Phuket is not only the largest island in Thailand, it’s also the name of a province which includes over 30 smaller islands. Located on the Andaman Coast, Phuket is one of Thailand’s most popular tourist destinations with a large selection of beaches and an excellent array of accommodation options across the island. Convenient access via an international airport and also by a road bridge that connects the island to the mainland makes Phuket a good choice for a multi-centre holiday.
Highlights of Phuket
Phuket is renowned for its stunning beaches, but there’s much more to discover beyond the sand. Whether you’re staying on the coast or inland, Phuket Town is worth a visit. The charming Thalang Road is adorned with elegant Sino-Portuguese heritage buildings and vibrant street art. You can also explore boutique shops and soak up the local atmosphere for a delightful contrast to the beach areas.
If you’re visiting the island, a must-see attraction is the impressive Big Buddha. In addition to that, there are other viewpoints that you can check out, such as the Three Beaches Viewpoint, Windmill Viewpoint, and Radar Hill. You should also try to make time to visit Promthep Cape, which offers stunning sunset views over the Andaman Sea.
If you’re planning a family holiday in Phuket, there’s no shortage of fun activities to keep everyone entertained. Splash Jungle Waterpark is a great option for those looking for water-based fun, while mini-golf enthusiasts will have a blast at Dino Park, which features a dinosaur theme. The Upside Down House (Baan Teelanka) is an excellent spot for some laughs and unique photo opportunities to share on social media.
Phuket is renowned for its challenging yet stunning golf courses such as the prestigious Canyon Course and the scenic Red Mountain. Additionally, visitors can test driving skills of a different type at the go-kart circuit or challenge their fitness levels by training at the Tiger Muay Thai gym.
If you’re looking to explore the Andaman Sea, you’ll find dozens of small islands waiting to be discovered. And the best part is that it’s easy to arrange boat trips from Phuket. One of the most popular spots is ‘James Bond Island’, where scenes from The Man with the Golden Gun were filmed. This island is located in Phang Nga Bay, and the scenery is absolutely stunning. Most tours also include stops at the Ko Panyee Floating Village, which is definitely worth a visit. If you’re a fan of The Beach starring Leonardo DiCaprio, you’ll be thrilled to know that the nearby Phi Phi Islands served as one of the locations for the movie.
For those who don’t mind doing a bit of paddling themselves, the tours operated by John Gray sea canoes are excellent. During the high season, the Phuket area is ideal for snorkelling and diving. Locations like Ko Racha offer great opportunities, but even better dive sites can be found just to the north with the Similan Islands and Surin Islands.
Arriving in Phuket
There are frequent flights operating between Bangkok and Phuket. In addition, you can also find direct flights from Chiang Mai, Pattaya U-Tapao, and Ubon Ratchathani.
When you approach Phuket’s international airport, located in the north of the island adjacent to Mai Khao Beach, you’ll be treated to stunning views of the Andaman Sea and its surrounding islands. Be sure to book a window seat for the best views.
From the airport, you can take a taxi to your destination, with the journey to Patong taking approximately 45 minutes. Some hotels provide transfers for guests, so it’s worth checking when booking. Alternatively, you can use the shared mini-bus service, which serves the most popular beaches such as Patong, Karon, and Kata, or take the airport bus that goes to Phuket Town.
Food and drink in Phuket
Prices of food and drink at Phuket’s beach resorts are usually higher compared to other parts of Thailand. The quality of Thai food served in some venues can also vary, with some offering a toned-down version of classic Thai dishes. To experience authentic Thai food, it’s best to visit restaurants where Thai locals dine. Rawai is an excellent destination for seafood lovers, with an array of restaurants to choose from. If you’re not in the mood for Thai cuisine, there are plenty of international dining options around the beach areas, ranging from pizzas to other Western favourites.
Those looking for traditional coffee shops, known as ‘kopitiam,’ which offer delicious food and drinks at reasonable prices, should visit Kopitiam by Wilai in Phuket Town. Tu Kap Khao is another option nearby for more sophisticated dining.
Where to stay in Phuket
Many of Phuket’s best beaches are located on the west coast of the island, stretching from Mai Khao in the north to Rawai in the south. Each beach area has its own unique character, so finding the best place to stay will depend on your preferences and what you want to get out of your holiday. While Patong, Karon, and Kata are the busiest and most popular resort areas, there are other beautiful beaches in Phuket worth exploring.
If you’re on a budget or travelling solo, staying in Phuket Town is a good option. Cheap local buses (‘songthaews’) run from Phuket Town to most of the island’s beaches. And because Phuket Town is geared more towards local people than tourists, you’ll find generally better value here compared to the beach areas.