As a small, tourist-oriented town, Kamala’s nightlife and dining choices are mostly underwhelming and overpriced. But with many beachfront restaurants to choose from, the appeal here is more about soaking up the sea and sunset views while you dine than the food itself.
The main beach strip is dotted with international restaurants with similar menus -- it’s easy to get a burger, sandwich, or pasta. Some of the better choices are the Scandinavian restaurants. H.C. Andersen’s has family-friendly food and an ice cream parlour, and beachside Salt & Pepper is better known for its steaks and pizzas than Swedish food.
There’s a number of seafood restaurants that set up on the beach each night, but the grub from Charoen Seafood at Kamala Dreams is probably better. Deng’s restaurant rolls out a barbecue every Wednesday evening with whole grilled fish, spare ribs and salads at 490 baht for adults. The beachfront Bob’s Bar with a big menu of Thai and Western dishes is doused in a reggae theme, but unlike most reggae bars the service is attentive – we were even asked how we enjoyed the meal, a rarity in Thailand -- and it has a play area for kids, a shower and a massage area.
Set on the rocks at the south end of the beach, The Deck restaurant (formerly the Rockfish) is in a prime position for sea views. This nautical-themed open-air spot is open all day but the best value meals are at breakfast, when you can tuck into a tasty eggs Benedict for 168 baht or a breakfast set for as little as 88 baht. If you do want to splash out for dinner here, there’s a big wine menu to go with your seafood or steak meal.
Back from the beach, the main road through Kamala town has cheaper choices including In Touch Cafe with spaghetti at 100 baht and Thai dishes for around 70 baht. The long-running Kamala Bakery has reasonably priced breakfasts and Thai dishes, and is a popular spot to get your pastry fix.
For authentic Thai eats try Duck Spicy -- a small restaurant with a huge menu (and some unintentionally hilarious literal translations from the Thai). Their specialty is northern Thai food and the fluffy catfish and spicy salads are unlike anything you’ll get at a resort (in a good way!). They also do typical Thai standards.
For more locally-priced fare, check out the food stalls selling grilled meat skewers, fresh fruit, and sweets near the school during the daytime and by the park both daytime and in the evening. A night market selling loads of takeaway food is on every Friday from about 17:00 along the main road opposite Phuket FantaSea.
You’ll find a lot of small bars on the main beach road, but the nightlife in Kamala is pretty tame. The main after-dark attraction here is the family-friendly Phuket FantaSea show, which brings in busloads of tour groups every night. Bob’s Bar has 150 baht cocktails and the Kamala Beer Garden is a popular watering hole for the area’s expats -- its happy “hour” from 16:00-20:00 and live sports on TV are probably the main draws. However, our favourite place to sip a cold beer was simply on the beach.
For a more dressed up (and pricey) night out you’ll need to travel to the luxury resorts lining the headland to the south. Vanilla Sky Bar at Cape Sienna resort has tapas and cocktail evenings with sunset views from its lofty hillside position. For a special occasion try Diavolo restaurant at Paresa Resort, which serves Italian and Thai food on a wide terrace overlooking the sea.
Charoen Seafood: Kamala Dreams resort, 74/1 Moo 3; T: (081) 893 2652.
H.C. Andersen: 105/5 Rim Had Rd; T: (089) 590 2700; www.hc-andersen-phuket.com; open daily 14:00-22:00;
Bob’s Bar: Kamala beach road near the police station; open daily 14:00-late.
Duck Spicy: Kamala main road near Rim Had Rd intersection; open daily from 12:00.
Kamala Bakery: 73/59 Kamala main road; T: (076) 385 865; open daily 07:00-17:00.
In Touch Cafe: 94/7 Kamala main road; T: (076) 625 312; open daily 10:30-22:30.
Salt & Pepper: 121 Rim Had Rd; open for lunch and dinner; T: (076) 385 371.
Kamala Beer Garden: 66/5 Moo 3 Kamala main road; T: (087) 629 7258; www.kamalabeergarden.com; open daily 16:00-02:00.
The Deck: 33/6 Kamala beach road; T: (076) 279 756, (094) 490 3269; www.taoshagroup.com/the-deck-restaurant.html; open daily 08:00-23:00.
Vanilla Sky Bar: Cape Sienna Resort, 18/40 Moo 6, Layi-Nakalay Rd; T: (076) 337 300; www.capesienna.com; open daily 17:00-24:00.
Diavolo: Paresa Resort, 49 Moo 6, Layi-Nakalay Rd; T: (076) 302 000; paresaresorts.com.