason to stay.  It doesn’t bode well for relationships or life in general, if we are stuck in the infatuation and novelty phase our whole lives.  It just seems to me, there is something more substantial on the other side of that first blush of newness and novelty.  Then again, maybe people really are that simple and that shallow.

Diving Phuket with Sunrise Divers

Want to dive in Phuket or the Similan Islands? You can contact me at Sunrise Divers!

I came to Phuket in 1999, not with any plan to stay forever, get married and raise a family, but simply to find work as a scuba diving instructor and "give Thailand a try" with a vague plan to move on to other SE Asian countries and try them as well. I had done my divemaster course back in 1996 in Utila (Honduras) and gone back there in 1998 to become an instructor, with half a mind to stay on that little island forever. But quite a few instructors I knew there had worked in Thailand and it sounded interesting so after about 18 months on Utila, I came to Thailand. I came to Phuket first because my reading on the internet led me to believe that the best diving in Thailand would be at the Similan islands. So I trolled around Patong looking for work, got some work teaching, did a couple of trips to Burma, and then got a job on a liveaboard in the Similan Islands. From the first dive, I was a happy diver! Plans to maybe move on somewhere else were abandoned.

Jamie in the Similan Islands

(above) That's me in the Similan Islands back in 2000. The rest is history. I worked for one company for about a year, met my wife who was working in the office for the same company. Then I decided to work freelance to have a bit more time with her, and some time to explore Phuket. Freelance work can pay well if you're lucky but some months are better than others. I was teaching courses and going on liveaboards, but we knew by then that we were going to have a baby, and so a fixed job was needed...

Sunrise Divers in 2001 was a little shop on the main road about 200m from Karon Beach. Not a real busy shop, but when I started working in October 2001 I was fairly busy teaching dive courses, doing the occasional liveaboard to the Similan Islands or overnight trip to Phi Phi, or otherwise taking the office chair. Quite busy in high season, but hardly any business in low season. So we started doing some major work on our website. New design, lots of optimisation, I read a lot of articles and web forums on how to get a better Google ranking. Keywords, titles, h1 tags, links, is this the life of a dive instructor?! But hey, it kept me busy for low season and it worked - our website rose up the Google searches and suddenly we had emails to answer, quite a lot of emails. And a large number of the mails were requesting liveaboards to the Similan Islands.

Similan Islands

We moved to a much larger dive shop in 2004, with 3 floors, aircon office, aircon classroom, large equipment room... we bought more dive gear and now have more than 25 sets, all kept very well serviced. Sunrise Divers is a PADI 5 star center, and we joined the local recompression chamber network. It was around 2003 that people really started to book things online, and email became normal for communication. Before that it was much more normal to just show up in Phuket and go looking for a dive shop. We've made several redesigns of our website since 2003, the latest features a big "back office" (database) for liveaboards. I still look after the website, and since a few years ago I stay full time in the dive shop. These days, everyone expects fast replies to emails and most people who have booked online will come to the shop looking for Jamie. Our dive shop is still in Karon (map), a bit off the main road in a little square called Karon Place next door to a hotel of the same name. Some big hotels like the Orchid, Hilton and Thavorn Palm Beach are a few minutes walk away, and there are many smaller hotels and guesthouses in the area. The south end of Karon Beach is also good for snorkeling and even for diving.

A few photos of Sunrise Divers dive shop...

Jamie in the Sunrise Divers office

Sunrise Divers office looking out to Karon Place

Sunrise Divers is open year round - we might close a few days here and there such as Songkran or Christmas, and maybe on the odd day in low season due to holidays, but you can dive in Phuket year round at local dive sites, so we stay open. The best diving of course is to be done by liveaboard. The Similan Islands National Park is open only from November to early May. Liveaboards can be as short as 2 days, or as long as 10 days. The average is a 4 day trip which will dive at the Similan islands, Koh Bon, Koh Tachai and Richelieu Rock. Some longer trips also dive in Burma. Liveaboards are GREAT! Wake in the morning, coffee, briefing, gear on and wake up on your first dive!

Sunset in the Similan islands

Manta Ray at Koh Bon

Whether you are an experienced diver, a new diver, need a refresher or want more dive training, come and see me at Sunrise Divers. There are liveaboards to suit all budgets, day trips to many different dive sites, or we can teach you to dive.. I won't be the instructor though, I have not done any teaching for about 4 years.. too busy tapping away on the keyboard! Below are a bunch of links to the Sunrise Divers website for a lot more information that I can provide on a blog post. Hope to see you or get an email (info@sunrise-divers.com) from you soon!

Sunrise Divers - Diving Phuket, the Similan islands and more!

Liveaboards to the Similan Islands
Day trips around Phuket and Phi Phi
Komodo and Raja Ampat (Indonesia) liveaboards
PADI Dive Courses
Sunrise Divers Reviews on TripAdvisor

Sunrise Divers - Location Map @ Karon Beach Phuket

View Sunrise Divers - Diving in Phuket and the Similan Islands in a larger map

Suggested Patong Beach Hotels

Patong Beach - you either love it or you don't. I am not sure what people expect to find in Patong. I quote from a couple of big travel websites : "Patong is the most famous beach resort on Phuket. With its wide variety of activities and nightlife, Patong is an ideal place to party and play." - or "The Patong of today is a seething mass of tourism, squalor and unrestricted development, a mess of hotels, bars, restaurants, travel agents, massage parlours, tailor shops and touts". You can put a spin on Patong beach and make it sound exciting and exotic, or you can speak your mind! Patong is the most developed beach in Phuket, it can be crowded and noisy, you can get pestered by touts, you can hardly see the beach for all the beach chairs. BUT although I might not be a fan (I only go to Patong if I must), plenty of tourists love it, love the nightlife, the endless choice of restaurants, the fact that you are never far from anything you need. You now have the huge Jungceylon shopping mall with cinema right in the middle of Patong, there are bars and girls, nightclubs, any kind of food you want including all the main fast food chains and about 5 branches of Starbucks.... but more importantly, Patong does have some very good hotels. And to be honest it's a good base for a stay in Phuket.

Full List of Patong Beach Hotels

Jamie's Phuket is a doorway into the other Phuket, so until now Patong Beach has not had much of a mention. Any other beach area is quieter and more relaxing. I work at Karon Beach which has plenty of hotels and restaurants too but is much less developed than Patong and the beach is much nicer. But Patong does have certain advantages in terms of availability of shopping, dining and hotel choices. I already have a page on Jamie's Phuket with recommended hotels, but it's getting a bit big and I figured it was time to split the hotel recommendations into different beaches - starting with Patong beach hotels.

Recommended Patong Beach Hotels

Amari Coral Beach Resort

Amari Coral Beach Resort Patong

The Amari has been around for a long time, great location right at the south end of Patong away from the crowds, very nice place to relax but you can walk to the middle of Patong in 10 minutes.

Amari Coral Beach Resort - Review on Jamie's Phuket
Amari Coral Beach Resort - Check Rates and Availability
Amari Coral Beach Resort - Reviews @ Agoda.com

La Flora Resort

La Flora Resort Patong

La Flora is quite a new hotel, opened in 2008 and it's right in the middle of Patong, right on the beach (which not many hotels in Patong can claim). The best rooms have a "right by the sea" view! And you're close to everything.

La Flora - Review on Jamie's Phuket
La Flora - Rates and Availability
La Flora - Reviews @ Agoda.com

Yorkshire Hotel and Spa

Yorkshire Hotel Patong

The Yorkshire - used to be called the Yorkshire Inn, now Hotel (and Spa, you gotta have the "and Spa"!) I know the place well, used to work on the same street, small, friendly, very central for nightlife, shopping, restaurants and so on. And a good price too!

Yorkshire Hotel - Review on Jamie's Phuket
Yorkshire Hotel - Check Rates and Availability
Yorkshire Hotel - Reviews @ Agoda.com

Merlin Beach Resort

Merlin Beach Resort

Merlin Beach Resort is not actually in Patong. You have to drive a couple of miles, past the Amari, over a headland and you find the Merlin, on its own beach away from the crowds, nice but you can't walk into Patong (well you can, but easier to take a taxi and the taxi drivers know that...).

Merlin Beach Resort - Review on Jamie's Phuket
Merlin Beach Resort - Check Rates and Availability
Merlin Beach Resort - Reviews @ Agoda.com

Burasari Resort

Burasari Resort

The Burasari is just south of the busy center of Patong, close to the Holiday Inn. A couple of minutes walk to the beach, Burasari has regular rooms and an amazing collection of "Mood Suites" such as Smooth Whisky, Tropical Dream and Blue Breeze. Very popular!

Burasari Resort - Review on Jamie's Phuket
Burasari Resort - Check Rates and Availability
Burasari Resort - Reviews @ Agoda.com

More Patong Beach Hotels

I have featured a few others on this site, don't want to overload one page! Patong is what it is... has a lot going for it, but if you want peace and quiet you should look at any other beach in Phuket! Here's some more recommended Patong beach hotels and links for where to book them or get more information:

Baan Yin Dee review on Jamie's Phuket
Graceland Resort review on Jamie's Phuket
Aspery Resort review on Jamie's Phuket
Tri Trang Beach Resort review on Jamie's Phuket
Book Patong Beach Hotels Online

The Disappearing Wooden Thai House...

Even as far from town as we are, all new construction is steel, concrete and brick, often painted in the most garish of colors.  The small wooden structures that were prevalent when my wife was growing up here, are all but a thing of the past.  She speaks lovingly of wooden houses she grew up in and were later disassembled and sold off when money was needed.  Even as a child she took pride in the place she lived, however humble, polishing the wooden floors to a lustrous finish.  She was heartbroken when her father sold one house in particular, only to move into much more humble abode until he could harvest more wood from the forest to build a new house.

Over time it became more difficult to do this as laws were enforced and conventions changed.  Clearly as one looks around, there is less forest to be illegally harvested, though the practice has not been completely eradicated.  At my wife’s urging, we strolled around the village looking at the few remaining, old wooden structures.  The residents seem to lack the means to move into something more modern and protected from the elements, and were apologetic when we asked permission to take photos of their homes.  It should be noted that as much as my wife loved that one old wooden house she grew up in, she would no longer feel comfortable living is such a place.

Riding the Trek through neighboring villages I have been able to gather this assortment of village homes.  Not perhaps what one would expect or imagine when I mention wooden Thai houses, but something I wanted to share before they are all gone.  As one final note of interest, our recent visitors from the Northeast of Thailand were surprised to see that most houses here have two stairways, one at the front and one at the rear.  Apparently that is not the custom where they come from.

Hope you don't mind so many pictures in one post.  I was afraid readers would not click on an external link.

A Buggy Bike Ride ...

An hour into my ride and I was too hot, too tired and too far from my destination.  It was time to pull the plug and move on to plan B, except I didn’t have a plan B.  While Tat Kwan waterfall would have to wait for another day, how was I to salvage an aborted ride?

I had been snapping pics of old wooden Thai houses, for an upcoming blog post on the outbound route, so that seemed as good a plan as I was going to come up with.  Weaving through the sub-sois of the villages I passed through earlier, I managed to bag a few more wooden structures for my photographic collection.

Traversing the open farm land between villages, I almost missed my opportunity for this buggy post.  Peripheral vision caught movement off to the left in a field, up in a tree.  A quick scan of the area led to a u-turn, a short ride, and walk out into the field.  To be honest I already knew what they were up to but this was a more picturesque setting than a tree in someone’s front yard.  The sound of a distressed cicada, or Jakjan as the locals call them, is unmistakable and this time of year finds them on the village menu.  Hunters young and old, armed with their long bamboo sticks tipped with a sticky substance, are busily plucking these bugs from the trees.

I asked this lot if they were planning to sell them or eat them.  With wide toothy grins they said in no uncertain terms, eat them.  Just one of the multitude of creepy crawlies that villagers around here like to snack on, these are more substantial than some.  After some idle conversation and a few pictures, I was back on the road heading home, armed with an idea for a blog post and material for a future one.

Plan B = Bugs?
The tree in the field.
Up a tree.
A comfortable perch.
A sticky situation.
Close up.
Ready to eat.
New rubber made for nice surefooted ride.