The Best Things to Do in Phuket, Thailand
Lying within easy reach of Phuket International Airport, the long stretches of white sand and warm waters on Phuket’s coastline make it a popular holiday destination. Aside from boasting beautiful beaches, Phuket is also a great base from which to explore some of Thailand’s great scenery, snorkelling and shopping. We’ve rounded up some of the best things you can do in and around Phuket to get a taste of Thailand.
Phi Phi Islands
Thanks to a certain movie featuring Leonardo Di Caprio the Phi Phi Islands are one of the most visited places in Thailand. But don’t let the thought of the crowds put you off – there is still much to admire here.
Phi Phi Don, the larger of the two islands, is where you’ll find a range of accommodation, restaurants and dive shops as well as a popular viewpoint, which offers sweeping views of the craggy cliffs and golden bays as well as an idea of the unique ‘dumbbell’ shape of the island.
Phi Phi Leh is an uninhabited island that is home to the world-famous Maya Bay, the real life ‘Beach’ from the movie. Surrounded by cliffs on three sides, it’s a beautiful sheltered cove with alluring turquoise waters, which look just as good in real life as they did on the big screen – even if there are a lot of boats bobbing on the water now.
Phang Nga Bay or James Bond Island
Phang Nga Bay is another naturally beautiful part of Thailand that has become famous thanks to a movie. Phang Nga Bay features a collection of foliage-covered limestone karsts that jut dramatically out of the water. It was one of these unique formations that became known as James Bond Island thanks to it’s starring role in The Man with the Golden Gun.
Tours of Phang Nga Bay usually include the chance to explore some of the caves in the bay by canoe, plus swim in a lagoon, visit a floating village, laze on quiet beaches and stop for photos at the iconic James Bond Island.
Koh Khai Nok
Koh Khai Nok is a small island tucked away in Phang Nga Bay. It’s only 30 minutes away from the east coast of Phuket by speedboat so makes a great half-day trip from your resort.
The island itself is tiny and consists of little more than a few restaurants, rows of colourful umbrellas and a bright white beach. It’s popularity, however, is due to the abundant, non-camera-shy fish that can be seen in the shallow waters. The proximity of the fish to the island makes it a great place for beginner snorkelers.
A little further from the mainland (60 km off the west coast of Phang Nga province to be precise) are a protected archipelago of 5 pristine islands. Due to being so remote and largely undiscovered by tourists, the Surin Islands boast excellent snorkelling opportunities and are one of the only places in Thailand you will find just a small handful of boats visiting.
Aside from snorkelling, daytrips to the Surin Islands (bookable from Khao Lak) include a stop at a Moken ‘Sea Gypsy’ village and lunch overlooking the incredible Ao Mae Yai beach.
Phuket Old Town
Back on land, a visit to Phuket Old Town gives you a chance to learn more about the city’s history whilst admiring some of it’s classic European-influenced architecture. The Old Town was built largely from the riches of the tin mining boom in the 18th Century so the architecture features many references to Portuguese and British influences. The best examples of Sino-Portuguese shop-houses can be found along Thalang Road, whilst you can find stately Sino-Colonial mansions, like the Blue Elephant Governor Mansion, on Krabi Road.
Something else to see whilst in the city is the Phuket Weekend Market, a buzzing marketplace where you can find everything from souvenirs to counterfeit designer handbags and deep-fried crickets!
Khao Sok National Park
To get a taste of the Thai jungle, book a trip to Khao Sok National Park, said to be one of the oldest rainforests in the world. Khao Sok excursions enable you to take in the magnificent scenery of the rainforest whilst wading in a lazy river or cooling down under a thunderous waterfall.