Phuket, Thailand: An Ultimate Travel Guide
10 mins read

Phuket, Thailand: An Ultimate Travel Guide

Phuket, Thailand’s largest island, has so much to offer. Known for its beaches but home to everything from rainforests, to wildlife, to culture and food it’s the perfect choice for a relaxing getaway. I spent 10 wonderful days exploring the island and have put together a (hopefully helpful) guide if you’re planning a trip to this beautiful part of the world. I’ve also included links to my more detailed posts on certain places in the guide for further information if you need it.

Contents

  1. Contents
  2. Important Information on Phuket
    1. Time Zone, Language & Currency
    2. Getting Around Phuket
    3. Length of stay needed in Phuket
  3. Things to Do in Phuket
    1. North Phuket
      1. Khao Phra Thaeo National Park
      2. Bang Pae Waterfall
      3. Phuket Elephant Sanctuary
    2. Central Phuket
      1. Phuket Old Town
      2. Wat Chalong
      3. Island Hopping Day Trips
      4. Blue Elephant (& Other Food Experiences)
    3. South & West Phuket
      1. Big Buddha
      2. Beaches
      3. Spas & Massages
      4. Nightlife
  4. Where to Stay in Phuket
    1. Como Point Yamu
    2. Six Senses Yao Noi

Important Information on Phuket

Time Zone, Language & Currency

The time zone in Thailand is GMT +7hrs. Thai is the national language, but English is widely spoken. Other popular languages across the island include Chinese and Russian. The currency is the Thai Baht and always have cash as many smaller shops and restaurants do not take card.

Getting Around Phuket

Lots of people hire scooters to get around Phuket. Not me. I crash cars often enough, and so a scooter would be a death trap of an idea. Instead we mainly used taxis to get around (the app is called Grab), and they were cheap and easy. There are also local buses that visit most of the main tourist sites. They are also fun to ride on, having no doors or seatbelts as you hurtle around.

Length of stay needed in Phuket

At least 4 days. To do everything in this guide, you need a week. I spent 10 days here but had 3 days of doing absolute sweet nothing.

Onboard a traditional boat in Phang Nga Bay

Things to Do in Phuket

Phuket is Thailand’s largest island, covering an area roughly 50km by 20km. The island is split in to a number of areas and whilst many visitors pick a beach and stick to it, that’s a shame because there is so much more to see and do here. We moved around between hotels giving us a chance to see each side of the island.

North Phuket

Khao Phra Thaeo National Park

Whilst Phuket is known for its beaches, we actually started by visiting the island’s rainforest. Khao Phra Thaeo is the last remaining evergreen rainforest on the island of Phuket, and is around 20km2. There are many trails around the National Park, but we chose to hike the waterfall trail, which was beautiful, if very very hot.

Bang Pae Waterfall

The most famous waterfall in all of Phuket lies within the National Park, so even if you decide not to do the hike (it is heavy going in the heat), then you can visit just to see the waterfalls. It’s the perfect place to take a dip and cool off!

Phuket Elephant Sanctuary

Full post: HERE

PES is a 30 acre site that takes in elderly and disabled elephants to give them a final place free of ‘performing’ for tourists or working in the logging industry, which is all too common in Thailand. This is still a tourist attraction (these elephants can’t be put back in the wild as they wouldn’t survive after years of abuse), but the PES doesn’t let you touch the elephants – just walk around and view them, plus feed them. I’d much rather spend my tourist dollars on this than anything exploitative.

The closest you can get to the elephants!

Central Phuket

Phuket Old Town

Whilst Phuket’s old town is small, it’s really worth spending at least half a day exploring. The beautiful Sino-Portuguese architecture alone makes it really picturesque for a stroll. Also be sure to take in the art work down Soi Romanee, as well as pay a visit to the Phuket Thaihua Museum to learn about the history of the island.

Wat Chalong

Whilst Phuket has dozens of temples to choose for a visit, Wat Chalong is the most famous. It is dedicated to two monks who led the local citizens in fighting against the Chinese rebellion in 1876, and their knowledge of herbal medicine helped the injured. The site is full of multiple temples, and you must have your shoulders and knees covered, plus remove your shoes, to enter. We spent around 1.5hrs at the site as there is lots to see.

Island Hopping Day Trips

Full post: HERE.

Phuket is close to some of the most beautiful islands in all of Thailand, making it the perfect base from which to explore. From the east coast of the island, you could choose to head in to Phang Nga Bay (the famous home of James Bond Island), the Phi Phi Islands (of Leonardo Dicaprio’s The Beach fame). We chose Phang Nga Bay and explored multiple islands on a day trip there.

Blue Elephant (& Other Food Experiences)

Blue Elephant is one of the most famous restaurants in Phuket. It’s situated in an old colonial mansion, and we visited for lunch one day. The food is out of this world amazing – and the Pina Colada out of a coconut wasn’t bad either.

Phuket central is also the place to eat your way around town. Food tours are a must-do, and the street food is truly delicious. We particularly loved the banana Thai roti. To be honest, I spent most of my 10 days eating and I don’t regret a second of it!

South & West Phuket

Big Buddha

Perhaps the most famous landmark in Phuket, Big Buddha is a must visit. The Buddha sits atop Nakkerd (snake) Hill, and it’s said the snakes protect the Buddha. It’s a steep ride up to the top (and past some really questionable and sad elephant riding and feeding stations) but at the top there’s also some amazing view points as well as the Buddha!

Beaches

West Phuket has some of the islands most famous beaches. Kata is perhaps the most well known, alongside Karon beach which is just next door and Freedom Beach which is its (slightly) quieter neighbour. You could easily spend days relaxing on the beaches, but we decided there were far too many people in this area and actually headed to Banana Beach and Naiyang Beach which were much quieter for the day.

One of the many beaches accessible from Phuket

Spas & Massages

There are amazing spas all over Phuket but you can’t come to Thailand and not have a Thai massage. A particularly amazing spa lies on the west coast of the island – Infinite Luxury Spa at Kata Rocks, and lots of the islands also have amazing spas, often in little thatched huts like the one I visited.

Nightlife

The west part of the island is also where you want to be if you’re looking for the best nightlife and partying. Bangla Road is the most famous area for this, but I honestly can’t think of anything worse than surrounding myself with a load of drunk people in bars when I could be having a nice meal and cocktails on a private beach (I’m just too old and boring), so I steered well clear. It’s the only item in this guide which I didn’t visit, and I won’t be rectifying that.

Where to Stay in Phuket

There are so many options all over Phuket to cater to everyone. From hostels to luxury resorts, there’s something to suit everyone’s budget. Generally prices are much cheaper in South East Asia than in Europe/North America meaning more bang for your buck. I was also lucky enough to have a couple of free nights offered to me via Instagram, so we were able to stay 5* all the way, in the following 2 hotels.

Como Point Yamu

Full post: HERE

We first stayed in a beautiful Pool Suite at Como Point Yamu for 4 nights. The hotel was wonderful, and provided good access to the National Parks and animal sanctuaries in the north of the island.

The lobby at Como Point Yamu

Six Senses Yao Noi

Full post: HERE.

Our second hotel was the Six Senses Yao Noi, where we stayed for 6 nights. It was out of this world AMAZING. I have been lucky enough to stay in many beautiful hotels in my time, but this was something special. I can’t rave about it enough. Situated within Phang Nga Bay, it’s perfectly located for all those island hopping day trips.

The infinity pool at Six Senses Yao Noi

So what do you think of Phuket? Would you want to visit one day? We had the absolute best time in this perfect little corner of the world and would recommend it to anyone looking for a luxury getaway with lots to do on the doorstep. Hope you enjoyed the tour – stay safe and happy travelling!

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