Just north of its more famous neighbors Patong and Phuket Beach, Kamala provides a peaceful beach haven for island-hoppers seeking a slower pace of life.
Kamala is a small beach town located in Kathu District, Phuket. This quiet district is located due north of more popular beach areas like Phuket Beach, Patong, and Karon. Despite being sometimes outshined by its neighbors, Kamala is considered a peaceful oasis for travelers and locals. It’s becoming a popular place to enjoy the white sands and shimmering oceans of Phuket without the nightclubs, beach parties, and constant tourist thrum often found in other areas of the island.
Where to live in Kamala
Though Kamala is a relatively small area, there are quite a few accessible places to stay in the area. It is easiest to stay in a hotel, furnished apartment, or or resort, depending on your budget, but most accommodation is inexpensive compared to other districts on the island. The accommodation you can find in Kamala will run the gamut from cheap, comfy homestays to luxury beachside resorts. You can travel around Kamala by taxi, smart bus, or Songthaew.
Best Neighborhoods in Kamala
The town center can be seen along Kamala’s busy main road. Here is where you’ll find the central tourist area, with stalls, convenience stores, supermarkets, and restaurants. The local Monday and Friday market is also held here. However, while you’ll find many conveniences here, it’s not considered very appealing for most visitors as it’s not close to the beach. Nearer to Kamala Beach is where most of the action can be found, and it offers the liveliest atmosphere in the area with restaurants and bars, and pleasant tree-lined boulevards along the beach. This is particularly true in the southern end of the beach. There are also a handful of good beachside resorts in the northern and southern areas.
Amazing Apartments, Coliving Spaces and More
We've been rounded up the best housing options in Kamala. All are available on flexible terms, so you can stay one month or as long as you want
Quick Facts About KamalaUnlike other areas of Phuket, in-depth information about the area can be hard to find. If you want to learn a little more about life in this quaint beach town in Southern Thailand, here are a few quick facts that will help you get acquainted.
Don’t mispronounce the name.Rather than using a hard ‘K’, Kamala is actually pronounced ‘Ga-Ma-Lar’.
A significant Muslim population.Muslim Thai’s have lived in Kamala for many years, and Muslim culture and traditions are still represented here. There is a larger presence than in any other area of Phuket.
Beloved by newlyweds.Because of its beauty, Kamala Beach is a wildly popular location for wedding photoshoots, and married couples in full regalia can often be seen posing on the sand.
Outdoor bowling is all the rage.Surprisingly enough, outdoor bowling is one of the most popular pastimes in Kamala. There is even a Kamala Lawn Bowling Club where you can join the fun.
One of the best surfing spots in Phuket.Many people, both tourists, and locals alike, travel from around the island and around the country to enjoy the surf in this small district.
Just a simple fishing village.Before tourism became a popular industry in Thailand, Kamala was primarily a fishing village.
Snorkeling is popular too.And not only that but snorkeling equipment can be hired on Kamala Beach virtually every time of year.
Recently ravaged by a Tsunami.The district was hit hard by the Phuket Tsunami in 2004, and in some areas, you can still see the effects of the damage.
Work in Kamala
Many tourists flock to Phuket every year, and given the perception of an easy beach lifestyle and constant partying, it’s not a surprise that many young foreigners want to live and work on the island. If you’re looking for work, your best bet is to teach English or work in the service industry. Unfortunately, you’re unlikely to find consistent work in Kamala. Even during peak tourist season much of the area is still quiet, so the chances of finding bar or restaurant work are low. You are likely to have a little more luck with English teaching, though work isn’t guaranteed. If you want to live in Kamala, you may want to consider finding work in Phuket City and taking public or private transport back to Kamala.
How good is Kamala for Digital Nomads or Remote Work
Remote work is changing how the global workspace operates. In a trend that is showing no signs of slowing down, remote work is rapidly on the increase all around the world—especially in a place like Kamala. And about 25% of remote workers describe themselves as digital nomads—those who like to travel or stay in cities around the world while they work. So, how good is Kamala for both of these growing movements?
Average Internet SpeedPhuket has average internet speeds for most South-East Asian countries, which may be considered slow depending on where you are traveling from. Average internet speeds are around 7.7 Mbps for downloads and 2.7 Mbps for uploads. Free WiFi can be found at many of the local restaurants and cafes.
Work-friendly Coffee ShopsThailand does not have the strongest cafe culture, and this is especially true for less commercial and less tourist-centric areas. Thankfully there is still a selection of cafes you can work from comfortably. 936 Coffee: 936 offers a good, affordable variety of food and coffee so you can refuel during the working days. Though the shop itself is small, there is outside seating and free-WiFi. The Bread Basket Bakery and Cafe: The Bread Basket is spacious and air-conditioned, making it an ideal location for remote work. They sell reasonably priced western-style barista coffee and a small selection of bread and pastries to choose from. Red Cafe: With free WiFi AND some of the tastiest coffee in town, Red Bar is another great option for digital nomads. Not to mention it moonlights as a bar, so you can enjoy a relaxing drink after work, or simply continue grinding into the night.
Coworking SpacesLimited tourist infrastructure means you’ll be hard-pressed to find a coworking space in Kamala, particularly one that is easily accessible to foreigners. If you need coworking facilities you’ll have to travel to nearby Patong or consider taking a songthaew or taxi across the island to Phuket City. Lubd CoWork Phuket Patong: Lubd is the nearest coworking space to Kamala, roughly 15 minutes drive from Kamala town. Located in the center of Patong, it’s close to any food and shopping you may need to do in the area. It also provides basic amenities like A/C, a stable internet connection, and a comfortable workspace. Keep in mind that the open hours are unfortunately very limited. BAYACO Coworking Space Phuket: It may be a half-hour drive away, but BAYACO is one of the best coworking spaces on Phuket Island. Open from 9 am-7 pm most days, BAYACO is very affordable and provides all the necessities plus free water, coffee, and tea. Truesphere: Truesphere is half coworking space and half cafe, so you can take a tea or lunch (or even dinner) break whenever you need it. All staff speak English, and you can hire out either a desk or a conference room for as long as the cafe is open.
Suitable Level for Digital NomadsIf you’re looking for the typical digital nomad experience in South East Asia, Kamala offers both positives and negatives. Rent and cost of living are low, locals are friendly, and free wi-fi is common. And of course, you get to work near gorgeous beaches without the party atmosphere and hyper-tourism common in other areas of Southern Thailand. Kamala is ideal for those who want to venture off the beaten track, and experience nomad life of a different kind. But you will also have less access to some of the infrastructure you are accustomed to finding in cities and tourist destinations. Kamala is small and quiet, and while that may seem like a blessing it can also be a curse in the low and shoulder seasons, when some businesses close and there are few people to mingle with. That being said, you will always have access to restaurants and cafes, and coworking spaces are just a scenic drive to Patong and Phuket City.
Visa RequirementsIn Thailand, visa exemption rules allow residents of 57 countries to enter Thailand through airports or land borders without a visa, assuming you have a passport that is valid for at least 6 months from the day of entry. This exemption rule allows visitors to travel within the country for a maximum of 90 days and the possibility of one 30 day extension. For residents of other countries there are multiple waivers and exemption types, so be sure to check with your embassy to see what you qualify for. Digital nomads traveling and living in Thailand typically apply for tourist visas after their visa exemption and 30-day extension expire. This involves leaving the country (usually to neighboring countries Cambodia and Laos) to apply and reapply for visa entry. Some travelers acquire sponsorships that qualify them for a business visa.
Food and Drink in Kamala
If you're thinking of traveling to Kamala, keep in mind that the district is considerably less commercialized than other tourist areas on Phuket Island. Don’t be surprised to find that the variety of bars and restaurants, as well as their opening hours, are more restrictive. Like most places in Thailand, small food markets and street food stalls with classic tourist fare can be found on the main road of Kamala and along the Kamala Beach strip. If you’re looking for a beachside restaurant consider paying a visit to high-end Thai restaurants at Lillo Island resort, The Bua Restaurant, and The Deck, all of which offer stunning beach views. And while Blue Manao isn’t by the sea, it does offer some of the best seafood in the area. You can even find some international cuisines when you wander down to The Grill for a classic American-style Steakhouse, Soul Curry for authentic Indian, or The Greek Tavern for Mediterranean cuisine. After dinner, you can cruise to the south end of the beach where business is busiest, and peruse some of the best bars in town like Hey Ha, Smile Bar, and the Aussie Pub.