The “Jewel of the Andaman” is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations but if you don’t mind the crowds, you’ll find a stunning island with more on offer than any in the region. Here are my 10 things to do in Phuket.
1 – STAY AT AN INCREDIBLE RESORT
Phuket is not short on world-class resorts and hotels with over 3,000 properties as well as Airbnb locations. The hardest decision is knowing where to stay. Here’s a quick shortlist of seriously amazing properties at a range of budgets.
- Trisara (from $700USD/night)
- Keemala (from $500USD/night)
- Six Senses Yao Noi (from $500USD/night)
- Como Point Yamu (from $150USD/night)
- Pullman Phuket Arcadia (from $100USD/night)
2 – EXPLORE THE ISLANDS ON A CANOE
Phuket is one of many islands along a stunning coastline the rivals any in the world. Phuket itself is glitzy and over-touristed but as soon as you get out on the water, it’s another world. John Grey is a living legend of these waters, has been exploring them for over 25 years and knows them better than anyone.
His sea canoe tours are some of the best and what’s more, he runs his company with a strong environmental ethic. A must-do if you have time while you’re in Phuket. Book a tour here.
3 – PICK YOUR OWN FISH AT RAWAI VILLAGE
Rawai is the home to three tribes of sea-gypsies – a nomadic people who have lived on the water for hundreds of years but are facing pressure from a property group who are attempting to remove them in order to build on the land.
The small village is home to some of Phuket’s freshest fish, and it’s an absolute bargain. Choose what you fancy from one of the fish stalls then take it into a restaurant and have it cooked however you want.
4 – TAKE A BOAT TRIP TO PHANG NGA
North of Phuket, Phang Nga Bay is a natural wonder. Over one hundred limestone karsts, covered in lush greenery, poke out of the turquoise ocean, many towering over you. It’s a unique sight, and although the area is super-crowded in peak seasons, it’s a worthwhile trip. Again I would recommend an ethical tour operator such as John Grey who will be able to show you the area in a way few can. Read my guide to Khao Lak if you feel like exploring more of this awesome region.
5 – SEE PHUKET’S SLEAZY SIDE
Thailand has a sleazy side, ain’t no doubt about it. And Phuket is absolutely shameless about showing it off. I can’t say that I particularly enjoy a night out surrounded by women (and men) many of whom are for the most part doing what they do purely through having no better choice in life. But it’s an eye-opening spectacle, it’s safe, and it can be a lot of fun. Bangla Road in Patong is the centre of it all; a pedestrianised strip of neon-lit “lady” and indeed “lady-boy” bars that won’t leave much to the imagination. It’s certainly an experience!
6 – GET A THREE-BEACH VIEW FROM KARON POINT
Just outside of Kata along the road to Rawai is an easily accessible viewpoint where you can see Kata Noi, Kata Yai and Karon beaches – it’s a great stop-off if you’re driving South from Kata.
7 – HIRE A CAR AND TAKE A ROAD TRIP
Phuket’s roads are a little on the crazy side of things but on the whole people drive fairly slowly and the roads are well maintained. Other than on the water, Phuket is best seen by road, and car (or jeep) rentals are very affordable. Load up some tunes and hit the road. Guaranteed fun.
8 – WANDER AROUND PHUKET OLD TOWN
Old Phuket Town is a unique place with a mix of cultures thrown into an area you can comfortably explore on two feet. It’s home to some lovely Sino-Portugese architecture as well as some great restaurants (Suay is excellent) and if you’re around on a Sunday, definitely take some time to walk and eat your way around the Sunday Night Market.
9 – WATCH A THAI BOXING MATCH
Thai boxing is Thailand’s national sport and although it can seem utterly brutal (especially when the participants are about 12 years old and are beating the living cr*p out of each other), witnessing a fight is a uniquely Thai experience. Phuket isn’t short on stadiums with nightly bouts, but one of my favourites is Rawai stadium. It’s smaller and less touristy than some of the others and a little cheaper too.
10 – WATCH THE SUN GO DOWN AT BABA NEST
With a prime spot near the southern tip of Phuket, Baba Nest is renowned as one of the best places to watch the sun go down. If you do want one of the few tables at sunset, you’ll definitely want to book ahead.
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