Phuket is the largest island in Thailand and a visit to the “Pearl of the Andaman” is one you will never forget. With stunning sandy beaches, impressive rocks rising out of the aquamarine ocean, buzzing nightlife and plenty of fun activities, Phuket has something for everyone. Check out what you need to see and do in Phuket – and the practicalities of visiting this diverse island – in our handy travel guide.
Beaches and Ocean
If you want a day to remember in Phuket then sail to Phang Nga Bay. This iconic Phuket attraction is characterized by limestone rock formations soaring high out of the sea. Check out the area on a longtail boat. Further afield, you can sail to the Similan and Surin Islands, where you will find pristine waters for diving plus a whole host of colorful wildlife. You can also take part in watersports like paddle-boarding, parasailing, sea kayaking, and speedboat tours from all the main beaches on Phuket.
Top Attractions in Phuket
Phuket features 29 Buddhist temples and these are located across the island. The most prominent and attractive is Chalong Wat, with its 36 Buddha figures and a golden roof. You can also visit the Big Buddha, which is located at the top of a hill in Karon. Big Buddha is a new attraction and you can walk through the peaceful hills to reach him and be rewarded with a great view. If you’re looking for some flavor, take a trip to the Chalong Bay Rum Distillery, which also runs cocktail workshops.
While Phuket has for a long time been regarded as one of the most popular locations in Thailand for overseas visitors, you can still escape from the crowds. In addition, there are many attractions on Phuket that don’t revolve around the beach or the bar. For example, Phuket Old Town is an historic and cultural area with some interesting architecture. Here you will find old temples alongside designer boutiques, and traditional houses next to coffee shops. If you want a quiet retreat you can choose one of the boutique spa hotels that offer treatments and relaxation – try new hotels on Phuket’s west coast. But to really get away from it all, visit the Khoa Sok National Park with its elephants and lush jungle surroundings.
When to Visit Phuket
Whenever you visit Phuket you will experience high temperatures, usually in the mid or low 30s. The busiest season, and when you will get the least rain, is between November and March – the winter in the northern hemisphere, which makes Phuket a great location to escape the winter blues. If you travel outside this season you won’t miss out in terms of things to do, but the weather will be a little more humid. If you are visiting in the summer (July through October) the sea gets rougher and you can go surfing. There’s plenty of rain around and the sunshine levels drop but you can still get some excellent blue-sky days.
Getting Around in Phuket
To get between the islands, particularly the lesser-visited islands, you can take a longtail boat. Many longtail operators take tourists to island beaches and you can use this mode of transport to see the coastline. Depending on the boat, this form of travel may be relatively expensive although you are guaranteed an amazing view. Taxis, motorbikes and buses take visitors on land around the island. You can also hire a car and see the place at your own pace.
The currency in Phuket is the Thai Baht. You will be able to use your credit or debit card in ATMs across the island but it is helpful to take some baht with you so you can pay taxis or other essentials before you have the chance to find a bank. English is widely spoken in Phuket but it helps to have a few phrases in Thai to get by – download a language app or get a phrase book and brush up on the greetings, how to ask for a hotel room, and different foods.
For more information on where to stay and what to see in Phuket, check out Phuket On. All the detail you need to plan a vacation to remember in Phuket.
Featured image via PC in Shenzhen / Flickr