Excellent beaches, world class and diverse mix of shopping experiences, huge range of accommodation options, waterfalls and nature walks, vibrant nightlife scene and thousands of tour options. Plus another 30+ islands around the main island.
That’s Phuket. It’s unique and the only place in Thailand you will find all those options all in one place. Whilst it might be tempting to head to the island’s main party town, Patong, there’s SO much more to Phuket than the island’s famous, or infamous, most popular tourist destination.
Patong is one of the region’s most popular tourist hubs, enhanced by its reputation for great shopping, variety of restaurants, accommodation options and, of course, vivid nightlife. And whilst it’s easy to find a week of fun in Patong, you’d be missing out on an entirely different dimension of Thailand’s largest island.
With around 30 beautiful and unique beaches surrounding Phuket, alone, you may be spoiled for choice with plenty of other postcard destinations less than an hour away from the main island. Yes, another 30 or so islands, destinations, hidden gems and some of the world’s most stunning scenery.
Patong has a beautiful, 3 kilometre long crescent-shaped beach sweeping along the central west coast of Phuket, but you would be well advised to head north or south to visit some of the other beaches – all with their own unique charm.
Same with shopping options. There’s plenty of diversity in Patong but if you want a purer ‘Thai’ experience then head to the opposite side of the island, to Phuket Town. Specifically, to Old Phuket Town.
Here you’ll find an eclectic and sometimes quirky array of cafés, galleries, bookshops, attractions and boutique accommodation. The area has a vivid and somewhat lurid history as a pioneering town during its time as a major trading destination hundreds of years ago. Phuket Town still retains much of it’s ethnically Chinese flavours, infused with the visiting European traders, red light distrcits and famous Sino Portuguese architecture.
The area also has some of the best markets in Phuket – the Sunday afternoon/evening Lard Yai Market along Thalang Road, the almost-nightly Chill Market near Samkong intersection, and the slightly-more-touristy Weekend Market in Naka Road.
Other things you won’t find in Patong are some of the pretty waterfalls, nature walks, stunning hilltop views, feet-in-the-sand restaurants, quiet sunset bars and inexpensive beachside accommodation.
Make sure you put the following list of things-to-do-in-Phuket on your list…
Not only for its 45 metre tall marble Buddha, perched on one of the highest hilltops on the island, its location also has unique views over both the east and west coast of the island.
Although many tourists head to Promthep Cape, at the far south of the island, to watch the sunset, you’ll actually see exactly the same sunset from any west coast beach or viewing point along the west coast. Avoid the crush at Promthep and find yourself a quiet stretch of beach to get an amazing, personal view.
North of Kamala and Surin beaches are some of the longest stretches of excellent beach on the island. Notably Mai Khao beach, stretching north of the Phuket International Airport (and even past Phuket in Phang Nga where it becomes Natai Beach), you’ll often find a spot where you won’t see another tourist all day. Beware, though, many of these beaches are not patrolled and be very dangerous for swimming during the monsoon (May to November).
There are some of the region’s best beach clubs looking out across some of the region’s best beaches, dotted around the island, from Mai Khao to Chalong, and Bang Toa. Many of the best hotels, with direct access to the beaches, are also happy for you to visit during sunset to enjoy the late afternoon and sunset vibes.
You’ll need to get out of Patong to meet up with the boats that will take you offshore to some of the prettiest places in the world – Maya Bay, Phang Nga Bay, and countless less-visited nooks and crannies within an hour or two from Phuket.
For a selection of private island tours off Phuket, click HERE.