Picture this: A mountainous island full of lush rainforests, limestone karts, and some of the most tranquil picture perfect beaches. Sounds like paradise? It is. Take it from our experience, after a few weeks here, you would find it hard to ever leave. While it looks busy and overwhelming initially, venture off the regular tourist trail and find little slices of paradise.
Pronounced without the “h”, Phuket is known as the Pearl of the Andaman sea. While it has now grown into more than just an idyllic beach laden island (Fun fact: it’s almost as big as Singapore), there is never a dull moment in Phuket given the wide variety of things to do. To help you plan your trip, here’s a list of a few of the best things to see and do while in Phuket.
- 1 Go Beach Hopping
- 2 Gaze at the Karon Viewpoint
- 3 Visit Phuket’s Big Buddha
- 4 Visit Wat Chalong
- 5 Get Active and Go Biking in Koh Yao Noi Island
- 6 Go on a Rum Distillery Tour
- 7 Go Chasing Waterfalls in Phuket
- 8 Explore Phuket Old Town
- 9 Get Cooking
- 10 1…2…Bungy!
- 11 Sponsor a Dog
- 12 Surfs Up!
- 13 Go Kayaking in Phang Nga Bay
- 14 Explore the Underwater World
- 15 Support the Gibbon Project
- 16 Explore a National Park
- 17 Go People Watching in “Sin City” Patong
- 18 Watch the Sunset from Promthep Cape
- 19 Go Crazy Over Phuket’s Markets
- 20 Hop on a Boat Tour
- 21 Where to Stay in Phuket
Go Beach Hopping
While most people end up visiting Phuket’s main beaches, due to Phuket’s large size, there are heaps of other places that are worth visiting and exploring. Skip out on visiting the busy tourist beaches of Karon, Patong, and Kata instead, hire a motorbike (or a car) and drive around in search of some off-the-beaten path beach. From the stunning Banana Beach,Kata Noi, Nai Thon, and Surin, there are literally loads to choose from. Escape the drives of local vendors and sun loungers, instead, grab a beach sarong and a hat and plop yourself near a tree as you enjoy quiet beaches with the most vibrant waters imaginable.
Gaze at the Karon Viewpoint
As Phuket is a mountainous (and large) island, as you can imagine, it is also full of many viewpoints. One of the most popular ones being the Karon View Point. When you gaze in one side, you can see the Andaman Sea while the other side boasts of unending views of three different bays on the other side. As this is a rather popular spot for tourists, be ready to battle your way through a sea of selfie sticks. However, with that being said, the view really is worth it. Other notable viewpoints that are worth seeing and exploring are:
- Ya Nui Viewpoint
- Khao Rang Hill
- Radar Hill Viewpoint
- Kata Noi Viewpoint
Editor’s Note: To save time when moving from one island to the next, you can see the ferry schedules and book ahead of time. Click here to see ferry schedules
Visit Phuket’s Big Buddha
While it’s easy to just sit under a beach umbrella and do absolutely nothing, we urge you to take the time to do something cultural while in Phuket. Following suit, what’s more cultural than visiting Phuket’s largest Buddha statue. Situated on the peak of Mt. Nagakerd in Karon, gaze at the breathtaking horizon around you as you enjoy a 360-degree views of the Southern Part of Phuket Island.
Editor’s Note: Take a look at out complete Thailand Travel Guide featuring the best things to do, what to eat, and where to stay.
Visit Wat Chalong
For a taste of some local Thai culture, head on over to Wat Chalong, a place that is very important to the Thai people. The highlight of the place is the Grand Pagoda which is said to have a small splinter from the bone of Buddha himself. The entire place is beautifully decorated with his life story. As this is a temple and place of worship, make sure you bring something to cover your knees and shoulders.
Get Active and Go Biking in Koh Yao Noi Island
If you’re in Phuket for a while, going on day trips around the islands is something we highly recommend. First up is a biking tour around fields, rubber plantations, and lush forested areas in Koh Yao Noi Island. You can bike across the entire island, making it an ideal day trip. We recently took on this adventure and had a blast navigating our way through rice fields and beaches.
Go on a Rum Distillery Tour
Tour around the Chalong Bay Rum distillery as you see how they process their award winning rum from thai sugarcane. If you enjoy visiting wineries and distilleries, this is a pretty cool activity to do while in Phuket. This 30-minute distillery tour takes you around their production and bottling plant and topping off the whole experience with a refreshing Chalong Bay Mojito, fresh off the press. Bottoms up!
Go Chasing Waterfalls in Phuket
While the waterfalls in Phuket cannot compare to let’s say the waterfalls in Chaing Mai, they are still worth seeing and venturing out to nature for. Here is a list of several small waterfalls which are worth trekking into the jungle for: Bang Pae Waterfall, Lampi Waterfall, Sri Phang Nga National Park, Tonsai Waterfall, Kathu Waterfall, and Ton Prai Waterfall. Some of them have pools large enough for you to take a dip in.
Explore Phuket Old Town
Two or three decades ago, Phuket’s beaches were uninhabited. Phuket Town became very important due to the rubber industry and mining boom, thus making it a rich historical center. Take a walk down memory lane as you explore the roads and lanes of their forgotten past. We recommend going on the Phuket Heritage walking tour for a real cultural experience.
Thai food is one of the best cuisines in the world- like really. What better way to appreciate a cuisine than learning how to cook it? Phuket is littered with many cooking schools, ready to teach you how to make that oh-so-delicious Pad Thai and Tom Yum soup you’ve been devouring every day.
If you’re into the adrenaline-fueled adventures, this one is perfect for you.Take the leap of faith and jump out into nothingness in Phuket’s famous jungle bungee jump site. With New Zealand and Australian owners, their safety standards are up to par with other jump sites worldwide. Feel your heart pound, and your gut twist and turn until you’re ready to throw yourself down 50m down a tranquil lagoon. Trust me, it’s EPIC!
P.S. Scared to do it alone? They also have tandem jumps!
Sponsor a Dog
Anyone that has been to Asia knows that animal rights are basically close to none. One of the best organizations we’ve seen is Soi Dog, an group in Phuket committed to sheltering stray dogs and cats. The coolest part, if you’re traveling back home, you can even be a flight volunteer to help bring some of these dogs to loving homes overseas. Definitely worth checking them out while on the island.
Surf to your heart’s content in Surf House Phuket’s wave pool where you can ride waves continuously. Practice your surfing (or wipe out) skills and enjoy non-stop surf action and trendy music. They currently have two locations so you can enjoy riding some waves in either Kata or Patong Beach.
Go Kayaking in Phang Nga Bay
Home to 40 small islands, lagoons, and caves, a day trip kayaking around Phang Nga Bay is a must while in Phuket. The bay is protected from natural elements due to its location which makes it the perfect location to kayak around and explore. Its waters are also protected by the Ao Phang Nga National Park. If you want to do a full tour, this normally involves a visit to ‘James Bond Island’, Ko Panyee (Sea Gypsy Village), and a bit of snorkeling.
Explore the Underwater World
As in most of the Thai Islands, diving and exploring the underwater world is a must! Surround yourself with loads of tropical fish and coral as you visit some of Thailand’s best dive spots. Visit sites like Hin Daeng and Hin Muang dive sites where you can see the fantastic marine life on a steep wall and vibrant violet corals. Given that there are LOADS of dive schools, choose wisely and go with ones that are well recommended.
Support the Gibbon Project
In Thailand, more and more Gibbons are being killed each year due to urbanization and illegal hunters. The Gibbon rehabilitation project was established to help care for Gibbons which are being relocated back to the wild. The entire project is dedicated to helping transition them to their natural environment so don’t expect to see loads of cages and confined spaces! They are always on the lookout for volunteers so definitely check them out if you have time.
Explore a National Park
If you’re feeling the need to get some jungle time, head on over to Khao Phra Thaeo, one of Phuket’s largest untouched areas. Spend a morning here walking through their nature trail or hiking to Tonsai waterfalls. If you want to take it a little bit further, there is also an 8km trek from Bang Pae Waterfalls to Tonsai. As it is a National Park, they charge foreigners 400 THB as an entrance fee to help with the conservation fees of the place.
Go People Watching in “Sin City” Patong
Despite getting a bad rep, Patong is still a place to visit (at least once) while you’re in Phuket. Loosely labeled as the Sin City of Thailand, this place is full of bright lights, ping pong shows, ladyboys, and anything else you can imagine. So if you’re up for a night of debauchery and people watching, Patong is the place to go.
Watch the Sunset from Promthep Cape
Known for its stellar sunsets, Promthep Cape near Rawai Beach is a popular spot for sunset worshippers. Come here with your motorbike and marvel at the sun setting in the horizon as you watch the sky turn into various shades of pink, orange, and purple. Nearby, there is also a lighthouse and a Buddhist shrine which you can visit.
Go Crazy Over Phuket’s Markets
As Phuket is the main tourist hotspot, naturally, there are loads of markets to see and visit. Walk around, find some local souvenirs, eat some local street food, or simply just enjoy “window shopping”. Here are a few of our favorite markets in Phuket and where you can find them!
Hop on a Boat Tour
Island hopping is probably one of the best things to do while in Phuket. While still very touristy, it is still worth doing. Join the many boat tours being offered around the island and hop from one island to the next. A few popular tours are: Around Phuket, Phi Phi Island, James Bond Island, Maya Bay, and Pileh Lagoon. Just imagine yourself surrounded by turquoise blue warm waters while on a boat with a beer in hand. Perfect! If it’s snorkeling you’re after, don’t miss out on a trip to Coral Island!
While I can go on and on about all the other things you can see and do while in Phuket, my advice? Just head there yourself and start exploring! Whether you’re there to bask in a beach, explore hidden caves and coves, go island hopping, or join the many adrenaline fuelled activities, Phuket has a little bit of something for everyone.
Where to Stay in Phuket
As you can imagine, Phuket is pretty HUGE! For tips on where to stay in Phuket, check out the full article which has recommendations from Budget, Mid Range, to down right swanky and luxurious places!
Looking for more inspiration for traveling Thailand? Check out our other articles below
- 20 Photos that Will Make You Go to Thailand
- Best Backpacking Apps for Traveling Southeast Asia
- Where to Stay in Thailand