Phuket: Everything You Need To Know

The largest of Thailand’s islands, sensational, sunny Phuket is a travellers paradise where the opportunities for relaxing, exploring, gastronomy, adventuring, history and culture — and of course partying — are endless.

So give in to those hedonistic temptations and dive into everything this magical destination has to offer.

Let’s find out more about the glorious island of Phuket…

Phuket Weather

Way down in the south of Thailand just off the west coast, Phuket nestles in a privileged position that boasts a welcoming tropical climate all year round — but there are definitely better (or worse depending on your point of view) times to visit the island.

The high season — the most popular but also the most expensive time to visit Phuket — runs from late December to around the end of March, when rainfall is at a minimum and temperatures average out at a very agreeable 32°C.

phuket

After that, things begin get seriously sticky, with a noticeable rise in humidity levels, and this rainy season lasts well into October, with rainfall lessening off in November at the start of the high season.

That said, rainfall during this period is not constant and, although storms punctuate the day, there are still plenty of sunny spells to be enjoyed.

The rainier months are also less attractive to tourists, so if you’re up for enjoying less crowded beaches and other attractions (as well as lower prices) then this can be a good time to visit Phuket.

Bangkok to Phuket

There might be 520 odd miles separating Bangkok from Phuket, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a chore to get there — connections are good and it can even add to the adventure.

Flights

If you want to make the journey in double quick time, take a plane — it’s the most expensive way to travel but by far the quickest in terms of travel time.

There are more than 50 flights a day departing from Bangkok airports, with low cost carriers such as Nok Air, Thai AirAsia and Thai Smile operating out of Don Muang Airport and the pricier airlines including Bangkok Airways and Thai Airways flying out from Suvarnabhumi Airport.

Flights take around 1 hour 20 minutes and fly directly into Phuket airport.

If possible, book your ticket in advance to keep down costs, but it’s still sometimes fairly easy to grab a good bargain between 1000 and 2000 THB.

Train

A train journey from Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong train station won’t take you as far as Phuket as there is no train station on the island.

Instead enjoy the scenery on the 8 hour journey down to Surat Thani (or take an overnight sleeper train and arrive in the morning).

From Surat Thani it’s a 5 hour journey by bus to Phuket.

If you’re planning on doing the train/bus combo, it’s well worth getting a combined ticket for 1550 THB which takes the hassle out of transfers and works out cheaper for those on a budget.

phuket thailand

Bus

Lastly a direct express bus journey all the way from Bangkok’s Southern bus terminal, Sai Tai Mai, or the Northern bus terminal, Mo Chit, will set you back around 700 – 1000 THB depending on the class of bus you choose.

Journey time is around 13 hours from Bangkok to just outside of central Phuket.

Things to do in Phuket

Phuket is a veritable playground with masses to see, do and experience.

Here are our top picks of the most unmissable things to do in Phuket…

Phang Nga Bay

things to do in phuket

By Diego Delso (CC BY-SA 3.0 licence)

Craggy limestone formations stitched together by exotic tropical jungle soar above the azure waters at Phang Nga Bay — one of the most beautiful bays in Thailand.

This incredible natural paradise is located between the provinces of Phuket, Phang Nga and Krabi, and it is dotted with intriguing caves and heavenly beaches, is teeming with wildlife, and is fed by dramatic cascading rivers.

Accessible by boat, a tour of the bay’s many tiny islands is a popular way to visit this largely protected area.

Boat tours typically include visits to the famous James Bond island where The Man with the Golden Gun was filmed, kayaking in emerald lagoons, and snorkelling in the pristine waters.

Big Buddha

phuket weather

Photo by Eirien (CC BY 2.0 licence)

Rising majestically 45 metres toward the heavens high on a hilltop at Phuket’s finest viewpoint in the Nakkerd Hills, the Big Buddha is sculpted from purest white alabaster that glitters and glows as it catches the sunlight.

This impressive Buddhist shrine also affords breathtaking views of several beautiful bays including Phang Nga Bay, as well as lush forest vistas and panoramic beach views.

Monkey Hill (Toh Sae Hill)

Toh Sae Hill has earned its nickname of Monkey Hill thanks to the troupes of cheeky Macaque monkeys who live here and who are kept fed by the locals who bring them fresh fruit.

But the macaques aren’t the only attraction here — Monkey Hill also boasts sensational viewpoint looking out across Phuket City.

Halfway up the hill a colourful temple shrine devoted to three holy spirits can also be found.

Phuket Town Weekend Night Market

bangkok to phuket

Nobody does markets like the Thais, and Phuket Town Weekend Night Market is the best on the island.

Also known as Talad Tai Rot or Chao Fa Market, this mammoth market offers a dizzying jumble of second clothes, local handicrafts, fashionable dresses and t-shirts, jewellery, pirated DVDs, electrical goods, shoes, accessories and more.

It’s also a great place to come and enjoy some excellent street food.

Patong Beach and Bangla Road

phuket beaches

By jbremer57 (CC BY 2.0 licence)

Patong Beach itself is a 2.5km strip of sugary white sand is the perfect place to relax and soak up the sun, eat in one of the many beachfront restaurants, or indulge in a little retail therapy.

When the sun goes down on Patong Beach, Bangla Road bursts into life in a blaze of neon.

Crammed with bars, pubs, restaurants and clubs, this flashy street is the place to come to party on Phuket.

The atmosphere is friendly and fun and there are always street performers putting on a show.

If you’re looking for something a little more sexed up you’ll also be in luck, as this is also a place to come to find Go Go girls, ping pong shows and strip acts.

Wat Chalong

phuket temples

By Pekka Oilinki (CC BY-SA 3.0 licence)

Phuket’s largest and most revered temple, Wat Chalong is found around 6 miles south of Phuket City.

Built in 1837 on top of an existing, more ancient temple site, Wat Chalong has inspired many stories and legends, including that of monk Luang Phor Cham who possessed a walking stick with healing powers.

His stick is kept at the temple to this very day, and a statue of him can also be found on the site.

The temple also holds a precious sacred relic of the Buddha — a fragment of bone — which is kept in a glass case at the peak of the 60 metre high Phra Mahathat Chedi in the temple complex.

Kata Beach

things to do on phuket

By Jeff Gunn (CC BY 2.0 licence)

Another popular beach on the island, Kata Beach is a little less raucous than Patong Beach, and is a popular spot for families.

This wide bay on Phuket’s south west coast is blessed with light golden sands, picture perfect palms, deep blue sea, and awe inspiring sun sets.

Divided into two main sections, the northernmost end of the beach is home to several big resorts, great restaurants, street food sellers, bars and clubs, and plenty of shopping opportunities.

The southern end of the beach is given over to glitzy hotels, and tends to be busier during the day.

Diving in the Similan Islands

World famous for a sensational pristine underwater landscape resplendent with marine life, the Similan Islands to the north west of Phuket off the west coast of Thailand attract scuba divers and snorkellers from every corner of the globe.

The coral reefs of these islands offer gigantic sea fans and gorgonians, amazing soft corals and giant table coral formations in translucent waters with an average temperature of 25 degrees Celsius where you are guaranteed encounters with the most beautiful of tropical fish and marine life, including giant manta rays and even whale sharks.

Many different dive schools operating on Phuket island offer day trips or complete dive courses at this stunning diving destination.

Chalong Bay Rum Distillery


Perfect for the pirates at heart, the Chalong Bay Rum Distillery in Southern Phuket produces rum of an exceptional quality.

A guided tour of the distillery provides an interesting insight into how this delicious spirit is created from sugar cane grown on Thailand’s very own shores.

Everything at this artisanal distillery is done manually — so it’s a real labour of love!

You can even take part in a cocktail workshop where you will learn to mix several delicious Chalong bay rum cocktails.

Nai Harn Beach

best beaches in phuket

By Ahoerstemeier (CC BY-SA 3.0 licence)

Charming and spotlessly clean, Nai Harn Beach is situated on the south side of the island.

Fringed with greenery and decked with super soft white sand, this laid back little bay remains relatively unspoilt, with only a small number of restaurants and bars, and a few tiny shops.

Less crowded than other beaches on Phuket, Nai Harn Beach is a great place to unwind and relax with a soothing massage under the shade of a leafy coconut palm.

Gibbon Rehabilitation Project

To acquire a pet infant gibbon, the mother is shot. Only one in three infants survive this ordeal. The killing of Mother gibbons also reduces the reproduction of wild gibbons. This pet gibbons tend to become aggressive on reaching their sexual maturity. This has created a glut of unwanted pet gibbons. Other gibbons are confiscated from appealing conditions in bars, restaurants. Fortunately some of these rescued gibbons are given to the GRP and through the rehabilitation process are finally put back into the rainforest where they belong where the population can re-establish itself in the areas where they were once extinct. #theWildAnimalRescueFoundationofThailand #theGibbonRehabilitationProject #SaveThailndWildlife #Photo Cr. Roch Deechusorn

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Founded in 1992, the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project rescues wild animals from the streets where they are used by unscrupulous touts offering tourists photo opportunities with these poor abused creatures who have been ripped away from their slaughtered mothers and their natural habitat.

The project aims to rehabilitate the gibbons and raise awareness of their plight.

Located amidst rainforest next to Bang Pae Waterfall, Phuket, the centre is open daily and offers visitor the rare chance to see the gibbons that sadly are unable to be released back into the wild, and learn more about the program.

Promthep Cape Viewpoint

phuket viewpoints

By celebrityabc (CC BY-SA 2.0 licence)

Guaranteed to give you the wow factor, Promthep Cape occupies a prime position atop Phuket’s highest southernmost peak.

It’s a popular spot for sunset lovers who come to witness nature’s spectacular display in the skies as the sun dips beneath the sparkling ocean waves.

Old Phuket Town

phuket hotels

Photo by CEphoto, Uwe Aranas (CC BY-SA 4.0 licence)

Originally a tin mining town, Phuket attracted large numbers of Chinese merchants who came to settle there to profit from the wealth of natural resources the island had to offer, resulting in a unique blend of Chinese and Thai architecture, temples and shrines which make up the style of Phuket’s historic old town.

The area is rich with grand colonial buildings and some fabulous street art, as well as a plethora of quaint boutiques, cafes and eateries, and it’s well worth a visit to absorb yourself in the ambience of another era.

Phuket Fantasea Show

Gaudy, enthralling, and spectacular in equal measure, the Phuket Fantasea Show is a glittering, unforgettable experience.

The evening kicks off with a grand Thai buffet dinner before commencing a 70 minute extravaganza of acrobatics, animal shows, illusions, pyrotechnics, crazy stunts, aerial performances and more.

Over 400 artists push themselves to the limit in this Vegas style performance in a huge theatre set within over 140 acres of carnival park complete with games, market stalls, parades, and more.

Yes, it’s ultra touristy, but it’s also a whole ton of fun for all the family.

Soi Dog Foundation

Thailand’s largest dog and cat charity, Soi Dog Foundation aims to improve the welfare of dogs and cats in Asia resulting in better lives for both the animal and human communities, to create a society without homeless animals, and to ultimately end animal cruelty.

Free guided tours of the charity’s shelter in the Amphur Thalang district are available on weekdays, and visitors are encouraged to play and socialise with the dogs and cats, and puppies and kittens at the facility.

Phuket Elephant Sanctuary

Phuket Elephant Sanctuary is a home for retired working elephants set on 30 acres of lush tropical jungle on the east side of Phuket.

Visitors are invited to observe how elephants rehabilitate into forest life after decades of abuse, and experience how incredible the largest land mammal on earth is during a morning or afternoon visit to the sanctuary.

This inspiring experience starts with an educational video in the treetops, followed by the chance to hand feed the elephants and walk with them down through the jungle to watch them bathe, play, and enjoy their freedom in their natural environment.

Phuket Hotels

Anantara Layan Phuket Resort

phuket hotels

Step inside a world of sheer luxury at the 5 star Anantara Layan Phuket Resort, where lush tropical hillside overlooks a tranquil cove of powdery beach and the ocean beyond.

Spacious rooms and suites are decorated in traditional tropical design with a modern twist, and offer peaceful views of the sunset and hillside from private balconies.

Intimate villas step up the game with private pools and sundecks, or for glorious sweeping views of the Andaman sea why not stay in an exclusive hillside residence with infinity pool, private gym, study, media room, wine cellar or air-conditioned sala with a live in butler?

Indulge in fine dining in a romantic cove setting or enjoy succulent Mediterranean fare and authentic Thai flavours with sunset views.

Sample rare wines expertly chosen by the resort’s resident Wine Guru, or enjoy all day snacks and cocktails at the poolside bar.

To heal and hone body and mind escape to the tranquil sanctuary of the Anantara Spa and revitalise with a host of holistic treatments.

  • Beachfront location
  • Choice of two fine dining restaurants
  • Poolside bar
  • Spa and wellness centre
  • Fitness centre
  • Swimming pool
  • Kids club
  • Library

where to stay in phuket

Banyan Tree Phuket

bangkok to phuket

If you thought paradise couldn’t get any better, step into the Banyan Tree Phuket, a 5 star luxury resort studded with coconut palms and surrounded by a glittering saltwater lagoon — truly a sanctuary for the senses.

Every luxuriously appointed villa at the resort boasts a private pool and spacious wooden deck with views across the lagoon or the beautiful resort gardens.

Cool down at the 40-metre long lap pool complete with jet cannons, a pool bar, water rapids, aqua-size area and jetpool.

For total relaxation the Banyan Tree Spa Phuket celebrates the art of touch, an exotic blend of ancient health and beauty practices using natural, native ingredients with a holistic focus.

Nourish yourself from the inside out with an abundance of Thai food, freshly caught seafood restaurant, Japanese specialities or international favourites at one of the resort’s 6 restaurants.

Round off the ultimate day of pampering with a large selection of cocktails, spirits and champagnes at the glamorous Lobby Bar.

  • Villas with private pools
  • Spa and wellness centre
  • Yoga classes
  • Fitness centre
  • Beachfront location
  • Choice of 6 restaurants
  • Bar
  • Tennis courts
  • 18 hole golf course

where to stay in phuket

The Slate

phuket weather

A dreamy blend of nature, art and luxury, the experience at The Slate resort is decadently divine.

This 5 star resort whisks you away to another world, with vast suites and villas featuring rich polished wood, original art and handcrafted details with private pools set amongst a rich tropical landscape just a stone’s throw from the beach.

There are 3 beautiful pools at the resort, including an infinity pool, lagoon family pool, and pool with swim up bar.

The incredible Black Ginger is designed like a traditional mansion hovering over a luminescent lagoon, serving up a fusion of Thai flavours in sublime surrounds.

The resorts’ other restaurants offer delicious Japanese, international, Indian, and fresh seafood. Crafted cocktails and rare whiskies are available at the sumptuous bar.

For further indulgence, the on site spa specialises in deeply rejuvenating rituals with rich, luscious ingredients surrounded by exquisite tropical gardens.

  • 3 Swimming pools
  • Choice of 5 restaurants
  • Bars
  • Spa and wellness centre
  • Private pools
  • Fitness centre
  • Fitness classes

where to stay in phuket

COMO Point Yamu, Phuket

best hotels in phuket

At 5 star COMO Point Yamu, you can slip out of day-to-day life and into a pampering world of private, oceanfront luxury.

In an almost unrivalled position with sensational views out across the azure Andaman Sea and beautiful Phang Nga Bay, the resort treats guests to contemporary rooms and villas with floor to ceiling windows framing the dramatic views.

Some accommodations also feature private pools.

Four different restaurants offer some of the most delectable dining in Phuket with a choice of Italian, Thai and healthy Shambhala Cuisine made from fresh local ingredients to maximise energy and wellbeing.

The resort spa invites guests to indulge in holistic treatments to improve mental quietude, physical wellbeing and spiritual balance, and yoga classes and personal fitness training are also available.

  • Swimming pool
  • Choice of restaurants
  • Bar
  • Spa and wellness centre
  • Fitness classes
  • Kids club

where to stay in phuket


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