Visiting Phuket in 2 Days
Visiting Phuket in two days without rushing is possible because the island is relatively small, but it certainly will be a busy exploration. A three-day itinerary would allow a lot more, but this overview should enable you to stop at the prominent landmarks and small beaches. We will skip the tourist beaches; you know where they are, and you can include them if you want to. It’s a lot more fun to explore the remote ones.
We start this two-day exploration of Phuket roughly from the Patong, Kata and Karon areas. Still, since we drive around the island, you could begin anywhere or go from point to point in the opposite direction. We drive north first, starting in Patong Beach. Read also about three days in Phuket.
Day 1 – South Phuket
See a full-size map at the bottom of the page
The view of the three nearby beaches from the famous Karon viewpoint is beautiful. You can see Kata Noi, Kata Beach and Karon Beach from the elevated gazebo. Read more
Nai Harn beach is large and beautiful. The sand is soft, the sea is clear (during high season as usual), and there are not many constructions around it to spoil its beauty. However, if you are hungry, there are plenty of local restaurants and fruit shops to enjoy just behind a line of trees. If you consider staying in the area, The Nai Harn is a superb hotel with seaside terraces and a large rooftop bar. Read more
The famous Windmill viewpoint just above Ya Nui Beach is the renowned Windmill viewpoint (sometimes called the wind turbine). It offers a superb panoramic view of Ya Nui, Promthep Cape and the nearby islands. The parking is vast, and it’s now effortless to park your car. Read more
Ya Nui is a small but scenic beach tucked between green hills with a massive island in front of it. It’s tiny, but people love it because it’s a decent spot for snorkelling. Read more
Promthep Cape during daytime is not that impressive, but since you drive in the area, stop for a photo of the cape and the small shrine surrounded by hundred small elephant statues near it. Read more
Rawai beach, in the very south of Phuket, was long neglected because it was mostly a harbour for the many longtail boats and speedboats. The gipsy fisherman village was more of a slum than an attraction until recent years. Everything changed when the Rawai Seafood Market opened, and Rawai Fisherman Village was buzzing and even crowded. If you like seafood, you better stop at one of the small restaurants by the seafront. More relaxed and more authentic. Some expat restaurants take a break if local seafood is not your thing: Vida Nova and Nikita’s Beach Restaurant. The beach is full of boats in the middle but is nicer at each end. Read more
Past Phuket Town and driving south is the beautiful Wat Chalong, the most revered temple on the island. Stop to admire it, take a few photos from outside, and then at the interior with many paintings and golden statues. You can even climb the central stupa to get a modest panoramic view. Remember to remove shoes and caps before entering the temple and dress appropriately (avoid short skirts or sleeveless T-shirts). The entrance is free, and taking photos is allowed. Read more
The Big Buddha is a 45-meter-tall statue covered with white marble at the top of Nakkerd Hills. The figure is beautiful, but the panoramic views from the hills are fantastic. In the back, you can see Kata Beach from above, and from the front, you can admire Chalong Bay to Phang Nga if the weather is clear. On the way down, stop at one of the small bars and restaurants to enjoy more panoramic views of Karon Beach. Read more
Popular Ways to Discover Big Buddha
Phuket Town is almost worth spending the rest of the afternoon, especially if you arrive at the end of a Sunday afternoon with the Sunday Walking Street Market. On any other day, you can walk Phuket’s old streets, try local food or have a break at one of the many little cafes. From Phuket Town, depending on how much time you have left, you can decide to drive back to your starting point or continue to the south part of Phuket. Read more
Popular Ways to Discover Phuket Town
Day 2 – North Phuket
See a full-size map at the bottom of the page
Once you start your exploration driving north, you will first reach Kamala. It’s a beautiful beach but not a landmark. We like to stop for breakfast at one of the many seafront restaurants in the middle part, usually easy to reach from the small road just past Fantasea Park. Read more
Laem Singh may or may not be accessible on the day you drive. It depends on the weather and the mood of the boat that takes you there. Laem Singh used to be a very popular sandy cove, but the access was close to the public a couple of years ago to make space for a Mandarin Oriental hotel. However, you can still go there by sea.
To find the boat, drive to Surin beach (the next beach), find the boat, and sign on the beach that indicates the location. If the beach is not accessible on that day, you can at least stop at the easy-to-find viewpoint by the road, from which we took the photo above. Read more
Surin Beach is a superb natural beach with a long history. There used to be many restaurants and trendy beach clubs, but none of them was legally built! One day they were all gone, demolished. The beach is now back to its natural state, and you still can rent beach chairs and eat at one of the local shacks on the parking. A nice stop. Read more
Bangtao is a very Long Beach with complicated access, you never really know how to get to a specific part, and each part is different. The most noticeable is the south part, just next to Outrigger, where you’ll find many restaurants right on the beach. Luxury hotels and beach clubs occupy the central area of Bangtao, but parking is a little tricky. The north of Bangtao is Layan Beach which hasn’t changed much in years, with small restaurants built under the trees near the beach. It’s a lot quieter and more in Thailand. Read more about Bangtao Beach.
Banana Beach is one of the hidden beaches of Phuket. It’s away from the main road, and the entrances are hard to spot, but it is a nice stop if you can find it. You can even have a nice lunch there since there is a restaurant during the high season. Read more
Just a little further than Banana Beach is the beautiful Naithon Beach. This beach is surprisingly quiet with superb sand and clear water (in high season). There are just enough restaurants and fruit vendors along the coast to make it a perfect stop. Read more
Nai Yang is another favourite beach. It has remained relatively peaceful and unchanged for two reasons: it’s near a national park, there are not many hotels around, and it’s not on the main roads, but most of all: tourist always seems to rush south! There are a few restaurants right on the beach to enjoy. Read more
Mai Khao is beautiful and long but not a place to stop on a driving exploration day. It’s more the place to stay in a luxury hotel, a long strip of sand lined by tall trees. But there is a twist: Mai Khao is where the airport is, and it’s where you can get one of those fantastic landing plane photos! Read more about Mai Khao Beach.
Once you reach the north of Phuket, you could continue exploring Phang Nga, but that will be for a future page. Start driving back south using the main road. You won’t find many significant landmarks worth stopping on the way. If you like temples, you could pause at Wat Phra Thong and read about the legend of the buried Buddha statue, but it’s a little underwhelming. Further south is Bang Pae, the biggest waterfall on the island, and while it’s an excellent shortstop in the jungle, it’s not very impressive either. However, if you are hungry or haven’t had lunch yet, there are two excellent local restaurants in this area: Piang Prai, next to the waterfall and Bang Pae Seafood, a little further by the sea. Read more
Map of Phuket Island
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.