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 spa indulgence was only one of them!
If you search on the internet “what to do in Phuket”, Google will give you a list of beaches, nightlife parties in Patong, ping-pong shows, and boat tours around Phuket. That’s great, it’s a tropical island, beach and party are definitely Phuket 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.
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.
Now we know some of the best things to do in Phuket, Thailand, and we want to prove that even a super touristy and famous destination can be surprisingly relaxing, tasty, and still unspoiled in parts.
It’s time to share with you what to do in Phuket beyond Patong Beach, top attractions, best hotels, where to stay in Phuket, how to get around Phuket, our personal recommendations and of course, the best beaches in the island!
Unique things to do in Phuket
There are so many beautiful and unmissable adventures waiting for you in Phuket! We have put together a thrilling list of Phuket, Thailand things to do that are out-of-the-box and will give you the chance to make incredible memories!
» Pamper yourself – 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 our head to toe.
Even Rob [not a big fan of spa] had a blast. We went for the three hours “Get Glowing Treatment” at Sukko Spa Resort and the result was relaxation to the highest level!
Sukko Spa is surrounded by green, with a swimming pool and smiling staff. From the reception to the goodbye I was treated like a princess. 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.
While there are many options of 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, Phuket 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 trip 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 food in southern Thailand has a different twist – and is spicier. This is one of the more unusual things to do in Phuket as a tourist, but a great one.
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.
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! Mouth-watering food!
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.
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 the top Phuket 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 on the island.
One of the wonderful parts about this is that is is not one of those Phuket attractions for adults only! You can bring the whole family if you’re traveling together.
However, if you are like us [people who love to watch sunsets alone], 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 a great spot.
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 by yourself
We are talking about what to do in Phuket, and I almost forgot the most important one: rent a motorbike and explore Phuket at your own pace and will. This is a great way to experience all of the Phuket activities.
With a scooter, you can travel easily, and reach all the top attractions in Phuket. 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.
Also, if your travel insurance doesn’t cover the motorbike accident, pay for local insurance in the shop. We use World Nomads Travel Insurance and endorse them. You can choose your coverage and check the price here. If you need more information, read our Travel Insurance Guide here.
Don’t forget to bring your driver’s license, even better if you have 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!
» Boat tour around Phuket Island
Traveling to a Thai Island and skipping a boat tour is the same as going to Roma and not visiting the Vatican. So, go and book a boat tour around Phuket! There are plenty of offers, companies and routes. And it’s hard to say which one is better. 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 Tripadvisor for some reviews. This is something everyone must do in Phuket!
If you fancy some serious snorkeling go to the Similan Islands. If you don’t have time to stay in Koh Phi Phi and visit Maya Bay, you can do a speed boat tour from Phuket to there [be aware that is a long journey and can be a bit tiring].
Or, 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 on the tour, we had a lot of fun. The water was so clear and warm that the rain didn’t bother us at all.
» Phuket Town – worth a visit
Still talking about unique things to do in Phuket, Thailand [beyond beautiful beaches], take at least half a day of your trip to visit Phuket town. If you want to know where to go in Phuket that will be beautiful and rich with history, Phuket Town is a must.
There, you will find an interesting mix of Chinese and Portuguese architecture, dragons and Buddhist temples along with tiles and colonial buildings.
Phuket town is one of those famous Phuket must-see places! It is also the best place to buy souvenirs, 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.
At night time this part of town comes alive. The famous Phuket Street Market opens every Sunday from 4 pm to 10 pm on Thailand Road. You can’t miss it. In case you want to join a private tour we recommend this one around Phuket Town.
Other Phuket attractions
Now that you have already discovered what to do in Phuket, it’s time to talk about beaches! Oh yeah, baby!! As much as we love the culture, food and architecture, good beaches are still our priority when traveling to an island, and Phuket is no different.
Phuket is big. In our two trips combined, we didn’t manage to visit all the beaches but did explore some nice ones. If you follow our suggestion and rent a scooter to see all of the most fun Phuket things to do, it will be easy to go to the best beaches in Phuket and even find new ones.
Our routine was: wake up early, breakfast, pack some fruits and our snorkeling gear, hit the road. Most days, we would be back at the hotel around 9 pm, exhausted and happy!
Best beaches in Phuket (you must visit them!)
When traveling this magnificent part of the world, one of the top things to do in Phuket is to enjoy the bliss of the many dreamy beaches!
» Nai Harn Beach – our favorite!
Small beach, not so urban [yet]. There are few hotels in the area and luxury condos, but the beach is still green with super clean water. Our favorite beach in Phuket, without that many tourists around.
Between Patong and Kata Beach, Karon has good sea, squeaky clean sand, but it’s not as crowded as its neighbors.
Long beach with turquoise sea. Famous for the dining and nightlife scene, it’s the second-most touristic beach on the island.
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.
It’s a 2-kilometer beach, quiet and preserved. You won’t find public facilities there, only a few bars/restaurants. The crystal-clear water, the rocks and the pine trees create a perfect place to relax!
Part of this beach belongs to the Sirinath National Park, so remains unspoiled and very quiet. The other part is more developed with bars, restaurants and kite-surf school. The food is cheap and the vibe is great!
This is the address of the luxury resorts in Phuket and it’s still preserved. Mai Kao Beach is 11 kilometers long with golden sand and blue sea. Amazing and unspoiled!
» Patong Beach, the famous beach in Phuket
Patong Beach is crowded, full of tourists, water sports, bars, night clubs, 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, Phuket is not as bad as most people think, but of course, it’s not the best beach in Phuket. The good side is that, in Patong, you can find everything you want and need – there are plenty of things 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 you are looking for a party, then Patong Beach, Phuket, is the beach to be. Nice and cheap hotels are well spread along the beach. Western food, Thai restaurants, and food stall are in every corner. This is a great choice if you want to know what to do in Patong
The party scene is huge and is part of the many Patong Beach activities. Not ashamed to say that on our first trip to Phuket, Patong was the place we choose to stay, and no regrets. It is one of the fun things to do in Phuket, Patong. From there we could reach all the other beaches, we got a good hotel deal so we also had great nights out.
More 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 places that you can visit in Phuket:
It’s a 45 meters tall white Buddha made of marble. You can see the statue from almost every part of the island. The view there is stunning, but don’t forget it’s a religious place, so be respectful!
It’s the most visited Buddhist temple in Phuket, 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 and Thai dance performance and elephants. Definitely not our cup of tea.
Stunning Ladyboys, amazing choreography and fun! The show is always packed, so better to book a table in advance.
Food, delicious food » where to eat in Phuket
Along with all of the amazing things to see in Phuket, we also love Thai food! After 7 months traveling around the country, we learned to eat [and like] spiced dishes, but we still can’t handle too much of it!
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. These are our suggestion of unique places to eat in Phuket:
» Kan [email protected]
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?
If you type on Google “Where to stay in Phuket” the avalanche of results will drive you crazy, and it’s a hard task to choose the best hotel in Phuket or the perfect match for your trip.
We gonna give some info about accommodation in Phuket and the best websites to book them! Easy peasy!
» For budget hotels in Phuket
Patong Beach and Phuket town are the best places for cheap and comfy hotels, from shared rooms to big private apartments. There, you also find expensive resorts, but If you are looking for luxurious places, there are better beaches to stay in.
On our first trip to Phuket, we stayed in Patong, 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, air-con and a balcony. Good coffee served in the shop beside the reception.
Another option is Mazi Design Hotel. With a swimming pool and restaurant, it has big rooms, wifi, and a proper hotel feeling. It was refurbished this year after our stay there, so I bet it’s even better now. For the best budget hotels in Phuket, we recommend you to look at Agoda or Booking.com.
Did you know you can rent a house, a villa, or an apartment in Phuket via Airbnb? Curious? Sign up here and get a discount on your first booking!
» Luxury hotels in Phuket
Our pick for a luxury and memorable stay was Sala Phuket. The hotel 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. Love it! Not only because it is luxurious, but because they pay attention to all the details.
Fruits and fresh tea 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.
We recommend Sala Phuket, the only problem is that the hotel is so good that we didn’t want to leave our villa.
Practical stuff – how to get to Phuket
Phuket is one of the most famous destinations in Thailand, and also one of the biggest islands and cities in the country. It means that you can arrive there by boat, flight or bus! The airport is international, with flight connections from all over the world. For the best flight deals check out Kiwi.com and Skyscanner.
To book a train, bus or boat tickets we recommend 12GoAsia.
The island is on the route of many cruise ships, but if a cruise is too upscale for you, there is a bus service from/to Bangkok every day. You see, no excuses to not visit Phuket on your next trip to Thailand. And hurry up – this tropical island is waiting for you!
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Have you visited Phuket? Planning a trip? Now you know what to do in Phuket, top attractions, and unique things. Go for it!
PS: Thanks Thailand Tourist Authority for helping us to discover unique attractions in Phuket. 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!