Phuket Guide: What to See and Do in Phuket, Thailand

The island of Phuket, located in the south of Thailand, is one of the biggest tourist destinations in this country. In this Phuket guide we will find out why. Phuket attracts a lot of attention to travelers looking to have a good time for a few days on the beach, as it offers an excellent combination of relaxation and leisure. In this Phuket guide we explain what to see and do in Phuket so that you can make the most of your trip to this Thai island and do not miss out on anything that is recommended during your trip to Thailand.

What to see in Phuket

If you plan to travel to Thailand and want to visit this island, you will surely be wondering what to see in Phuket. Phuket is well known for its beaches and its nightlife , but it goes much further. If in addition to all that, you also want to enjoy Thai cuisine or learn about the country’s culture, Phuket will not disappoint you.

Phuket’s beaches

Phuket is the largest island in Thailand and is connected to the mainland by a bridge: Sarasin. One of the biggest tourist attractions on the island, how could it be otherwise, are its beaches. The most beautiful are located between the south and southwest of Phuket, but each one has its charm and peculiarity. Here we explain the most relevant of some of the most outstanding beaches that you have to see in Phuket:

Patong Beach

This beach is one of the largest and most well-known on the island, which is why it is also one of the most crowded. With its 3.5 kilometers of white sand and clean waters, Patong Beach offers numerous options for bathing, water sports, sunbathing and entertainment. We recommend visiting this beach because it is the tourist center of Phuket, although it is not one of the most recommended if you are looking for a quiet and romantic stay or if you are traveling with children. The most recommended hotels in this area are:

  • Patong Beach Hotel 4*
Patong Beach
Patong Beach

Karon Beach

Karon is a 2.5 km long beach and, after Patong, it is the second most visited by tourists. This beach, however, is usually liked more than Patong because it is a little quieter. Karon is a beach that has everything, for all tastes: you will find everything from a volleyball court to areas for practicing water sports. There are also companies to rent jet skis or to rent hammocks and umbrellas and even natural shaded areas to rest under the trees. The most recommended hotels on this beach are:

  • Le Meridien Phuket Beach Resort 5*
  • Mövenpick Villas & Spa Karon Beach Phuket 5*
  • Hilton Phuket Arcadia Resort & Spa 5*
  • Sugar Marina Resort Art 4*
  • Woraburi Phuket Resort & Spa 4*
  • Ramada Phuket Southsea 4*
  • Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa 4*
karon beach
Karon Beach

Panwa Beach

Panwa Beach is another of the most recognized Phuket beaches. It is near Cape Panwa, in the east of Phuket Island. It stands out for its luxury villas and resorts and for its especially white sand beach. The waters at Panwa Beach are shallow and ideal for snorkelling. The most recommended hotels on this beach are:

  • Cape Panwa Hotel 5*
  • Pullman Phuket Panwa Beach Resort 5*
Panwa Beach

Kata Beach

This beach is divided into two: Kata Yai Beach (the big one) and Kata Noi Beach (smaller). These beaches are located near Patong Beach and are usually quite crowded as well. Both beaches are beautiful and suitable for bathing, but stand out from other beaches in Phuket, especially for surfing. The waves on these beaches are usually stronger, so it is one of the favorites for surfers. In Kata Yai (the largest beach), you will also find a lot of atmosphere with shops and restaurants. The most recommended hotels on this beach are:

  • Katathani Phuket Resort 5*
  • Kata Beach Resort and Spa 4*
kata beach
Kata Beach

Mai Khao Beach

Mai Khao beach is one of the best to see in Phuket if you are looking for tranquility. It is located in the north of the island. Its coastline, about 10 km, makes it the longest beach in Phuket. From November to March the waters of its beach are very calm, perfect for swimming or relaxing in the water. The Mai Khao area is very quiet and one of the most luxurious since the vast majority of hotels are 5-star . The most recommended hotels in this area are:

  • Holiday Inn Resort Phuket Mai Kao Beach 4*
  • Anantara Mai Khao Phuket Villas 5*
  • JW Marriott Phuket Resort and Spa 5*
  • ROOM Phuket Resort and Spa 5*
  • Renaissance Phuket Resort & Spa 5*
Mai Khao Beach
Mai Khao Beach

Nai Harn Beach

It is a small beach that is usually frequented by the locals and in which there are not usually many tourists, so it is not overcrowded. It is characterized by being a quiet beach, with fine white sand and turquoise water. Ideal for a trip to Phuket to bathe and relax.

kamala beach

Another of the quite famous beaches to see in Phuket is Kamala, which is located near the Patong area. It is smaller and quieter than this one, which makes it one of the most suitable beaches in Phuket for families with children.

The Big Buddha of Phuket

The Big Buddha of Phuket is a 45-meter-high statue of white marble and is a symbol of this island. It is located on a hill, at the top of Mount Nakkerd, between Chalong and Kata Beach. We recommend visiting it because from there you can see beautiful views of Chalong Bay , as well as a pleasant 360º panoramic view of the entire island of Phuket.

The Big Buddha of Phuket
The Big Buddha of Phuket

How to get to the Big Buddha?

To go up to the Big Buddha there is a section of about 6 kilometers of curves. We recommend that you rent a motorcycle to climb at your own pace. Or, if you prefer, you can also go up on foot if you feel like doing some sport. It will be worth the effort because it is one of the essential things to add to your list of places of interest to see in Phuket.

Big Buddha Shrine Hours

The sanctuary is open every day from 8 in the morning until 7:30 in the evening. You will see that the figure of the Great Buddha is completely finished, but that the enclosure is under construction. They are advancing little by little with the aim of building one of the most spectacular sanctuaries in the area. You will see that they offer travelers to make donations to help finish the works.

Wat Chalong Temple

Wat Chalong is the largest Buddhist temple in Phuket and consists of several buildings. The main attraction is the main pagoda or Great Pagoda, about 60 meters high. It is decorated with paintings depicting the life story of Buddha and various Buddha images are also displayed. There is also an exhibition room where you will see different wax statues of some of the most prominent monks in the country’s history.

Wat Chalong Temple
Wat Chalong Temple

How to get to Wat Chalong?

Wat Chalong temple is south of Phuket town, about 8 kilometers away. You can order a taxi or rent a motorcycle. If you’re in Phuket City, take Chao Fa Road west from the city center and you’ll be there in about 20 minutes.

Wat Chalong Hours

The temple is open every day from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and admission is free.

Phi Phi Islands

The Phi Phi Islands are small islands that are located to the southwest of the island of Phuket. They are part of the Krabi province and consist of four islands: Koh Phi Phi Don (the main and only inhabited island), Koh Phi Phi Leh , Koh Pai (also known as Bamboo Island) and Koh Yunk (or Mosquito Island ).

Phi Phi Islands
Phi Phi Islands

Excursions from Phuket to the Phi Phi Islands

If you are wondering what to do in Phuket, without a doubt one of the biggest recommendations is to go to the Phi Phi Islands . From Phuket there are many group tours. The only way to reach the islands is by sea, so Phi Phi Island Tours offer a speedboat service that connects Phuket directly to Koh Phi Phi Don (the main island of Phi Phi). The journey lasts about two hours in which you will enjoy a beautiful tour of the Andaman Sea. Taking an excursion to the Phi Phi Islands if you are in Phuket is very worthwhile, since you will visit very beautiful places. The excursion route that we offer includes stops at the most interesting points of the islands, as well as activities such as snorkeling, lunch at a Phi Phi Don restaurant or bathing in the waters of the Andaman Sea.

What to do on the Phi Phi Islands?

  • See the Viking Cave: These caves are located on the island of Koh Phi Phi Leh, at the bottom of a cliff. Many tour boats used to stop at this point en route from Koh Phi Phi Don to Maya Beach, the famous Maya Bay beach, but the latter is currently closed indefinitely.
  • Take a trip to Long Beach: you can take a walking tour from Ton Sai Beach to Long Beach. It will be about 40 minutes walking and when you arrive you can take a good refreshing bath.
  • Visit Monkey Beach: this beach is characterized by the fact that you will find monkeys on it. You can take a kayak excursion to get closer to this beach, but beware of the monkeys!
  • Diving: The Phi Phi Islands are also known to be a good destination for divers. If you are certified, you can dive among turtles and sharks and, if not, you can take an introductory diving course.

Phang Nga Bay

Phang Nga Bay is a bay that lies between Phuket, Krabi , and Phang Nga . It is known for its islands and limestone rock formations that rise from the sea, as well as its rocky caves. The scenery of Phang Nga Bay is spectacular and, in fact, since 1981 much of it has been protected as a National Marine Park. In Phang Nga Bay is the islet of Ko Tapu, better known as James Bond Island. This island appeared in the 1974 film, The Man with the Golden Gun , as the “secret island of Scaramanga” and on it, Roger Moore (Agent 007) and Christopher Lee shot the final duel of the film.

Phang Nga Bay
Phang Nga Bay

We recommend that you take a day trip from Phuket. From the north of Phuket, motorboats depart that will take you directly to the most famous points of Phang Nga Bay. Once there we recommend:

  • See the famous James Bond Island
  • Rent a canoe to navigate at your leisure between the rocky caves
  • Wander through the hidden caves
  • Visit Koh Panyee Village , a small floating village founded by Muslim nomadic fishermen. Visit him to see his day to day life and to eat fresh fish, his staple food, in one of the few restaurants in town.
  • Relax on some quiet beaches on Naka Yai Island.

Things to do in Phuket

Going out at night on Patong Beach

We could not consider any guide to Phuket as good, without mentioning the Patong Beach parties. Patong Beach is the main tourist spot to see in Phuket for those who like the night and are looking to have a great time in the many night parties that are organized daily.

Going out at night on Patong Beach
Going out at night on Patong Beach

The wildest nightlife on the island of Phuket is centered around Patong Beach and more specifically on Bangla Street . This street and the alleys that lead to it are full of restaurants, bars, discos, karaoke bars and clubs with music and live shows. In Patong Beach the shops and restaurants stay open until very late and at night Bangla Street becomes pedestrianized and the fun begins. Partying on Patong Beach is an experience worth doing, at least one night, as it is something different. Of course, keep in mind that the night there is very crazy.

Stroll along the boardwalk at Karon Beach

Karon Beach is the third longest beach in Phuket and another of the renowned Thai beaches. Walking around there is one of the most recommended activities to do in Phuket. Karon Beach is divided into three zones:

  • Downtown Karon Beach: It ‘s a pretty lively little town where you’ll find restaurants, entertainment venues, and shops. We recommend you visit the Karon Temple Market, where you will find a bit of everything: from food to crafts, spices or gifts.
  • Karon Beach Boardwalk – The streets paralleling Karon Beach (Patak Road and Karon Road) are perfect for a sunset stroll. Along about 2 km you will find many shops and restaurants.
  • Luang Poh Chuan Street area: this street is located towards the south of Karon Beach, it is the area with the most entertainment and restaurants in Karon Beach. It is also the area where you will find more nightlife, but much quieter activity than Patong Beach.

Snorkeling in Phuket

Phuket is a good destination for snorkeling due to its clean waters and marine ecosystems. So if you would like to dive into an extraordinary underwater world that diving in Phuket offers, we recommend that you dedicate some time during your stay on the island to snorkeling. Not all Phuket beaches are suitable for snorkeling. The most suitable are those with clear waters and rocky and calm areas. Here we list the 3 best beaches for snorkeling in Phuket:

  • Ao Sane Beach , south of Phuket: This is a small beach perfect for snorkeling. There is a diving center where you can rent equipment.
  • Kata Noi , south of Kata Beach
  • Paradise Beach , south of Patong Beach

If you want to dive, we recommend going to Shark Point, between Phuket and Phi Phi. It is a 45-minute boat ride from Chalong Port in southern Phuket. There are diving day trips where you will also pass through Koh Doc Mai . There is a coral wall with abundant marine life, where you can do drift dives to see caves and crevices where there are nurse sharks.

Enjoy the hotel and its beach (hotels with private beach)

Le Meridien Resort in Phuket with private beach
Le Meridien Resort in Phuket with private beach

Phuket hotels cater to all tastes, as you have a multitude of accommodation options. Some of Phuket’s most luxurious hotels have private beaches. If what you are looking for is a dream trip, where you can relax on the beach, we recommend that you stay in one of the Phuket resorts located on private beaches.

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