Just west of Phuket in Thailand's southwest lies the gorgeous beach resort of Karon. If you just want to relax on the beach, Karon excels, but there's more here to explore, with natural attractions on the destination's doorstep too.
Karon's main attraction is obvious. The broad, long sandy beach attracts a huge summer crowd, but isn't as packed as other nearby resorts like Patong.
From the crab fried rice at the unpretentious Pad Thai Shop to delicate curries at Red Chopsticks, Karon offers the best of contemporary Thai cuisine.
Towering over the resort, the 147-foot-tall Big Buddha is one of Karon's star attractions. The views from the peak are simply stunning.
Kok Chang Safari Elephant Trekking will get you in the saddle of friendly and humanely treated Asian elephants.
If you love to dive, Karon is perfect. Head out to nearby reefs with companies like Eco Divers who will show you the region's marine riches.
High season generally lasts from November through early March. Either end of the season is ideal, with fine weather, little rain and smaller crowds.
From Phuket International Airport (HKT) a minibus should cost ฿200, while taxis usually cost about ฿650.
From Phuket, take route 402 and switch to route 4021, which takes you straight down to Karon Beach.
Regular bus services run from Phuket to Karon and cost ฿100.
There are plenty of incredible hotels in Karon, including standouts like Le Meridien, the Mövenpick Resort & Spa Karon Beach, and the Centara Grand Beach Resort Phuket.
Karon Beach - the third-longest beach on Phuket Island, Karon Beach offers swimming, snorkeling, sunbathing - pretty much everything you could ask from a beach.
Karon Village - bordering on the beach, Karon Village is full of lively nightspots like the Ombre Bar and Restaurant and Sanook Sports Bar.
Ban Karon - just south of the main village, Ban Karon is if anything slightly livelier, being home to restaurants like the Pad Thai Shop and attractions like Dino Park Mini Golf.
There are no buses or trams in Karon, but you can catch tuk-tuks (passenger scooters). The trip to Patong Beach will cost around ฿300.
Expect taxis to charge a flag drop of around ฿200, then ฿50 per mile.
To rent a car, try places like Grand Car Center or Tulip Car Rental. Rates will start at around ฿500 per day.
Most of Karon's best stores are located along the seafront, where you'll find boutiques like Baru Fashion, but Kata Beach to the south has slightly more shopping options.
Supermarkets in Karon include Super Cheap 24 Karon. Expect to pay around ฿50 for 12 eggs.
You'll find fantastic Thai food at the Pad Thai Shop and Mama Noi's, great curries at Red Chopsticks, and stir fries at Bai Toey. Meals should come to around ฿300.