Phuket – Its name alone conjures up exotic and alluring images in your mind. Yet, no matter how beautiful you imagine Thailand’s biggest island to be, nothing can compare to the mesmerising splendour of the country’s wealthiest province. Visitors from all around the world flock here to experience its unique culture and outstanding natural beauty, however, nothing can fully prepare them for the spectacle that awaits them on this island that more than 600,000 people are proud to call home.
Phuket may be small, but its landscapes are incredibly diverse. Of course, the island is best known for its stunning beaches – there is one for every day of the month – however head inland and you’ll find that almost three quarters of its surface is covered with mountains, with much of it being heavily forested. Snorkelers and divers are in their element, exploring the coral islands to the south, while those who want to create their own Bond movie can head to Koh Tapu – the bizarre limestone island that juts out of the Phang Nga Bay that earned a starring role in “The Man With The Golden Gun”. Whether you long for culture, action or total relaxation, Phuket is the perfect destination for you.
1. Big Buddha
While the name of this attraction is Big Buddha, visitors are still amazed when they discover just how huge this revered landmark truly is. Measuring 25m across at its base, this image can be seen from miles away and is a focal point of the island, offering amazing panoramic views over Phuket Town, Chalong Bay, Karon and Kata. With its relaxing and peaceful atmosphere, this beautiful site feels a thousand miles away from the hustle and bustle of Patong and Bangla Road, so take some time out to admire this breathtaking statue made from Burmese white jade marble which sparkles in the bright sunlight.
2. Wat Chalong Temple
Buddhist temples, or wats, are some of Thailand’s most important symbols. Wat Chalong is one of the best known on the island and is more than 100 years old. This beautiful site is of the greatest religious importance to Buddhists, and its spectacular Grand Pagoda even contains a splinter of bone belonging to Lord Buddha. Here, you can see stunning wall paintings which depict scenes from the Buddha’s life and many Buddha images to admire. There is also an exhibition where you can see antique Thai porcelain and furniture in cool air conditioned comfort.
3. Mai Khao Beach
One of more than 30 beaches on the island, Mai Khao Beach may have beautiful sands, however that isn’t all that makes this location special. As well as being Phuket’s longest beach at 11 kilometres in length, it is also a top spot for plane spotters. The south end of the beach is close to the International Airport, and every day you can see planes landing and taking off here right overhead. Since there are 30 flights every hour at Phuket Airport, you won’t have to wait long before you can take an impressive photo with a 747 right above you.
4. Viewpoints: Karon, Laemsingh, Promthep Cape, Windmill
Phuket boasts some impressive viewpoints with amazing panoramas over the island and sea. The Laem Singh viewpoint is a pleasant resting point with a sheltered seating area to enjoy spectacular sunsets, while the Karon Viewpoint is one of the island’s most popular thanks to its 8km vista to the north taking in three of the west coast’s beaches. Another popular evening spot is Promthep Cape, and sunsets here are something truly special to experience while Windmill Viewpoint may be quieter, but even more beautiful with its views over the unusually oblong-shaped verdant and luscious Koh Man island.
5. Hanuman World Ziplining
An eco-friendly attraction that can offer you an exhilaration unlike any other, Hanuman World offers a ziplining experience that is truly spectacular. Seamlessly built into the trees of a centuries old forest, this impressive course offers three different journeys, encompassing up to 28 platforms, 2 sky bridges, 2 abseil points, 3 spiral staircases, a skyrail and a 20 minute wilderness walk with either seasonal fruit or a meal served after the adventure is complete. The is a thrill for all the family and is suitable for children as young as four to enjoy alongside their parents.
6. FantaSea Show or Siam Niramit Show
If you like the idea of being entertained while learning more about traditional Thai culture, the FantaSea Show and Siam Niramit Show are must-sees. Phuket Fantasea is the biggest show on the island, featuring an enormous cast together with trapeze artists, performing elephants and an engaging storyline that combines fantasy and tradition for a great night out. For a more cultural experience, Siam Niramit Phuket gives holidaymakers the chance to uncover traditional martial arts, dance routines and songs in a tasteful extravaganza that showcases the Thai arts in an entertaining and visually spectacular way.
7. Bangla Road in Patong Beach
One of the best known spots in Patong Beach, Bangla Road wakes up once the sun has gone down. Lively, friendly and exotic, this 400 metre-long street is full of loud music, cheap drinks and neon lights, and is the ideal nightspot for those who are looking for a wild night. As well as endless clubs and bars, Bangla Road also hosts street performers to entertain you as you wind your way between the touts, souvenir sellers and ladyboy cabaret dancers who pose for photographs. If you want to see the most vibrant side of Thailand, this is where you need to head.
8. Sea Excursion to the Phi Phi Islands or Similan Islands
See picture postcard islands at first hand with a sea excursion to the Phi Phi islands just off the coast of Phuket. With long white sand beaches, clear waters, gently waving palms and coral aplenty, there can be no more idyllic spot to truly relax and unwind under blue skies and the hot Thai sun. From the busy bay at Phi Phi Don Island to the uninhabited Phi Phi Leh which is now famous as the filming location of “The Beach”, this tropical paradise is a must-visit during your stay. Alternatively, divers may prefer the Similan islands which rank among the top 10 diving sites in the world thanks to the coral that lies under its blue waters. If you prefer a private yacht charter, let us propose for your consideration unique selection of the best Yachts, Catamarans and Boats for rent in Phuket.
9. Sunday Fair in Phuket Old Town
Sometimes called Lardyai, or Big Market, Phuket Walking Street is a weekly market held on Thalang Road in Phuket Town’s historic Sino-Portuguese district. As you enter through the Chinese style gate and admire the beautifully restored house facades which have been enhanced with colour changing lights, you’ll be entranced by the buzzing atmosphere before moving on to the bars, shops and restaurants that this area is famous for. You’ll find an array of lovely local handicrafts and souvenirs, and enjoy the opportunity to sample some authentic street food in this Thai style weekend market.
Bonus Place: Freedom Beach
Set on the glamorous west coast of Thailand’s capital, Freedom Beach is a true gem to be discovered by any adventurous tourist. If you’re staying in a luxury villa in the area, this beach will be a stone’s throw away for you. White sand, a hot Asian sun in the sky and hilly jungle as a backdrop is what Freedom Beach offers. Snorkeling and beach activities like volleyball and soccer as well as wide range of seafood delicacies and comfortable sunbeds are just some of the pleasures this little slice of paradise offers travelers willing to make that long-haul trip to the exotic reaches of Thailand. The best way to get here is to rent one of the many longtail boats at Patong Beach.
10. Khao Sok National Park
If you long to get up closer to one of Thailand’s most beautiful natural environments, you should head to Khao Sok National Park. One of the oldest areas of rainforest anywhere in the world, this is the ideal spot to enjoy the unique experience of trekking through biggest tract of virgin jungle in the region and exploring the spectacular limestone peaks which rise vertically right out of the trees and crystal-clear water, and offer breathtaking vistas. In this one of a kind environment, you can truly experience a cornucopia of exotic flora and wildlife and have your own jungle adventure.
11. Monkey Hill in Phuket Town
One of Phuket Town’s highest hills, Toh Sae Hill goes by the more colloquial name of Monkey Hill thanks to the troupe of macaques who inhabit this popular recreation spot. While this is a great viewpoint from which to admire the panorama of the city, the real attraction is Uncle Hog who comes to bring food for the 400 macaques who live here. Unlike certain temple monkeys, these macaques aren’t aggressive and are a lot of fun to watch. On the way down the hill, take the time to stop by the shrine and join the locals to ask for lucky lottery numbers.
12. Banana Beach
If you want to enjoy peace and seclusion, Banana Beach is the ideal destination. Relatively isolated, this beach is almost always deserted, however it is a glittering jewel in the crown of Phuket thanks to its beautifully clear water and 180 metres of white sands. This beach has escaped the attention of tourists thanks to its hidden location and apparently steep and perilous path, however those in the know head to the right and through the jungle to reach this glorious and relaxing spot. During the peak season, you can find masseuses here and there is a seafood restaurant that serves delightfully fresh fish.
13. Tiger Kingdom
If you want to live life on the wild side, you can’t miss the chance to get close to some tigers at Tiger Kingdom. Home to a number of hand-reared Indochinese tigers, this popular tourist destination gives holidaymakers the opportunity to actually enter a tiger’s cage and get hands on with one of the big cats. These magnificent creatures are used to humans and are happy to be petted, and you can have a professional photograph taken as a lasting memento of the experience. Afterwards, why not have a meal and a cocktail in the restaurant with its view over the tigers?
14. Beaches: Surin, Kata Noi and Nai Harn
No visit to Thailand would be complete with at least one day of pure relaxation on a white sand beach and there are no shortage of spots in Phuket where you can snorkel in clear, calm waters and chill out under a parasol with a good book. Surin Beach is a sophisticated spot to enjoy water sports like surfing and kayaking, and is busy all year round, while Nai Harn beach, which has only recently been discovered by tourists, still retains a quiet charm. Alternatively, why not head to Kata Noi, a half mile stretch of soft sand with a green jungle backdrop?
15. Bangla Boxing Stadium. Muay Thai Arena in Patong Beach
Muay Thai is the art of Thai boxing, and the ideal place to discover this martial art is at the Bangla Boxing Stadium at Patong Beach. While it may look like a tourist trap, the fights here are real, with champions from Thailand and overseas competing for titles. The atmosphere here is relaxed and easy going, and you’re sure to be swept up by the traditional music and the ritual dance that takes place before every fight. Muay Thai isn’t just about combat, it’s also about spirituality and history. Go all out and pay a little extra for a VIP seat and you can sit right up close to the ring for the best view.
16. Royal Phuket Marina
Tired of the hustle and bustle of Phuket? Then go for a quiet, romantic dinner in Royal Phuket Marina. RPM, or Royal Phuket Marina offers a luxury lifestyle and covers 30 hectares of prime land beside Koh Kaew’s Phuket Boat Lagoon. This premium site is home to 400 luxurious waterfront condos, penthouses and villas, and boasts 350 yacht berths that make it one of Asia’s top boating hubs. As well as offering a brand new lifestyle concept, over 50% of the Royal Phuket Marina development has been devoted to shopping and leisure, with stores beautifully set in landscaped gardens and parks. Take a stroll along the waterfront promenade and enjoy a meal at one of the upmarket restaurants by the waterside.
17. Phuket Aquarium and Dolphins Bay Show
Marine attractions are undoubtedly popular with holidaymakers of all ages, and the Phuket Aquarium is one of the best. Having had a recent overhaul, this aquarium is home to thousands of exotic marine creatures and colourful fish in more than 30 tanks as well as an impressive walk-through shark tunnel where you can get a unique underwater view of feeding time. If you’d rather get even closer to marine animals, Dolphins Bay Phuket is the island’s only dolphinarium, giving travellers the chance to swim with these amazing mammals and to enjoy a close-up dolphin encounter.
18. Phuket Wake Park
If you love an active vacation, Phuket Wake Park will keep you challenged and entertained, whether you’re an expert or a complete beginner. Here, you can enjoy wakeboarding rides on a freshwater lake in spectacular and exotic surroundings. You can take basic lessons for free, or if you’re already skilled on a wakeboard you can try the seven obstacles that are installed at intervals around the basin. This family friendly attraction is suitable for all ages, and even those who would rather stay dry can enjoy a relaxing drink in the bar along with a tasty meal while they wait for their more intrepid family members.
19. Splash Jungle Water Park
A day out for all the family, the Splash Jungle Water Park gives old and young alike watery thrills. Boasting no less than twelve different attractions, rides and water slides, all with qualified lifeguards standing by for your safety, this water park offers something for visitors of all ages. From the relaxing lazy river which is suitable for even the youngest member of the family to the white knuckle Boomerang slide that drops riders down a steep slope before propelling them up a high vertical wall, the rides here have short wait times meaning that you can really make the most of your day out.
20. Cobra Show and Snake Farm or Bird Paradise and Bird Park
Why not try something a little different during your Thailand escape and try the Phuket Snake Show? Curious, intriguing and perhaps a little scary, this attraction is very popular with families who come to watch handlers displaying a range of snakes and to get up close to the slithery creations. Not only entertaining but also educational, this show is a great way to find out more about the natural world. For another natural attraction that is slightly less terrifying, the Phuket Bird Park is a colourful way to spend the day in the company of a seemingly endless array of winged fauna.
As you can see, Phuket is a truly amazing destination for a memorable tropical vacation. Whether you long for true relaxation, peace and quiet, or whether you’re yearning for an action packed trip full of thrills and sightseeing, there is enough on this beautiful island to keep you occupied for weeks on end.
Phuket captures the essence of Thailand in microcosm, bringing you a taste of everything that makes the Land of Smiles so unique and special. You can get an insight into Thai culture and religion at one of the temples or shrines, or discover local arts at a Muay Thai boxing match or cultural show, and every attraction is within easy reach.
For those who want to take it easy, you can spend the day on deserted white sands before whiling the night away over some delicious local cuisine, while those who want to fill every moment of their vacation with thrills and excitement can ride the slides at the waterpark or trek through ancient rainforests before partying all night on Bangla Road.
Whatever you enjoy, Phuket has it all, and is the ideal location for a holiday that lives up to your fantasies and makes your dreams come true.