Karon beach is located on the west side of Phuket Island along the Andaman Sea coastline. To the north of Karon, separated by some small mountains (or big hills) is Patong Beach, the largest and most active beach on Phuket Island.
To the south of Karon is Kata Beach, which in some ways is a continuation of Karon, although the actual beaches are separated by some hills and a coral reef. Phuket town is located about 15km due east of Karon although mountains make direct travel there difficult.
Karon is considered to be Phuket's "second" beach, its neighbor Patong is the island's "first". However, the beach itself is generally considered to be better than Patong's beach if for no other reason than it is not used so much.
It is possible to find places along the beach that are not occupied by other beachgoers. The beach consists of nearly five kilometers of fine white sand and curves gently along the clear waters of the coastline.
While the community of Karon is developed, the developments are farther from the beach than they are in Patong. They have been kept from crossing the beach (Patak) road, thus giving the beach a much more "authentic" and private feeling.
During rainy season, it is possible to do some surfing along the beach, although Kata and the more southerly beaches are said to be better. Swimming itself becomes somewhat dangerous in rainy season and swimmers should be alert for red flags warning of unsafe water conditions.
For better or worse, windsurfers, paragliders and jet-skiiers enjoy their activities along the shoreline. Tt is easy to rent the required equipment. Venders travel the beach offering food - and other things - to interested beachgoers.
The hungry can also walk to the beach road and eat at a food stall or restaurant. They might also use a bathroon there because there are no toilets on the beach.
Karon Beach contains two north-south roads including the road that runs parallel to the beach, Patak Road. There are maybe five or six major east-west roads, the most important of which are Luang Poh Chuan in south Karon and Aroona Karon Road, which separates north and central Karon.
Karon Beach is generally described as consisting of three parts: a northern, central and southern part.
The northern part, sometimes called "Relax Bay" or "Karon Noi Beach", is separated from Patong Beach by what are usually described as mountains.
The major point of reference in north Karon is a "round about" or traffic circle (Karon Circle), where one may admire statues of Phuket's mining and agricultural laborers. The northern section extends to Aroona Karon Road. This area used to be dominated almost exclusively by the Le Meridian resort but now has many of the beaches' midrange accommodations.
Entertainment in this area is centered around East Patak Road, which has many bars, resaurants, shops and small hotels: and Aroona Karon Road and Aroona Complex.
The central part is dominated by large resorts like the Thavorn Palm Beach and the Hilton Phuket Arcadia. This area offers mid and upper range accommodation. It is quiet usually quiet.
The southern part of Karon Beach is where the surfing is! It is also said that it is a good place to snorkle. There are relatively reasonable accommodations on the major north-south road, Luang Poh Chuan Road. Much of the beaches' entertainment industry is also located on this road and connecting sois. Nearby, are the shop, pubs and art gallaries s of various "free living" Thai painters who inhabit the area.
In Karon Beach, accommodation is decidedly tilted toward upper end spenders. It is difficult to find inexpensive accommodation in the central area of Karon Beach. Accommodation within the 600 to 1000 baht a night range may be found in north Karon, near the traffic circle (Karon Circle) and the sois going away from the beach, on the main road going toward Patong Beach, or on the farther part of Aroona Karon Road. In the south, economical housing is found on and off of Luang Poh Chuan Road.
The nightlife is concentrated in three areas of Karon Beach, leaving the rest of the beach relatively quiet in the evening. The largest area is on Luang Poh Chuan Road, which is large enough to be compared to Bangla Road in Patong.
There are no discos here, just bars, beerbars, restaurants, food stalls and some traditional Thai massage places. Another large entertainment area is located on Aroona Karon Road and at the Aroona Complex. This area has bars and beer bars but is probably more oriented toward eating and shopping as it serves customers from the higher end accommodations in central Karon.
The other major entertainment area in Karon is found on and around East Patak Road near the traffic circle and heading toward Patong Beach. Considering the difficulty of traveling back and forth to Patong at night, it is definitely worth exploring the local nightlife.
Shopping in Karon centers around Karon Circle: shops and stalls sell the usual fanfare of clothes and T-shirts, CD's, bags, watches and so forth, and there are many tailor shops. There are also supermarkets, banks and pharmacies, etc. so this is a good area to "take care of business".
Items similar to those available in the Karon Circle area are also availavle at the Night Bazaar, south of the Karon Circle near the Moevenpick Resort. Shoppers might also want to check out the Karon Plaza, opposite Harry's Restaurant on Lung Phochuan Road. It has a basically accurate sign saying "Cheap and Special Price" that greets shoppers.
More upscale shopping may be found on Aroona Karon Road where genuine arts, crafts and handicrafts are sold, or in the shops of Thai artists around Lung Poh Chuan Road
Karon is considered a dining paradise. There are many, many restaurants in Karon and they cater to most pocketbooks, but be sure to check the menu before ordering because many of the restaurants are definitely upscale and have upscale prices.
Those on a budget should head for Luang Poh Chuan Road or the food stalls around Karon Circle and the sois that branch off of from Patak road. Definitely stay away from seafood if you are on a budget.
There are few if any Western fast food or chain restaurants such as McDonalds or Burger King in Karon, but many restaurants serve Western-style food, although it is usually on the expensive side.