An Alternative Guide to Phuket
Phuket Off The Beaten Track page is for travellers who have been in Phuket a few times before. If this is your 1st time you should read this page first. If you have visited all the ‘must-see and do in Phuket’, read our ‘Phuket Off The Beaten Track – part 1 ’. Once you ticked all the boxes, we hope you can find more tips to explore Phuket island further in this new page.
After more than 20 years living on this amazing island, I realized that people often had a very stereotyped vision of Phuket. The most surprising statements are probably ‘Phuket is too crowded’ and ‘Phuket is not Thailand’.
Yes Phuket has become an international destination and this for many good reasons, but surprisingly most people complaining will be found on the 5 most touristic beaches of Phuket. That’s a little ironical when you know 35 other superb beaches of Phuket are quiet and even deserted.
Phuket has so much to offer to travelers of all lifestyles, from very modern facilities to traditional temples, from superb restaurants with incredibly talented chefs to fabulous cheap street food, and hidden seafood restaurants. Your experience of Phuket depends entirely on what you want it to be, but you have to step away from tourist areas to find places that have little changed. Once you do, you will be surprised to see that the entire northern part of the island is relatively untouched.
We share here some places most people miss, little things to discover once you covered all the classic landmarks. (click on each read more to find maps)
Stay away from crowded beaches and discover, Nai Yang, a bay of Phuket that hasn’t change much in years. Locals love to come on weekends for a picnic and a barbecue under immense trees while kids splash about in the sea. It’s a national park so there might be a little fee to enter, but you will love the unique relaxed atmosphere of Nai Yang beach. Read more
Laem Singh Beach might come as a surprise in a ‘off the beaten track’ list because it was so popular and crowded for so long. But Laem Singh closed to the public a couple of years ago people who loved it only had their eyes to cry. Recently a couple of boats started taking people there to Laem Singh for a small fee. (You can’t cross the land, but law allows you to reach by sea : read this)
If you find that tiny boat on Surin beach and spend a few hours on Laem Singh, you will understand right away why it is on this list. Read here how to get there
3. Nui Beach
For long time, Nui Beach was a bit of a mystery beach in Phuket. Few people heard of it mostly because getting there was so challenging. It was hard to find, hard to reach at the end of a steep dirt road, and if by chance you found it, the staff at that ‘private’ beach used to ask 500 baht entry fee. Luckily someone finally changed that and the entry is now free! Read here how to reach Nui Beach.
There are quite a few impressive viewpoints around Phuket but Wassa Homemade bar offers a nice terrace to enjoy the famous ever-changing Phuket sunsets with a cold drink, sitting comfortably high over Patong Beach. Read more
5. The Cove in Ao Yon
The Cove is a tiny but very enjoyable seafront bar and restaurant found at the end of the hidden Ao Yon Beach. A few tables with large umbrellas are set just by the beach and the place is very peaceful for a break at any time of the day. The Cove serves Italian, Spanish, seafood and Thai cuisine so it should please everyone. It’s just a little far, unless you are staying in the Panwa area.
Rimpan Seafood is a tiny restaurant hidden at the foot of the Sarasin Bridge in the north of Phuket. The tiny beach where it sits might not have great sand but it is peaceful and nice for a short dip, even during low season. Food is really Thai (no, that’s not the case all the time!) with some really good local dishes, and very well priced. Read more
7. Piang Prai
Piang Prai is an excellent local restaurant in a very enjoyable green setting, just next to the relatively well-known Bang Pae waterfall. The place is breezy and spacious, a good way to relax before of after visiting the waterfalls. Piang Pari serves of course a great Thai food at local prices, including some local specialties. Read more
You have been to the classic attractions on your first trip, namely Big Buddha, Wat Chalong, Old Phuket Town, Promthep cape and the Karon Viewpoint? So here is a list of places you may not have seen, or ever heard of!
Black Rock is a relatively new viewpoint located a little further than the very well-known Karon Viewpoint on the way to Nai Harn Beach. The thing is that it is a little challenging to reach and find via a dirt road. There is also a bit of climb to do in the forest, but the view from the top is worth the effort. As an extra bonus, if you reached Black Rock, you also found the elusive Nui Beach, which is even harder to find and is also worth stopping at. Read more
Almost everyone drive pass this unusual and colorful temple but almost no one ever stops. Wat Phra Nang Sang has a bit of an unusual history. On the interesting side it is the oldest temple of Phuket and supposedly shelters a relic of Lord Buddha, but I’m not entirely sure about this fact. On the unusual side, Wat Phra Nang Sand was displaying very strange statues. One was an immense black statue of a very revered monk called Luang Por Chaem, but the body proportions were so strange, people asked for the statue to be demolished. It didn’t take long and they took it down, together with other statues of mythical giants having their breasts out and holding machine guns. The temple is still beautiful, with a lot of paintings to admire, including a reclining Buddha. It is absolutely not off the beaten track but strangely, no one seems to take the time to stop. Read more
10. Kathu Museum
The Kathu museum is a new addition to the museums of Phuket list. It opened without fanfare and is very modest, but the house itself is so beautiful, it is worth a stop on your way from Patong to Phuket Town (or vice versa). The museum displays an interesting list of the most typical Phuket dishes, spices and ingredients. This house was a part of a beer company distribution and was abandoned for a very long time. Story to come soon, see the map below in the meantime.
In recent years the walls of Phuket town and of the entire island were given to Thai painters as canvas to express all things Thai. The result is simply superb and it adds a touch of fun to your exploration. Most paintings are not ‘off the beaten track’ and you can’t miss them on your visit of Phuket Town, but some others like the photo above are really hard to find. It’ fun and 100% Thai!. Read more