These Thai restaurants in Karon Beach are the places where you will find that “real Thai food” which practically every visitor to Phuket comes looking for. With so many hotels in the beach resort town, there are plenty of places which cater more for tourists than for Thais, but we have endeavoured to find those spots where the food is so tasty, good value and genuinely Thai that even the locals regularly dine there.
There is no doubt that the world-famous Thai cuisine is best enjoyed in its native country, with seafood being a particularly popular choice in Phuket because it is mostly caught-that-day fresh. In Karon, the places closest to the sea are often (though not universally) tourist-oriented and not the real ‘local’ places. These are often found further away from the beach and the other tourist hotspots, as you will find below.
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- Phi Phi Islands Tour with Express Boat
- James Bond Island Full-Day Tour via Big Boat
- Coral & Racha Islands Full-Day Tour
- Whitewater Rafting & 4-Wheel-Drive Adventure
- Sea Kayaking at Ang Thong Marine Park
- Flying Hanuman Ziplining Experience
- Canoeing Excursion in Phang Nga Bay with Thai Buffet Lunch
- Introduction to City Tour
- John Gray's Cave Canoeing Tour in Phang Nga Bay
Despite being just one small restaurant in a line of others, each offering pretty much the same sort of stuff, MaMa Jin Restaurant stands out as the best of the bunch. When you combine its great location right by the beach, it’s tasty and cheap Thai food (with some international dishes available) and great service from friendly staff, you get the best local Thai restaurant in Karon Beach. Particularly busy around lunch and dinner times because of the place’s great popularity with tourists, it is frequented throughout the day by the local Thais, too. The seafood choices are naturally the most popular, including the barbecue prawns and seafood pad Thai.
- Opening Hours: 10:00 – 21:00
- Location: Between Nong Han Lake and Karon Beach
- Tel: +66 (0)81 893 9043
A very small and innocuous little restaurant, its rough-and-ready exterior conceals excellent examples of some of the simplest of Thai dishes, naturally including a fantastic pad Thai which gave the place its name and fame. Located well away from the beach, on an otherwise largely uninteresting stretch of Patak Road, it is often packed, particularly with locals, even outside of normal mealtimes. The signature dish, as well as great khao pad boo (fried rice with crab) and chicken stew are all exceptionally cheap, costing around 50-60 baht each.
- Opening Hours: 09:00 – 20:00
- Location: Patak East Road, Karon
Being located on the access road to the Old Phuket Hotel, Ging Restaurant naturally attracts a good share of tourists, particularly as it is the most Thai of the choice of restaurants along this side street off Patak (Beach) Road. It is one of the better and ‘more Thai’ choices along this section of the beach, making it also popular with the Thais working in or visiting the area. As with most of the best local Thai restaurants in Karon Beach, it serves reasonably priced and good quality Thai dishes with particularly friendly service, with the top choices being the seafood such as the glass noodles with squid. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 10:00 – 24:00
- Location: Soi Old Phuket Karon Beach Resort, Karon
- Tel: +66 (0)62 592 2361
Sometimes also known as Red Peppers Family Seafood Restaurant or Family Seafood No. 1, this little Thai eatery has a cool piazza-like design with greenery all around, making what would otherwise be a typical shop-house restaurant look very pleasant and approachable. With seafood as the top choice – particularly the Tom Yam Goong or steamed whole fish – so the fresh ingredients are on display in a bed of ice in the evenings. Inside, the greenery and wooden furnishings give it a rustic sort of charm. Under any of its names, its real Thai cuisine at affordable prices makes it popular with Thais and tourists alike.
- Location: Patak East Road, close to Karon Circle
- Tel: +66 (0)87 276 7656
One of Karon’s busiest and most popular restaurants, Red Onion has been a favourite for over 10 years and is packed on a nightly basis. Sure, its décor, seating, and setup is basic and sure, the wait service can be a little undiplomatic but the food is great and that’s what counts. If you’re willing to queue (and you’ll have to past 18:00) and be part of a somewhat machine-like process of sitting, eating, and leaving pronto, you’ll get to enjoy some of the best and cheapest Thai food in Karon.
- Opening Hours: 16:00 – 23:00
- Location: Patak Road Karon Centre
Ying is a little shop-house restaurant, but with some classy touches to it, including smart table settings and wall decorations and the wooden sign over the entrance. Specialising in reasonably-priced seafood (which makes its location right next to a fish spa kind of ironic) the top choices include barbecued squid and prawns in tamarind. Ying Restaurant is also particularly well-known for its great milkshakes and fruit shakes, which join some impressive cocktails and beer served in frozen mugs to make this a good choice for a hot day.
- Opening Hours: 10:00 – 22:00
- Location: 472/2 Patak East Road, Karon
- Tel: +66 (0)80 527 5585
Khao Tom Sam Pee Nong is a long open-fronted restaurant far from the beach, close to the southern end of Karon, just before Kata. Its signage explains just how Thai a restaurant it is: while there are a few pictures of western food up there, the name is written only in Thai, with “Seafood – Thaifood” in English underneath. In spite of all of that, it is still a remarkably popular place for tourists, too, with the Panang curry being especially tasty.
- Location: Patak East Road, Karon
Bai Toey is located in The Old Phuket Karon Beach Resort in central Karon. This pleasant restaurant is decked out with period fittings and serves up predominantly traditional Thai dishes such as phad thai, deep-fried fish with garlic and pepper, tom yam goong, green curry, and much more.
Atmosphere-wise, Bai Toey has tasteful soul music discreetly piped in and its décor complements the dishes in that it is predominantly Thai, although diners can order western dishes such as pepper steak. Bai Toey also offers reasonably priced set menus. Sign your name and write a short review on the wall before leaving.
- Opening Hours: 10:00 – 22:00
- Location: In Old Phuket Karon Beach Resort
At the southern end of the beachfront road is a line of seven small seafood restaurants. All are pretty much the same: fish out on display in beds of ice, seafood-heavy menu with Thai and tons of international dishes, pretty similar prices and an open frontage with a view out to the sea. However, Bounty is consistently the busiest of all of them, which certainly says something about the quality. A popular ‘no-frills’ sort of place, the tourist favourites are naturally the most popular choices, including Tom Yam Goong and seafood fried rice.
- Opening Hours: 14:00 – 02:00
- Location: Patak (Beach) Road, Karon
Elephant No. 9 Restaurant is located just over the road from Wat Karon, making it a convenient place to try some tasty Thai food after experiencing some Thai culture. The selection of international dishes is quite impressive, there even being a couple of pages of Russian cuisine in the thick menu and the pizzas being particularly noteworthy. From the Thai dishes, which make up the majority of the menu, the Panang curry is particularly popular with both locals and tourists, as is the fresh seafood. The interior has a slightly eclectic look, with funky colourful lamps hanging from a corrugated metal roof, illuminating rattan and bamboo wall coverings and simple wooden furnishings.
- Opening Hours: 10:00 – 23:00
- Location: 489/1 Moo 1, Patak East Road, Karon
- Tel: +66 (0)7 639 6432