My eyes were closed. The scent of lemongrass filled up the room, I could only feel those gentle hands running through my back, up and down. This was our 2nd trip to Phuket, Thailand, and we decided to do things differently. I asked myself, are there things to do in Phuket beyond being a beach bum? The answer was: many great things! The massage and spa indulgence was only one of them!
If you search on the internet for “what to do in Phuket”, Google will give you a list of beaches, crazy parties, attractions in Patong Beach, ping-pong shows, and boat tours around Phuket.
That’s great, it’s a tropical island, beaches and parties are definitely some of Phuket’s top attractions. However, let’s go beyond this and plan a holiday meant for more than just the typical Phuket tourist.
Let’s discover what to do in Phuket, Thailand that’s unique and will make your holiday unforgettable. It’s time to share with you our favorite activities in Phuket, what to do, the best beaches, and where to stay.
Guide to what to do in Phuket
Our first trip to Phuket was all about getting to know the beaches and yes, we stayed at the famous [or infamous] Patong Beach, a Phuket must-see.
The second time we choose another approach, we pampered ourselves, enjoyed cultural activities, and had a completely different experience. We manage to combine Phuket tourist attractions with secluded beaches, food and fun.
The third time, we decided to spend 6 months in Phuket, so this gives us knowledge enough to tell you what to do on this incredible island.
We know the best things to do in Phuket and why travelers call it one of the best beach destinations in the world, and my mission here is to prove that even a super touristy and famous destination can be surprisingly relaxing, tasty, and still unspoiled in parts.
This guide on what to do in Phuket is divided into sections:
- What to do in Phuket beyond Patong Beach attractions
- How to get around the island
- Best beaches in Phuket
- Best places to stay in Phuket
- How to get to Phuket
Unique things to do in Phuket, Thailand
Are you ready to start planning your Phuket sightseeing itinerary? The first step is to imagine the ocean breeze on your face and the sun kissing your skin because that’s what you will feel when you start your vacation in Phuket.
There are so many beautiful places to go in Phuket that you can easily spend a week or two there. We have put together a thrilling list of Phuket things to do that will give you the chance to make incredible memories!
» Pamper yourself, visit a Spa in Phuket
I’m a massage lover, and in Thailand, I discovered that I’m a Spa junkie too! Visiting a Thai spa has to be hands down one of the top things to do in Phuket! There is nothing better than being pampered for hours, scrubbed and soaked from head to toe.
Even Rob [not a big fan of spa] had a blast. We went for three hours “Get Glowing Treatment” at Sukko Spa Resort and the result was relaxation to the highest level!
The Spa was surrounded by green, with a swimming pool and smiling staff. I was treated like a princess from the moment we arrived to the goodbye. We got to choose the scent of our mud scrub, the oils for our massage, and to wrap up the session, a tea with tropical fruits.
There are many options for Spa in Phuket, we went to Sukko Spa and loved it. Their attention to detail, the massage therapist, and the place as a whole was sublime. If you are on the Island and don’t know what to do in Phuket on a rainy day, remember my words: Go to the Spa!!!
As a wellness hotspot, the island is also a popular destination for Thailand yoga retreats, some of the most serene places to visit in Phuket. The perfect match of yoga-friendly climate, picturesque beaches, and top-notch yoga retreats and holidays available all year round attract many yogis to the island.
» Cooking class in Phuket
Our second visit to Phuket was all about scents and aromas. The cooking class was the absolute pinnacle of it! Lemongrass, chilies, ginger, turmeric and many more spices.
The cooking class in Phuket is unique because Thailand’s Southern food has a different twist and it’s spicier.
At Blue Elephant Cooking School they taught us traditional dishes from Thai Royal Cuisine. First, we visited the local fresh market to learn about the ingredients.
The second step was to follow the chef’s instructions and cook three different dishes: red curry with crab meat, green curry with soy protein, and catfish floss salad. Book your cooking class in advance here!
We cooked them from scratch. First, we prepared the curry paste, then the proper dish, and later we had a feast. I have to say, both my green curry and salad were yummy!
This is another activity that you can do in Phuket on a rainy day. If cooking is not your thing, you should still go to the Blue Elephant for lunch or dinner, at the very least, as the building itself is one of Phuket’s points of interest.
The place is gorgeous, the cooking school and restaurant are in a historical Sino-Portuguese mansion built 100 years ago. Surrounded by a huge garden the house itself is one of Phuket’s attractions.
» Watch the best sunset in Phuket
Sunsets in Phuket are always a spectacle, but if you want to see the best one, head to the Promthep Cape! I know, it’s a famous attraction in Phuket and it’s gonna be packed. But the truth is: this is the best sunset point on the island.
Sunset at the Promthep Cape is not one of those Phuket attractions for adults only, you can bring the whole family if you’re traveling together. Kids will love to run around the green and climb the rocks.
However, if you love to watch sunsets with smaller crowds, like us, you can follow our suggestion and go to a different spot. Not as popular as the Promthep Cape, the windmill viewpoint, along the road that connects Yanui and Nai Harn beaches, is one of the places to go in Phuket to watch the sun go down.
Sit back, relax, enjoy the view, and drink from a coconut [or have a beer]. If you’re looking for what to see in Phuket that will relax your entire spirit, a sunset is a must!
» Rent a motorbike and explore Phuket island by yourself
We are talking about what to do in Phuket, and I almost forgot the most important one: rent a motorbike and explore the island at your own pace and will.
It’s a great way to experience Phuket activities and places. You can travel easily with a scooter and reach the top attractions in Phuket without spending much time in traffic, as would happen if you were by car. Plus, you won’t need to bargain with taxi or tuk-tuk drivers.
However, be careful when renting a scooter! Choose a motorbike that is in good condition, take photos of it, and always ask for a receipt after paying.
Don’t forget to bring your driver’s license, and it must be an international one. To help you organize all the essential travel documents, we put together a document checklist for international trips, follow it and have a stress-free holiday!
Also, if your travel insurance doesn’t cover motorbike accidents, pay for local insurance at the shop.
Don’t forget your Travel Insurance! You don’t want anything to ruin your trip, right? So don’t take the risk! Reliable travel insurance can help you in case of travel issues, from accidents to health problems, travel delays, and lost luggage.
» Boat tour in Phuket Island
Traveling to a Thai Island and skipping a boat tour is the same as going to Roma and not visiting the Vatican.
Book a boat tour around Phuket or to the islands nearby! There are plenty of offers, companies and routes. It’s hard to say which one is the best boat tour as it all depends on what you want to see in Phuket, what type of experience you want to have, and your budget.
Have a look at GetYourGuide Boat Tours, they have excellent experiences and you can read the reviews to choose the perfect boat trip for you. Sailing is something everyone must do in Phuket!
Looking for a boat tour in Phuket with snorkeling? Book a trip to the Similan Islands. You can also visit Koh Phi Phi; there are daily speed boat tours from Phuket to Koh Phi Phi [be aware it is a long journey, and it can be a bit tiring].
If you want to relax, enjoy nature, have a good lunch and swim, choose a boat trip around Phuket Island. We did the boat tour with Dolphin Seaways and, despite the bad weather that hit us halfway through the tour, we had a lot of fun. The water was so clear and warm that the rain didn’t bother us at all.
If you want to do a boat tour while saving some money, check out the benefits of the Phuket Day Pass.
It’s a digital pass that gives you access to attractions and activities including a sunset boat trip, restaurants, massages, and more. It’s way cheaper than if you would pay for each activity separately.
The activities, attractions, restaurants and benefits in each city are different, so it’s worth checking them out.
» Visit Phuket Town Attractions and Markets
Still talking about unique things to do in Phuket beyond its beautiful beaches (we’re talking about them below), take at least half a day of your trip to visit Phuket Town.
Phuket Town is beautiful and packed with history. You will find an interesting mix of Chinese and Portuguese architecture there, dragons and Buddhist temples along with tiles and colonial buildings.
The old town is one of those Phuket must-see places! It is also the best place to buy souvenirs, and enjoy local cuisine at cheap and nice restaurants. If you are visiting the town by scooter, park it near Dibuk, Krabi or Thailand roads and walk around.
There are many things to do in old Phuket Town and at night time this part of the island comes alive. The famous Phuket Street Market opens every Sunday from 4 pm to 10 pm on Thailand Road. You can’t miss it. Check out the video below to have an idea of how awesome the Sunday market is.
Talking about markets in Phuket. Near the old town, there are also two other markets worth checking out.
- Naka Market which opens on Saturdays and Sundays, from 4 pm to 10 pm.
- Chilva Market which opens from Monday to Saturday from 5 pm to 11 pm, gets very busy between 6 pm to 8 pm.
In case you want to join a private tour check out these experiences and discover the best of Phuket old town.
Beaches in Phuket and other attractions
Now that you have already discovered what to do in Phuket Island, it’s time to talk about beaches! Oh yeah, baby!! As much as we love culture, food and architecture, good beaches are still our priority when traveling to a Thai island, and Phuket is no different.
Phuket is big. In our many trips combined, we didn’t manage to visit all the beaches but did explore some incredible ones.
If you follow our suggestion and rent a scooter it will be easy to go to the best beaches in Phuket and even find new ones.
Our routine was: wake up early, have breakfast, pack some fruits and our snorkeling gear, and hit the road. Most days we would be back at the hotel around 9 pm, exhausted and happy!
Best beaches in Phuket you can’t miss!
One of the top things to do in Phuket is to enjoy the bliss of the many dreamy beaches! Behold, the next photos may cause severe wanderlust!
» Mai Khao Beach – our favorite beach in Phuket!
This is the address of luxury resorts in Phuket and the beach is still preserved and almost empty. Mai Khao Beach is 11 kilometers long with golden sand and blue sea. Amazing and unspoiled! It’s our favorite beach in Phuket, and by the photo above you can understand why. The only downside, it’s far from most of the Phuket attractions and to get there you will have to drive. But for us, the hassle to get there is totally worth it!
» Nai Yang Beach
Part of this beach belongs to Sirinath National Park, so remains unspoiled and very quiet. The other part is more developed with bars and restaurants. The food is cheap and the vibe is great!
» Kamala Beach
It’s a 2-kilometer beach, quiet and preserved. You will find bars and restaurants. The crystal-clear water, the rocks and the pine trees create a perfect place to relax! On the north end of the beach there are luxury hotels and the famous Cafe Del Mar.
» Nai Harn Beach
Small beach, not so urban [yet]. There are few hotels in the area and luxury condos. The beach is still green with super clean water.
» Karon Beach
Between Patong and Kata Beach, Karon has good sea, and clean sand, and it’s not as crowded as its neighbors. Read our guide to Karon Beach here.
» Kata Beach
Long beach with turquoise sea. Famous for the dining and nightlife scene, it’s the second-most touristic beach on the island. It’s a great spot for surfing, if you are traveling between June and October. If you don’t believe that there is surf scene in Phuket, check out this video of Rob surfing in Phuket.
» Kata Noi Beach
A small version of Kata Beach, this tiny place is quieter and mostly frequented by the resort’s guests. Can be tricky to find it, but worth a visit and a swim.
» Patong Beach tourist attractions
Patong is the most famous beach in Phuket, Thailand. It is crowded, full of tourists, bars, nightclubs, restaurants and shops! There is an unending amount of things to do in Patong. Love it or hate it! You must go there and see it with your own eyes.
I always say that Patong is not as bad as most people think, but of course, it’s not the best beach in Phuket. You should visit Patong but don’t stay only there.
The good side is that in Patong you can find everything you want and need – there are plenty of what to do in Patong Beach!
However, along with all the facilities come the noise, the pollution, the drunk people, the ping-pong shows and prostitution.
If you are on a tight budget or looking for parties, then Patong Beach Phuket is the place to be. Nice and cheap hotels are well spread along the beach.
Western food, Thai restaurants, and food stall are in every corner. I’m not here to write a Patong guide, but I can tell you that you can enjoy the beach, go parting, shopping and do watersports in Patong, all in one place.
That’s why so many tourists choose to spend their vacation in Patong Beach; it’s an easy, practical, and fun place to be.
Are you looking for things to do in Phuket at night? Then you will probably end up here. The party scene is huge and is part of the many Patong Beach activities.
On our first trip to Phuket, we chose to stay in Patong Beach and no regrets. It was one of the fun things to do in Phuket, Patong is busy all the time and you can’t get bored here. Also, from Patong, we could reach all the other beaches, we got a good hotel deal, and we also had great nights out.
I almost forgot to mention, the list of what to do in Patong Beach also includes food markets, massages, tattoos and cabaret shows.
More tourist attractions in Phuket
Our list of what to do in Phuket is not over yet. Not as unique as the other attractions, and not as appealing as the best beaches, but here are some other activities and places to visit in Phuket:
» Big Buddha
It’s a 45 meters tall white Buddha. You can see the statue from almost every part of the island. The view there is stunning. It’s a religious place, so be respectful when visiting it!
» Wat Chalong
It’s the most visited Buddhist temple on the island, it was built in the 19th century. If you want to understand a bit more about Thai Buddhism here is the place to go.
It’s a mix of a funfair, shops, Thai dance and performances. Not our cup of tea.
» Simon Cabaret
Stunning Ladyboys, amazing choreography and fun! The show is always packed, so better to book a table in advance.
When exploring the island, you’ll see signs pointing to Elephant Camps or Elephant Sanctuary in Phuket. We don’t endorse or recommend activities to do in Phuket that involve wildlife or Elephants.
I know it’s your holiday and you might want to do something unique, different, or adventurous, but let’s be honest, the list of stuff to do in Phuket is vast; you don’t need to endanger the life of any animal, neither promote unethical tourism to have a good time.
Protect the wildlife and don’t ride elephants.
One thing you can do that will put you in contact with nature, and maybe you can see elephants in the wild, is visiting the Khao Sok National Park. We spent two nights at the park and loved it. Here is our honest review of the 500Rai floating bungalow at Khao Sok.
Food, delicious food » Where to eat in Phuket
Along with all of the amazing things to see in Phuket, the island is also a food paradise! We love Thai food, and after 7 months of traveling around the country, we learned to eat [and like] Thai spiced dishes, unique flavors and different fruits.
In Phuket, we found a good balance, a huge offer of delicious Thai street food for an affordable price, and amazing restaurants serving Western and Thai cuisine. Below are some of the good places to eat in Phuket that we have tried and recommend:
» Kan Eang@pier
Seafood with a view! Perfect for a nice dinner, the restaurant has an open area in front of Chalong Pier. If you like seafood, here is a good place to taste it!
» Sala Phuket Restaurant
One of the best restaurants we visited in Thailand. A brilliant twist between Thai food and Western dishes, everything so fresh and tasty. Hard to say what we liked the most: the lamb, the duck, or the wine selection. Perfect for a romantic dinner!
» Raya Thai Cuisine
If you are in Phuket town and want to try local food in a cozy atmosphere go to Raya Thai Cuisine. Not as cheap as street food, but the flavors are worth every penny. The deep-fried fish was delicious!
Where to stay in Phuket, Thailand?
If you type on Google “Where to stay in Phuket Island” the avalanche of results will drive you crazy, and I bet it will be hard to choose the best hotel in Phuket or the perfect match for your trip.
So keep reading, we’ll share precious info about accommodation in Phuket and the best websites to book them! Easy peasy!
» Budget hotels in Phuket
If you are traveling to Phuket on a budget, your best bet is to find a place to stay in Patong Beach or in Phuket Town. These are the best places in Phuket for cheap and comfy hotels, from shared rooms to big private apartments. You can also find expensive resorts there, but if you are looking for a luxurious hotel in Phuket, then there are better beaches to stay in.
We chose to stay in Patong Beach on our first trip to Phuket, at the far end of the beach towards Simon Cabaret and Karon Beach. Nice hotels, fair prices, and not as busy as the center of Patong. We stayed at Happy Fish, a guest house managed by an Italian guy. Bright and big rooms, aircon and a balcony. Good coffee served in the shop beside the reception.
Another good option for accommodation in Patong Beach is Mazi Design Hotel. It has big rooms, wifi, a swimming pool, and a restaurant. A good hotel for a fair price. It was refurbished the year after we stayed there, so I bet it’s even better now.
» Luxury hotels in Phuket
Phuket has the best luxury hotels you can imagine and want! Mai Khao Beach is the address of hotels like Renaissance, Anantara Mai Khao Phuket Villas, and many more. It’s also the best place to visit in Phuket if you want to enjoy a secluded beach without crowds.
Our pick for a luxury stay in Phuket is Sala Phuket Hotel. It is beyond superb! We got our private villa with a swimming pool, garden, open-air bathtub, and a room that has all the comfort you need in a modern style. We loved it! Not only because it is luxurious, but because they pay attention to all the details.
Fruits and fresh tea are delivered to your room every night. Signature organic soap, body lotion, and shampoo; buffet and a la carte breakfast, movie sessions in the garden… Plus all the amenities you expect from a 5-star hotel. During our stay at Sala Phuket, the only problem is that the hotel is so good that we didn’t want to leave our villa.
How to get to Phuket, Thailand
Phuket is one of the most famous destinations in Thailand and one of the country’s biggest islands and cities. This means it’s a destination easy to reach; you can arrive there by boat, flight or bus!
If you are traveling in Thailand, you can easily get to Phuket by air, as most cities with an airport will offer daily flights to Phuket.
Traveling from Bangkok? There are several daily flights from Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) and Don Mueang Airport (DMK). Skyscanner is one of the best platforms to search and compare the price of flights in Thailand.
There are buses from Bangkok to Phuket every day for those who want to save a bit and don’t mind spending a day or night on the road. Here is our guide about traveling in Thailand by bus, read it for tips.
Traveling to Phuket from Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lipe, Koh Lanta, or Krabi? Then you can get to Phuket by ferry or fast boats. To book boat, train or bus tickets we recommend 12GoAsia or Bookaway websites. It’s easy to search for routes and timetables, the prices are good and you can book online hassle-free.
You see, no excuse to not visit Phuket on your next trip to Thailand. So hurry up – this tropical island is waiting for you!
Have you already visited the island? Planning a trip to Phuket? Now you know what to do in Phuket, top attractions, and unique things, you just need to pack your bags and go!
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PS: Thanks Thailand Tourist Authority for helping us to discover Phuket island attractions. Despite who paid the bill, you always receive our personal opinion. Also, some of the links on this post are affiliated, which means if you purchase something, or book a hotel through here you are helping us to run the blog. Thanks!