1st Time in Phuket ? 26 Things You Should See, Do, Eat, Know and Enjoy!

1st Time in Phuket ? 26 Things You Should See, Do, Eat, Know and Enjoy!
1st Time in Phuket ? 26 Things You Should See, Do, Eat, Know and Enjoy!
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1st Time in Phuket?

26 Things You Should See, Do, Eat, Know and Enjoy!

Many readers travelling to Phuket for the first time send questions daily: I’m coming for the first time, what should I really do? Of course since everyone is different there are obviously many answers, but with years of experience answering the same anxious questions we came up with a list of answers. These may not be our (or your) favourites, but the places people love to see and the things people do most on a discovery trip.

So here are few things you can experience on your first trip to Phuket. We list the most popular items in each section with a link to more information + a link to even more answers in each group. We hope this page helps you make the best of your holiday in Phuket! Remember, this is ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Phuket’ so you might roll your eyes if you have been to Phuket before but remember: you too came once for the first time 😉


4 Beaches Where People Love to Stay Most

One of the most frequent question is ‘Can you recommend which beach I should pick to stay’? Once again everyone has different tastes and we know some will prefer remote and isolated beaches. However, most travellers like a beautiful beach with easy access to restaurants, shops and a bit of nightlife. Here are the 4 most popular beaches in Phuket based on their popularity. (To see all 36 beaches of Phuket, click here)

1. Patong Beach

Patong Beach

Patong is  popular with the younger crowd

Yes, Patong is well known and not everyone like it. The success and popularity of Patong Beach mostly come from its wide beach, a infinite list of facilities, plus the legendary worry-free wild nightlife. Basically it has everything and as a chain reaction, it attracts more people. Patong offers a lot to those who like the busy resort town atmosphere and a bit of everything. You won’t find the greatest Thai food but you will find hundreds of restaurants, bars, clubs, shops. Patong is  popular with the younger crowd because of the party atmosphere at night and easy access to everything anytime. Read about Patong Beach

2. Kata Beach

Kata Beach

Kata beach is a great family destination.

Kata Beach is the second most popular beach in Phuket after Patong and just before Karon Beach. It enjoys a superb large white beach with an incredible blue sea, a nice island standing in the middle of the bay that makes great sunset photos. With less crowd than Patong, a good and growing choice of dining venues, shopping, nightlife and hotels, Kata beach is a great family destination. Read about Kata Beach

3. Karon Beach

Karon Beach

Karon Beach is the second longest beach in Phuket with a very wide stretch of white sand along an immense bay. Karon is also a small town with a decent choice of dining, shopping and nightlife, yet it never seems to draw crowds of tourists (which might actually be a good thing). Read more about Katon Beach

4. Kamala Beach

Kamala Beach

Kamala is popular with families and those who like a toned down holiday

Kamala Beach has a beautiful beach and managed to keep a small village vibe. It’s not crowded, the beach is vast and nice and there is even a nice little street to stroll at the end of the day with many little bars, shops and restaurants. The north end of Kamala now even has 2 great beach clubs for you to enjoy: Cafe Del Mar and HQ Beach Club (they are actually far enough if party is not your thing). Kamala is popular with families and those who like a toned down holiday. Read more about Kamala Beach 


4 Great Beaches to Discover

Phuket has so many beaches it’s really hard to say what beaches are really worth travelling to and spending the day on. Based on visitors ‘Best Beach in Phuket‘ votes here are 4 beaches to consider. (Laem Singh was an old-time favourite but it was closed to the public in May 2017)

1. Freedom beach

Freedom beach

Freedom Beach is one of the prettiest beach in Phuket Island, with an incredibly soft white sand and striking clear blue waters. It is just few minutes away from Patong Beach, the most populated beach in Phuket and yet, it is surprisingly peaceful and quiet… so what is Freedom Beach secret? Read more about Freedom Beach

2. Nai Harn Beach

Nai Harn Beach

Nai Harn is a superb spotless beach in the south of Phuket, tucked between grassy hills and tiny islands and popular among expats and locals. More laid back than west coast touristy spots it has all the food, hotels and shops you need for a great day and still holds on pretty well to its original feel. The protected bay offers great anchorage for sailing boats and luxury yachts. Read about Nai Harn Beach

3.  Surin Beach

Surin Beach

Surin Beach used to be very popular for its large choice of restaurants and trendy beach clubs. All the venues are now gone but  Surin is blessed with a large beach of beautiful sand and an amazing clear blue sea. Since it has been mostly return to its natural state, it is one of the nicest beaches on the island. Read about Surin Beach

4. Ya Nui Beach

Ya Nui Beach

Ya Nui beach is tiny but has the charms of a small bay, tucked in a cove between the Windmill Viewpoint and famous Promthep Cape in the very south of Phuket Island. Because of this tiny cove appearance, it seems to be an irresistible magnet for tourists. Surprisingly, it is rather busy but no one seems to complain about it. Read more abou Ya Nui Beach



3 Things You Should See in Phuket

1. Phang Nga Bay

Phang Nga Bay

Phang Nga Bay is without a doubt Phuket and Thailand most fascinating landscape, an ‘Out of this world’ scenery you must absolutely see with your own eyes if you crossed half the globe just to come to here. The best way to explore it is in a silent kayak slowly gliding among giant cliffs. We have been in Phang Nga a dozen times and still we are still amazed. John Gray Sea Canoe may not be the cheapest company going around Phang Nga but he is the one who discovered it decades ago and made it accessible to everyone. Unfortunately, good ideas are hard to find but easy to copy.

2. Phi Phi Island

Phi Phi Viewpoint

Phi Phi islands don’t need introduction anymore, Leonardo DiCaprio took care of this in 2000 with the movie ‘The Beach’ and the place just keeps on getting bigger and busier. The island was wiped out during the 2004 tsunami and despite what was said at the time, the construction just got bigger and maybe not better. However, the young crowd travelling to Phi Phi Islands seems to have great time so we decided to check it. No doubt it’s super crowded, especially at night, but yes the islands are beautiful and a great place for party!

3. Old Phuket Town

Old Phuket Town

Phuket Town is not huge but still too vast to explore it entirely on foot so we will break it down in several areas of interest. Our first guide is about the historical streets of town, quite easy to explore even on a wet day. This walking guide should keep you busy for half a day or less depending on which of the two options you’ll pick below.


3 Dishes People Love Most

Let’s make it clear before we start: there are many delicious Thai dishes to enjoy and this page is for first timers so here are 3 dishes to try on your first trip. If you want to try more than these, click here.

1. Tom Yam

Tom Yum Goong in Phuket
2. Pad Thai

Pad Thai in Phuket
3. Pancake (Roti)

Pancakes in Phuket


3 Places to Eat Great Seafood

1. Mor Mu Dong

Mor Mu Dong Restaurant Phuket

Mor Mu Dong restaurant in Phuket – You really really want to eat off the beaten tracks? where only locals go for a great and relaxing lunch or dinner? Mor Mu Dong is a place every local knows, and you just have to count the cars on the parking to know that something special is cooking here. People travel a long way to come to Mor Mu Dong. It’s so local that even Andrew Zimmern from ‘Bizarre Food‘ had lunch here.

2. Kru Suwit Floating Restaurant

Kru Suwit Floating Phuket Restaurant (or Kruvit Raft) is one of the most original way to enjoy dinner when you got tired of your ‘Same Same but Different’ Thai food restaurant. Try this unusual but popular place known as ‘Kra Chang’ (‘fishing basket’) which is in fact an aggregation of several floating restaurants built between Phuket Island east coast and Maphrao Island. It only takes a five minutes free longtail boat ride to reach. Our favourite, called ‘Kru Suwit’, is a great place for a lazy lunch in a cool breeze while contemplating the water around, or perfect for a dinner when you have visiting friends from overseas who think they saw it all.

3. Kan Eang 2

Kan Eang 2 Seafood Restaurant Phuket

A good way to describe Kan Eang 2 is to compare it with its successful sister ‘Kan [email protected]‘. Kan Eang 2 has everything a good seafood restaurant should have and more. Fresh seafood is of course a given, both restaurants probably get it from the same place. Food and service is less sophisticated, menu appears shorter, crabs are a little smaller but they serve everything you can expect from such seafood venue, and price is significantly lower! Read about Kan Eang 2


3 Great Places to Shop in Phuket

 

1. Phuket Walking Street Market

Phuket Sunday Walking Street Market

Phuket Walking Street and weekend market is called ‘Lard Yai’ by the locals and is now the most popular attraction in Phuket Town. This weekend street market was an instant success wasn’t long to catch up, denoting a need for something to happen in Thalang Road, the historical part of town.

2. Phuket Weekend market

Phuket Weekend Market (Naka Market)

Phuket Weekend Market or Naka Market is an immense night bazaar located near Central Festival in Phuket Town. Occasionally it’s even called ‘Phuket Chatuchak’ by reference to the famous Weekend Market in Bangkok. Expect to find a lot of clothing, most displaying famous brands, but obviously the cheap prices give a hint about their authenticity, Bags, watches, accessories and even perfumes. Most popular is the wide variety of local snack and fruits you can try. Here is your chance to taste a lot of fun things:  fried, deep fried, boiled, steamed, crushed, chilled, rolled, sliced and fermented. Read more about the weekend market

3. Jungceylon

Jungceylon Shopping Mall

Jungceylon Phuket in Patong, the largest mega mall in Phuket, is almost a city within a city. With a lot of souvenirs shops and foot massage in the lower floor, many restaurants a lot of attractions in the upper floors, it is a perfect hideaway for Patong tourists when it rains of when heat becomes unbearable.


3 Places to Go at Night

Phuket is famous the world around for its colorful nightlife. It has evolved a lot to reach all kinds of travellers and it’s nowhere as rowdy as in Pattaya or even Bangkok. Nightlife in Phuket is now for everyone with great night clubs hosting international DJs, fancy rooftop bars, more live bands than you really need, and ladyboy shows that defies your imagination. And of course you might be tempted to have a look inside the notorious Go Go bars at least once… go on it is actually easy going and couples are welcome.

1. Bangla Road


Bangla Road

Soi Bangla or Bangla Road is the heart of all Phuket Nightlife, and the battle for night supremacy is raging between Soi Seadragon and the new Tiger complex. Over the years, the center of interest has been moving up and down Bangla road depending on seasons and popularity but the ever changing face of Patong nightlife is definitely worth a look. Of course, wherever you go in Bangla, friendly girls will call you with a big smile and encourage you to have a drink and play few silly bar games, everyone is welcome. Read more about Bangla

2. Catch Beach Club

Catch BeachClub on Bangtao Beach

Catch Beach Club is reborn and is as popular as ever! Catch Beach Club is more than just another beach club in Phuket: created by the popular Twinpalm Resort in Surin Beach, it was the first of the beach club craze that took the island like a fashion wave. In just a couple of years, there were beach clubs everywhere. Most of them were quite busy but none ever come close to what the original Catch Beach Club was on Surin Beach. Read more about Catch Beach Club

3. Phuket Fantasea

Phuket Fantasea Show

Hugely popular since decades, the Phuket Fantasea live show involves hundred dancers and performers together with a dozen adult elephants. This massive show is set on the ground of an immense theme park located in Kamala Beach. After almost twenty years, the Phuket Fantasea show is still going strong, welcoming million visitors each year. Tourists from around the world come to admire a dazzling performance narrating the legend of Kamala, which in this story is a jungle with a mythical palace surrounded by elephants. Read more about Phuket Fantasea


3 Great Hotels People Love in Phuket

Here are 4 hotels people talk a lot about. Of course they might not be to everyone’s taste or Budget but there is sure a lot of buzz about these!

Top Luxury Hotels in Phuket

1. Trisara

Trisara Phuket

Trisara Phuket is the ultimate romantic resorts in Phuket, one of the best way to enjoy our tropical paradise island. All 39 villas in Trisara Phuket are designed to trap you in comfort so you will want to stay and and enjoy every minute of it. Large spacey rooms with oversized beds, bright and large bathrooms, all the features you can expect from a five star resort, and best of all, each villa comes with amazing infinity pools. My favorite. I didn’t have the chance to get the biggest villa, but I was more than comfortable with the Pool View Room. Read about Trisara

2. Kata Rocks

Kata Rocks

3. The Shore

The Shore at Katathani

The Shore at Katathani is one of the most exclusive hotels on Phuket, probably one of our best experience on the island. The hotel combines effortlessly all the ingredients for a perfect escape: a location right on a beach, villas with jaw dropping views, genuinely caring staff, an excellent restaurant, a good spa and countless small details that makes the difference between just a regular ‘hotel stay’ and a truly unforgettable holiday.The location is obviously what impresses first, right on and above the secluded beach of Kata Noi, a superb white sandy bay that has remained unspoiled because it’s not on any main road. Read more about The Shore

Mid Range Hotels

4. Amari Phuket

Amari Phuket Resort

Amari Phuket is a resort with a very unique location on Patong Beach. The hotel is blessed with its own beach with an amazing view on the entire bay and most of the rooms are facing the sea! This 4 star resort is located just at the southern end on Patong, just past a large bridge, making it the perfect hotel if you want to enjoy the best of both worlds: to be close enough to the fun of Patong and still being able enjoy peace and quiet of the ocean in a green surrounding. Read more about Amari Phuket

5. Katathani

Katathani Phuket

Katathani Phuket Beach Resort is a great and yet affordable hotel located on Kata Noi, one of the most beautiful beaches in the south of Phuket. Built along a 450 meters sandy beach, this large but very well designed hotel can afford to offer a surprisingly large amount of rooms with real sea views. Read more about Kata Thani Phuket

6. Centara Grande Beach Resort

Centara Grande Beach ResortCentara Grand Beach Resort is a large hotel benefiting from a superb location right on the sand of the immense bay of Karon Beach. With such a unique location, immense pools right on the beach and many outlets including a beach club, Centara Grand Beach Resort is an extremely popular mid range hotel.



Written by

Born in France a long long time ago, I started to travel the world in my 20s and never stopped until I finally settled in Thailand in 1994. Then for the past 23 years, my passion for photography and my natural curiosity has taken me to every corner of Thailand, jumping frequently between Bangkok and Phuket and basically everywhere I could go. I run 2 blogs: Phuket101.net and BangkokUndercover.com, I also manage 30 online travel guides in Asia and beyond, including Phuket.com, Bangkok.com and Bali-Indonesia.com

The Best FOOD Stuff
  10 Most Romantic Restaurants
  10 Best Local Restaurants
  10 Best Seafood Restaurants
  10 Great Thai Dishes
  10 Phuket Typical Dishes
  10 Best Classic Thai Dishes
  10 Hardcore Thai Food

The Best EXPLORER Stuff
  14 Hidden Beaches of Phuket
  15 Islands Near Phuket
  18 Nicest Mansions in Phuket
  13 Viewpoints in Phuket
  10 Things to See Off the Beaten Track
  10 Most Quiet Beaches of Phuket

The FUN Stuff
  16 Things to Do with Kids
  10 Ways to Party in Patong
   10 Best Rooftop Bars
   7 Night Clubs
  10 Romantic Things to Do in Phuket
  10 Reasons Why We Can't Leave Thailand

The USEFUL Stuff
  10 Questions People Always Ask
  10 Mistakes People Do on First Trip
  13 Tips to Save Money
  12 Things to Do on Small Budget
  10 Quick Facts about Phuket

The WEATHER Stuff
  10 Things to Do When It Rains
  What To Expect in Low Season
   7 Beaches for Low Season

The TOTALLY SILLY Stuff
  13 Really Weird Things in Phuket
  10 Tips to Spot a Ladyboy
   10 Insects for Gourmets
  10 Clues you have been in Phuket TOO LONG!
  10 Cheap Fun Things to Do in Phuket

USEFUL

Phuket Airport: Things to Know
Phuket Weather
Phuket Event Calendar (NEW!)
How to Pronounce Phuket

35 BEACHES OF PHUKET
Patong Beach ☆☆☆
Kata Beach☆☆
Karon Beach ☆☆
Kamala Beach ☆☆
Nai Harn Beach ☆☆
Kata Noi Beach ☆☆
Laem Singh Beach (now closed) ☆ ☆
Bang Tao Beach
Mai Khao Beach
Surin Beach
Nai Yang Beach
Naithon Beach
Rawai Beach

HIDDEN BEACHES
Freedom Beach ☆☆
Paradise Beach
Banana Beach ☆☆
Ya Nui Beach ☆☆
Ao Yon Beach
Ao Sane Beach
Tri Trang Beach
Panwa Beach

15 ISLANDS NEAR PHUKET
Similan Islands ☆☆☆
Phi Phi Islands NEW!
Bon Island
Coral Island
Khai Islands
Racha Island
James Bond Island
Koh Panyee

BEST THINGS TO DO IN PHUKET
12 Things to Do When it RAINS
John Gray Sea Canoe ☆☆☆
Phang Nga Bay ☆☆☆
Buddha Cave in Phang Nga
Phuket Town Walking Map
Thalang Road - Old Phuket Town ☆☆
Phuket Walking Street ☆☆
Simon Cabaret Show ☆☆
Phuket Fantasea ☆☆
Phuket Trickeye Museum
Upside Down House
Kao Rang Hill
Phuket Aquarium

10 PHUKET VIEWPOINTS
Big Buddha ☆☆
Karon Viewpoint (Kata Viewpoint) ☆☆
Wassa Homemade Bar ☆☆
Windmill Viewpoint
Black Rock Viewpoint ☆☆
Samet Nangshe Viewpoint ☆☆
Promthep Cape Viewpoint
Panwa Viewpoint
After Beach Bar

PHUKET WATERFALLS
Bangpae Waterfall
Kathu Waterfalls
Tonsai Waterfalls

PHUKET MUSEUMS
Baan Chinpracha
Phuket Mining Museum
Thai Hua Museum

TEMPLES of PHUKET
7 Buddha Postures for 7 Days
Big Buddha ☆☆
Wat Chalong ☆☆
Buddha Cave in Phang Nga
Wat Kao Rang and Sitting Buddha
Wat Phra Thong
Shrine of The Serene Light

NIGHTLIFE
10 Tips to Spot a Ladyboy
10 Ways to PARTY in Patong
Simon Cabaret Show
Paradise Complex
Party Drinks in Phuket
Phuket Fantasea
Rock City Patong

PHUKET BEACH CLUBS
Cafe Del Mar ☆☆
Catch Beach Club
Dream Beach Club
Kudo Beach Club
HQ Beach Lounge
Iguana Beach Club
Xana Beach Club

INSIDE GO GO BARS (HOT)
Suzy Wongs A Go Go (HOT)
Devil's Playground (HOT)
Diablo A Go Go
Exotica A Go Go
Harem A Go Go (NEW)
Rock Hard A Go Go

SOI BANGLA ROAD
Soi Seadragon (HOT)

PHUKET NIGHT CLUBS
Illuzion Phuket
White Room
Seduction Phuket
Tiger Club

SHOPPING
Central Festival Phuket
JungCeylon Shopping Mall ☆☆☆
Phuket Price Check

PHUKET NIGHT MARKETS
Chillva Night Market ☆☆☆ NEW!
Phuket Walking Street ☆☆
Phuket Weekend Market
Phuket Indy Market

PHUKET MARKETS
Banzaan Market ☆☆☆
Phuket Amulet Market

EVENTS & FESTIVALS
Loy Krathong
Songkran
Patong Gay Festival
Vegetarian Festival

SPORTS & ACTIVITIES
Diving in Phuket NEW!
Thai Boxing Training
Wake Park
Dino Park Mini Golf
Elephant Jungle Sanctuary
Go Kart
Kayaking in Phang Nga Bay
Phuket Tree Adventures
Spas and Massages
Splash Jungle Water Park
Surf House Kata Beach
Surf House Patong
White Water Rafting

INFORMATION
Phuket AIRPORT: Things to Know
Phuket Travel Tips and FAQs
10 Quick Facts about Phuket
Phuket FAQs
Driving and Renting a Bike or a Car
Phuket Price Check
Phuket Map - with all locations
Bangkok Blog

HOTELS & RESORTS
21 GREAT HOTELS IN PHUKET

MAI KHAO & NORTH PHUKET
Sala Phuket Resort
Renaissance Phuket Resort
Banyan Tree Phuket
Hyatt Regency Phuket
Maikhao Dreams
Pullman Arcadia Naithon Phuket
Phuket Marriott Nai Yang
The Slate Phuket NEW!
Trisara Villas
TwinPalms Phuket

BEST HOTELS IN PATONG
Amari Phuket Resort Holiday Inn Phuket
Kalima Resort
Phuket Graceland NEW!
Le Meridien Phuket
Novotel Phuket Resort
The Kee Resort
Impiana Cabana
Swissotel Patong

BEST HOTELS IN KATA BEACH
Kata Rocks
The Shore at Kata Thani
Katathani Beach Resort
Mom Tri's Villa Royale

KARON BEACH
Movenpick Resort
Centara Grand Beach Resort Phuket NEW!

PHUKET TOWN
Westin Siray Bay Resort
Novotel Phuket Phokeethra
Little Nyonya

ISLAND RESORTS
Six Senses Hideaway Yao Noi
The Racha

BEST RESTAURANTS in PHUKET

MOST ROMANTIC RESTAURANTS
La Gritta at Amari Phuket
Wok Pagoda NEW!
Da Maurizio
360 at Pavilions
Mom Tri's Kitchen
Pan Yaah Restaurant
Tunk Ka Cafe
Gaetana Italian Restaurant
Blue Elephant
Panwa House at Cape Panwa

10 BEST LOCAL AND THAI RESTAURANTS
Mor Mu Dong Restaurant
Pang Prai Restaurant
Kan Eang 2 Seafood
Kan Eang @ Pier
One Chun
Kaab Gluay
Raya House
Tunk Ka Cafe
Paknam Seafood
Suay Restaurant
Kru Suwit Restaurant
Thanoon Seafood
Osha Phuket
MORE PHUKET RESTAURANTS

STORIES
8 Sunset Photo Tips
Phuket Funniest Photos
Phuket Tsunami