With over thirty beaches, dazzling scenery, culture, and history by the bucket load, and countless places to eat, drink and party, it’s fair to say there’s no shortage of things to do in Phuket.
So, let’s find out exactly what’s on offer in Phuket one of the best places to visit in Thailand.
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1. Enjoy the Sights and Sounds of Patong Beach
Thailand’s biggest island has a lot going for it. With so many things to do in Phuket, you might be uncertain about where to go first. How about starting your adventure at the Patong Beach Resort? It draws visitors from far and wide and is arguably the most popular of all the beach resorts on Phuket.
Patong has a plethora of activities and plenty of nightlife – it really does seem as if there’s something for everyone here. There are restaurants, bars, and clubs (many of which are centered around Soi Bangla, or Bangla Road, as it’s often called), and it’s generally loud and lively. You will find a few calmer spots (but not too many)!
2. Meet the Big Buddha in Phuket
At 45 meters tall, this is one big Buddha, and it can be seen from miles away! Sitting proudly on the top of Nakkerd Hills, between Kata and Chalong, Phuket’s Big Buddha is an integral part of the landscape. You will need to travel the six-kilometer road in order to meet the Buddha, but when you do, you will be rewarded by some of the most amazing views of the island.
There is also a small museum and gift shop located in the base. From the site, you get nice views of the entire island. Don’t miss your chance to get a coconut Ice Cream served in an hot-dog bun, yum.
- Address: ยอดเขานาคเกิด Tambon Karon, Amphoe Mueang Phuket, Chang Wat Phuket 83100, Thailand
- Hours: Open Daily 6 am – 7 pm
- Admission: FREE
3. Go Nutty at The Cashew Factory
A nut factory may seem like a strange place to visit when there are so many other things to do in Phuket, but not if you’re nutty about cashews. Head to the factory on Surin Road and you can sample as many nuts as you like and buy as many as you can carry!
Go for good old regular cashews or allow your taste buds to tingle as you try the honey roasted or chili flavored varieties. The production process is basic, to say the least – a person shelling nuts! But the end product is pretty special!
Next time you are eating a handle full of cashews, take a second a think of the ladies hard at work to make it possible. Shelling the nuts is done by hand at the Sri Bhurapha factory. These ladies work hard for their wage, they are paid by the weight not by the hour.
Most of the workers are paid less per day than the cost of one bag in the gift shop, which is $8 USD. In the gift shop, they sell a wide array of flavored nuts, some of the more notable ones are Tom Yum soup flavored, honey-sesame, garlic, chocolate covered, and many more.
- Address: 49/6-7 Thepkrasatree Rd, Tambon Si Sunthon, Amphoe Thalang, Chang Wat Phuket 83110, Thailand
- Hours: Open Daily 8 am – 6 pm
3. Climb the Hill to Cape Promthep Lighthouse
Also known as Laem Promthep, and more informally as God’s Cape (Thep is Thai for god and Prom is a Hindu god), the lighthouse is situated in the southern part of the island. The hill on which it sits is a mecca for arty types – for those who like to paint or capture a scene on camera. It’s a very popular place for sunset.
There’s also a Buddhist alter here, which is adorned with carvings and statues of elephants. Climbing the hill can be hard work; there’s a rocky path that winds its way upward (the lighthouse sits 200 feet above sea level). However, once you’ve made it, you will be rewarded with stunning vistas.
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4. Take Time Out at Wat Chalong
Wat Chalong is located around eight kilometers south of Phuket City and is certainly worth a visit. Phuket has over 25 Buddhist Temples which tend to be intricate, well made and beautiful, and this one’s no exception. Wat Chalong has been attracting visitors for a vast number of years and the local people still come here to quietly worship. There are often Western tourists milling about, they come to take a moment for themselves and to learn a little more about Buddhism.
- Address: 70 หมู่ที่ 6 Chao Fah Tawan Tok Rd, Tambon Chalong, Amphoe Mueang Phuket, Chang Wat Phuket 83130, Thailand
- Hours: Daily 8 am – 5 pm
- Admission: FREE
5. Catch the Sunset in Phuket
Of all the things to do in Phuket, one of the most satisfying must be to watch the sunset with a drink in your hand and a happy heart. How you go about getting a happy heart is up to you, but we can help you with the drink part!
If you fancy something a little quirky, try out Wassa Homemade Bar, located on Pee Road in Patong. Getting there is a challenge in itself. The road is winding and rather steep, not for the faint-hearted or novice bike riders! However, make it up there and you can enjoy the wonderful views, calm ambiance, and a cool breeze. Watch the beauty of sunset whilst you sip a lovingly prepared cocktail and nibble on Thai food.
You could also try Tung-Ka Café, which sits atop Rang Hill on the eastern coast. It’s less crowded than the western side of Phuket and offers great food. Arrive late afternoon and head for one of the tables outside. This will give you the best view over Makham Bay, Chalong Bay, and the Big Buddha.
6. Visit A Night Market
There are a few night markets to choose from in Phuket, including Chillva Market, which is located on Yaowarat Road and is open Thursday to Saturday from 5 pm to 11 pm. This place has a young vibe and you will find a mix of items on sale, including hand-made goods from local craftsmen and women.
For something a little more immense, you could head to Phuket Weekend Market – or Naka Market, as it’s sometimes known. Located near Central Festival, the market is big, loud, hot, and wonderfully chaotic. You can lose yourself amongst the stalls (keep an eye out for the fake brand name items and cheap goods)!
Remember to put your bargaining head-on before you go, if something takes your fancy, you would be crazy to take the first price proffered. Barter, barter and barter some more; the stallholders are used to it and would be surprised if their customers didn’t have a go at getting a better price!
Alongside the many goods on offer, you can also sample some of the best food in Phuket. There’s fresh fish, ribs, steak, and noodles, to name but a few delectable treats on offer, and you have to try the seafood. King prawns, tiger prawns, clams – you will find them all here and they’re cooked right in front of your eyes exactly to your liking.
7. People Watch on Bangla Road
Bangla Road lies at the heart of Phuket and stretches from Rat-U-Thit Road all the way to the beach. Lined with bars and clubs, this place gets very lively, so it’s not the spot for a quiet evening stroll.
The bars range from the chilled out (perfect for people watching and a casual drink) to open-air establishments where girls show off their dancing skills with only a pole as a partner. You will also find live music venues such as Rock City, beach bars like the renowned Sunset Bar, and a few nightclubs for those who like to keep the party going into the early hours.
8. Learn to Cook Thai Style
In Phuket, dinner could be as simple as a bowl of tasty noodles or it could be a feast shared by friends and family. Imagine a table laden with delectable Thai treats such as Pad Pak Ruam (mixed fried vegetables), Tom Yam Goong (sour, spicy soup with prawns), and Penang Neua (red beef curry). It’s enough to make your mouth water, and the good news is that you can learn to make some of these appetizing delicacies for yourself.
In Phuket, you can attend a cookery class that will enable you to produce tasty fare using fresh local ingredients. There are lots of classes on offer, so make sure you do your research to find the right one for you. Look for a place that has a well-equipped kitchen and knowledgeable Thai cooks who are friendly, speak good English, and are patient with novice chefs!
9. Jump on The Back of a Motorbike
You can explore by foot or brave the public transport, but if you want to get from A to B quickly and under your own steam, you could rent a motorbike. With so many things to do in Phuket, it’s useful if you can negotiate the traffic and make your way around the roads with as little fuss as possible.
Parking is also less of a problem. Phuket can be very busy, but you will always find a small spot to fit a scooter. Add to this that traveling by scooter is very cheap, and you start to understand why this is an attractive way to travel.
Despite the benefits, it’s important to remember that the roads can be busy and bike or scooter travel can be risky. Not everyone reads the highway code here (and if they do, they certainly don’t follow it)! Keep your wits about you.
10. Chill Out at A Spa
The joys of having nothing to do but lie back and allow someone to kneed the tension from your back and neck. A massage can leave you feeling light as air at the best of times, but wait until you try a spa treatment in Phuket – you are in for a delight! Of all the things to do in Phuket, an authentic massage or relaxing spa treatment has to be near the top of the list.
There are numerous places you can visit – such as the Mandara Spa at the JW Marriot Resort, where you can choose from forty treatments. For a touch of romance, you can’t beat the package for couples, which includes a foot ritual, steam, scrub, bath, massage, and facial – followed by refreshments. Bliss! The Banyan Tree Spa is another hot spot. If you’re serious about getting pampered, they offer a full day (seven superb hours) of top to toe treatments to leave you refreshed, revitalized and feeling fab.
11. Explore the Old Town
New and shiny is lovely but we also love old and characterful. If history is your thing, then venture to the Old Town. Explore the ancient Buddhist and Chinese temples, look at the shrines, check out the small and quirky cafes, and discover the many museums. The Old Town isn’t huge but is a feast for the eyes and no trip to Phuket would be complete without a visit.
12. Relax on Some of The Best Beaches in Phuket
Great beaches come as standard in Phuket; if you are seeking swathes of lovely sand and crystal-clear waters, this place will really rock your boat. The coast road allows you to travel easily from beach to beach, so you can experience the hectic ambiance of popular Patong Beach and then move onto somewhere a little more low-key.
Kata Beach is calmer than Patong but still has lots of facilities. You can get something to drink and a bite to eat but you won’t find as many beach vendors tempting you with their wares.
Alternatively, you could head to Kata Noi Beach, which is around ten minutes from Kata. This place has a more secluded feel as it’s mainly used by residents of the resort, but members of the public can access a small slice of it. That’s enough to provide you with a comfy sun lounger, parasol and a little haven of sea and surf -plus, there are great watersports on offer here.
13. Climb Aboard for A Cruise to Remember
You’ve explored the land, now how about going out to sea? There are plenty of boat tours available that allow you to check out landmarks and go under the waves to see what’s lurking in the ocean.
Join a trip that allows you to snorkel in one of the deep lagoons and get up close and personal with the many colorful fish and sea creatures that populate the waters.
14. Visit a Viewpoint
Once upon a time, the name Samet Nangshe didn’t mean much; most people hadn’t even heard of it. Nowadays, it’s one of the most popular viewpoints around. It’s around a thirty-minute drive from Phuket and is perched on a hilltop in Phang Nga.
From Samet Nangshe, you will be rewarded with picturesque vistas by day. By night (if it’s a clear evening), you might be lucky enough to see the Milky Way in all its glory. Sunrise here is memorable too; it’s worth rising early to witness the sun gracefully rising midway between the limestone karsts.
15. Visit Wat Chalong Temple
The temple serves as one of the main places of worship on the island. A mix of locals and tourist were about when we visited.
If you hear any loud firecrackers going off, don’t be alarmed. Apparently one of the temple’s revered monks loved firecrackers. So in order to honor him, people will light them off in a designated area on the grounds.
16. Learn the True Meaning of “Mai Pen Rai”
There are so many fabulous sights to see and wonderful things to do in Phuket that you will be spoilt for choice. Leave your stresses and worries at the door on arrival and instead adopt the local phrase “mai pen rai” – which means something along the lines of “don’t worry be happy.”
Recommended Private Driver in Phuket
- Panya – http://www.facebook.com/panya.kamman
- Email: [email protected] he was amazing and would hire him again in a heartbeat.
We found our driver on TripAdvisor and we used him several times while in town. We felt like we got a good value on our day trip, we saw many highlights all in one day. Our guide spoke good English, and his vehicle was nice.
If you have a longer time in Phuket motorbike rentals by the week or month are very affordable. With the exception of a few busy stretches of road, navigating a motorbike looked much easier here than in Bangkok.
Phuket Hotel Areas We Recommend
We wanted to get around and see all that Phuket had to offer. We were on a mission to find the best beach on the south-western part of the island as well as hit some historical sights. Taxis and Tuk-tuks are expensive in Phuket, especially around Patong, so they were not going to be an option for us.
Other options for this kind of exploration would be with a private driver for the day or renting a motorbike. Not being confident enough in our motorbiking skills (and reading about too many crash victims) we opted for the driver.
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