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August 20, July 18, May 20, May 7, April 26, Disclaimer: This may contain affiliate links. Please see our disclaimer policy here. Never leave without travel insurance. This article was originally published in July and has been updated several times, last in March From beach bumming psst Phuket has some of the best beaches in Southeast Asia not just in Thailand to partying, from romance at a luxury hotel to debauchery in Patong, everyone will find their perfect vacation here.
It will take you over an hour and a half to drive from the airport, in the north, to the southern part of the island, so it pays to plan a smart itinerary if you want to do a bit more than just sun tanning or reading a book by the beach. It is also advisable to rent a car if you want to explore the island on a fun Phuket road trip like I did. If you only have one day read my article for a breakdown of the best things to do in Phuket in a day , basically an abbreviated version of this post in itinerary format. Before beginning our best things to do in Phuket list, it might be useful to delve into its past.
Historically a tin mining town, Phuket only started to boom as a tourist haven in the 70s when the airport was built. Admittedly, the best things to see in Phuket today relate to the touristy bits, like the beach or the party scene, although understanding the heritage and history behind Old Phuket is equally fascinating. Phuket was the center of Chinese and Indian exchanges well before the rest of Thailand.
Ships from both empires would seek refuge in its safe harbor during the monsoon season. The area only became part of the Thai Empire in the 13th century when the Sukhothai took it over from the Sumatran Sirivijaya Empire the same empire who discovered Singapore and gave it its current name, interesting fact about Singapore for you. The name Phuket was derived from the Malay word bukit, meaning hill.
The jungles of the interior were inhabited by indigenous tribes who were displaced by the tin miners whereas the coast was the home of sea gypsies, some of which are still living there and in adjacent islands. Tin mining brought prosperity to Phuket and the interest of the British Empire who almost annexed it in the 19th century but ended up going for Penang as a safer harbor.
The Sino-Portuguese buildings that one can still see today in Old Phuket were built at that time by the rich merchants. Due to a lack of global demand, tin prices fell drastically from onward. Tourism has steadily increased over the years to reach a peak of 10 million in with a dip in So, why is this Thai province so popular with travelers?
Read on to find out through a list of the best things to do in Phuket. Bookaway is a fantastic and trusted travel booking platform where you can search for transportation between multiple destinations. Here is a list of transportation options to take around Phuket. I have been to Phuket over a dozen times and every trip is different. You can surely spend a weekend getaway in Phuket and just see the beaches. But you could also do Phuket the other way and not even step foot on the beach. Instead you can enjoy nature, culture, food glorious food and the many other Phuket attractions that make the island such an interesting destination.
If you are looking for an organised and neatly laid out itinerary including most of the places to see in Phuket mentioned here, head to my weekend road trip around Phuket. For those looking to party , just head to Patong or Bangla Road , all the party you need is there. The area is party-central with bars that seem to be open around the clock and all the music and drinks you need. Patong is also what makes Phuket such a great gay destination. However, I do have a hidden secret for what to do in Phuket at night, like no other, so scroll down and see if you can find it.
I promise that was one of the most fun nights I have ever had in Phuket and elsewhere. And no, it did not involve ping pong, beer pong or any other dodgy or doubtful activity you would be too ashamed to tell your mother about. You are unlikely going to be alone here because this is an extremely popular Phuket attraction with most of the island bus tours stopping here. Either way Karon Viewpoint is popular for a reason see image above for a visual explanation.
From above, you will be able to see the three beaches north of the viewpoint. Couples go there to sit on the benches and observe the view. After all, Phuket gets its name from the Malay word for hill bukit so there are a few places where you can enjoy the view from above. The Karon viewpoint is also sometimes called the three beaches viewpoint due to the view of Kata Noi, Kata, and Karon beaches. While you cannot see Patong from here, you will be able to peak at the Big Buddha far off in the distance and over the hills.
Explorers looking for convenience should hire a private driver. Alternatively, you can even walk up the hill starting from the south end of Kata Beach. The walk is straight up and over 2kms, so it is recommended that you be quite fit and go at a slow pace. But this is a good option for those who want to save on taxi fare. Phuket Old Town offers a glimpse into the heritage-rich past of the island and it seems that the trading tradition has evolved right into the 21st century with what tourists have come to know as the Weekend Night Market , one of the most exciting places to visit in Phuket.
One of the most interesting shops is the one selling second hand shoes, in case the prices of new stuff are not cheap enough already! A visit to the market can be one of the most unusual things to do in Phuket or it can be one of the most fun, see for yourself. As this is Thailand, there is also plenty of food to enjoy , or check out my guide to Phuket Old Town for ideas about where to eat Hint: there are lots of cafes and hawker stalls that are historic and delicious.
Phuket Weekend Market is every Saturday and Sunday, starting from 4pm until around 9pm. There are hundreds of places to learn and your hotel may offer a class too but, for a genuine and well-known school, try Blue Elephant Cooking School.
This is one of the best known restaurants in Phuket and a real institution that specialises in Royal Thai cuisine. Everything is great here: the food, the teacher, the setting, if you ever wanted to learn to make some of the easier Thai dishes back home, there is no better cooking class than this one. Another option we love is the cooking class at The Boathouse Phuket.
Not only do they serve ature dishes that keep guests coming back every year for more, but they also offer great cooking classes. They start with a visit to the market with the Sous Chef followed by a 4 course meal cooked at the rooftop kitchen with views over the beach.
You will also get to eat your food trust us, the chef makes sure it all tastes wonderful , get a jar with their ature massaman curry paste, a recipe book and a certificate. The experience is fantastic and the setting excellent and there are never more than 2 couples at the same workshop so it is really personalised. Getting here is a fairly simple ride in a car or taxi to Kata Beach. One of the most typical activities in Phuket is a day trip to Phang Nga Bay. There are lots of islands near Phuket and many possible stops along the way. The tour that you book will determine where you stop but you will almost surely stop at James Bond Island, the island made famous by The Man with the Golden Gun movie.
It is a striking rock on its own due to its sharp upside down looking shape. The other common stop on day trips is a kayak trip inside some of the caves, and the longer tours also make it to Maya Bay , at the back of Phi Phi, another spot made famous by blockbuster The Beach. The best way to get up close to Phang Nga Bay is to book a boat tour from the ferry points in Phuket:. While Phang Nga Bay is one of the most iconic Phuket attractions, there are two other options for those who love island hopping and beach rather than boat trips: popular Phi Phi Island and the less frequented Racha Island.
The best way to go island hopping is to book a proper island hopping adventure online before you go. This ensures a hassle-free and convenient trip on a modern speedboat. You could also take local longtail boats if you have more time and simply do one of the two islands. Considered as two of the most beautiful islands near Phuket, Racha Raya and Coral island, are filled with hidden coves, pristine white sand beaches as well as lo of water activities.
So you can relax in the sand or head to the ocean for some parasailing or diving. The ferry takes around 2hrs from Phuket or 90mins from Krabi or Koh Lanta. There are also ferry shuttle services available from Chalong Pier. I stayed at the The Racha, which is the luxury hotel on the island and it was pure bliss. You can read my full review The Racha Phuket. There is also a bustling marine life for some epic snorkeling. You can book your day tour here or go one step up and cruise to Racha and Maithon Island on a catamaran here.
Book your ticket online here. You can get there by boat and spend a few hours cruising on a scooter or bicycle and have some delicious food before coming back to busy Phuket. It is a mini getaway from the getaway and a tourist activity in Phuket many people love because of the peacefulness of the islands compared to buzzing Phuket.
It takes around mins from Phuket or Krabi depending on the type of boat taken. If you prefer to cycle the 20km loop around Koh Yao Noi with a guide, you can book one online here. Not only will an experienced English-speaking Thai guide direct you through rice paddies and hidden beaches including a picnic , you will also get to visit a working farm where you can learn all about sustainable farming. A fantastic day trip away from all the touristy top things to do in Phuket.
A fun, crazy, exhilarating and liberating evening of good Thai food and entertainment. If you were thinking of going to some of the shows on Bangla Road, forget it, they can be fun, but are also pretty seedy. Ka Jok See is a much classier and much more fun alternative. For the price of unlimited food and drinks you also get an impromptu cabaret show on the tables and chairs to go with it. Ka Jok See has no publicity, no website with minimal information on their facebook . I have sent multiple groups of friends to Ka Jok See and they all, without exception, have had a fabulous unforgettable time.
Not one of your usual tourist attractions in Phuket , Rawai beach is rather an insight into the lives of many Thai fishermen who do not live off tourism to the island but rather from other traditional sources.Top things to do in phuket
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The 22 best things to do in Phuket