Phuket, Thailand is for beach enthusiasts and those who adore the island life. Situated on the west coast of Thailand, it is home to some of the country’s most popular beaches as well as a bevvy of markets, restaurants and nightclubs to keep endlessly entertained in. Here, one can stay in one of the many Phuket villa rentals, blissfully relax on a turquoise beach and live it up in a vibrant nightlife environment all in one day. Here are some of the most interesting things to do in Phuket:
15 Must-See Places to Visit in Phuket
Patong Beach is the main tourist hub of the island and the most famous beach resort, and there are plenty of reasons why. Not only is the beach gorgeous with people all over the world bathing in the sun in a relaxed atmosphere, there is also plenty of water sports activities to do there, too. Lining the beach are plenty of restaurants, bars and markets, making it fairly busy during the day but thriving at night.
Phi Phi Islands
Made famous by the movie ‘The Beach’ starring Leonardo di Caprio, Phi Phi Islands and particularly Maya Bay is busy but nonetheless beautiful and worth the visit. When you first enter the islands by boat, giant cliffs rising out of the azure blue waters greet you. Each island is stunning in its own way and makes for unbelievable pictures: long-tail boats line the shores, golden sands gleam in the sun and ethereally blue waters beckon you in.
Phang Nga Bay
North-east of Phuket is a bay comparable to that of Halong Bay in Vietnam, other-worldly in its beauty and simply spectacular. Gliding through the waters by canoe is the best way to explore Phang Nga Bay and its dramatic limestone cliffs. Don’t forget to visit the ‘hongs,’ or rooms, within the bay – these are like fairytale realms where open-air caves are surrounded by towering cliffs – and they are sure to take your breath away.
James Bond Island
One of the most popular places in Phang Nga Bay, this is another island in Phuket made famous by a movie (no guesses which one!) and is a coveted bucket-list destination for travelers when in Thailand. Moving through the larger-than-life limestone cliffs is an experience in itself, but the climax begins when you get to KoTapu, the 20-meter vertical rock it is famous for.
Old Phuket Town
This town is a historical district and the provincial capital of Phuket, with Sino-colonial buildings, shrines and temples making this Old Town an interesting place to visit. The best-known street in this part of town is Thalang Road and it is very easy to explore by foot. Stroll around when it is not so hot and discover beautifully preserved shops, cafes and museums at your leisure, stopping at one the many restaurants on offer when you are ready for refreshments.
Perhaps one of the most infamous streets in Thailand, Bangla Road is the heart of Phuket nightlife entertainment. Vibrant and colorful, this street is lined with nightclubs, bars and raunchy shows and is best enjoyed after-dark with an open mind and sense of humor. Be warned that it is loud as a lot of the establishments are open-air so the music blends into each other, and be wary of scammers. Other than night, it is a great place to have a lively night, whether you’re people watching, gawking at the extravagant ladyboys or having a few drinks.
Sitting on Nakkerd Hills, this stunning 45-meter tall Buddha statue is one of the most revered landmarks in Phuket. The white jade marble the statue is made of makes for a shimmering vision, and the site itself offers an impressive 360-degree view of the island. It is a peaceful and refreshing getaway from the hustle and bustle of other parts of the island. Make sure to wear clothes appropriate for religious sites, otherwise, you can borrow a sarong to cover yourself up at the site.
One of Phuket’s most important temples, Wat Chalong is a Buddhist site open to locals and foreigners alike. Exquisite, ornate and peaceful, visitors can see the Buddhist statue Poh Than Jao Wat and The Grand Pagoda where lies a splinter of Lord Buddha’s bone. As with most religious sites in Thailand, make sure you cover yourself appropriately and take off your shoes when entering some of the buildings.
Considered as one of the most photographed and best-known viewpoints on the island, Promthep Cape is the perfect place to watch the sun go down either with friends or a loved one. The stunning view of the Andaman Sea makes it extremely popular but worth the visit. Also on the hill is a lighthouse which you can enter for interesting maritime artefacts as well as handicraft shops, stalls and a restaurant.
Patong’s Paradise Complex
By Stefan from the Nomadic Boys
Phuket Island is one of the top LGBTQ destinations in Asia. As well as offering an array of stunning beaches to visit and unique world-famous islands close by to check out, it’s also famous for its large gay scene in Patong’s Paradise Complex.
The gay scene of Phuket in the Paradise Complex is quite a unique and super exciting atmosphere to experience that we highly recommend! It is comprised of a series of pedestrianised streets located just off Thanon Ratuthit Songroipi Road, opposite the Royal Paradise Hotel. The Complex has lots of gay-owned/managed cafes, bars, clubs and restaurants.
The most famous include Boat Bar and ZAG Club, each offering quite a dramatic drag show every evening. From around 10 pm, the crowds head to the Paradise Complex to watch the hilarious displays of drag queens and GoGo dancer boys performing on the streets outside. Other places to check out here include the Frank Sinatra-inspired bar called “My Way” and the “James Dean” bar.
Baan Teelanka (Upside Down House)
By Sharon from Baby Journey
This unique attraction is actually three attractions – there is the upside-down house itself, a garden maze and an escape room. It’s the perfect place to visit in Phuket if you want to do something different and laugh a lot.
The main attraction, the upside-down house, is definitely the best part though. You start by entering the house in the roof since it is upside down. You then get to walk around the house and there are the usual rooms – like kitchen, living, bedrooms and bathrooms – but they are all upside down including laptops, wine glasses, paintings, absolutely everything. Even the garage is upside down complete with an upside-down tuk-tuk. The attention to detail is superb.
The staff can help you pose for bizarre photos that make you look like you are upside down or crawling around the walls like in the photo above. Walking around in here can cause some vertigo and it’s definitely strange walking down/up upside downstairs, but a lot of fun.
Phuket Night Market
By Sasha Naslin from The Alternative Travel Guide
If you love good food, then visiting the night markets should be on your Phuket bucket list. It will turn your trip into a real gastronomic adventure!
One of the popular night markets in Phuket is Malin Plaza Market located near Patong Beach. The market is quite small and divided into grocery and clothing parts. Malin Plaza Market has an excellent selection of exotic fruits – pineapples, mangoes, coconuts, rambutans, dragonfruits… The fruit market is open all day, and in the evenings a night market with ready-made Thai food springs up around it.
Here you can taste fried shrimps, crocodile barbecue, Thai fried chicken, noodles, rice, pad thai, Thai sweets. I recommend trying traditional Thai omelettes that are crispy, fluffy, sprinkled with fresh herbs and spicy Sriracha sauce.
The good side of the Malin Plaza food market is that you can get large portions, and the food is delicious! There are even several tables and chairs nearby where you can sit down and eat your Thai street food.
Another night market worth visiting is Naka Market in Phuket Town, opposite Naka Temple.
Here you can eat traditional and unusual food such as fried grasshoppers and scorpions.
If you are a seafood lover, try grilled squid, deep-fried shrimp, and boiled crabs with spicy sauce. Most restaurants have tables where you can sit down with friends and enjoy your food, which is actually a favourite pastime of Thai people. So, Naka Market looks like many small pop-up cafes and restaurants in one place.
Thai Mueang Sea Turtle Conservation Centre and Lampi Waterfall (Namtok Lampee)
By Karen from Big Adventures for Little Feet
Looking for a fantastic day trip location and some fun attractions from Phuket that take you away from the tourist trail? Head north towards Khao Lak and make some fun stops at the Thai Mueang Turtle Conservation Centre and Namtok Lampee (or Lampi Waterfall).
The turtle conservation centre is part of the Phang Nga Coastal Fisheries Research and Development Centre and is playing its part to rehabilitate injured turtles for release into the wild as well as a well-run breeding program.
The centre is no-frills and guests can wander freely amongst the tanks on a self-guided tour to see all the aquatic creatures being cared for. You may even be lucky to find a crocodile and sting rays as well as many turtles ranging from newborn babies through to mature turtles awaiting release.
Just a short distance away from the Turtle Rehabilitation Centre is the extremely pretty Lampi Waterfall. With an easy rainforest boardwalk leading you to a tiered waterfall complete with a swimming waterhole at the bottom this is a great place to visit and have a picnic.
Don’t be dissuaded to visit if it is raining as this is when the waterfall is at it’s most beautiful and you can visit in relative peace and quiet – or completely alone as we enjoyed!
By Jessie Moore of Pocket Wanderings
Khao To Sae – more commonly known as “Monkey Hill” – is located in the north side of Phuket Town. A recognisable hill with its various antennas and radio masts at the top, it is easy to spot from afar. This monkey playground is free to visit and, along with Monkey Bay in the Phi Phi Islands, is the best place to see and interact with monkeys in Phuket.
The hill is walkable but can be hard work in the intense humidity and high temperatures, so you may prefer to take a motorbike or taxi ride. You can feed the monkeys fruit and nuts, but it’s always worth being cautious around the monkeys – although they are used to interacting with humans, they are still wild animals. If feeding the monkeys isn’t for you, they are extremely entertaining to watch with their signature cheeky personalities.
Monkeys aside, a visit to Monkey Hill is worth it just for the viewpoints at the top. Visitors can enjoy breathtaking views over Phuket, which are particularly special at sunrise or sunset. The best time to visit Monkey Hill is early morning or late evening to avoid the scorching temperatures in between
Sirinat National Park
By Cora + Helen from Inside our Suitcase
Sirinat National Park is located on the northwestern coast of Phuket, less than one mile from the airport. The national park is relatively undiscovered compared to many of the additional areas in Phuket and is designed to protect natural habitats of mole crabs, nesting turtles and seashells.
Nai Yang Beach is just one of the beaches within Sirinat National Park, and our personal favourite.
If you’re looking to stay in the region then you’ll have a handful of hotel resorts and hostels to choose from. The prices can be slightly more than you may find elsewhere in Phuket as a result of them being so close to the airport.
Whether you arrive in Phuket for a religious experience, to enjoy the many beautiful beaches and resorts on offer or to party in its infamous nightlife setting, you will be sure to walk away with a unique and memorable experience of Thailand.
It is an island bustling with visitors from all over the world hoping to understand what the fuss is all about – and people are hardly disappointed provided they keep an open mind and a sense of adventure.
Have you been to Phuket? Do you have more things to add to the list?