Phuket Destination Guide

Filed under Destination Guides, Thailand

Words: Gary Walsh

There is a yin and yang to Phuket, Thailand’s most popular beach destination. On the west coast, the endless string of gorgeous white sand beaches is swept by rhythmic waves rolling in from the Andaman Sea. In the east, the beaches are miserly, barely worthy of the name, and sometimes pushed into the sea by mangrove forests until the tide goes out and the sand flats extend to the horizon. It makes for gentle swimming and glorious sunrises. In between is a landscape of mountains, rivers and lush tropical forests, as well as a surprising Sino-Portuguese heritage that reaches its zenith at delightful Phuket Town. Phuket offers a beach holiday that is much more than an excuse to laze on the sand, surf or swim. There is architectural beauty and cultural diversity rare in this part of the world, with experiences as varied as the simple pleasures of mesmerising sunsets and the eye-popping realities of Patong’s naughty-and-nice nightlife. And Phuket is a jumping off point for the dazzling karst limestone regions of Phang Nga Bay and Phi Phi, where you’ll discover the imprint of James Bond and Leonardo Di Caprio.

Must do

The beaches

The necklace of beaches along Phuket’s west coast is as beautiful and varied as any stretch of sand in Asia. Patong, Kamala, Karon and Kata are busy and lined with umbrellas and loungers, while Surin, Mai Khao, Nai Harn and Laem Singh are more sedate and peaceful. Rent a car to explore their beauty at leisure, dropping in and dropping out as you soak up their charms.

Sundown at Promthep Cape

Is sunset viewed from Phromthep Cape on Phuket’s southern tip among the world’s most beautiful? Many say so, and it’s hard to argue as the sun disappears over a silver sea sprinkled with mysterious islands and pleasure boats sail back and forth.

Patong nightlife

Soi Bangla, which runs between Patong beach and Rat-U-Thit Road, is the epicentre of nightlife. While some is not for the faint-hearted, the main drag offers harmless voyeuristic entertainment. There are scores of open-air beer bars and a scattering of go-go clubs, and halfway along, preening ladyboys teasing and dancing on a podium stage.

Day trips to Phang Nga and Phi Phi

While Phuket’s beaches are lovely, Phang Nga Bay and Phi Phi offer the spectacular setting of limestone islands erupting from the ocean. Visit ‘James Bond Island’, which featured in The Man With the Golden Gun or Phi Phi’s Maya Bay, the centrepiece of The Beach. Day trips are easily organised from your resort.

Exploring Phuket Town

The town’s unique heritage – a mix of Thai, Chinese and Portuguese – is best expressed in its delightful architecture. There are traditional shophouses, private homes and historic mansions, many of them beautifully restored and treasured. This is a place for a relaxed, aimless walking tour through the compact Old Town.

National parks

Despite its development, especially along its western shores, Phuket retains a substantial amount of untouched rainforest and wilderness. The best-known national park is Khao Phra Thaew, home to two lovely waterfalls, Bang Pae and Ton Sae, as well as walking trails and wildlife. At Sirinath National Park you can enjoy pristine beaches as well as a mangrove environment.

Cooking lessons

Thai cuisine is one of the world’s most distinctive and flavoursome, and there are plenty of opportunities to learn some of its secrets. Many hotels offer lessons led by senior chefs, but the best-known schools are the Blue Elephant Cooking School, based at Phuket Town’s Phra Pitak Chinpracha mansion, and at the renowned Boathouse at Kata Beach. Best part is that you get to eat what you create.

Big Buddha

The Big Buddha is what it says – a whitewashed 45m-tall giant covered in Burmese marble sitting on the spine of the islands between Chalong and Kata. It is so large and so striking that it can be seen from much of Phuket, but its site also offers a fabulous panorama of the southern area of the islands, with views over Phuket Town, Kata, Karon and Chalong Bay. Remember to dress conservatively.

Wat Chalong

Phuket’s biggest and most beautiful Buddhist temple is about 8km south of Phuket Town. Its two most impressive structures are the 60m-tall chedi, or stupa, which can be climbed to three different levels and contains a fragment of bone of the Buddha, and the central temple, which Thais traditionally visit to make merit. In sybaritic Phuket, this is a place of calm and contemplation.

Rang Hill

On an island with more than its share of spectacular viewpoints, Rang Hill is a standout. Rising above Phuket Town, it offers views over the town, the south and east coasts and even some offshore islands. The height means you will often enjoy invigorating breezes. It is also superb at night when Phuket Town is lit up.


With so much glorious coastline to show off, Phuket has some of Thailand’s most beautiful beach properties. Rooms with a view are almost impossible not to find at Phuket’s luxury resorts. Private pool villas are something of a specialty here, and Thai hospitality and service are rightly celebrated.

Thavorn Beach Village Resort & Spa

One of the origanl Phuket resorts located in Kamala. Choose from a wide range of onsite activities, dining options, and such holiday favourites such as beach football, volleyball and water polo, batik painting, and Thai cooking classes to truly embrace the local culture during your stay. Rejuvenate the mind, body and spirit with a daily program of holistic wellness activities such as Yoga, Muay Thai (Thai Boxing) or Tai Chi. The fitness center has the best views in Kamala overlooking Nakalay Bay.


Just 15 minutes from Phuket International Airport on the peaceful northwest coast, Trisara is one of the island’s most exclusive resorts, with 48 ocean-facing private villas and a range of two- to six-bedroom residences. All rooms have private pools.

The Shore at Katathani

Set on lovely Kata Noi beach, The Shore has 35 seaview pool villas, eight garden-view pool villas and five two-storey pool villas. Guests can enjoy the serenity – no children under 12 allowed – but still access the facilities of sister hotel Katathani Phuket Beach Resort.

Katathani Phuket Beach Resort

Guests can choose from beachfront suites in the Thani wing, or the tropical setting of rooms in the Bhumi wing. The resort offers six pools and three jacuzzis, as well as four pools just for children. It’s like a self-contained village, with shops, a mini-market and even a health clinic.

Amari Phuket

A rare haven of peace on Patong beach, the Amari sits at the southern end of the bay, far enough from all the action to ensure a sense of serenity, but close enough to be just minutes from the hustle and bustle. It has 380 guestrooms and suites, and the renowned La Gritta restaurant.

Andara Resort and Villas

Situated on Kamala beach on the west coast, Andara offers both pool villas with three to seven bedrooms, and suites with one to four bedrooms. The villas have private infinity pools. Silk restaurant is highly regarded, as is the resort spa.

Point Yamu Resort by Como

Views over Phang Nga Bay are a highlight of this east coast resort on the tip of Cape Yamu. There are 79 rooms and suites as well as 27 pool villas. Perfectly situated for exploration of the Andaman Sea’s highlights, Phang Nga and the Phi Phi islands.

Indigo Pearl

The concept of this northern Phuket property recalls the days of tin mining on the island. There is a range of suites and villas, including one- and two-bedroom pool villas with private lap pools, saunas and steam rooms. The resort has three pools, two adults only.

Vijitt Resort

A lovely east coast property, the family-owned Vijitt offers a range of deluxe and pool villas in a lush tropical setting on Chalong Bay. Baan Vijitt restaurant is in a classical Sino-Portuguese house, while V Spa, overlooking a serene valley, is among Phuket’s best.

Anantara Mai Khao Phuket Villa

Mai Khao is Phuket’s longest beach and is fringed by the wilderness of Sirinath National Park. The resort has one-, two- and three-bedroom pool villas and residences, and four restaurants to choose from. Anantara Spa offers six luxurious treatment suites.

Cape Panwa Hotel

One of Phuket’s earliest luxury hotels, Cape Panwa’s setting near the southern tip of the island is quite magical. There is a range of suites and villas, two pools, five restaurants, five bars and a lovely beach. The resort can also arrange yacht charters.


Given its over-supply of beautiful beaches, dining with a view in Phuket is desirable and eminently practical. In recent years, government crackdowns have seen a lot of al fresco beach restaurants and bars forcibly closed, but you can still eat well within sight of the sea as well as inland.

Mom Tri’s Kitchen at Villa Royale

A Phuket institution overlooking Kata Noi beach. This is fusion food at its best, with Thai and western dishes co-habiting happily. The restaurant is known also for its impressive 700-label wine cellar. On the pricey side.

Kopitiam by Wilai

Terrific Thai and Peranakan food in the heart of old Phuket Town, with an emphasis on home-style cooking. While the building is relatively new, the style and decor recalls Phuket Town’s Chinese heritage, with photos of old Phuket adorning the walls.

Tunk-ka Cafe

Rang Hill overlooks Phuket Town, 140m above the city, and the views are as good as the food. Mostly traditional Thai, with curries, pad thai, steamed sea bass and chicken with cashew nuts among the recommended dishes.

Lock Tien Food Court

You can find great street food all over Phuket, but this small hawker-style place in Phuket Town makes it easy. There are about a dozen food carts to choose from, with hokkien noodles the go-to dish. Open11am-6.30pm only.

Sea Hag

A Patong institution – especially among the gay community, but welcoming of everyone – Sea Hag’s Thai food, in particular its seafood, is among the best you’ll find in touristy Patong. There are Italian and international dishes on the menu too.

Sam’s Steaks & Grill

Located at Patong’s Holiday Inn Resort, this is an expat favourite. There is an open-air section as well as an air-conditioned lounge. Steaks are the highlight, with other grills including rack of lamb on the extensive menu. 

Trisara Seafood

Even if you’re not staying at the resort, Seafood is worth a visit. As the name suggests, the focus is on quality seafood, with dining on an outdoor terrace by the beach or in an air-conditioned indoor section.


Situated right on the sands of Kata Beach, the Boathouse is perennially named as among Phuket’s finest restaurants. There is a mixture of classical Thai and French cuisine, while the cellar houses about 6500 bottles of wine.

Blue Elephant

The setting here, in the colonial grandeur of the 100-year-old former governor’s mansion, matches the splendour of the food. Royal Thai cuisine is the focus, with such dishes as black chicken green curry and fresh lime sea bass. Also home to a renowned cooking school.


To say that Phuket has its fair share of bars is stating the obvious. The problem is that many of the drinking spots around the island, especially in the main towns, are designed with more than just imbibing in mind. Many of the nicest bars are attached to restaurants or are part of luxury hotels.

Aussie Bar

You wouldn’t expect to find classy along Patong’s Soi Bangla, but the Aussie Bar is decent enough to label itself as family friendly. If you’re hankering to see some sports from home, this is the place to be. And it’s hassle-free, another rare experience on Bangla.

Le Versace

This is mostly a restaurant, but the bar shares the fabulous view over Patong. There are open and covered sections to the bar, which features an impressive cocktail menu. As the name suggests, the décor is on the sumptuous – some might say gaudy – side.

Joe’s Downstairs

At Kalim Bay, overlooking Patong, this is a gorgeous spot for a sundowner. Joe’s is right on the rocks, just a metre or so above the waves, and its all-white décor is suitably dazzling. The wine list is of particular note.


Another restaurant that doubles as a bar, Boathouse sits on the sands at pretty Kata beach. The rooftop Sunset Lounge is the place for cocktails, while the Beachfront Bar offers 32 wines by the glass as well as cocktails and a wide range of beers.

Hock Hoe Lee

Hock Hoe Lee was established in the late 1950s mainly as a supplier of coffee to workers in the tin industry. Later it developed its own range of teas, before returning to the roasting and promotion of coffee. Enjoy it on the spot, or take home a bag of beans.

Chalong Bay Distillery

The distillery produces Thailand’s only domestic rum. It’s good enough to have won several international awards and is now exported to 11 countries. You can see the production process and then repair to the bar for a tipple. The cocktails are highly recommended.

Wassa Homemade Bar

High above Patong, and with a sweeping view of the city and bay, Wassa enjoys cool breezes on even the hottest Phuket days. Don’t expect fancy cocktails – this is more a beer, spirits and fruit juices kind of a place.

Siam Supper Club

The best place for a drink near the Laguna Phuket complex, Siam Supper Club’s long bar is the centerpiece of this clubby place. It’s stylish and jazzy, with live music some nights. There is also a spectacular range of ‘reserve’ wines, including Grange.

Quip Sky Bar

Sitting above Quip Bed & Breakfast, this is Phuket Town’s first rooftop bar. Without a stunning seascape to rely on, Sky Bar simply offers a charming setting overlooking the old town’s historic buildings. Be aware you’ll need to climb up five floors.

Ska Bar

Bob Marley lives on at the southern end of Kata beach, with the Ska Bar’s (very) relaxed vibe set to a soundtrack of classic reggae music sometimes mixed with hip-hop. Nothing fancy here – just a friendly spot and a colourful setting that includes fire dancers on the beach.


Trying to pick Phuket’s top 10 beaches is a thankless task. With 40 to choose from, someone’s favourite will be forgotten, so here are 10 with something special to offer. They are all on the west coast, listed from north to south – the east is resolutely tidal, and the beaches are sometimes all but non-existent.

Mai Khao

The longest beach in Phuket at about 11kms, and one of the least visited. Hassle-free, it is part of the Sirinat National Park, which accounts for its lack of development and its relative serenity (although it is close to the airport). 

Nai Thon

Another relatively undeveloped beach on the northern part of the west coast, Nai Thon is divided into two by a rocky promontory. The backdrop is of largely untouched forest. Like Mai Khao, swimming is sometimes risky from July to November.


A tiny stretch of lovely sand that is somewhat tricky to find, which is part of its appeal. Lined with coconut palms, and with a couple of longtail boats bobbing offshore should you want to explore further, it’s an idyllic spot.


Favoured by Phuket’s upper crust, Surin is much more developed than those beaches to its north, but still a small village when compared to the likes of Patong and Kamala. High-end hotels and restaurants abound, drawn by the clean sand and the turquoise water.

Laem Singh

Small – just 150m or so in length – and fringed with coconut palms and rainforest, Laem Singh is as picture-postcard as it gets. Because it’s so tiny, it can fill up quickly, even though it’s a little harder to find and to access than many of the larger beaches.


One of the biggies, Kamala is still less frenetic than Patong, even though the village near it has become ever larger. As with elsewhere in Thailand in recent years, beach umbrellas and beach touts have been largely culled, so it remains a pleasant spot.


Yes, Patong is crazy. Yes, the beach is crowded. Yes, it can be a little dirty. However, it is still a beautiful spot, and despite its crowds, it’s long enough to be able to escape the hordes if you’re prepared to walk (or drive) a little. 


Patong, Karon and Kata are Phuket’s most popular beach destinations, and Karon attracts huge numbers of visitors in high season. Despite the significant amount of development, Karon beach retains its charm, and the sands are wide and clean.

Kata Noi

“Little Kata” is a delightful spot just around a headland from the much bigger and brassier Kata beach. While its has a major hotel as its backdrop, the beach feels relatively remote. Like Patong, there are even surfable waves here at times.

Nai Harn

A lovely crescent of sand frames a bay in which yachts enjoy a safe anchorage. There is a classiness here, which may have something to do with the presence of the Royal Thai Yacht Club. The waves roll in gently, and there are restaurants and bars for sunset-watching.


Jim Thompson

The American entrepreneur revived the Thai silk industry in the 1950s and 1960s before disappearing mysteriously in Malaya. The quality of the products sold is exceptional, with scarves, bags, ties, tablecloths and napkins among the most popular items. There are outlets throughout Phuket.

Ban Boran Textiles

The products here are mainly sourced from tribal regions of Thailand, especially Chiang Mai in the north, and neighbouring countries. Bags, silk and cotton shirts shirts, pendants, jewellery and lacquerware are among the quality handicrafts on sale.

Phuket Weekend Market

The Phuket Town weekend market is like a miniature version of Bangkok’s Chatuchak weekend market, but it fires up in the late afternoon, rather than the early morning as in the capital. What can you buy here? It’s easier to list what you can’t – and that’s not much.

Phuket Walking Street

Thalang Road is the charming restored heart of Old Phuket Town, and home to a weekly market  (on late Sunday afternoon) since 2013. There’s food, handicrafts and souvenirs for sale, and even if you don’t buy anything, it’s a fun way to spend a hot evening.


This stands for One Tambon One Product and was the brainchild of disgraced former PM Thaksin Shinawatra, designed to boost craft production in Thailand’s villages. Phuket’s main OTOP outlet is at the end of Soi Bangla. Expect interesting handicrafts, silk and cotton clothes, and more.

Banzaan Market

This neat and tidy market behind Patong’s giant Jungceylon shopping mall is highlighted by fresh food but there are also stalls selling clothes, shoes and other goods, as well as a food court. It’s all very picturesque, and open all day, but really gets going after dark.

Premium Outlet Phuket

You can find copy products all over Thailand – from t-shirts and shoes to watches and handbags. But here it’s all genuine, and at discount prices. The vast majority of what is on sale here is international, but you can also find Thai products.

Phuket Indy Market

This small Phuket Town market operates on Thursday and Friday afternoons and early evenings. There’s live music, and good food and snacks along with a variety of clothes, bags and jewellery. It’s all very low key and relaxed, and popular with local young people.


Buddha statues large and small are the most readily found items here, although there is also a variety of vintage Chinese furniture. There are two outlets of this shop in Bangkok and one in Pattaya. While the Thai government disapproves of the exportation of Buddha images, it is not banned.

Soul of Asia

Here you’ll find works by Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso and Joan Miro, along with some wonderful sculptures and paintings from southeast Asia. Works are both contemporary and antique. The gallery is Dutch-owned and can ship worldwide anything it sells.


Blue Canyon Golf

The two championship courses at Blue Canyon have been hosting major international tournaments since 1994, featuring players such as Tiger Woods, Adam Scott and Ernie Els. The courses were built on the site of an abandoned tin mine surrounded by rubber plantations at the north of Phuket.

Yacht rental

Phuket hosts major yachting regattas during the year – with Race Week and the King’s Cup the main events – and there are many places for enthusiasts to rent a yacht, especially in the south of the island. People can choose a bareboat or a crewed yacht, and overnight or longer rentals are possible.

Phuket Town walking tour

The gorgeous Sino-Portuguese architecture of old Phuket Town rewards a quiet exploration. Begin at Thalang Road and wander along Rasada, Phang Nga, Dibuk and Krabi roads to soak up the local ‘Baba’ culture, which arose from the mixing of Thai and Hokkien Chinese people.

Cable Jungle Adventure Phuket

If ziplining is your thing, this 2000m course through the jungle canopy in the north of the island is ideal. There are 21separate zipline runs, and a maximum height of 50m. Instructors are on hand for guidance and to point out the wildlife.

Khao Phra Thaew National Park

This rainforest park is the best place to get out among nature in Phuket. An 8km-long trail runs between two waterfalls, Bang Pae and Ton Sai, and there are shorter walks around the waterfalls and through jungle areas. Situated in the central north.

Gibbon Rehabilitation Centre

Thailand has an often-shameful record when it comes to endangered species, so this centre that aims to protect and rehabilitate illegally trafficked gibbons back into the wild is a delight. It is volunteer-run, and situated next to Bang Pae waterfall in Khao Phra Thaew NP.

Saphan Hin

This seaside park in Phuket Town is a focus for much of the town’s activities, and particularly busy during festivals. There is a small mangrove forest walkway, a monument to the tin mining era and a walking and jogging track as well as a sport centre and food outlets.

Sirinath National Park

This park at the northern tip of the island comprises jungle and beach scenery. A feature is an 800m walkway through a mangrove forest at Tah Chatchai that offers a chance to enjoy the eco-system and its wildlife. Nai Yang, Nai Thon and Mai Khao beaches are within its boundaries.

Similan Islands

These islands north of Phuket are open for six months of the year during the peak season. The islands themselves are known for their distinctive grey boulders and fine beaches, but the real treat here is the scuba and snorkelling opportunities along its reefs.

Monkey Hill

Get rid of the cobwebs with a challenging hike up Toh Sae Hill in Phuket Town. It’s enjoyable for the views of the town as you climb, and for the macaques that inhabit the jungle. They’re not especially aggressive unless you wave food about.

Arts and culture

A beach-focused holiday destination is unlikely to have a surfeit of cultural attractions, and that is the case with Phuket. However the island has a modest number of commercial offerings as well as some quirky small museums. There’s plenty of live music, much of it hard rock, and a bit of jazz to be found.

Thai Hua Museum

This museum, housed in a lovely Sino-Portuguese mansion, presents a view of Phuket history with a distinct focus on its Chinese influence. It has an interesting exhibit on Phuket Town’s architectural highlights and covers the tin mining years as well as the island’s events and festivals.

Baan Chinpracha

This private house also functions as a museum and gives a wonderful sense of what a traditional Sino-Portuguese mansion of last century looked like. The central open courtyard is reminiscent of Malacca, or even Morocco, with its whitewashed walls and Italian-tiled floor.

No 1 Gallery Phuket

An off-shoot of a major Bangkok art space, this Phuket Town gallery features works by significant Thai and international contemporary artists. Phuket’s art scene is relatively limited and generally commercial, so this gallery is a breath of fresh air.

Phuket Cultural Centre

Situated at Phuket Rajabhat University, this low-key museum spreads over three floors.
It features displays on subjects as disparate as the island’s tin mining history and traditional shadow puppetry, as well as historic battles that shaped Phuket.

Phuket Fantasea

An all-singing, all-dancing, over-the-top extravaganza. Expect gymnasts, acrobats, magicians, buffalo, goats, and elephants … lots of elephants. The story itself – a sort of history of Thailand – is often incomprehensible, so it’s best to surrender to the Vegas-meets-Eurovision vibe.

Palazzo Theatre and Restaurant

An old-fashioned theatre-restaurant that presents a show featuring international acrobats, jugglers, contortionists, magicians and comedians. There is a strong Russian flavour to the show – expect most of the patrons to be Russian.

Simon Cabaret Phuket

Ladyboys – katoeys in Thai – are a significant part of the Thai community, and their place in society, and particularly the entertainment industry, is celebrated in places such as Simon Cabaret. Over-the-top costumes, spectacular plastic surgery, and lip-synching galore.

Siam Niramit

The Phuket version of a popular Bangkok stage show, it presents a technicolour cultural history of Thailand and Thai Buddism. The section on heaven and hell is both gruesome and gripping. The show features more than 100 performers and a host of impressive special effects.

Hard Rock Café

Forget the fake t-shirts; this a genuine Hard Rock Café, situated close to Soi Bangla and the beach in Patong. It opened in 2009 to join properties in Bangkok and Pattaya. There is frequently live music, lots of rock memorabilia, as well as a café and bar. 

Phuket Mining Museum

After Phuket declined as a major trading centre, tin mining became its major source of income. Much of the work was done by Chinese labourers, and this museum celebrates their history and heritage as well as the nuts and bolts of the mining industry.



The Thai New Year is a raucous celebration, with the throwing of water over all and sundry now its main element. Traditionally it was to do with the rice harvest, but now it’s an excuse to get wet and wild. Mind your camera. Patong is the main centre for the excess in Phuket.

Loy Krathong

A much gentler festival than Songkran, Loy Krathong in November is the festival of lights, and involves people of all ages setting small, candlelit paper offerings afloat on any and all bodies of water – dams, rivers, lakes and even the ocean. Simply beautiful.

Race Week

Based at Cape Panwa Hotel, this week of yacht racing is one of two main ocean racing festivals in Phuket, along with the King’s Cup Regatta. Boats from all over the world, but particularly from Asia, gather for a serious, but very social, regatta.

Vegetarian Festival

Participants in this Chinese festival win merit for maintaining a strictly vegetarian diet for 10 days in October, but the celebration has grown to include such things as fire-walking and graphic ritual body-piercing. It takes place near Chinese temples throughout the island.

Bike Week

Upwards of 20,000 bikers from all over southeast Asia descend on Phuket around Songkran time to show off their rides and to enjoy the attendant parties. There’s a lot of focus on big shiny Harley-Davidsons, and ancilliary events such as a beauty pageant and tattoo festival.

Pride Festival

Phuket’s week-long Pride Festival, held in Patong, has echoes of Sydney’s Mardi Gras, with exuberant street parades and beach parties. There’s a serious side, too, with all monies raised being used to support the LGBTI community and AIDS research.

King’s Cup Regatta

This significant international yachting festival is held in December to celebrate the birthday of Thailand’s revered king. The regatta was established in 1987 under the king’s patronage, and now sees events held off Kata Beach on Phuket’s west coast.

Laguna Phuket Triathlon

This November event has become one of the world’s major triathlons since it was first held in the early 1990s, and attracts top international competitors and as keen amateurs. The course is the traditional 1.8km swim, 55km bike ride and 12km run. There is also a 6km fun run.

Por Tor (Hungry Ghost)

This ethnic Chinese festival honours beloved ancestors with offerings of food, candles and flowers at altars of Chinese temples throughout Phuket. There are parades, and special sweets are created to celebrate the festival, held in late August or early September.

Patong Carnival

This carnival marks the beginning of the tourist high season in Phuket, and is held at the beginning of October. It includes a float parade along Beach Rd, music, cultural shows and a food festival. The carnival has been held for the past 30 years.

24 hours

The perfect day in Phuket will incorporate its glorious beaches, wilderness areas, its heritage, viewing points, exceptional cuisine and its famous nightlife. You will need to rent a car, or a car and driver, which any resort can arrange. An alternative would include a daytrip to Phang Nga Bay or the Phi Phi islands.


Begin with breakfast and a refreshing swim, at your hotel – perhaps in your private plunge pool – or at the nearest beach before you pick up your car or greet your driver for the day. Bring your swimming gear and your sunscreen.


Time to explore the beaches of the upper west coast. Drop in and out at will from Mai Khao to Surin, enjoying the water or simply walking along the sand. If it takes your fancy, most beaches offer al fresco massages, which are generally cheap and cheerful.


Cross the island to Khao Phra Thaew National Park. Visit the park’s two waterfalls, Ton Sai and Bang Pae, and take a walk through the rainforest on one of the hiking trails before visiting the Gibbon Rehabilitation Centre.


Head to Phuket Town, and spend an hour or so walking through the historic Old Town to admire its distinctive architecture, stopping in at some of its shops. Lunch at Kopitiam by Wilai before striking out for Rang Hill and its viewpoint.


Visit Wat Chalong, Phuket biggest and most revered temple complex. Climb the chedi, view its statues and murals of the life of the Buddha and see the relic of the Buddha, before making merit in the central temple.


Climb up to the Big Buddha, whose brilliant white marble surface you have seen shining in the sun for most of the day. This is one of Phuket’s most distinctive images, and as well as being impressive in its own right, its site offers fabulous views over the island.


You won’t be alone at sunset at Promthep Cape – it is comfortably the most popular spot to watch the sun go down in Phuket – but when you take in the view you will see why it has such appeal.


Off to Kata for pre-dinner cocktails at the Boathouse before a fine meal at Mom Tri’s. Or vice-versa. If you’re feeling in the mood for something a little more laid back, drop into the Ska Bar for a chilled beer and the chilled vibe.


Patong’s Soi Bangla will be in full flow, so take a walk along its length from Beach Rd, ogling the ladyboys, the working girls and the street entertainment and dropping in for a drink wherever takes your fancy. If you’ve any energy left, hit a nightclub such as Illuzion or the VIP Room. Officially, closing time is 2am, but sometimes that is a little rubbery.

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