Jamie's Phuket Blog

Jamie's Phuket Blog - Discover The Real Phuket!

21 February 2017

Top 10 Best Phuket Hotels 2017

It's time for a 2017 version of the Top 10 Phuket Hotels list! As before, it's based on Trip Advisor rankings which may not be perfect and I know the site has it's issues with fake reviews ... There are again a couple of new hotels in the list, but much of the top 10 is similar to 2016. For each hotel there are links for checking online rates and availability - I suggest using Agoda.com to book your hotel in Phuket or have a look at Hotels Combined. There are also links to reviews for each hotel - also 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 booked the hotel, so you can see if real guests agree with the TA ratings!

Top 10 Hotels in Phuket

1. The Chava Resort (Surin Beach)

Chava Resort

The Chava hit the top 10 in 2015, and was number 2 last year. Now it's hit the very top! Surin Beach always has something in the top 10. The Chava Resort is actually a collection of 2 - 5 room apartments (they call it an "apartment resort"), some are run by the hotel, some privately rented. Rooms are enormous, not normal hotel size, good for families and small groups. Again, it's a place with views, slightly up in the hills, not by the beach but really only a few minutes from the sea.

Chava Resort - Reviews and Booking

2. Trisara Phuket Villas & Residences


Trisara was top of the top 10 for 3 years running, they might be disappointed to be number 2 this year! I'd love to stay here a few days and do nothing at all! Trisara features private pool villas by a private beach to the north of Bang Tao beach in the north of Phuket island. Trisara is a "private, luxury, amazing view, relax and unwind" style hotel. Only 48 villas, lots of space, no crowds. There are also some "private residences" with 2 - 6 bedrooms, ideal for families or big groups, or even weddings. Or just for a relaxing getaway for a romantic couple. The location is miles from any busy areas, so you will need your own transport or get taxis everywhere.

Trisara - Reviews and Booking

3. Andara Resort and Villas (Kamala Beach)


Andara stays at number 3, same as 2016. This is a 5 star resort, on the hillside 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 superb sea views. There is a 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 impossibly expensive. If you want luxury and seclusion, Phuket has it, but not right by the beach!

Andara Resort & Villas - Reviews and Booking

4. BYD Lofts (Patong Beach)

BYD Lofts

BYD Lofts certainly seems to be popular - it's been in the top 5 for the last 4 years. If you want something near the heart of Patong Beach, close to the action and in the middle of the busiest beach area in Thailand, this hotel offers serviced apartments (again, you see - apartments, rather than just rooms), 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 hardly ever visit Patong myself - it's not my style, but for sure Patong beach is very convenient for visitors, with huge numbers of restaurants plus shops/the Jungceylon Mall and tour agents near you. And bars and nightlife too.

BYD Lofts - Reviews and Booking

5. Como Point Yamu

Point Yamu Resort

A very new resort (opened in 2014) with a great 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 here. Oh, by the way - it's not cheap! Cape Yamu is on the east coast of Phuket, and the views are superb. There are 79 rooms plus 27 private villas. It looks great. Did I say that already?

Point Yamu Resort - Reviews and Booking

6. Navatara (Rawai Beach)


Navatara appeared on the list at number 7 last year. Another fairly new hotel, it opened in 2013, but I'd not even heard of it until doing last year's list! 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 - Reviews and Booking

7. The Pavilions (Layan Beach)


The Pavilions previously appeared on my Top 10 Romantic Hotels page a few years ago. The resort promotes itself heavily as a couples place - with a tagline "Where romance blossoms", and it's a no kids resort. Located on a small hill with sea views towards Bang Tao and Layan beaches, but not really near the beach. There are apparently 2 award winning restaurants and (quote from their website) the largest hotel pool in Phuket.

The Pavilions - Reviews and Booking

8. 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 - Reviews and Booking

9. Amari Phuket (Patong Beach)

Amari Phuket

The Amari Phuket Resort was one of the first big resorts in Phuket, opening way back in 1984. For an old hotel like this to make the top 10 is quite an achievement! But they do keep renovating and adding to the resort. Great location to relax at the far south end of Patong Beach away from the madness, but you can walk to the busy center of Patong in 15 minutes. A new "ocean wing" opened in January 2016. Work never stops, there are continual improvements and last time I looked it, everything looked perfect. Yes, we would like to stay, please!

Amari Phuket Resort - Reviews and Booking

10. Renaissance Phuket Resort (Mai Khao Beach)


Renaissance is one of the Marriott owned resorts north of Phuket Airport at Mai Khao Beach. It's been mentioned on this blog before as part of the Best Luxury Phuket Resorts list and was in the Top 10 for 2014 too. Mai Khao beach is really quiet and unless you stick to only the various Marriott hotel restaurants you'll need transport or taxis to get to other places. Ideal for a few days of relaxation and not going anywhere!

Renaissance - Reviews and Booking

That's the Top 10 hotels in Phuket as of January 2017. Have you stayed at a hotel that's not listed, but you think it should be? Go and give it a big review! Phuket has been on the mainstream tourism route for well over 20 years now and you can find a mix of old and new resorts, big hotels, small guesthouses, villas, apartments, hillside, beachfront, busy areas, very quiet areas. It's not a cliché .. There is actually something here for everyone and at any budget, but doing some research is very important especially the hotel location. Look at a map, please! In recent years 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 flourishing.

I suggest that you check agoda.com for hotel booking. There are many reviews on agoda for most of the hotels listed on this blog, and 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. If you get it wrong, you might end up leaving bad review because you chose the wrong place for you. Questions - got something to ask? Please do ask on my Jamie's Phuket Facebook Page. See you in Phuket! Happy Travels!

Top 10 Best Phuket Hotels 2017  |  Jamie's Phuket Blog

4 February 2017

Thai Mueang Beach

Thai Mueang is a small town in between Phuket island and Khao Lak. It's just over 20km from the Sarasin bridge to Thai Mueang via another small town called Khok Kloi. We have driven this way many times on the way to Khao Lak, or Takua Pa or Khao Sok National Park, but only stopped a couple of times either in the town to visit a minimart for a drink or just a quick look at the beach. I recall stopping many years ago at the beach and it looked really messy, but it seems that a big tidy up has taken place. We stopped for a quick look last year on the way to the Little Amazon boat trip in Takua Pa, and we thought the beach looked great, but it was just a quick stop. I wrote it down on my "to blog" list and 6 months later (last weekend) we had a free Saturday, the skies were blue and I said "Let's go for a drive!" My wife and I like taking drives and exploring now and then. The kids always moan and say "Do we have to?", but they always have a good day!

Last weekend happened to be Chinese New Year, and it seemed like half of Phuket was heading out for the day, so traffic was heavy through the island, the kid were hungry (we'd skipped breakfast) and although Thai Mueang is not far away, we decided to stop for lunch instead at Nern Khao View Talay, just north of Khok Kloi town. We ate there on January 1st also, so that made 2 New Year meals at the same place .. it's become a favourite of ours since we found it last year. From lunch to Thai Mueang was only another 15km. Only a very small town. Along the main street plenty of shops and businesses, and then just as you reach the entrance to a Chinese shrine on the left, there's a junction - left to the shrine, right carries on towards Khao Lak and straight down to the beach.

Thai Mueang Town

(above) Thai Mueang town, main street

We drove about 2½ km along the beach road passing a few small restaurants. The short section of beach road with restaurants was quite busy, but the road is about 10km long, and most of the area is a national park - there are no hotels here! I wanted to stop first at the Phang Nga coastal fisheries research and development center which features a sea turtle conservation unit. I was not sure what to expect here. I thought maybe just a few tanks of baby turtles, but it's actually quite big, only 20 Baht entry fee and we spent about 45 minutes looking around. Yes, a good day trip to the beach should include something educational for the kids too!

Thai Mueang Coastal Resources Research Center

Marine Life tanks at Thai Mueang Coastal Resources Research Center

There was more than just turtles here. Also tanks growing giant clams, seaweeds, anemone fish, cuttlefish, even a crocodile (the sign said beware of the 'jumping crocodile') and an araipama!

Turtle at Thai Mueang Coastal Resources Research Center

Turtle at Thai Mueang Coastal Resources Research Center

(above) At the Thai Mueang fisheries research center. Certainly worth a stop. And then just over the road from here you have the beach ...

Thai Mueang Beach

(above) You can pull off the road just about anywhere, so we chose a spot with no other people (but some garbage ... I gotta say Thai picnickers don't always take home their rubbish). We found a shady spot and then walked through the trees to the beach ...

Thai Mueang Beach

(above) Looking north

Thai Mueang Beach

(above) Looking south

I know that people are looking for uncrowded beaches in the Phuket area. But at the same time, people want restaurants, bars, a dive shop, beach chairs, massage .. It's really really hard to find a place like that. A beach that is paradise, but barely developed. But developed enough to have everything you want. Thai Mueang beach is very quiet, more than 10km long, and aside from a short stretch with a few restaurants on the other side of the beach road, there are no facilities.

Fisherman at Thai Mueang beach

(above) Fisherman at Thai Mueang beach

My girl at Thai Mueang Beach

(above) My daughter at Thai Mueang beach

Yes, on a lovely sunny high season day, a beautiful place! After some wandering around on the beach on this hot day, we stopped at one of the little restaurants for a drink.

Thai Mueang Restaurant

(above) at a small roadside restaurant on Thai Mueang beach. I was surprised at the menu prices for food. Very similar to the much nicer restaurant (Nern Khao View Talay) where we'd already had lunch. OK, so you have a seaview, but .. and OK, compared to "back home" it's cheap, but .. anyway, we were happy to just have a drink. Last time we came, we just got some microwaved meals from 7-11 (yes they are tasty actually, do not judge me) and ate by the beach!

Before leaving, I wanted to stop at the Chinese shrine. We took the turning and found ourselves in the real (off the main road) old Thai Mueang town. The name means "behind the mine". I had thought it just means "Thai town" because of the English spelling - Thai .. but in Thai language it's ท้าย (behind) and not ไทย (Thai), and it's เหมือง (mine) not เมือง (town). This is because Thai Mueang was an old tin mining town. Many Chinese moved to south Thailand in the 1800s to work in the mines, just like in Phuket. A visit to the Phuket tin mining museum is also a good way to spend an hour. With the mining history, no surprise to find a Chinese shrine here ...

Thai Mueang Shrine

(above) Chinese shrine at Thai Mueang town.

A very enjoyable day out again :) Did you enjoy it kids?

My girl at Thai Mueang Beach

My boy at Thai Mueang Beach

(above) da kidz at Thai Mueang beach. Enjoying their day out.

Thai Mueang Beach - Location Map

Thai Mueang Beach  |  Jamie's Phuket Blog

5 January 2017

Jamie's Phuket Blog - Review of 2016

The general consensus seems to be that 2016 was a bad year. This is just a blog about Phuket, I don't want to talk politics or get all sentimental, but ... well, Brexit was dumb, voting for Trump was dumber, the world continues to fight and terrorists who will never actually win continue to kill random innocent people. And people get more upset about the death of a pop star than the death of children in Syria. But this is just a blog about Phuket. How was 2016 here? Well, pretty good really ... life goes on. This blog is now more than 10 years old, I am still managing a dive shop and watching my kids grow up and we try to do lots of family activities. We tried 2 times to take a long road trip up to the North of Thailand .. in April we were thwarted by extreme hot weather and haze, plus a builder who took a lot longer to finish work on our house than he'd promised! And in October, we wanted to try the long drive again but our daughter got sick. Plus, and this was the big Thai news, King Bhumibol (King Rama IX) passed away on October 13th. So it was not an ideal year, but here's my annual yearly review of what was featured on Jamie's Phuket last year, 2016.

Family at New Year

(above) Starting at the very end of the year ... all the Thai family. We all met in Chumphon (400km north of Phuket) for New Year. I drove up on 31st December and drove back on 1st January! Very nice to see all the family, all in one place at the same time! Happy New Year 2017! I have a good feeling about this year.

And now back to 1 year ago, January 2016. The first blog post of 2016 was a review of 2015 :) But we soon got out exploring and taking advantage of the very nice weather. It hardly rained for a couple of months in January and February. We went looking for a viewpoint in Phang Nga in between Phuket and Khao Lak. We found Khao Kai Nui and still plan to go back, but the drive up was a bit scary!

Looking West from Khao Kai Nui

(above) View from Khao Kai Nui

Also in January we did a more "touristy" thing and visited the 3D "Trickeye Museum" in Phuket Town. No idea why it's called a museum. I think someone just got mixed up between museum and gallery. These places have become quite popular in Thailand in recent years. Lots of 3D art .. you pose and take a photo. Lots of photos. Well, it was a bit of family fun!

Phuket Town Volcano!

(above) At the 3D Trickeye Museum

Quite a lot of restaurant posts on the blog in 2016, which I hope will continue in 2017! There should be more, but we do tend to have a few favourites and I admit we don't try new restaurants often enough. We ate a few times at Rum Jungle which is in the Naiharn area, and is a bit above our normal budget, but is very good! I had my birthday dinner there. Yes, not cheap, but .. might have my birthday dinner there again in 2017!

Rum Jungle Restaurant

And I updated the blog posts on a couple of favourite restaurants ... Kopitiam in old Phuket Town and The Big Chicken in Kathu. As we live in the Kathu area, we often eat around Kathu and the town. For more restaurant suggestions see : Phuket Restaurants.

There was a bit of a lack of new, exciting days out in the high season. I normally work 6 days per week and look forward to a bit more free time and some holidays from May to October! We had a very nice weekend trip at the end of April to Koh Yao Yai Island, stopping off at other islands on the way. We have been to Koh Yao Noi several times, but this was our first trip the bigger of the Koh Yao islands.

Thiwson Resort

(above) At our hotel on Koh Yao Yai Island

And we did more exploring in May. I'd seen this new viewpoint on Instagram, so we went looking for it - Samet Nangshe Viewpoint has quickly become very popular and I hope will not be spoiled. The view is amazing and we do intend to visit again soon for a sunrise view. Anyway. Wow!

Samet Nangshe Viewpoint

More restaurants! First, one in the "business district" just outside Phuket Town, next to the Index mall. We have eaten at Zaab Tae Tae quite a few times this year. Not a place for Western food. They mostly do Isaan food, and plenty of spicy stuff. Guaranteed to tickle the taste buds! And then, one day the kids really really wanted pizza. We tried a place called Caffeine which is close to the aforementioned Big Chicken. Very good pizza!

Into the low season, in June we went looking at all the new street art that had appeared around old Phuket Town. And this needs updating again, the town is getting arty!

Phuket Town Street Art

(above) Checking out some Street Art in Old Phuket Town

I found time to revisit Laem Ka Beach, close to Rawai Beach. I had not been for many years. I hear that it gets busy in high season, but in June it was almost deserted! Also in low season, I managed to blog about Mosques in Phuket. I had meant to do this for a while, and took several drives around the island to take photos of mosques. There were more than I realised!

Laem Ka Beach

(above) Laem Ka Beach

Bang Tao Mosque, Phuket

(above) Bang Tao Mosque in Phuket

We finally tried the very good One Chun restaurant in Phuket Town - very good local Thai food. We ate there a couple of times including our daughter's birthday. It got very popular, probably not due to this blog .. another couple of times we thought about eating there, but it looked too full for us. I don't like getting shoehorned into a restaurant no matter how good the food is!

One Chun Restaurant

(above) One Chun Restaurant

More exploring in July - we had seen the Little Amazon tour before. It's north of Phuket, near the town of Takua Pa in Phang Nga Province. A boat ride down a tiny, jungly river, onto a bigger river .. and I guess you can imagine that it's the Amazon (on a smaller scale!) We enjoyed the trip.

Little Amazon Tour - In the Jungle!

(above) On the Little Amazon tour.

Another new restaurant ... Maireab Zaap Ver is in Kathu not far from our house. The owners used to have a smaller place on the road to Kathu waterfall, but it closed years ago. We were happy to see them back. We have been eating here quite often!

And a new market in Phuket too! There are actually lots of markets in Phuket including several night markets. The new Chillva market opened in April 2016 and is the current trendy place to hang out! Lots of food, a few bars, lots of clothes and random stalls. More on the blog : Chillva Market.

Chillva Market at Night

(above) Chillva Market on the edge of Phuket Town

We keep on finding new places in Phang Nga Province just over the bridge from Phuket. Phang Nga is way bigger and we like to explore. This year we found a "new" waterfall, and only 10km from the bridge, just north of Khok Kloi town. Wat Khao Waterfall is not the biggest, but very pretty in the rainy season, and not so big as to prevent swimming. Plus we found a good restaurant right next to the falls!

Wat Khao Waterfall

(above) Wat Khao Waterfall

Later in the year I had another trip to the UK to see Dad in the care home and to organise the selling of the family home. Tiring! I got back to Phuket just in time for the 2016 Phuket Vegetarian Festival which ran from 30th September - October 9th. I did my usual 9 day diet and attended several of the street processions, although not as much as previous years. Still got lots of good photos!

Phuket Vegetarian Festival - Face Piercing

Procession through Kathu village, 8th October 2016

(above) Phuket Vegetarian Festival

And then as the year grew old .. more exploring! We headed to the same area of Phang Nga as the Samet Nangshe Viewpoint where we'd seen a small fishing village back in 2015. Now this village has started a tour operation with longtail boats heading out to nearby islands, some with caves. We weren't quite sure what to expect, but it turned out to be one the best days of the year - read more @ Exploring Islands in Phang Nga Bay.

Flamingo Cave

(above) Exploring a cave in Phang Nga Bay

As mentioned a bunch of times on this blog, I have friends with a tour company - Easy Day Thailand - who you can contact for all kinds of trips around Phuket. The trip we did in Phang Nga Bay was something they plan to turn into a tour and indeed we traveled with these guys to Koh Yao Yai island earlier in the year. So with a bit of help from them I wrote a Top 10 Phuket Tours page on the blog, and it's well worth a read if you are not sure what to do around here!

Last couple of blog posts in 2016 - more restaurants! We really like Nern Khao View Talay, which is close to Wat Khao Waterfall. We ate there a couple of times and went there for dinner on New Year's Day 2017 too! Bit of a drive from the south of Phuket of course, but if you are exploring Phang Nga and it happens to be lunch or dinner time, this has become a new favourite after just a couple of visits!

Nern Khao View Talay Restaurant

(above) The kids at Nern Khao View Talay

And the last 2016 post was a small roadside eatery in the Karon Beach area, just over the street from where I work at Sunrise Divers. Have a look at Pim's Kitchen! I vow to keep trying new restaurants in 2017, partly for the variety, partly to have something to blog about!

Slightly uncertain times in Thailand with a new King, and no exact date for new elections .. the coup was nearly 3 years ago. And yet tourism always seems to be unaffected! Phuket is not a perfect paradise, but I have no plans to leave, very much enjoy living here and exploring the area. The blog goes on! Any questions about Phuket, please do ask on the Facebook Page. And please do follow on Twitter and Instagram! And find lots more photos on Flickr. Here's to a happy 2017!

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

Jamie's Phuket Blog - Review of 2016  |  Jamie's Phuket Blog

Jamie's Phuket Blog - The Original Phuket Blog

Words and Photos © Jamie Monk 2006 - 2017

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