Thailand’s largest island (pronounced “Poo Ket”) is roughly the size of Singapore, and is best known for some of the most beautiful beaches and craziest nightlife in SE Asia. Welcome to the Pearl of the South. Let’s visit Phuket!
Visiting Phuket? Here’s What To Do
There’s really so much to do, this place could keep you busy for days. Here’s a list of our must-see’s when visiting Phuket.
Visiting Phuket? Be Charmed By Old Phuket:
Lard Yai Sunday Walking Street Market
This fantastic market, located in the heart of Old Phuket Town on Thalang Road, is one of the best markets in Thailand. Stocked with amazing food, fun souvenirs, live music, and even a street barber, take the opportunity to explore some local “bizarre” foods. Check out our latest addition of the ‘Weird Food Challenge’ to see how adventurous we got..
Just take a walk around! With all the Sino-Portuguese style homes and shop-houses, not to mention the Sino-Colonial style mansions, Old Town Phuket will take you back in time. Dating back to the mid-1800’s, this truly unique architecture is well-preserved and very photogenic.
Golden Dragon Monument
Known as the Sea Dragon protecting Phuket, this elaborate golden dragon can be found at the entrance of Queen Sirikit Park.
Visiting Phuket? Chill at the Beach:
Located on the central west coast of the island, this laidback, quiet beach is where you’ll go for an afternoon siesta. Covered with nearly two miles of soft, white sand, this is the beach for some peace and quiet. No need to pack a lunch, as there are plenty of beachfront restaurants that will be happy to fill your belly.
If you’re looking for some major people watching, tons of beach activities, bustling nightlife, and funky bars, head to Phuket’s most famous and popular beach. Located south of Kamala Beach and north of Karon Beach, Patong Beach is full of action, all day and night.
Located south of Patong Beach and much quieter, this lovely beach (in our opinion) is the best beach in the area. Feel the squishy sand between your toes and lay back and enjoy the views. Once decimated by the tsunamis of 2004, this beach is again thriving, and cannot be missed.
Visiting Phuket? Party in Patong:
This unique stretch of road in central Patong is famous for it’s nightlife, unique characters and extravagant shows. Think loud music, go-go dancers, liquor, and loads of people. This crazy place is an institution in Phuket and is at least worth a walk through.
This food market located just off the beach and is the perfect place to grab a bite after a day in the sun, or on your way out for the night. From fresh grilled seafood to ripe mangos to french fries, Loma Night Market will have you covered.
Visiting Phuket? Book a Tour:
Visiting Phuket? How about Day Trip:
Want to get out of town? Book a day trip for a little island hopping. While many choose popular day trips to the famous Phi Phi Islands or to Phang Nga Bay to see James Bond Island, we chose the Similan Islands. These nationally protected islands are the perfect place for exploration and are home to some of the most beautiful waters in the world.
Visiting Phuket? Check out the View:
Big Buddha Temple
One of the island’s most important landmarks is the giant Buddha that sits on the top of Nakkerd Hills, about 45 minutes south of Patong. Not only is this 150-foot tall, white Buddha a sight to see, you’ll be treated to incredible, 360-degree views of the island. Just pick a clear day and bring your camera! This is certainly the best view of the island and should not be missed.
Visiting Phuket? Bonus!
We’ve teamed up with GPSmyCity and converted our Phuket travel guide into a downloadable application that comes complete with a GPS map of our recommendations and operates offline without any need of data plan or Internet connection. You can check it out here.
Getting to Phuket
Getting to Phuket: FLY
If planned in advance you can find reasonable direct flights to Phuket from most major cities in SE Asia for under $50. You can also find affordable international flights from Kuala Lumpur for $19, Siem Reap for $34, Jakarta for $43, and Ho Chi Minh City for $49 with our favorite flight search site, Skyscanner.
Phuket Flight Deals
Getting to Phuket: TRAIN
While you can’t take a train all the way into Phuket, you can get close. Take the 12-hour train ride from Bangkok to Surat Thani for about $44, then jump on the 4 hour bus to Phuket for only $7.
Getting to Phuket: BUS
Buses are not our favorite mode of travel.. The seats are generally cramped, the ride is bumpy, and departure/arrival times can be unpredictable. However, bus travel is generally less expensive, and in particular the ride from Bangkok is just $20 for the 13 hour+ trip.
Airport to Phuket City Center
Phuket International Airport is located about 20 miles north of the Phuket Old Town. How will you get there?
Most hotels on the island will set up a taxi transfer for you, charging anywhere between $15-$30 depending on where your hotel is located. Another option is a metered taxi, and a ride to most places should be about $23(if you can find an honest driver). Beware, taxi drivers in Thailand, and especially Phuket, are notorious for ripping off tourists. Just make sure they turn on the meter, and ask for an estimate, before getting into a cab.
Located just outside of arrivals and to the left, look for the bright orange buses labeled “Airport Bus” and take the 1 hour 40 minute ride into Phuket Town for about $3.
Getting around in Phuket
Taxi/ Tuk Tuk
Tuk Tuks and taxis are readily available all over the island, especially near the beaches. While a taxi ride will cost about double, the ride is much more comfortable. Consider taking a tuk tuk for shorter distances. Either way, be sure and negotiate with the driver before getting in.
These open air, bright blue buses will take you all over the island for under $2. However, with no proper bus schedule or route map, a Song Taew ride could be a serious shot in the dark.
Most of the larger villages on the island are very walkable. However, you may need a scooter to get around if staying in a smaller, more secluded village like Kamala.
Where To Stay in Phuket:
Where To Stay in Phuket: HOTELS
With prices ranging from $20-$850/night, from budget to luxury, you’re sure to find the right hotel in Phuket. We’ve found some great hotel deals using Priceline’s sister site, Agoda.com.
Phuket Hotel Deals
Where To Stay in Phuket: HOSTELS
With over 60 hostels in Phuket, you’ll likely find one that suits your needs. Prices generally range from $8-$15 a night for a dorm room, while private rooms cost a bit more at about $22-$40 per night. Hostelworld always has great deals, especially in Phuket:
Phuket Hostel Deals
Where To Stay in Phuket: AIRBNB
We love using Airbnb. From private rooms to entire homes, Airbnb is represented in all parts of Phuket. The average Airbnb price in Phuket is only $33/night. If you’re a first timer to Airbnb use our coupon for $35 off your first night’s stay.
Where To Stay in Phuket: NEIGHBORHOODS
Choosing a neighborhood is an important part of trip planning that should not be overlooked! Phuket is a large island with 17 districts divided into 103 unique villages. While our general recommendation is to stay closer to city centers, here are some of the best areas of Phuket.
This touristy beach village on the west coast of the island is packed with bars, restaurants, shops, and one of the best beaches on the island. This is the place to stay to be in the center of it all. Don’t miss the famous (or should we say “infamous”) Bangla Road, where “anything goes”.
This quiet alternative to Patong is just south of the tourist hub. With nearly 2.5 miles of beautiful white sand beach, this is the place to stay for laid back, beach vibes.
Located on the southern tip of the island, Rawai is a great village to experience real Thai culture. Although, we highly recommend having access to a scooter as you’ll be pretty secluded. And though there isn’t much of a beach to speak of, you’ll get some of the island’s best views.
Known as the business hub of Phuket and home to Old Town, this neighborhood is on the southeast end of the island. If you’re not much for beaches, consider soaking up some of the Portugese influenced culture, or catch a ferry to Phi Phi or Krabi from the port.
Phuket Travel Tips:
Phuket Travel Tips: Tipping
Tipping in Thailand is not customary but is always appreciated. At restaurants, check your bill, there is sometimes a 10% service charge already added. At hotels, leave $1-$2 per day and for taxi drivers, round up.
Phuket travel tips: Money
Thailand’s national currency is the Baht, and is currently exchanging at 35.02THB to $1USD. Credit cards are accepted at most places and ATM machines are readily available.
Phuket travel tips: Insurance
Traveling to Phuket is exciting and safe, but you never know when some good travel insurance could come in handy. World Nomads offers the best coverage in the business, is affordable, and is quick to act should something go wrong. For more info, check out our recent World Nomads blog post.