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Kamala,pronounced “Ga Ma Lar” provides a haven for those who prefer the quieter life. Although the southern end of the beach can get busy in the high season, the northern end is peaceful all year round. “Rim Haad” (Beach Road), at the southern end, has a number of small 20-30 room hotels for the low/medium budget traveller. Friendly service and village feel and a diversity of restaurants and small bars can be found on this small road. Cheaper food options/market stalls can be found on the main Kamala Road.
The only public transportation is via blue songthaews, which run from Kamala to Surin to Phuket Town. They do not run south toward Patong or north toward the airport–you must change in Phuket Town.
From the airport, it is 750 baht by taxi.
From Patong, the cost is 400 baht by taxi.
From Phuket Town, you can take a blue songthaew bus for 40 baht. The route is Phuket Town – Surin – Kamala.
Kamala is easily walkable. You can also rent motorbikes or even pedal bicycles at several shops. The only public transportation are the blue songthaews that run north and east toward Surin Beach and Phuket Town, which can be caught from the beach road in Kamala or a bit north on the main road just outside the Kamala Post Office.
Aside from the beach itself, Kamala hosts the Fantasea show.
An elephant trekking experience is available south of Kamala. Early in the morning, you can see an elephant walking along the highway road that leads to Patong!
There are two weekend markets in Kamala. One is located across the street from the Fantasea show, and begins at around 3:00 PM every Friday. While local food is available and prices are relatively low, there is still a very “touristy” feel to this. The other market is across from the Big C supermarket on the main road, occurring every Wednesday and Saturday from early morning until 7:30 PM. More local people tend to flock to this market. Prices tend to already be marked. Both offer clothes (new and used), food, fruit, shakes, electronics, tourist trinkets, and general household goods for sale.
There is a Buddhist temple at the south end of the beach, while several locally-frequented mosques are located in the residential areas along the eastern side of town.
In the middle of the beach, there is a small park with a tsunami monument, which devastated the local area in 2004.
If you are looking to spend most of the time on the beach enjoying the sea, this is a very good place to be. The beach is quite nice and is not too crowded. The sea floor is nice and sandy. In the afternoons the water spectacularly recedes leaving a blanket of rocks at the left end of the beach for local fishing and a beautiful swimming area at the right end of the beach.
On the beach, you won’t be able to avoid a Thai massage. These are offered at small stalls along the beach, and the rate seems fixed at 300 baht/hour. Even if you’re not comfortable with a full body massage, don’t miss out on a heavenly foot massage. Get one daily and help support the local economy while enjoying a pampering.
The Kamala Wat is located at the south end of the beach and is almost unnoticeable. The temple and its grounds have been restored since the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami and the Buddhist locals and resident monks welcome curious Australians and foreigners. It was the Australian television program Backyard Blitz that helped restore the gardens of the wat after the tsunami. A memorial tree is placed in the garden with a dedication plaque and the walls of the main temple are a beautifully decorated story of Buddha. Visiting this wat can be an enlightening and cultural experience; pictures and events of the tsunami are displayed on a board for foreigners to see and the monks allow photos of the grounds as long as you’re in the company of a local.
The extremely popular Phuket FantaSea is located in Kamala. Phuket FantaSea is an exuberant show/cultural theme park that combines the rich heritage of Thailand with unique 3D effects and animals. The park is 140 acres and contains a 4,000-seat restaurant offering a grand buffet of Thai and international cuisine and a shopping street offering local products. The park operates daily except Thursdays and opens at 20:30.
If more entertainment is desired, you can take a taxi to Patong. Taxis, however, are unreasonably expensive: ~500 baht one-way (less if you bargain). Tuk-tuks are a simple and (sometimes) cheap way to leave Kamala. Tuk-tuks to Patong cost around 300 baht. Some of the hotels provide an affordable shuttle to Patong.
Catching the songthaew to Phuket Town or further is a cheap cultural experience for travellers unwilling to pay the cost of taxis or tuk-tuks. The bus is fantastic and cheap, if you are willing to share it with curious locals. In Kamala the bus runs every hour and passes along the main road. You need only to flag it down and jump through the back. You pay the driver at the end of your journey.
Kamala Diving Center has half-day trips to dive sites around Kamala, like Kamala Rock, a boulder site with plenty of fish; Ko Weo- a small reef island; Tin Lizzy, a dredger wreck; and Tai Pau, a shallow sand bottom site. The dives are done by longboat and are often quite enjoyable.