Phuket is so big, we’ve split it up into areas, select one of the below for detailed accommodation and food listings in that area. Sights and general overviews for Phuket as a whole can be found via the icons above. Don’t know where to start? Read an overview of Phuket’s different areas.
Use the quick links below to jump to a particular section of our sights and activities coverage for Phuket.
In June 2014, the unusual sight of army troops patrolling the sands of Phuket marked the launch of the newly-installed military government’s effort to clear up its beaches of illegal encroachment and profiteering. Since then, and nearing the end of the first post-coup high season, the beaches of Phuket are home to a limited amount of commercial activity and ongoing wrangling over what should or ... Read more about What is the situation on Phuket's beaches? .
Though its roads are getting busier, Phuket’s west coast yields some awesome sights. Are you up for some craggy cliffs, green hills and wide ocean vistas, with white-sand beaches to rest at along the way? Yes, you might encounter some nutter drivers but the island’s coastal roads are in decent condition, fairly well signed and a joy to drive once you’re accustomed to the traffic ... Read more about Driving Phuket's west coast .
As Thailand’s largest island, Phuket has several sandy beaches that kids bearing buckets and spades will love to visit, but some are better than others. Our ideal family beach has shallow waters and shade, child-friendly activities and easy access to food and drink. With these considerations in mind, here are our top picks for the most family-friendly beaches in ... Read more about Phuket's best family beaches .
Phuket is known for having kilometres-long beaches along its west coast, but sprinkled in between the main beaches are some wee stretches of sand that offer some scenic alternatives. Three of Phuket’s cosiest little beaches are Laemka, Ao Sane and Ya Nui at the island’s southern ... Read more about A trio of tiny Phuket beaches .
If you find yourself in Thailand’s tourist hub Phuket, we’d recommend a visit to Patong beach … if we hated you. Every year squillions of tourists descend on the once glorious two-kilometre sandy expanse, and it shows: the beach is dirty, touts are relentless, the water’s plagued by jet skis, and if you aren’t careful a parasailer may just knock you out from ... Read more about Phuket's secret beaches .
With millions of visitors arriving to Phuket for sun-drenched holidays each year it’s safe to say that there are no hidden beaches left on the island, but Banana Beach comes close. Found on a tiny bay and reached only by longtail boat or a jungle path, Banana Beach offers a peaceful escape from Phuket’s tourist ... Read more about Banana Beach, Phuket .
Ao Chalong is a bustling harbour on Phuket’s southeast coast and one of the island’s main launching points for dive and snorkel trips. Chalong means “celebrate” in Thai, but unlike Patong Beach, its hedonistic west-coast cousin, it’s far from being a party ... Read more about Ao Chalong, Phuket .
Coral Island is an easy 15-minute boat trip away from Phuket’s southeastern coast. Though Coral’s main beach gets busy with day-trippers, if you plan it right it’s possible to enjoy the island in the idyllic glory promised on the ... Read more about Coral Island .
Those in search of a more rustic beach scene on Phuket need look no further than Ao Yon, a small bay on Phuket’s east coast set between Ao Chalong and Ao Makham on Cape ... Read more about Ao Yon, Phuket .
Standup paddling (SUP) has become a popular water sport around the world, and Phuket is no exception. Here’s where you can try it ... Read more about Standup paddling (SUP) in Phuket .
Phuket is a hilly island with several spots offering panoramic views over beaches and out across the Andaman Sea. More adventurous travellers may try to hike and hack their way up to the top of Phuket’s hills through the jungle, but several lookout points can be reached easily by ... Read more about Viewpoints in Phuket .
The Big Buddha of Phuket is a gleaming white 45-metre-tall statue that sits atop the highest peak of the Nakkerd Hills in Ao Chalong. Visible from many places across the south of the island, the Big Buddha’s become one of the most popular attractions on Phuket since construction started on it in the early 2000s. It’s known to most as the Big Buddha because the statue’s official name ... Read more about Big Buddha, Phuket .
With a string of sandy beaches lining its west coast and several panoramic viewpoints, finding a good spot to watch the sunset in Phuket is easy. But here are some of our favourite places around the island to sit back and watch the day wind ... Read more about Best spots to watch the sunset in Phuket .
If you’re looking for a leafy-green alternative to the beach, Rang Hill in Phuket Town offers a pleasant place to cool down in the shade of its pavilions and stately ... Read more about Rang Hill, Phuket Town .
Intricate Chinese shrines, steaming bowls of noodles, candy-coloured shophouses dripping with red lanterns. The Old Town district of Phuket Town is a must for those who want to delve into the food-and-culture scene of the island. A self-guided walk around the area could take just a couple of hours to a whole day, depending on how long you linger at the shops, sights and delicious food stops along ... Read more about Phuket Town walking tour .
Pick up any guidebook, leaf to the Phuket Town section and I guarantee you’ll see the words “Sino-Portuguese architecture”. To dig a bit more deeply than a guidebook does into what this actually means, I spent a half day with Kritchaya (Chaya) Na Takuathung of Phuket Heritage Trails and discovered that there’s a lot more to Phuket’s history than a bunch of pretty ... Read more about Phuket heritage walk: Car parts to saris .
With white sands lining its coast and a neon-lit nightlife, Phuket certainly lives up to its reputation as a boozy, beachy holiday spot. But as Thailand’s largest island with 543 square kilometres to explore, Phuket has plenty to offer travellers hoping to delve into its culture, food scene and lesser-known places. Here’s a guide to help you hone in on the must-see highlights if you have only ... Read more about One week in Phuket .
The Ao Chalong Yacht Club, set at the edge of Ao Chalong along Phuket’s southeast coast, is a great spot to learn the ropes of sailing, enjoy some waterfront dining and mingle with some of the region’s most skilled and salty ... Read more about Ao Chalong Yacht Club .
Most water sports activities in Phuket are played on the sea but a few choices inland offer plenty of wet and wild action as well. The island is home to two wakeboarding centres and a flowboarding ... Read more about Wakeboarding and flowboarding in Phuket .
Sure, the best place to cool down in Phuket is in the Andaman Sea surrounding the island, but those looking to take a dip in a swimming pool have plenty of options, too. Many resorts around Phuket will let outside guests use their pool for a fee, or even for free if they dine there, and Phuket’s public pools offer a cheap retreat from the heat. Here’s just a sampling of what’s on ... Read more about Swimming pools in Phuket .
Phuket has a good choice of restaurants from local cheap eats to swanky beach clubs, but for those looking to organise their own meal the island has several scenic spots to enjoy a ... Read more about Picnic spots .
With dozens of beaches, a wide choice of hotels and a good mix of cultural and natural attractions, Phuket is one of the most child-friendly places to travel in ... Read more about Phuket for kids .
If you’re looking for the heart of Phuket’s Thai Buddhist community, Wat Chalong is the place to go. The 200-year-old temple has grown in size and stature in tandem with Phuket’s development, and it’s now the island’s busiest and biggest ... Read more about Wat Chalong .
The Old Town historical district of Phuket Town is home to a number of strange little nooks and crannies to explore, none stranger perhaps than the Thavorn Museum in the Thavorn Heritage Hotel on Rassada ... Read more about Thavorn Museum .
Phuket’s fortunes are now made in tourism but in the past it was home to a thriving tin mining industry. The Phuket Mining Museum, found in a rather remote area of Kathu district, tells the story of the island’s tin-powered ... Read more about Phuket Mining Museum .
Though it’s a small and humble attraction, the Thalang National Museum reveals a side of Phuket that’s unknown to most visitors coming here for their sun-drenched tropical ... Read more about Thalang National Museum .
You’re coming to Phuket for its beaches, right? Most visitors to the island aim for its coastline without ever delving into its culture, but for those with the time and interest, Phuket’s museums offer a good, if sometimes quirky, look into its ... Read more about Phuket museums and historic sights .
Phuket is a multicultural island with a large ethnic Chinese community. The Thai Hua Museum chronicles the journey of Chinese migrants to Phuket during the 1800s tin-mining era and their subsequent influence on the region’s culture and ... Read more about Thai Hua Museum .
Tonsai waterfall is a modest sized cascade found in the thick jungle setting of Khao Phra Thaeo National Park in Phuket’s northeastern interior. It’s the lesser known of the park’s two waterfalls, with far more people visiting Bang Pae waterfall and the attached Gibbon Rehabilitation Project on another side of the ... Read more about Tonsai waterfall .
Found in the more sparsely populated northeastern interior of Phuket, Bang Pae waterfall is among the more tranquil sights of the island. A cool alternative to the beach, this 16-metre cascade sits within Khao Phra Thaeo National Park, a protected virgin jungle covering about 22 square ... Read more about Bang Pae Waterfall .
Kathu waterfall is more of a trickle than a flow, but if you’re exploring the interior of Phuket its quiet jungly setting makes it worth a ... Read more about Kathu Waterfall .
If you happen to be walking the streets of Phuket’s Kata beach in the evening, you might come across a surprising sight: a lava-spewing volcano surrounded by some fierce-looking prehistoric beasts. This Jurassic-themed scene is home to Dino Park, a mini-golf park and restaurant set along the road that links Kata and Karon ... Read more about Dino Park .
Baan Chinpracha is a stately Sino-Colonial mansion at the edge of Phuket’s Old Town area, and the island’s only historical home we’re aware of where visitors are allowed a peek ... Read more about Baan Chinpracha .
Sang Tham is a small Chinese Taoist shrine in Phuket Town that’s a microcosm of the transformation taking place in the town’s Old Town district. What was once an oft-missed sight hidden away down a narrow lane is now revealed in grand style with an ornate streetside archway topped by lively ... Read more about Sang Tham Shrine, Phuket .
Phuket Art Village is a creative community tucked away down a small lane in Nai Harn at the southern end of Phuket. Home to a diverse and growing collection of home studios and galleries, the village was built from the ground up by the artists ... Read more about Phuket Art Village .
Phuket Aquarium is a modest, government-run attraction but it’s not a bad place to spend an afternoon on the cheap. The aquarium sits on the waterfront in Cape Panwa on Phuket’s east coast, about 10 kilometres from Phuket ... Read more about Phuket Aquarium .
For a chance to sample some cheap and tasty local Phuket food and soak up some Old Town charm, the Lard Yai Sunday Street Market is well worth a ... Read more about Lard Yai Sunday Street Market .
Wander the streets and beaches of Phuket and other tourist destinations around Thailand and you’ll often soon be met by someone trying to sell you a photograph with an exotic animal. The thrill of an encounter with a gibbon, slow loris, iguana or python might add some excitement to someone’s tropical holiday, but what many don’t realise is that these happy snapshots mask a brutal, damaging ... Read more about Gibbon Rehabilitation Project .
Phuket can be a wet place during the southwest monsoon from May through October. But as Thailand’s largest and most developed island, there are plenty of things to do and places to escape to on a rainy day when the beach is not an ... Read more about What to do when it rains on Phuket .
Travellers looking to get away from the crowds of Phuket and see the island’s more traditional, peaceful side are well advised to head east. Off Phuket’s southeast coast lies Ko Siray, a small island with great hilltop views, scenic roads to explore and some good beachfront ... Read more about Exploring Ko Siray, Phuket .
While Phuket’s west-coast beaches are home to ever more modern hotels, swanky beach clubs and sun-baked tourists, Ko Siray on the east coast reveals a lesser-known, more humble side of the island. Just six kilometres from Phuket Town and a world away from the five-star resorts sits Phuket’s largest sea gypsy ... Read more about Ko Siray sea gypsy village .
Well away from the sunset cocktail bars and five-star resorts of Phuket there are untold stories of families in struggle. When families are burdened by poverty, illness, addiction or abuse, it’s often the children who suffer the most. Life sometimes gets tough enough that the family home is no longer safe or secure for a child; in some cases, there is no home for them to go to. This is where ... Read more about Helping Phuket's children in need .
Phuket, like most areas of Thailand, is home to many stray animals in need of care. But visitors returning to Phuket will notice that there are far fewer sad, sickly dogs and cats on the loose than there were a decade ago, thanks in no small part to the tireless work of Soi Dog Foundation in providing medical care, sterilisations and adoptions for the island's ... Read more about Soi Dog Foundation .
When you’ve finished sunbathing and splashing about on the beaches of Phuket, you’ll likely want to shower off the sand and see what else the island has to offer after dark. A lot of what’s on offer is sleaze — though officials would deny this — but here’s a selection of some of the better, family-friendly stuff on ... Read more about Phuket by night .
If you want to recreate the yummy cuisine of Thailand for your friends and family back home there's plenty of opportunities to learn how to fry pad Thai and pound curry paste like a pro. The Thai Cookery School is located at Ko Siray, a 10-minute drive from Phuket Town, and offers a one-day cooking class for 2,500B in a nice beach setting. If you prefer to stay in town, the Blue Elephant Cooking ... Read more about Things to do in and around Phuket Town .
There are a handful of spots across Phuket offering truly spectacular views and the best-known is Promthep Cape near Rawai which is a stop for every tour bus on the island. On a clear day you can see all the way out across the blue waters of the Andaman to Ko Phi-Phi. This is also the best location to watch the sunset. Both Rawai and nearby Chalong are good spots for deep sea fishing charters ... Read more about Other things to do on Rawai .
Phuket is not exactly a top surfing destination but the arrival of the southwest monsoon from May to October kicks up enough waves to enjoy some board-riding ... Read more about Surfing on Phuket .
Surfers are better off heading to Patong for a drink than a wave, as the waves here tend to close out. If you're desperate, try the northern cap of the beach, but you're really better off heading elsewhere on the island -- even if just to Kalim Bay, which is just north of Patong and has a shallow reef with a right hand break. On big days Kalim can be a good option as it's a little sheltered from ... Read more about Things to do on Patong .
The beach is Kamala’s main attraction with plenty to do here aside from lazing on the sands. Take a longtail boat trip to nearby beaches or even just a sunset cruise around the bay. Parasailing and jetski rental are popular here, but, well, try these at your own risk since safety standards are not always up to par on Phuket. Kamala is home to some surfing and SUP boarding with a few surf ... Read more about Things to do in Kamala .
Phuket's northern reaches are home to a number of surfing options. From south to north; The highlight for surfers on Nai Yang is the offshore reef that gets a very good wave when it's working. The problem is it's a bloody long paddle out to it and if the surf's working boats can be a bit unwilling to take you out there. While Mai Khao may be the longest beach on Phuket, it also gets amongst the ... Read more about Things to do in northern Phuket .
So, you’ve discovered the delicious delights of Thai cuisine through your travels, and now you want to learn how to recreate these dishes on your own. Phuket is home to several Thai cookery courses where you can learn the secrets behind those dreamy, creamy curries, spicy salads and tasty stir-fries. Most of the island’s top resorts offer Thai cooking classes, but we were looking for ... Read more about Organic Thai Cooking School .
Ceramic Kitchen in Phuket’s central interior offers little in the way of views, but it serves up an impressive menu and a beautiful, enchanted-garden setting. It’s also a showcase for the colourful ceramics designed by a local family and crafted in the attached ... Read more about Ceramic Kitchen .
The Phuket Vegetarian Festival is a nine-day spectacle of parades, daring acts of self-mortification and avoidance of meat, all in the aim of purifying the body and mind, making merit and paying homage to the nine emperor gods of Chinese ... Read more about Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2014 .
For the Hokkien Chinese community of Phuket, ghostly ancestors are as much a part of a family’s daily life as its living relatives. And occasionally, these ghosts are haunted by hunger. Each year, on first day of the waxing moon on the seventh lunar month, it’s believed that the gates of hell open to give these poor starving spirits a chance to revisit their families and enjoy a ... Read more about Hungry Ghost Festival, Phuket .
With the Songkran New Year celebrated nationwide, April is a festive month in Thailand, Phuket included. But the Phuket party continues to rock past the Songkran days of April 13-15 right to the end of the month with the week-long Phuket Pride gay festival set to run from April 22 to ... Read more about Phuket Pride .
With red lanterns adorning the streets and truckloads of firecrackers at the ready, Phuket is poised to ring in the Year of the Snake with plenty of colour and panache. Phuket’s large ethnic Chinese population, descended from immigrants who flocked to island for the tin-mining trade in the 1800s and early 1900s, means that the island has one of the most festive Lunar New Year celebrations in ... Read more about Chinese New Year in Phuket .
Phuket is the main hub for diving in the Andaman Sea, with dozens of dive shops offering day and live-aboard trips around the region. Competition for customers has resulted in some good deals on offer, but also some over-packed trips of reduced quality, so be careful when selecting an operator. Many of the dive sites on offer are actually in other provinces, but all the daytrips are reachable ... Read more about Phuket Diving Guide .
The Travelfish newsletter is sent out every Monday and is jammed full of free advice for travel in Southeast Asia. You can see past issues here.