3 days itinerary in Phuket
To spend 3 days in Phuket and make the best of it to see as much as you can, planning is essential. Once you have a plan, everything becomes simple, and you can start dreaming and relaxing.
There are a few important things you should know about Phuket before starting to plan your itinerary:
- Phuket is a small island; you can drive north to south in less than half a day.
- There is a lot to visit outside the island too!
- There are many islands around, and in most cases, unless you pick an island-hopping day trip, it’s better to dedicate a day per island.
- Most activities can be booked in Phuket, even at the last minute.
- You can book your tours at one of the many tour agents on the streets.
- All the tours are easy going and well organised. You will be well taken care of, and the day will go smooth.
- There are mainly two seasons in Thailand, and your holiday will depend a lot on the season, but it can be summarised as follow:
- High season: the sea is quiet and beautiful, all islands are accessible, but prices are higher, and Phuket is busy
- Low season: the sea can be rough (but not always!); it may rain (but not every day!). Prices are much lower, and the island feels relaxed and peaceful.
- Mostly there are three ways to go around:
- Planning your days can depend on the beach you selected for your hotel, usually north or south of Phuket. However, if you booked a tour, you will be picked up at your hotel.
An excellent way to discover Phuket is to spend the first day exploring the island, the second day as a day trip cruise or exploration and end the day with a bit of party, and the 3rd day on the beach and in the old town. We follow this pattern, but this list makes it easy to mix and match days. Have fun!
DAY 1: Explore South Phuket Island
Start your three days in Phuket by exploring the landmarks of Phuket’s best-known landmarks, then relax on the most famous beaches and end the day on a rooftop or a beach club. Note that we provide a lot of choices, so you can mix and match as you please. The starting point is in the middle of the island (Patong, Kata, Karon).
Sitting at the top of a high hill since 2002, the Big Buddha has become the most famous landmark of Phuket. This white marble statue is imposing, and the panoramic views are worth the drive. The road to the top is paved, and the site is easy to access by car or motorbike but remember to drive slowly when going down. The Big Buddha is often part of day trips you can book.
Popular Ways to Discover Big Buddha
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Wat Chalong (Chalong Temple) is the most revered temple in Phuket and is usually visited before or after the Big Buddha. The buildings are all carved and decorated, and the warm colours render superbly on a blue sky. The entrance is free, and you can visit inside. Remember to wear shoes and hats when entering the building and dress appropriately.
Karon viewpoint offers a magnificent and unique view of three famous beaches of Phuket: Kata Noi, Kata Beach and Karon Beach. The place is easy to access by the main road between Nai Harn and Kata Beach, and there is usually enough parking space. As there is not much to do here, people usually only stay for the few minutes it takes to take photos and selfies.
Nai Harn is a wonderful beach in the island’s south, known for powdery white sand and crystal clear waters in the high season. There are a few local restaurants in the shade of the trees for a casual meal and maybe a beach massage after lunch if you need to recover from jet lag.
You can stop at the beautiful Kata Noi beach as you drive up north. There is not much to do here since a hotel occupies the entire beachfront, but it is truly a beautiful sandy beach.
Kata is the second most popular beach in Phuket (after Patong). The beach is vast and beautiful, with a few restaurants at each end of the beach where you can enjoy a local meal. Travellers often book their hotels in Kata as there are many shops and restaurants to enjoy; keep in mind that very few of them are on the beachfront, which the Club Med Resort mostly occupies.
Karon is a big sandy bay on the west coast of Phuket, just next to Kata and on the way to Patong. You can relax on the beach and enjoy a drink or a massage. It’s worth a stop for a photo, but it is mostly a beach to lie down, swim and relax as there are no real attractions or landmarks in Karon.
At the end of your day, depending on where your hotel is, a beach club is a great way to enjoy a sunset with a drink or even tapas. There are quite a few on the west coast of the island, and the most famous are, of course, Cafe Del Mar on Kamala Beach and Catch Beach Club on Bangtao, but there are more, so have a look at the list and see if there is one near you. Read more
DAY 2: Day trip outside Phuket
The best way to spend the next day is probably to book a day trip and explore some of the wonders that make Phuket so famous. Tours are easy to book, and they will always pick you up at your hotel in the morning, so it’s relatively stress-free.
If you only have one day trip to explore around Phuket, you will have to choose between going to the islands or exploring the fantastic landscape of Phang Nga Bay. If you travel during the rainy season and are worried about rough seas, Phang Nga is recommended because the bay is sheltered, and the sea is always quiet and flat.
Popular Ways to Discover Phang Nga Bay
Staying a couple of nights on Phi Phi island is the best way to enjoy the many beaches, but a single-day trip is possible, especially since the famous Maya Bay has been reopened for a few visitors.
Popular Ways to Discover Phi Phi Island
If you can dedicate an entire day to visiting a jewel in the Andaman Sea, travel to the Similan Islands. This archipelago is a bit far from Phuket, but the beach’s beauty and the sea’s colour are worth the long trip. Note that the Similans are only open from November 15 to May 15.
Popular Ways to Discover Similan Islands
Coral Island is very close to the south of Phuket and easy to access; you can book it a couple of days before. The island is superb, and the water is beautiful, but it can be hectic because it is so beautiful and easy to reach. Luckily we will tell you how to find some quiet spots to escape the crowds.
Maiton is another superb island very close to Phuket, but because it is a private island, it hasn’t been invaded by hordes of tourists. The island only has a restaurant, a bar and a half-abandoned hotel, but it is the perfect hideaway for a day.
Raya Island (Racha Island)
Raya Island is another popular choice to spend a day on a small tropical island. This is where many dive clubs might take you for your first discovery diving experience, as the water is excellent for scuba diving and snorkelling. There are mainly two beaches and two nice hotels on this tiny island if you wish to stay longer.
Popular Ways to Discover Racha Island
The best way to end the last day is to treat yourself to a lovely sunset dinner, and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Our page contains a list of restaurants around the island to enjoy that particular moment, with different budget options.
And what would be a three days holiday in Phuket without at least one visit to the notorious Bangla Walking Street in Patong? Bangla offers all kinds of entertainment, bars, street performances, shopping beer bars, dancing ladies and, of course, the infamous go-go bars. Walking up and down the street is an experience in itself: it’s bright, colourful and rather spectacular.
If you want to make the best of your last day, you can consider visiting a go-go bar (go-go bars in Phuket are more low-key than their counterparts in Bangkok or Pattaya), and end the day in a couple of nightclubs.
DAY 3: North Phuket and Phuket Town
What makes Phuket so attractive is the vast amount of things to see and do. Not many places are blessed with such an array of attractions. You can explore the northern beaches of Phuket in the morning and visit Phuket Town in the afternoon, or do the opposite. Just remember that the sea is a lot bluer in the morning for your photos.
Surin is a beach with a history. It was once lined with restaurants, bars and beach clubs, all the way from north to south, and as you can see in the photo above, Surin is quite a long stretch. One day they were all demolished for not having a permit, and in a month, Surin was back to its natural beauty in a month. You can still eat street food or enjoy the only restaurant remaining.
Laem Singh is another beach with a similar story, same same but different. Laem Singh has always been a much-loved creek with soft sand and fringed with coconut trees. It looks like a movie scene for a tropical paradise. For decades, the place was busy with restaurants and covered with beach chairs. One day, the owner of the land surrounding the beach decided not to allow anyone to cross it anymore. While private beaches don’t exist in Thailand, owning the property around them makes them impossible to access. Fortunately, there are now two ways to go to Laem Singh, and since very few people know about it, the beach is mostly deserted.
Banana Beach is not very well-known because it is quite out of the way. You have to make an effort to find it and then walk down a slope to reach it, but it is rewarding. Remember that such small remote beaches are best during the high season, roughly from November to May. During the low season, the place may look somewhat neglected.
The large and lovely Naithon Beach and its small seaside resort village are just a little further because Naithon is also away from the main road and has managed to keep a low-key atmosphere that makes it unique.
As you drive further north, you will reach Mai Khao Beach and its controversial but irresistible attraction: plane landing selfies. In theory, standing in the path of landing planes is not authorised, but the temptation is too strong, and each day, a dozen travellers spend a couple of hours waiting for the next plane to land and the next. Planes in the final approach fly very low over the beach, and the tropical background makes this place a selfie magnet.
Beyond the beautiful beaches, the historical streets of Old Phuket Town are a delight to explore. The streets are lined with Sino-Portuguese shophouses and mansions, little cafes and local restaurants serving truly delicious local Thai food you will never find near the beaches.
Popular Ways to Discover Phuket Town
If you happen to be in Phuket Town on a Sunday, don’t miss the popular Sunday Walking Street market on Thalang Road.
A rooftop bar is a great place to wrap a long day out in the sun or at sea. Phuket has more and more rooftops and hillside bars to choose from around the island. While they are nowhere as impressive as those in Bangkok, they offer beautiful sunset views. A rooftop bar is a great place to wrap a long day in the sun or at sea.
Chillva market, at the entrance of Phuket Town, is an authentic night market to explore if you happen to be around on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday or Saturday. This is your chance to take photos, do some souvenir shopping and discover many local food to experience, including those famous fried insects you probably heard about.
The Phuket Simon Cabaret is a large stage performance running for two decades in Patong Beach if you prefer to end the day on a more easy-going note. The show is colourful and entertaining, but the main catch is that all the pretty female dancers are men!
Rent a van with a driver
Renting a van with a driver for the day is one of the best ways to explore Phuket without stress. They can speak English and customise the places to visit as you wish.