Missed by many visitors to the island, Phuket Town is definitely one of the spots which gives Phuket it flavour. Beautifully coloured Chinese shop houses sell batik cloths, hippy clothes and souvenirs. Tine coffee shops and family-run restaurants pour out great cups of coffee and serve mouth-watering local specialties – from Muslin rotis to famous mee hokkien noodles. On Sunday Thalang Road becomes Phuket’s Walking Street market, and it is absolutely not to be missed! Try khao yam (spicy rice, THB40) and wash it down with the freshest smoothie ever, listen to the self-proclaimed musicians performing all along the Walking Street and enjoy its festive vibe.
If you cannot get there on Sunday evening, go for a stroll around Phuket Town and Thalang Road and try to spot all the graffiti Phuket Town is proud of.
If you need a little time away from the crowded beaches, head up to see the Big Buddha on the Nakkerd Hills. This towering statue stands 45 metres tall, making it easily visible from many of Phuket’s surrounding areas. The area is one of several view points in Phuket and to our tasting it is arguably the best one. The road up the hill is picturesque and there are a couple of small restaurants in the form of simple wooden shacks with offering cheap local drinks and incomparable views. Plan your visit during daytime hours, and if you’re feeling generous, make a small donation at the top.
For a breathtaking sunset view, head up to Phuket's Windmill Viewpoint. There are a number of spots to watch the sun go down, but this one is a particular favourite of ours. Make your way between Nai Harn and Ya Nui beaches and take a seat as you watch both the sky and ocean turn into an array of magnificent colours.
Day tours from Phuket
There are endless opportunities for island day tours. You can hire your own speedboat or longtail, or pay one of the many tour operators, like Phuket Tours Direct, to join a group. One of our favourite spots to spend a day is Coral Island. Chat with a longtail operator for a private trip, or check prices with any of the local tour operators if you prefer an all inclusive package.
Khao Phra Thaeo National Park
To get in touch with nature on this crowded island, make a trip out to Tonsai Waterfall in Khao Phra Thaeo National Park. Walking into the park is like stepping into an entirely different world. The entrance fee is THB200, and we found the price well worth the visit. (open 8am-5pm daily)
The Gibbon Rehabilitation Centre
Illegal animal trade is a huge problem throughout Thailand. The Gibbon Rehabilitation Project in Khao Phra Thaeo national park aims to rescue these endangered animals from poaching and smuggling. Visitors come here to observe this species from afar. Volunteers and donations are welcomed. It’s a great way to learn more about gibbons without exploiting them further.
Chalong Bay Rum Distillery
Chalong Bay Rum Distillery is a great stop for thirsty tourists. Try the rum, mojitos, and group cocktail making class. Tours of the distillery with a tasting session are THB300 and the cocktail workshop is THB1200. If you’re willing to splurge, the 2 hour workshop is definitely worth it. (11am-10pm)
If you need a break from the sun, make a trip out to Phuket’s aquarium in Laem Phanwa. Both English and Thai speakers can learn about local fish, sharks, and other sea creatures here. The aquarium is open daily from 8.30am-4.30pm and costs THB180 for adults.
Phuket Tsumani Memorial
In 2004, Phuket was nearly destroyed by the unforgiving Boxing Day Tsunami. Kamala Beach now houses the island’s memorial and monument, which is well worth a visit. Come anytime - day or night - to pay your respects. You’ll find prayers and ceremonies held here on the anniversary each year.
Diving and snorkellingin Phuket
If you want to get your diving certification while in Phuket, you have a number of options. We recommend checking out Super Divers on Patong Beach. Their 3-day open water course includes 6 boat dives for THB14500. That price includes pick ups, food, and excellent instructors, too.
Head over to Phuket Snorkeling Tours to spend a day getting up close and personal with all the island’s coastline has to offer. A day trip to Racha Yai includes all equipment, food, and fees. This full day tour, from 8.30am to 4.45pm, costs THB1500.
For a some extreme outdoor adventure, try the Hanuman Zip Line through Phuket All Tours. For THB2900, you’ll have the chance to spend an entire afternoon zipping from one of the 28 platforms here. This trip is an excellent way to see the jungle. The price includes transportation, fees, and food.