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Best Things To Do In Phuket, Thailand

Phuket is an island province located in Southern Thailand known for its beaches, nightlife and cultural sites. Surrounded by the Andaman Sea, it’s a popular tourist destination that’s benefited from the resurgence in international travel, with tourism sector revenue having grown by 966% from 2021 to 2022. Here are the best things to do in Phuket.


Patong Beach, Phuket, Thailand
Patong Beach, Phuket.

Phuket is home to a variety of stunning beaches dotted throughout the island that offer a mix of uninterrupted tranquility or a more touristy vibe, depending on what you’re after. Determining what the ‘best’ beach is, is of course subjective, but often mentioned among the most popular are Patong Beach, Karon Beach and Kata Beach.

Patong Beach is perhaps the most well-known beach in Phuket, buzzing with tourists and surrounded by cafés, restaurants, bars and shops. Located on the western part of the island, Patong Beach’s central area can get crowded. However if you’re looking for some peace and quiet, moving to the northern or southern stretches of the beach can let you enjoy some calm among the bustling energy of Patong.

Karon Beach is another popular beach in Phuket, located in the south-western part of the island and about a 20 minute drive south of Patong Beach. A more ‘relaxed’ alternative to Patong, Karon Beach is a 3km stretch known for its white sand and clear waters, making it an ideal spot for swimming, snorkeling and sunbathing.

Kata Beach is similarly located on the southwest side of the island of Phuket and is just a 5 minute drive south of Karon Beach. It’s quieter and more intimate than its northern counterparts mentioned above with a family-friendly vibe. Palm trees are dotted along the 1.5km curved beach strip, adding to the picturesque setting created by soft, golden sand and turquoise waters. Kata Beach is a great place to grab a sun bed and parasol.

So if you’re planning a short trip to Phuket and you’d like to get some beach time in, it’s worth looking at accommodation around the southwest region of the island, giving you quick access to Patong, Karon and Kata beaches.

Other than being idyllic places to relax, these beaches also offer a variety of water sport and thrill-seeking activities such as jet skiing, parasailing and banana boating. Make sure to take some extra cash with you to the beach if you want to get the adrenaline going. General prices for these activities are as follows, though some bargaining is permitted:

  • Banana Boating: 600 baht per passenger.
  • Parasailing: 1,500 baht for adults, 1,200 baht for kids.
  • Jet skiing: 1,500 baht for 30 minutes (1 passenger), 2,000 baht for 30 minutes (2 passengers), 3,000 baht for 60 minutes (1 or 2 passengers).
A sign in Patong Beach, Phuket, Thailand, displaying water sport activities and prices.
Prices for water sport activities at Patong Beach.
Kata Beach, Phuket, Thailand.
The turquoise waters of Kata Beach.
A view of the sea from Patong Beach, Phuket, Thailand.
Comforted by the shade on Patong Beach.

While Patong, Karon and Kata can provide more than enough sun, sand and waves for your beach fix, there are many more beaches in Phuket that are certainly worth visiting if you have a bit more time on the island. Some other highly rated beaches are Freedom Beach, Nai Harn Beach and Kata Noi Beach.

Bangla Road

Bangla Road, Phuket, Thailand at night.
Bangla Road, Phuket.

Bangla Road is a 400 metre long road running across Central Patong towards Patong Beach. It can best be described as a ‘party road’, scattered with bars, clubs, restaurants, pole dancers, hawkers and street performances. Bear in mind, Bangla Road certainly isn’t for everyone. The vibe can be off-putting for many, and if you’re one of these people, then perhaps it’s best to give Bangla Road a miss. If you’re not too sure about it, it might be worth going for a quick walk along the road to experience the atmosphere. Bangla Road is pretty empty during the day but comes alive at night with a large crowd, music and neon lights.

Bangla Road at night.

Night Markets

Kata Night Market, Phuket, Thailand
Kata Night Market.

If souvenir shopping, bargain hunting and street food is your thing, then you’ll love the night markets in Phuket. Although some items will have a fixed price, bargaining is generally permitted and expected at Phuket’s night markets. Have fun with it and you may come away with a memorable item or two, along with positive memories of how you acquired them. Some popular night markets are:

  • Chillva Market: Located in Phuket Town in the south east of the island, Chillva Market has a lively atmosphere with a great selection of low-priced street food and live music performances.
  • Naka Weekend Market: Sometimes referred to as Phuket Weekend Market, Naka Weekend Market is open every Saturday and Sunday from 4pm – 10pm and is a 5 minute drive from Phuket Town. It has a vibrant atmosphere with a family-friendly feel. With over 500 market stalls, there’s a huge amount of food, shopping and entertainment on offer.
  • Malin Plaza: Located a 10 minute walk from Patong Beach, Malin Plaza is a popular night market where the diverse range of street food and fashion stalls keep people coming back.
  • Kata Night Market: If you want a slightly quieter night market experience, Kata Night Market may be what you’re looking for. Due to its somewhat ‘hidden’ location within a complex of buildings and hotels, it offers a more laid-back shopping and dining market experience.
Kata Night Market, Phuket, Thailand
Kata Night Market offers a more laid-back atmosphere.
Kata Night Market, Phuket, Thailand
Street food at Kata Night Market.

While night markets offer an enjoyable vibe, some people prefer a daytime market experience. It’s worth looking at market opening times to see if there’s an opportunity to get your browsing, shopping and street food fix earlier in the day. For example, Banzaan Fresh Market is open throughout the day but has a specific Morning Market open from 6am – 1pm, offering breakfast, tea & coffee, and authentic Phuket local food.

Banzaan Fresh Market, Phuket, Thailand
Banzaan Fresh Market has a Morning Market with food court seating.

Old Phuket Town

Phuket Baba Museum in Old Phuket Town, Phuket, Thailand at night.
Phuket Baba Museum in Old Phuket Town. Photo by Vaskar Sam on Unsplash.

Old Phuket Town is an ideal place to learn more about Phuket’s culture and history. Located in the south east of the island, its colourful Sino-Portuguese architecture immediately distinguishes it from other parts of Phuket; particularly useful if you’re looking for that perfect Instagram shot! A visit to the free-to-enter Phuket Baba Museum will provide insight about the lifestyle and history of the local Peranakan Chinese community and the Phuket Thai Hua Museum, once a Chinese language school, showcases exhibits related to the cultural diversity of Phuket. Old Phuket Town is a great place to take a leisurely stroll, sample the variety of Thai street food on offer and people watch while relaxing in an independent café.

The Big Buddha

The Big Buddha, Phuket, Thailand
The Big Buddha in South Phuket.

The Big Buddha is an iconic 45 metre tall marble statue situated at the top of Mount Nagakerd in South Phuket. The statue itself is a sight to behold, as are the panoramic views into the Andaman Sea. If you want to boost your step count for the day, you can hike to the top. Otherwise taking a motorbike or taxi is a quicker and less strenuous option. The Big Buddha is a nice spot to do some self-reflection and meditation, while also learning about the history and significance of the statue. There’s no entrance fee and one is expected to dress modestly.

Wat Chalong

Entrance of Wat Chalong temple in Phuket, Thailand
Wat Chalong Temple. Photo by Phakchira Sukcharearn on Pexels.

Wat Chalong, also known as Chalong Temple, is the largest and most visited temple in Phuket. Built in the early 19th century and located in South Phuket, Wat Chalong provides a tranquil environment to take in beautiful architecture, picturesque scenery and Thai culture. Just like at the Big Buddha, there’s no entrance fee and visitors are expected to dress modestly.

Monkey Hill

A monkey resting on a branch at Monkey Hill, Phuket, Thailand.
Monkey Hill in Phuket. Photo by Tony Reid on Unsplash.

Monkeys can be cute, intriguing and mischievous. If you’d like to see them up, close and personal, then Monkey Hill is a good spot to visit. Located on Soi To Chai road in Southeast Phuket, you’ll find plenty of monkeys who are happy to take the food you offer them. As they’ve come to familiarize themselves with the constant flow of visitors, the monkeys will generally keep to themselves unless they’re deliberately harassed. It’s advisable to keep a tight grip on your valuables or leave them somewhere safe, for example, in a van or bus.

At the top of the hill is Monkey Hill Viewpoint, where you can get a stunning view of the surroundings, but it’s not necessary to go all the way to the top if you’ve come to see monkeys. Also along the way is Khao Toh Sae Exercise Park, where you can try some of the exercise machines, hang around with dogs and get a workout in, if you’re not already exhausted from climbing the hill. And another stop on the way up is Monkey Hill Cafe, where you can take a rest, eat delicious Thai food and take in panoramic views of the island. Getting from Monkey Hill Cafe to Monkey Hill Viewpoint takes about 30 minutes by foot.

Promthep Cape

Promthep Cape, Phuket, Thailand
Promthep Cape at the southern tip of Phuket.

Promthep Cape is located at the southern tip of Phuket and is the perfect spot if you want to experience breathtaking views looking out into the Andaman Sea. There are various cafés, restaurants and souvenir stalls nearby, and a lighthouse that casts light beams that can be seen from 39 kilometres away. But the highlights of Promthep Cape are the magnificent views at sunrise and sunset. During the evening in particular, crowds gather to watch the changing colours of the sky, reflected in the Andaman Sea as the scenery generates warm hues and the sun recedes into the horizon.

A view into the Andaman Sea at sunset from Promthep Cape, Phuket, Thailand.
Promthep Cape at sunset.

Dog and Cat Shelters

Dog in Phuket, Thailand
An inquisitive dog in Phuket. Photo by Илья Мельниченко on Unsplash.

Phuket is home to several shelters doing great work to protect street dogs and cats of the island that have previously had no one to look after them. Soi Dog Foundation and Bodhi Dog Rescue and Shelter in particular have positive reputations for looking after their canine and feline residents, and both provide volunteering or visit opportunities for those wanting to help out.

Soi Dog Foundation is a not-for-profit charity located in North Phuket. Volunteers at Soi Dog walk, socialise and play with cats and dogs, engendering trust and progressing their journey on the path to adoption. You also have the opportunity to be a Flight Volunteer, in which you can help an adopted animal get to its new home overseas.

Bodhi Dog Rescue and Shelter is a not-for-profit dog shelter located in North East Phuket. It’s known for the genuine and heartfelt care given to abused and neglected dogs, which are available for adoption locally and overseas. The shelter welcomes volunteers to take dogs for walks, socialise with them and shower them with care.

A dog at Kata Beach, Phuket, Thailand, looking towards the sea.
A dog chilling at Kata Beach, taking in the waves of the Andaman Sea.

Spa & Massage

Thai massage
Getting a Thai massage in Phuket is a great way to relax and rejuvenate.

Thailand is world renowned for its spa and massage offerings, which are a key element in the country’s wellness culture. Phuket has no shortage of spa and massage parlours, which range from luxurious spas in high-end resorts to affordable street outlets for the budget conscious. Before booking, it’s worth checking out reviews and having a quick look at the establishment to see if you’re happy with the variety of treatments, hygiene and costs. Even in some of the more affordable parlours, one can get just as good of a massage as those in higher-priced locations.

Elephant Rehabilitation

Two elephants in Phuket, Thailand.
Friendly elephants in Phuket. Photo by Nick Linnen on Unsplash.

Visiting an elephant sanctuary can be a life-changing and rewarding experience that’ll give you a new appreciation for elephants as intelligent, caring and playful animals. It’s important to distinguish between facilities that exploit elephants and those that treat elephants with care and respect. To ensure you support the latter, one can look at the activities on offer. Avoid places that chain the elephants and attach harnesses for people to ride them. Instead look for sanctuaries where you can feed, bathe, walk with and learn more about the wonders of elephants.

The elephant sanctuaries with positive reputations in Phuket are:

  • Patong Elephant Care
  • Phuket Elephant Care Sanctuary, Kathu
  • Elephant Jungle Sanctuary Phuket
  • Phuket Elephant Nature Reserve
  • Elephant Jungle Sanctuary Phuket (Bang Tao Branch)
  • Elephant Retirement Park Phuket
  • Green Elephant Sanctuary Park
  • Elephant Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Elephant Care Park Nai Dee Phuket

Muay Thai

The entrance to Bangla Boxing Stadium in Patong, Phuket, Thailand
Bangla Boxing Stadium in Patong.

Muay Thai is the national sport of Thailand that’s gained considerable recognition globally as a combat discipline. In Phuket there are several stadiums such as Bangla Boxing Stadium in Patong and Rawai Boxing Stadium in Rawai where you can watch some Muay Thai action. If you happen to be in the vicinity of these stadiums, you may notice a van driving around town making noise in an attempt to promote upcoming events and sell tickets. And if watching Muay Thai isn’t to your liking, there are various Muay Thai gyms dotted throughout Phuket where you can join a class, learn some combat skills and get a workout in.

Ride in a Tuk Tuk

Tuk tuks at Patong Beach, Phuket, Thailand.
Tuk Tuks at Patong Beach.

Phuket is an island consisting of beautiful and diverse scenery. Going for a tuk tuk ride is a nice way to experience local travel, enjoy the breeze and do some sightseeing. Remember to negotiate and agree on a price before setting off.

Tuk tuk at night in Patong, Phuket, Thailand
Some towns are transformed at night and worth exploring by tuk tuk.

Island Hopping

Phi Phi Islands, Krabi Province, Thailand
Phi Phi Islands, Krabi, Thailand

An advantage of Phuket’s location is that when you visit, you’ll be in close proximity to various islands and archipelagos where you can explore exotic environments, snorkel with diverse marine life and take your photography to the next level. Some popular islands around Phuket are:

  • Phi Phi Islands: Located in Krabi Province, the Phi Phi Islands are a 2 hour ferry ride away from Phuket (1 hour by speedboat). Highlights include limestone cliffs, pristine beaches and the Viking Cave; a cave on Ko Phi Phi Lee that is adorned with wall paintings resembling viking ships.
  • Ko Tapu (James Bond Island): Located in Phang Nga Bay, Ko Tapu (James Bond Island) is known for being featured in the movie “The Man with the Golden Gun” and is frequently visited for its natural beauty, limestone rock formations and association with 007. It’s located north-east of Phuket and takes around 30 – 45 minutes to arrive, depending on the departure point.
  • Similan Islands: The Similan Islands are an archipelago of 11 islands 70 kilometres northwest of Phuket. The islands are known for their rich marine biodiversity and for being a top diving and snorkeling destination globally.
  • Ko Racha Yai & Ko Racha Noi: The Racha Islands are located 12 kilometres (Racha Yai) and 20 kilometres (Racha Noi) south of Phuket, and are known for their crystal clear waters. Racha Yai is the larger and more developed of the two islands, where one can visit stunning beaches and even do some hiking. Racha Noi is less developed but is a much sought-after destination for divers.
  • Coral Island: Also known as Ko He, Coral Island is located approximately 8 kilometres southeast of Phuket and is known for its vibrant coral reefs and diverse marine life. It takes around 30 – 45 minutes to reach by ferry or longboat, and even quicker by speedboat, making Coral Island a popular destination for a day trip.

There are many more islands dotted around Phuket, each with their own unique charm and offerings. A good way to experience the best of island hopping is to book a tour. It’s also worth looking on Google Maps or an alternative maps app, and reading reviews of nearby islands.

Street Art

Street art mural in Patong, Phuket, Thailand.
Street art in Patong.

If you happen to be taking a walk in Phuket, you may come across some creative and colourful street art. Old Phuket Town in particular has a variety of street art murals that complement the vibrant architecture of cafés, restaurants and shops. Consider exploring early in the morning or late afternoon if you want to avoid the daytime heat.

Street art (Mardi by artist Alex Face) in Phuket Old Town, Phuket, Thailand. Art depicts a child with 3 eyes dressed as a rabbit with a tortoise shell-style Chinese red dress.
Mardi by artist Alex Face in Phuket Old Town. “Street Art” by mdalmuld is licensed under CC BY 2.0.


Cannabis outlet on Bangla Road, Phuket, Thailand
Kratom Cannabis on Bangla Road.

This certainly won’t be for everyone, however if you visit Phuket, it’ll soon become noticeable there are quite a few outlets selling cannabis products. Thailand was the first Asian country to legalise the growing and possession of cannabis and its consumption in food and drinks. So if you’re looking to experiment with an ‘altered state of consciousness’, Phuket will be able to oblige. Bear in mind Thailand has promoted cannabis for medicinal purposes only, a loophole that some outlets have exploited to sell it for recreational use, which is illegal and the Thai government is clamping down on.

A cannabis outlet in Karon, Phuket, Thailand.
In south we smoke it out. A cannabis outlet in Karon.

Collect Stamps

Brown & Minions stamps distributed by 7-Eleven stores in Phuket, Thailand.
Stamps given after a purchase at 7-Eleven stores in Phuket.

If you’re a stamp collector, you’re in luck. Stop by a 7-Eleven convenience store and buy what you need. Along with a receipt, you’ll be given some charming stamps, which you can add to your collection and keep as a souvenir of your trip to Phuket.

Adventure Sports

Tourists snorkeling in Phuket, Thailand
There are many adventure activities to try in Phuket.

The wonder of Phuket lies not only in its natural beauty, architecture, flora and fauna, but also in the range of activities one can pursue in and around the island. It’s an ideal destination in which to unwind and relax. It’s also a place where you can pump up the adrenaline. Surfing, white water rafting, ziplining, paragliding, hiking and water-skiing are all available. If adventure is what you’re after, Phuket is the place for you.

If you’re looking for more information on Phuket, check out our article Phuket Travel Tips: Things To Know Before Visiting.

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