With only five days in Phuket, I decided to skip Patong Beach, which reminds me of Bali’s Kuta and Boracay’s Station 2, where all the parties and wildlife (I don’t mean flora and fauna) congregate.
But I did not want to snub Phuket’s beach life altogether. As I would whenever I’m undecided about my itinerary, I looked at the map of Phuket and let my gut choose my next stop. There was something about Freedom Beach, which is in a secluded cove between Patong Beach and Karon Beach. It seemed close enough to the mainstream areas but far enough from the streets and party scene.
Don’t Google, Just Go!
I intentionally did not Google much about the place. Sometimes it’s better to experience the location organically without your views tainted by generic articles and reviews. Googling can come later, like what I do whenever I watch a movie—watch and review on my own first, and then see what others have to say later on, or maybe never.
I booked a ฿219-Grab bike that took me from my hotel in Old Town Phuket to Freedom Beach’s entry point and parking area near Avista Hideaway. Bikes are not allowed beyond that point. I paid the Grab bike guy and walked down the dirt road. Soon I spotted some huts with umbrellas and parked ATVs. Hanging above was a tarpaulin that said, “Freedom Beach: 600m.” On the gate next to it was another sign that said, “Freedom Beach: 200m.” So how far was it, really? At least I was on the right track.
I followed a couple walking ahead until I saw another hut manned by locals who charged an entrance fee of ฿100 per person. A group of people was just exiting and I asked one of them, “Did they charge you ฿100 to enter?” He said yes. I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t being scammed.
The Exhausting Hike
There were some paved paths and stairs, but still exhausting to navigate. A group of women was on their way back. As we crossed paths, one of them heard me panting and said, “Oh, it gets harder on the way back. The beach is great—enjoy!—but coming back is hard.” I thanked her and walked along.
I took several breaks, and two pit stops stood out—one by the cemented stairs halfway to the beach and one in an abandoned terrace restaurant. In both spots I could hear the waves breaking on the shoreline, making my heart skip a beat as I realized I was almost there. I gazed at the beach hidden in the cove.
As I descended through the jungle and reached the limestone rocks, I realized my biggest mistake of the day: I wore the wrong shoes—regular flip-flops, yikes! I should have worn aqua shoes or trekking sandals. Like many travelers who have reached this far, I carefully treaded the slippery rocks. Most of us stopped to take videos and photos. Just one more slippery climb down and I’m on Freedom Beach.
Overcast Sky and The Best Baked Potato
I finally stepped foot on the white, powdery sand. “Ah, Freedom Beach,” I said to myself. I looked around to see dozens of colorful umbrellas and beach mats. Barbeque smoke came out of the food stands, all of which had a sign that said, “Free use of mat/umbrella/chair only for our customer.” I could hear the sound of blenders making fruit shakes.
Two local kids helped me secure a mat and umbrella in exchange for buying from their parents’ food stall. They handed me a menu. I had just recovered from food poisoning, so I ordered a fresh coconut and baked potato with a heavy drizzling of ketchup, mayo, and cheese, just like they serve it at the street markets.
Perhaps it was the paradise vibe and warm food settling into my hungry and healing tummy, but that was the best baked potato of my life.
As soon as I picked a spot to eat and park my beach bag, there were no souvenir vendors, tour operators, and masseuses pestering me every five minutes. Freedom Beach may not be as blue and white as Boracay (always a point of comparison for Filipinos), but I’d rather be on this quiet, secluded beach where I can relax without anyone ruining my zen every five minutes or so.
I spent the rest of the overcast day wading in the waters, strolling down the small shore, and charming the beach dog to sit next to me—although he left when he realized I had nothing to offer except for a sliced potato.
Past sunset, which I didn’t notice because of the dark clouds, I decided to make my way back. I noticed there was another path through the restaurant on the southern end of the beach. I chose to exit the same way I entered—via north.
The woman from earlier was right. It was more exhausting uphill on the way back. And with the rain, I was drenched by the time I got back to the parking area.
It was also then when realized my other mistake. I did not have a planned ride back. Grab bikes were not picking up any passengers from this spot. Walking back to the Patong area would take 30-60 minutes. The only readily available way was through the van rental shops along the road. One ride was ฿500, which was a lot for one person.
I saw two girls walking behind me. I remembered seeing them in Freedom Beach. They looked as drenched and tired as I was. I asked if they were also looking for a cheap way back to Patong and if they wanted to split the ฿500 van ride with me. They said yes.
Little Road Trip Back
Our 20-minute van ride was like an unplanned adventure. The two girls (Hi, Sophiya and Saya!) were vacationing from Russia, so we exchanged pleasantries and travel stories. The driver was so amused by the three adventurous passengers in his van that he Facetimed with his wife to introduce us. It was a hoot.
He dropped off the two girls in their hotel, while I was dropped off in the mall to freshen up before taking a ฿220-Grab bike ride to the Phuket Sunday Night Market on the other side of the island.
Post-Googling, I learned that there are two other ways to go to Freedom Beach:
1. By renting a longtail boat from Patong, Karon, or Kata for ฿1,200-1,500 per roundtrip. I noticed only a few boats during my visit (December 2022), perhaps because of the strong waves and incoming rain.
2. Through the restaurants and uphill bars I saw on the southern end of Freedom Beach. I entered the northern side coming from Patong Beach.
On our way back to civilization, I spotted Patong’s crazy nightlife. I’m glad I skipped it for Freedom Beach. It was worth the hike.
Freedom Beach is located at Siriraj Road, Pa Tong, Kathu District, Chang Wat Phuket 83100, Thailand.