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Located on the Andaman Coast, Thailand’s largest island is so diverse it often attracts visitors for weeks at a time. Offering a plethora of beaches, an interesting history, fantastic wildlife and unique excursions, it’s easy to see why it’sa popular destination to visit during a tour of Thailand. Whether you’re on a tour or enjoying a relaxing beach holiday in Phuket, we’ve selected 10 of the best things to do - so you can really make the most of your free time.
Situated in the stunning Ao Phang Nga National Park, Phang Nga Bay’s stunning scenery has earned it rave reviews from tourists. A popular day trip, this bay boasts incredible limestone karsts that jut out of the water and famous spots such as James Bond Island and Koh Panyee. Famed for its appearance in the James Bond film ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’, James Bond Island offers breathtaking natural scenery with secret lagoons, incredible caves and clear, turquoise water. The neighbouring island of Koh Panyee is home to a small ‘floating’ fishing village that was built on stilts by Indonesian fishermen and is often combined with a visit to James Bond Island.
Stretching eight kilometres, Bang Tao is one of the largest beaches in Phuket, and its surrounding area is renowned for its glamorous atmosphere. Located on the west coast of the island, the unspoilt white sand and lack of tourists make the beach a great spot for unwinding. Nearby, there are plenty of luxury hotels, stylish beach clubs, high-end restaurants and trendy bars. You’ll also find a choice of spas if you want to indulge even further.
This highly-rated elephant sanctuary in northeast Phuket offers visitors the chance to view and interact with elephants in a natural environment. Owned by a Swiss couple who opened the sanctuary to assist the plight of elephants in Thailand, you’ll get insight into the daily life of these majestic animals, and get to interact with them when they are eating or bathing. When you’re not enjoying elephant fun, the sanctuary has stunning views of both beaches and jungles, which you can appreciate at your own pace.
Located on the southeast coast of Phuket, this distillery gives rum fans the chance to go behind-the-scenes and discover how one of the world’s finest rums is created. A popular excursion with tourists on holiday in Phuket, the distillery boasts a beautiful upmarket setting, and visitors can enjoy plenty of rum samples accompanied by information about Chalong Bay Rum’s fascinating history. After the tour, you can unwind at the onsite bar, and there are plenty of rum-based souvenirs available.
Accessible by longtail boat during the high season (December to June) this hidden beach is one of the most beautiful in Phuket and boasts fantastic reviews from prior visitors. Upon arrival, you’ll find soft white sand and a tropical setting surrounded by hills and thick jungle. Due to its location, the beach is relatively quiet and its beautiful scenery and shallow waters within credible snorkelling opportunities make it well worth a visit.
Known as Toh Sae Hill with locals, Monkey Hill is one of the highest points in Phuket and provides magnificent views across the city and beyond. The peak can be reached by foot (two-hour round trip) or by car/tuk-tuk at certain times of the day, and after just a few hundred metres you can expect to see macaque monkeys. Many tourists bring fruit or nuts to feed the monkeys, but be sure to exercise caution, as they are wild animals after all! The peak of Monkey Hill is a particularly popular spot for visitors who want to view the sunset over the surrounding mountains - be sure to bring your camera.
Known locally as Naka Market this vibrant night market is a popular haunt with both locals and tourists. Here you’ll find a dedicated food section, with hot buttered corn on the cob, spicy meats, fishcakes, exotic fruit and if you’re feeling brave, deep-fried insects. There are also plenty of options if you wish to pick up a souvenir for your loved ones back home - hand carvings, religious antiques, bags, jewellery and accessories aplenty. You’ll also find bargain sunglasses and beach accessories, in case you forgot to pack any essentials. The market is open from 4-9 pm on Saturdays and Sundays and arriving early to avoid the crowds is recommended.
Only accessible via a five-minute boat ride from Leam Hin Pier in the east of the island, these floating restaurants are perched on several wooden rafts and offer basic dining, with beautiful sea views and delicious, fresh seafood. An excellent choice if you’re looking for a unique place to dine during your Thailand holiday, upon arrival, you’ll get the chance to walk on the planks between the seafood enclosures, and choose exactly what it is you want to eat from the freshly caught produce. Popular dishes include oysters with chilli and lime, deep-fried soft-shell crab and roasted shrimp.
This picturesque, historical quarter of Phuket is home to museums, boutique shops and old buildings with colonial Chinese and Portuguese influences. Steeped in heritage, be sure to visit Soi Rommannee, where you’ll find brightly-painted vintage buildings that have been converted into shops, guesthouses and cafes. There are also a handful of museums to explore, and inviting bars that offer a more tranquil evening out in comparison to some of Phuket’s party spots.
The most southerly point on Phuket, Promthep Cape offers spectacular views and a fantastic place to catch the sunset. One of the islands most photographed locations, there is a hilltop carpark where most visitors stand to watch the sunset. If you would rather take a seat and enjoy a meal as you soak up the atmosphere, then Promthep Cape Restaurant has plenty of tables and offers gorgeous views.