Pineapple Guesthouse (Karon Beach)
Phuket is blessed with many fine hotels and resorts, and these have somewhat taken over much of the beachfront property on the main beaches. Gone (long ago) are the days spoken of by Tony Wheeler in his intro to my well-thumbed Lonely Planet South East Asia On a Shoestring - he says Patong (in 1974) had no resorts but had "an open shelter where you could camp for 3 Baht a night". Well, every dog has it's day, and you can't stop progress. It's the same story all over the world. Backpackers discover a place, then guesthouses, beach huts, restaurants, bars and all the essential services quickly mushroom, then the place is found by "flashpackers", then independent (but not poor) travelers, then all hell breaks loose and Lo! You have a tourist resort, much hated by the common backpacker.
Thailand is all this and more, amplified 100 fold. Thailand is the original Lonely Planet Destination, and is still far and away the most popular backpacker destination in the world, although as Alex Garland wrote - "One of these days I'm going to find one of those Lonely Planet writers and I'm going to ask him, 'What's so f***ing lonely about Khao San Road?'"
Phuket is considered too expensive and too "touristy" for backpackers. Personally, as a resident who stays away from the tourist areas, I disagree, but as a resident you have a rather different perspective. Personally I find Koh Tao and certainly Phi Phi more touristy than Phuket in that there is nothing there other than tourism. Phuket has a large local population and was already a busy and relatively well off province before any tourists arrived. What backpackers mean by "touristy" is "a place too upmarket for a low budget traveler". But we are all tourists. I am a tourist and I have been here since 1999.
Excuse the rambling prelude. Accommodation prices in Phuket do tend to be a little high for your average backpacker, but there are options, especially in Phuket Town, where the On On still has a flourishing trade and there's a hostel near the market. Near the beach is a bit trickier and you may have to pay 10 dollars a night (wow!) for a cheaper room. In the Karon Plaza area at the Southern end of Karon Beach are several options like the Doolay Hostel, Kangaroo Guesthouse and more. Also here you can find the Pineapple Guesthouse, which is run by Steve, a very nice English guy and his wife Lek.
Karon Plaza is built around a small temple, and can be a little hard to find! From the beach, head up the road past the Orchid Resort and you'll find the entrance to the Plaza next to a tailors. Pineapple is just round the corner from the little temple next door to Mama Noi restaurant, opposite the Siam Commercial Bank. The rooms are fairly simple, but all have bathroom, and all aircon rooms have cable TV, a fridge and minibar. The prices start at just 450 Baht in high season, and way lower in low season. You can always try asking for a long stay discount too. A dormitory was opened in 2009 - beds at 180 Baht per night!
Karon Plaza is a quiet area. I would recommend Pineapple if you like early nights but also like to be near a bit of life. Near Pineapple is a great little bar/cafe/art gallery called Nakonnai, run by the original Thai Bob Marley (his name is Mon). He built the place himself. Also in the plaza is Sunrise Divers, where I am the manager.
So, if you want a good lower price option in Phuket, I suggest you try the Pineapple Guesthouse. It's just 5 minutes walk from the beach and there are loads of places to eat around the area, including Mama Noi (next door to Pineapple 2). You can get a very good full English breakfast and other English style dishes like Egg, Bacon, Chips and Beans right there at the guesthouse, and Thai dishes too (but only in high season). There are a number of small local restaurants on the back road nearby and there are always stalls selling fruit, fried chicken, drinks, corn, somtam and more depending on the time of day.
For full information and booking, you can visit the Pineapple Guesthouse website:
• Pineapple Guesthouse Website
or book online at Agoda : Pineapple Guesthouse
• Low Budget Places to Stay in Phuket (on my We Love Phuket blog) - good listing of guesthouses
• More Hotels in Phuket - Agoda.com - also has some lower budget options