Last year, on vacation to Phuket Island, Thailand, I remembered to pack everything except my books. As a voracious book-a-day reader, on a beach holiday, this was worse than if I’d forgotten to pack my underwear. Luckily, several wonderful people on Phuket pointed me in the direction of the island’s best English-language bookshops and,soon, I was happily stocking up on new best sellers and tons of used books. If, like me, you find yourself on Phuket Island without books, I’m happy to pass on the book buying tips I received. Shop at these three best Phuket bookshops and you’ll be set for your entire vacation.
South Wind Books, Phuket Town – One of Phuket Island’s best used bookstores, South Wind Books sells fiction and non-fiction books, covering a range from literary fiction to John Grisham, travel books to fantasy fiction, Thai culture, gardening, handicrafts, interior design, architecture – you name it, they have it.
South Wind Books is a multi-roomed bookshop with a huge selection of English-language books as well as others in German, French, Chinese etc. Prices are cheap and, as they’re all used, you can buy a few books then, when you’re finished reading them, take them back for a 50% refund or trade them in for more. It makes reading on Phuket quite cheap, particularly as most book shops selling new books are so expensive.
South Wind Books is at 1 Phang Nga, Talat Yai, Mueang Phuket, Phuket opposite Siam Indigo restaurant.
Kata Books, Kata Beach – The very first bookshop I discovered on Phuket Island was Kata Books in the Kata Beach/Karon Beach area of the island. Frustrated I couldn’t find a shop selling English books, I asked a passing western expat if he knew of an English language bookshop. A minute later, I was on the back of his motorbike and being taken to Kata Books, a large second hand bookshop just opposite the enormous Club Med complex.
Kata Books is wonderful. The owner speaks fluent English, their selection is good and prices are cheap. Last time I was there, I found several almost-new travel books, a couple of books written by westerners living in Asia, and of course the usual ‘beach reading’ chick lit. Most of their books are English-language with a few Norwegian, Dutch, Japanese, Korean etc. Basically, they have what travelers sell them plus whatever the owner buys on book-buying trips to Bangkok.
Every visit I’ve taken to Phuket Island since then, I haven’t packed any books as I know I can find so much to buy at Kata Books and, when you can buy four or five books for less than 500 baht ($16), you’re not going to go through all your holiday money either.
Kata Books is at 82 Kata, Karon, Mueang Phuket, Phuket.
B2S, Central Festival Phuket Mall – B2S is a large Thai bookshop/music shop that sells everything from children’s board books all the way up to glossy coffee table books and everything in between. No, B2S is not cheap, but they do have fiction and non-fiction for all tastes and, if you shop there during one of their many sales, you can still get up to 60% off the cover price.
Look for a wonderful selection of travel and interior design and decorating books, as well as a small number of fiction books of the mainly bestseller nature.
B2S has a large selection of imported English-language magazines and newspapers and they also run a special order service so, if there’s a book you really want, chances are they can order it for you.
If you’ll be spending longer than a few weeks on Phuket, or you’re a big book buyer, B2S even has a ‘The 1 Card’, which is a discount card that gives you between 5-15% off all your book and magazine purchases. Well worth paying the small fee to get it.
B2S is in the large Central Festival Phuket Mall, on the main road from Patong Beach to Phuket Town.
B2S Book Store