We know what you’re probably thinking! Isn’t Phuket a party island in Thailand? While that might technically be true we found it to be so much more on our recent visit! Phuket has everything from stunning beaches to delicious food and a surprisingly rich cultural history. After reading about all the best things to do in Phuket Thailand we’re sure you’ll be excited about your next trip to the island!
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22 Fun Things to do on Phuket Island
1. Hit the Beach
Let’s start off with an obvious one! We know almost every Thai island has some sort of incredible beaches to enjoy. Still, we were not ready for the beauty we would find on Phuket island.
It seemed as if around every corner there is a beautiful new beach to swim at like the beautiful Kata and Kata Noi. With how many different beaches there are on the island it’s easy to find one to fit any travel style. Honestly, the secluded sands and coves of Phuket Island are straight out of a dream!
→ 15 Stunning Beaches on Phuket Thailand (Make Sure Not to Miss #8!)
2. Eat Local Thai Food
Phuket has become famous as a vacation island hosting travelers from all over the world. With that, you can expect to see many restaurants catered towards tourists. They have everything on Phuket from pizza to sushi, and any other meals your heart desires.
Yet, in Thailand it’s best to indulge in all the local food! Head to the street food stands, night markets, and local restaurants. You may love Pad Thai and Papaya Salad, but be adventurous and try some Thai dishes you haven’t heard of.
→ Best Restaurants in Phuket Town: One Day Food Lovers Guide
3. See History in Phuket Old Town
Phuket Island has a deep history that can best be explored in the streets of Old Town. The blend of cultures is immediately seen in the Sino-Portuguese architecture and colorful buildings on Thalang Road.
Long before it was bringing in millions of tourists per year, Phuket was a center for international trade. Fishing and tin mining also attracted immigrants from all over Asia who left their imprint on Phuket island.
→ 10 Reasons You Can’t Miss Old Town in Phuket Thailand
4. Stop Into Funky Cafes & Beach Bars
One of the best things to do on Phuket is simply kick back and relax at its many cafes and beach bars! We love grabbing a fresh coconut or fruit smoothie near the water to enjoy during the heat of the day.
Although Phuket may be famous for its wild nightclub scene, the beach bars are a nice contrast to that. If you’re anything like us, having an ice-cold beer on the beach is way more enjoyable than a crowded nightclub anyway!
5. Phuket Island Night Market
Every Sunday there’s a sprawling night market set up on Thalang Road in Old Town. Here you can find local art, jewelry, clothing, and fun souvenirs to bring home with you.
There is also a section to taste more great street food on the island of Phuket. Not able to make it to the Old Town market? It’s all good! There are several other markets that pop up all around the island.
→ Sunday Night Market in Phuket: Guide to the Colorful Walking Street
6. Get Out on the Water
Many of the best things to do in Phuket Thailand are done on the ocean! Kayaking is one of our favorite activities and we were excited to find them on almost every major beach.
Want to know the best part? They won’t run you more than 100 Thai Baht ($3 USD) for an hour of paddling! Some places even rent see-through kayaks so you can have views of the ocean life below.
Phuket Island Tip: If you love water sports also try a stand-up paddleboard in Phuket!
7. Stay at an Ultra Luxury Resort
Are you the type of traveler that loves to splurge on vacation? Well, you’re in luck! Phuket Island is full of some of the top luxury resorts and hotels in all of Thailand.
Luxury accommodations range from private bungalows to high rises in the mountains with rooftop infinity pools.
Not willing to spend on a fancy resort? No worries! Some of the nicest hotels offer day passes to their swimming pools and bars.
Top Luxury Resorts on the Island of Phuket
- Mom Tri’s Villa Royale
- The Nai Harn
- The Shore At Katathani – Adult Only
- Kata Rocks
- InterContinental Phuket Resort
- Banyan Tree Phuket
8. Fun Photos at Nui Beach
Nui Beach is one of the best-kept secrets on the island of Phuket Island! In between Kata Beach and Rawai you will find a dirt road that leads down to a path.
At the bottom, is a beautiful and secluded beach that can only be described as paradise! There are two restaurants with ocean views and a number of fun photo spots that reminded us of Bali Indonesia.
If you don’t feel like making the 1.6 km hike down you can easily pay 100 baht for the van to take you there and back.
→ Nui Beach Phuket: How to Get There, Fun Photo Spots, & Beach Guide
9. Visit the Big Buddha
From many places on Phuket Island, you will look up and see a familiar face in the mountains. Big Buddha is the most iconic religious statue on the island and a symbol of Thailand’s deep faith.
The white marble statue sits almost 150 feet high and was created in the style of Maravija Buddha. It’s a fun adventure to drive a motorbike to the top, and there are even jungle hiking trails that up to it.
Phuket Island Tip: Also check out the restaurants on the road that leads up to Big Buddha as they are spectacular places to watch the sunset!
→ How to Get to Big Buddha Phuket & Why It’s a Must Visit!
1o. Snorkeling on Phuket
Once you’ve experienced kayaking, another fun and popular water activity is snorkeling! At many of the best beaches in Phuket are great spots to see the colorful fishes.
Our favorite place to snorkel was around the rocks and corners of the coves of Yanui Beach. Just be sure to plan your visit during high tide as it can be too rocky to snorkel at other times of day.
If you’re serious about snorkeling we also recommend taking a boat trip. The tours will bring you to hard-to-reach places and even other islands from Phuket!
→ Nai Harn Beach & Yanui: Two of Phuket’s Most Stunning Beaches
11. Watch the Phuket Island Sunset
Sunset is a magical time every night on the island of Phuket. You can experience this all along the West Coast and the Southern Point is known to be one of the best places to see it.
Heading to the famous Windmill and Promthep Cape for this special time of day is easily one of the best things to do on Phuket! Here you’ll have stunning views of the ocean and coastline as the colors change before your eyes.
→ Our 6 Favorite Places to Watch the Sunset in Phuket Thailand
12. Day Trips to Other Islands
Another great part about staying on Phuket is that it’s easy to get to the surrounding islands! Specifically from the Southeast beach town of Rawai, you can take a traditional longboat to explore the off the coast.
This can be a fun way to go snorkeling and explore more nearby tropical destinations. There are also plenty of day tours to the Hong and Similan Islands. Check out some of our favorites below!
- Similan Islands Snorkeling Day Trip from Phuket or Khaolak
- James Bond Island Luxury Sunset Cruise from Phuket Thailand
- Phi Phi Islands Early Bird Tour From Phuket Or Khao Lak
- Coral and Racha Islands Hype Luxury Catamaran from Phuket
13. Discover Wat Chalong
Unlike many other places in Thailand, Phuket isn’t really known for its temples. However, there are definitely a few worth seeing! One of the most interesting is the Chalong Temple which was built back in the early 1800’s.
You will see a mix of locals and tourists here all coming to pay their respects. A recent addition to the temple is a massive 60-meter tall stupa (or chedi) that houses a splinter of bone from Buddha.
14. Experience the Phuket Elephant Sanctuary
If you’re looking for an ethical way to see Thailand’s elephants we have the perfect place! At Phuket Elephant Sanctuary they take care of these beautiful animals that have been rescued from injury or sickness.
Once they’re rehabilitated they roam the grounds of the sanctuary safely. This is quite refreshing to see, as there are plenty of other places in Thailand that don’t treat these animals the same way. The sanctuary is also home to the longest canopy walkway in the country.
→ Best Elephant Sanctuary in Phuket: What Makes it So Special?
15. Rent a Scooter to Explore
Our absolute favorite way to see the island of Phuket is to rent a scooter. You’ll need a way to get around if you want to do all the best things on Phuket… I mean it is Thailand’s biggest island after all!
Just know you’ll want to have your Motorcycle license and an international drivers license if you plan on driving on Phuket. It is a busy island so the traffic can get dense, especially around Phuket Town.
The best place to drive without traffic is often along the West and Southern Coasts. Here you can cruise freely with less traffic to worry about than on the inland highways.
→ 8 Quick Tips to Know About Renting a Motorbike in Phuket
16. Adventure to Cape Panwa
Many travelers don’t experience the Southeastern coast on the island of Phuket, but they are seriously missing out! This is just another reason to rent a motorbike or take a Phuket island tour during your stay.
Cape Panwa is home to many resorts and gives off a secluded feel compared to the rest of Phuket. In fact, Ao Yon and Khao Khad are two of our favorite beaches!
Phuket Island Tip: Cape Panwa is also an excellent place to watch the sunset. It offers a completely different view than from the popular beaches of Phuket.
17. Enjoy the Epic Viewpoints
While reading about things to do in Phuket Thailand, you should know the mountains and beaches are best seen from above. Unsurprisingly, one of the best viewpoints is from the Big Buddha! Still, there are so many more to enjoy if you know where to look. Below are a few of the best viewpoints on the island of Phuket.
- Karen Viewpoint
- Black Rock Viewpoint
- Monkey Hill Viewpoint
- Kao Khad Views Tower
- Laem Sing View Point
18. Mai Khao Flight Landing
Speaking of views… One of the most unique you can get is at Mai Khao Beach. During high season every year, commercial airliners land right over these gorgeous sands.
The only other place we have seen this was at Maho Beach in Sint Maarten so it is actually quite remarkable! This is definitely something interesting to add to your list of things to do on Phuket Island.
19. Catch a Muay Thai Boxing Match
Muay Thai is a way of life in Thailand and there is a whole lot of it here! Fighters come from all over the world to train on the island of Phuket. The rings can be seen from Rawai to Patong and the sound of punching bags is hard to miss.
If this interests you keep an eye out for the signs for upcoming matches. Promoters even drive around with trucks and speakerphones announcing these exciting events.
20. Take a Surfing Lesson (When the Weather is Right)
There was something that was so confusing to us when we first arrived in Phuket. The beaches were filled with surf schools, but there was just one problem… There were no waves!
That’s because on our January trip the water is calm and completely still which we loved. Fortunately for surfers though, you will see plenty of waves in the low season months!
April to October is monsoon season which creates wind and larger waves. In fact, one of the best things to do on Phuket in June is to go to a surfing competition!
21. Chalong Bay Rum Distillery Tour
Wait… The island of Phuket Thailand has a Rum distillery? Those were our thoughts exactly when we found out about this fun tour! Most of Southeast Asia is beer heavy so you won’t often find wine or good spirits. In addition, the liquor at the bars is typically from abroad.
Even if you don’t drink Rum this distillery is worth a visit! They produce it sustainably in a unique way with all-natural sugarcane. I guess there’s a reason why Chalong Bay has won several awards for their rum.
22. Party on Bangla Road
Finished with all the best things to do in Phuket Thailand and ready to party? Don’t worry we got you covered! The ultimate haven for party-goers is Patong, and the epicenter is Bangla walking street.
This is where dancing and music goes until the wee hours of the morning. Although it’s the reason some travelers come to Phuket, we recommend seeing everything else the island has to offer, too. As you can see from these 22 fun things to do on Phuket… It’s quite a lot!
Where to Stay in Southern Phuket
5 Star Resort – The Shore At Katathani – Kata Noi – Ultra-luxury 5-star hotel offering rooms with private pools. Located on the far end of Kata Noi overlooking one of the best beaches on the island.
Ultra Luxury – The Nai Harn – Nai Harn Beach – Known as one of the nicest hotels in not just Phuket, but all of Thailand! Amazing beach and sea views from luxury rooms. If you ever want to leave you will be literally steps from the famous Nai Harn Beach.
Royal Experience – Mom Tri’s Villa Royale – Kata Noi– Once a home of the Royal family of Thailand, this converted residence is one of the most unique places to stay on Phuket.
Phuket’s First Hotel – The Memory at On On Hotel – Old Town – Built in 1927, the On On Hotel was constructed in the signature Sino-Portuguese style and retains its historical charm. It was even featured in the 2002 blockbuster “The Beach” with Leanardo DiCaprio.
Unique Stay – Roost Glamping – Rawai – Yes you can go glamping in Phuket Thailand! These upscale tents are set around a gorgeous pool and the cafe serves up healthy tropical dishes.
Hostel Life: – Sino Hostel @ Kata – Kata Beach – Hostels are very popular in Phuket and Sino is in a great location. Choose from dorms and private rooms as you use it as a base to see Kata Beach from.
For more of the best hotels in Phuket Thailand explore the latest prices here!Have any questions about the island or want to share more of the best things to do in Phuket Thailand? Let us know in the comments below!
Brigitte & Jake
Where in the world are we? Follow our daily adventures on Instagram @nothingfamiliar!
Thailand Travel Planning
Flights: We always find our cheap flight deals using Skyscanner and Kayak. That’s how we found flights from Bangkok to Phuket for $12 USD, and Thailand to Vietnam for less than $50!
Accommodation: Compare multiple sites to get to the best deal such as Booking.com and Agoda! Also, Hostelworld should be your go-to source if you’re traveling on a budget.
Transportation: While traveling through Thailand 12Go is where we find all our ferries, trains, buses, and transfers! You can find everything from island hopping speed boats to the night train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
Tours: Check out Get Your Guide to find activities all over Phuket! You can find everything from a James Bond island luxury sunset cruise, to Phuket Old Town 15-taster food adventure, and 5-hour island tour!
Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without protection. We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years on the road and they are there when we need them.
Packing Lists: Find all the inspiration you need with our Amazon packing lists. Including our electronics and camera gear, must-have medical items, and long flight essentials!
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