View of Yanui Beach on Phuket Island

Guide to Phuket – The Pearl of the Andaman

This post was last updated on February 19th, 2020 at 06:55 am


Phuket is one of the best-known highlights of Thailand. Although many people see it as a “city”, it is actually an island. The word Koh (island) is taken from the name because Phuket is so big that it doesn’t really feel like an island. It is the largest island of Thailand and is also called the “Pearl of the Andaman”. We heard from many travelers that Phuket is nothing too special, but give it a chance and look beyond the famous Patong.

 

Phuket; Both Famous and Notorious

Phuket has a love-hate relationship with many travelers. There are people who never come back here once they have visited the island and there are people who want nothing more.

 

The reason people don’t want to go back is the unprecedented crowds, the commercialization of the island, and the endless sex shows. The reason to come back is the impressive beaches and the quiet parts that the island does have.

 

Look Beyond Patong

Patong is the largest city and has the busiest beach. It is a place you must love with bars, restaurants, night clubs, drunken tourists, and go-go girls. But Phuket offers more than just Patong.

 

For example, Phuket Town has turned into an artistic, culturally rich capital, while in the south the city of Rawai is characterized by a laid-back atmosphere, despite its rapid development.

 

Image of: View of Patong just after a beautiful sunset
View of Patong just after a beautiful sunset

 

8 Fun Things to Do in Phuket

The island is a bit like Ibiza. Everyone knows about the parties and the luxury resorts, but there is much more to see and do than just that. Patong and famous parties are only a small part of Phuket.

 

If you give this (peninsula) island a chance you will notice that a whole new world opens up to you than you initially thought. We have listed the 8 best things to do in Phuket.

 

1. Explore (Old) Phuket Town

Patong may be the most famous city on the island, but if you want to experience the authentic Phuket you should visit Phuket Town. In this town, you will find old, colorful houses in colonial style and cozy shops, bars, and restaurants. It is a totally different environment than Patong while it is only 15 kilometers apart.

 

Phuket Weekend Night Market

If you want to try tasty “street food” you have to go to the Phuket Weekend Night Market. It is also known as the Naka market. Not only can you eat delicious food here, but you can also buy clothes, souvenirs, and other crazy things.

 

TIP – The market will be here every Saturday and Sunday from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

 

Phuket Walking Street

Phuket Walking Street is located in the old town of Phuket. It is a nice street to visit with authentic old houses and Thai dishes that you can buy here on the street.

 

Image of: Multicolored Vintage Houses in Patong Old Town
In Patong Old Town you can find many traditional houses with bright colors

 

2. Scuba Diving or Snorkeling

In Thailand, scuba diving and snorkeling are among the most popular activities. You are surrounded by beautiful beaches and crystal clear water so it is not difficult to find a place to explore the underwater world. Phuket is very popular with divers and home to a number of great diving sites.

 

The best known diving site is Coral Island. You can also scuba dive near a real shipwreck. A PADI course costs around US$440. A single diving lesson will cost between US$55 and $90.

 

TIP – Some of the best diving sites in Thailand and even the world – the Similan Islands – are close to Phuket.

 

Image of: Tourists snorkeling in Phuket
There are many beautiful beaches to explore by scuba diving or snorkeling in Phuket

 

3. Island Hopping

Phuket is beautiful, but if you have the need to visit other islands and beaches then that is possible here. There are a number of beautiful islands in the vicinity of Phuket. This way you can visit the lesser-known Koh Khai and Coral Island. Both are just a 20-minute boat ride away.

 

You can also book day tours to Koh Phi Phi with the famous Maya Beach or the island of Koh Yao Noi and Koh Yai. You can also easily travel to Krabi and Koh Lanta from here.

 

4. Visit Big Buddha

In addition to beautiful beaches and nice cities, you can also visit the famous 45-meters high marble Buddha statue. The Buddha statue is beautiful, but the view of the island from this place is perhaps even better.

 

From here you can overlook Phuket and the Kata and Karon bay.

 

We felt like the statue was not that special. It is not something you have never seen before in Thailand. Do keep in mind that this Buddha statue is very important for the local population. That is why you must behave respectfully.

 

Do not climb the statue and try to wear suitable clothing which means no bikini, swimming trunks, tank top, or slippers.

 

TIP – Entry is free.

 

Image of: Big Buddha on Phuket
The view from the Big Buddha in Phuket is gorgeous!

 

5. Party on Bangla Road, Patong

It must be your thing, but if you want to party the best place to be is on Bangla Road in Patong. We spent an evening there and that was more than enough, but it is quite fun. It is a bit like the Khao San Road of Phuket.

 

Bangla Road is a place with neon lights, bars, and go-go bars (and girls). It offers everything to experience an unforgettable evening.

 

Keep in mind that this is not a place for young children. A lot of women and ladyboys are walking around. If you’ve never seen this before, a whole new world will open for you. And if you are unlucky, something more (watch out for scams).

 

An evening was enough for us to walk around flabbergasted for the rest of the week, but there are people who come to party here for a week or 10 days. It has to be your thing.

 

6. Visit the Wat Chalong

Wat Chalong is a religious place about a 20-minute drive from Phuket Town. You will find a 60-meter high chedi. According to the locals, a Buddha splinter is said to be located here, making it one of the most important religious places in Phuket.

 

The outside of the temple is beautiful. Certainly, if you go there in the evening as the temple is beautifully lit. Of course, you can also find many gold decorations.

 

TIP – Admission is free and the temple is open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

 

7. Go to Promthep Cape

Promthep Cape is perhaps the best-known location of the island. Many tourists come here, but that makes sense when you see the pictures of this place. The sunset here is one of the most beautiful sunsets that you can see in Thailand.

 

At the top of the hill, it is pretty busy around sunset. Patong may have the large light shows; the most beautiful show is that of Mother Nature as soon as the sun sets here. It is really breathtaking.

 

Image of: Panorama of a sunset and the Promthep Cape
Panorama of a sunset and the Promthep Cape, very beautiful!

 

In addition to the sunset, there’s also a spectacular view of the east and southeast of the island. On clear days you can see the Phi Phi Islands, Koh Racha Yai, and Koh Racha Noi.

 

You can also visit the lighthouse in Prothep Cape; it is really a must-see when you are in Phuket.

 

TIP – You can find Promthep Cape in the far south of the island, a 45 to 60-minute drive from Phuket Town.

 

8. Visit the Karon Viewpoint

If you want to take more beautiful photos besides Prothep Cape, go to Karon Viewpoint. It is located in the west of the island and from here you have beautiful views of the three bays of Kata Noi, Kata, and Karon. It is located just above Promthep Cape and is easy to reach.

 

If you have visited the viewpoint you can then go to Karon Beach, a long, beautiful bay with a white sandy beach. It is one of the nicer beaches on the island.

 

You can easily spend a day on the beach between the bars and palm trees.

 

Image of: Karon viewpoint in Phuket
You can see the coastline very well from the Karon viewpoint

 

The 10 Most Beautiful Beaches on Phuket

Phuket used to be an important trading post. Today, the island runs entirely on tourism and belongs to the richest region of Thailand. More than 5 million people come to this island every year. A lot is being built and not just budget accommodations.

 

In fact, spending the night here is more expensive than on the mainland.

 

Fortunately, the beaches have remained fairly out of reach, so there are still many beautiful beaches to be found. A few days of relaxing on the beach is a great way to spend your holiday here. You can also scuba dive and snorkel very well here. We’ve listed some of the most beautiful beaches for you.

 

1. Nai Harn Beach

Nai Harn Beach is considered one of the best beaches in Phuket. The beach is surrounded by beautiful white sandy beaches and the crystal clear waters of the Andaman Sea. The advantage of this beach is that it is much quieter than Patong Beach and the other popular tourist beaches. Nai Harn Beach has a much more relaxed atmosphere.

 

Image of: Nai Harn beach in Phuket, Thailand
Nai Harn Beach in Phuket, Thailand

 

2. Bang Tao Beach

Bang Tao Beach is a beach of about eight kilometers long. It is a beautiful beach and because it is so long, you will always have a piece of the beach to yourself. It is one of the best beaches in Phuket.

 

This beach is also located in the famous Laguna Complex, an area consisting of seven luxury resorts and a private golf course. It kind of has a Rich & Famous vibe to it.

 

3. Freedom Beach

Freedom Beach is one of the most beautiful but least accessible beaches in Phuket. You have to put in some effort to get here. You have to walk a kilometer through thick jungle and over private land. And then the beach can only be reached by boat. After all of this, you will be on one of the most beautiful and quiet beaches in all of Thailand.

 

TIP – You can find Freedom Beach right here. Just south of Freedom Beach you will find Paradise Beach which is also very beautiful!

 

Image: Drone view of Freedom Beach in Phuket
Drone view of Freedom Beach where the jungle meets the sea

 

4. Nai Thon Beach

Nai Thon Beach is a small beach of a few hundred meters long. The sand here is whiter than white. The beach is officially part of the Sirinath National Park and is one of the few beaches in Phuket where you will find little to no development. The question is for how long?

 

5. Banana Beach

A long time ago, Banana Beach was a pristine beach in Phuket. However, that is a thing of the past. The name already betrays the commercial activities that take place and today the beach is flooded by tourists who are looking for entertainment.

 

It is also known as Banana Rock Beach. Despite the crowds, it’s still a beautiful beach.

 

TIP – You can book many tours at Banana Beach to the other islands in the area. You can find the beach here.

 

6. Kata Beach

Kata Beach is a popular beach. And that is mainly because it is one of the most beautiful beaches in Phuket. Unfortunately, that also makes it a bit busier, but despite all the tourist activities on and around the beach, Kata Beach is still very beautiful.

 

Image: Kata beach in Phuket
Kata Beach has its quiet moments too!

 

7. Surin Beach

Surin Beach is not that big a beach. The difference with other beaches is that the sand here is not white, but has a kind of golden glow. The beach is equipped with every luxury, comparable to Patong Beach, only without annoying drunken tourists and with clean water.

 

Surin Beach is famous for the crystal clear water.

 

TIP – There are a lot of accommodations here. Check Booking.com for the best accommodations near Surin Beach!

 

8. Kamala Beach

Kamala Beach is a two-kilometer-long beautiful beach, surrounded by white sand and green mountains. It is 10 kilometers from Patong and is much quieter, increasing its popularity with many families who want to escape the bustle of Patong.

 

TIP – Do you want to book tours on Phuket? Take a look at Phuket Tours Direct.

 

9. Kata Noi Beach

Kata Noi Beach is just south of Kata Beach and is one of the most beautiful beaches in Phuket. In contrast to its larger brother, Kata Noi Beach is still relatively undeveloped, giving it a much quieter appearance.

 

For example, there are no sellers here who want to sell you everything, it’s very peaceful!

 

10. Laem Singh Beach

Laem Singh Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Phuket and was also unknown to the general public. Much has changed in recent years. Nowadays the beach is full of tourists, but that does not mean that the beach isn’t still impressive!

 

Image of: Laem Singh Beach in Phuket, Thailand
Laem Singh Beach was one of the most beautiful beaches we visited on Phuket

 

Where to Stay in Phuket

There are more than enough options for overnight stays. You can choose to spend your money in one of the expensive but beautifully situated resorts or you can sleep in Phuket Town or Patong on a low budget. Wherever you spend your money, you can expect a good price/quality ratio.

 

The island is just too big to explore with a scooter in one day. Therefore, choose your place to stay the night carefully. Below are a number of nice accommodations that we recommend. The most popular places to spend the night are Phuket Town, Patong, and Karon.

 

Bed Hostel

Image of: Bed Hostel in Phuket

A nice hostel that is especially popular with backpackers. This hotel is located in Phuket Town.

 

Trisara Resort

This resort is a bit more pricy, but its location on the beautiful Nai Thon Beach is great!

 

Patong Bay Garden

If you want to sleep on Patong Beach this is a great hotel to choose.

 

How to Get to Phuket

Phuket is one of the most popular destinations in Thailand. The transport to and from this peninsula is, therefore, very well arranged. A bridge has been built between the mainland and the island and there is also an (international) airport. So there are enough options to get there from large parts of the country/world. Below are the most common options for getting here.

 

To Phuket by Plane

The international airport allows you to fly to the island from many locations in Thailand or around the world. A ticket from Bangkok to Phuket costs only US$25 in the high season. From the airport, you can easily continue your journey by taxi.

 

TIP – With Skyscanner, you can book cheap domestic flights.

 

To Phuket by Bus

Through the bridge that has been built there, you can easily travel by bus to and from Phuket. Long-distance buses run from Bangkok to the island in 14 hours. This costs between US$18 and $22. You can also book buses from other cities.

 

To Phuket by Boat

If you are surrounded by water it is logical that you can also go to Phuket by boat. Not just from Thailand. You can also take a boat to Phuket from Singapore and Malaysia. For example, it takes only US$35 per person from Langkawi in Malaysia to get to Phuket by boat.

 

Book Transport Tickets Online

Via 12GoAsia you can book your transport tickets online. Here is are an example of all the routes and prices from Bangkok to Phuket.

 

Best Time to Visit Phuket

The best time to visit Phuket is from November to April. The busiest month in Phuket is in January. In January there’s a lot of sunshine and a calm sea, which is good for scuba diving and snorkeling. It is very busy in these months and the prices will rise.

 

Average temperature and rainfall on Phuket

Average temperature and rainfall on Phuket

 

Rainy Season

The island lies by the Andaman Sea and during the monsoon, it can rain quite a bit here in combination with a lot of wind. The monsoon is in the months of June to October. The rest of the year there is a lot of sunshine; great weather for a few days at the beach!

 

Keep in mind that there is a strong current in some places. Dozens of people drown each year because they are mistaken in the strength of the currents. Just ask for certainty at your accommodation or check with your tour guide.

 

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