Located on the Andaman Sea, Phuket Island is the largest island in Thailand. The epicenter of mass tourism in the country, Phuket is famous for its resorts, the best in quality the price of the country, and its great hotels. This mass tourism means that it is no longer the backpacker destination of the 70s when the island was almost untouched. Even so, thanks to its large size, in Phuket you can find incredible and quiet corners. If you still do not know the things to see in Phuket, we leave you with this list of the most famous places you should try not to miss if you visit the island.
Things to see in Phuket
1. Feeling in paradise on the Phi Phi islands
It sounds weird to start talking about Phuket telling you to leave the island. But the Phi Phi islands are amazing. Despite being very touristy, they were a great surprise for the beauty of its beaches. We recommend spending at least a couple of days there.
You will have to stay at Phi Phi Don. But the paradisiacal beaches are on the neighboring island Phi Phi Lee. There is Maya Bay, famous for the movie “The beach”. I highly recommend it to get up early, rent a boat, and visit the beaches of Phi Phi Lee very soon. You can swim and snorkel in its turquoise waters almost alone. It takes a couple of hours to get from Phuket to the Phi Phi Islands by ferry.
2. Love or hate the environment of Patong Beach
Patong is the most touristy and lively area of Phuket. It’s where the cheapest accommodations on the island are located. Therefore, its beach is always crowded with people although it is one of the ugliest we have ever walked. The water is very rough and dirty, so it’s not worth going for its beach. The charm of Patong (for some) is its incredible nightlife. Bangla Road is the main street of Patong and is full of bars. After 6 pm the traffic closes, and the atmosphere begins until the early hours of the morning. If you like the party you will enjoy it, but rather the opposite.
3. See the fountain show at the Jungceylon Mall
Another very lively place in Patong is the Jungceylon shopping center. It has many shops and restaurants of all kinds. Of course, the prices are more European than Thai. We recommend that you bring some extra clothes because, as in the whole country, the air conditioning is at full power. Every day at 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. they make a show of fountains, lights and music in front of the large wooden boat that adorns the central patio.
4. Relax in Freedom Beach
If the crowds of Patong do not convince you, there is a totally different beach nearby. Freedom Beach is much quieter and more beautiful. It has a very clear turquoise water and fine sand surrounded by vegetation. To get there you can rent a boat from Patong Beach, take a taxi or just walk for an hour or so. The access is a bit complicated and they also ask you for 200 baht entrance fee, but it ‘s fine if you want to get away from the crowds of Patong.
5. Bathing in the waterfall Kathu
It is not a spectacular waterfall because of its height or strength, but the surroundings are very beautiful. They are a series of small waterfalls that slide over the rocks creating several levels of natural pools. The best time to see the waterfalls in all its splendor is from May to November, the rainy season.
6. Discover the beautiful Phang Nga Bay and visit the famous James Bond Island
The bay of Phang Nga reminded us a lot of in Vietnam. Its greenish water and the rocky islets full of vegetation create a very special landscape. There are dozens of incredible caves created by the erosion of water. In some, you can go into the canoe to observe the roof full of bats sleeping in the dark.
But without a doubt, the most famous part of the bay is James Bond Island, Koh Tapu. He owes his fame to the movie “The Man with the Golden Gun”. The truth is that it is the most touristy and least charming part of the route. But still, it is curious to visit it and remember scenes from the film shot there.
7. Meet Karon Beach
Karon beach is one of the most extensive beaches in Phuket. It has become a very popular place among tourists who try to escape the crowds of Patong. Just do not expect a crystal clear sea. There is a swell that prevents 100% enjoyment.
8. Enjoy the sun at Kata Beach
South of Karon beach you will find Kata. We think it is the best place to stay on the island if you are looking for a lively place but not as much as Patong. Kata beach is much quieter and cleaner. In addition, there are many options for accommodation, restaurants and shops. From May to October is an excellent place for surfers because the sea is usually moved. During the rest of the year, it is great to enjoy the sun and take good baths.
If you are looking for more tranquility, you can get closer to Kata Noi. It is a smaller beach surrounded by some of the most exclusive resorts and restaurants in the area.
9. Go up to the famous viewpoint of Karon and see the three beaches
One of the most characteristic photos of Phuket are the beaches of Karon, Kata and Kata Noi seen from above. No drone is needed, just go up to the Karon viewpoint. It is reached in about 10 minutes by car from Kata beach. You can also take a good hike up an hour. Of course, better early in the morning to avoid the suffocating heat.
10. Hallucinate with the Great Buddha, a must visit in Phuket
On one of the hills of Phuket stands a huge 45 meter white Buddha. Construction began in 2004 thanks to popular donations. Today you can still contribute a few bahts to put a piece of marble in the Buddha. The views from above are beautiful: there are several beaches and the sea in the background.
Admission is free. It is necessary to cover knees and shoulders to visit it. But you do not have to worry about wearing proper clothes because at the entrance they lend you sarongs to cover you. To get there, a vehicle is essential: a motorcycle or taxi.
To end our list of things to do in Phuket we recommend the Khao Sok National Park to continue with the route. It is not on the island, but about 150 kilometers to the north. But the trip is worth it to enjoy a spectacular natural environment of the tropical jungle. Taking a raft ride on the lake, strolling along its trails in search of waterfalls or exploring its caves are some things you can do.