What best to do in Phuket?
What are the best things to do in Phuket? The popularity of this fantastic island comes from the incredibly vast range of activities and tours, from fabulous beaches and natural wonders to glittering temples and human-made attractions.
Phang Nga Bay is an absolute must-do, with jaw-dropping limestone cliffs and flooded caves. Phi Phi islands are everyone’s second favourite even though it can be a little crowded. The 45 meters high Big Buddha of Phuket is also on everyone’s list, and it is not difficult to reach. Walking with the elephants to help them escape a life of hard labour is the next big thing in Phuket and is growing fast in popularity.
- What best to do in Phuket?
- 1. Explore Phang Nga Bay
- 2. Take a Trip to Phi Phi Islands
- 3. Climb to Big Buddha of Phuket
- 4. Party in Bangla Road
- 5. Visit Chalong Temple
- 6. Explore Old Phuket Town (updated)
- 7. Explore the many Night Markets!
- 8. Help the Elephants
- 9. Be Amazed at Similan Islands
- 10. Samet Nangshe viewpoint
- 11. Karon Viewpoint
- 12. Plane Spotting on Mai Khao Beach
- 13. Discover the little known island of Maiton
- 14. Watch a sunset at Prompthep Cape
- 15. Koh Panyi
- 16. James Bond Island
- 17. Scare yourself at Flying Hanuman
- 18. Watch the Simon Cabaret Show
- 19. Black Rock Viewpoint
- 20. Get wet at one of Phuket Waterparks
- 21. The Upside Down House
- 23. Chalong Bay Rum Distillery
- 23. Siam Niramit
- 24. Visit Phuket Aquaria
- 25. Have dinner on Rang Hill
- 26. Play Golf in Phuket
- 27. Bathe with Elephants
- FAQs about Phuket Must-Do
Our recommendation is to plan just a few day trips, then once in Phuket, and you can adjust your plan according to your mood (or the weather). You can book those day trips once here, they are usually cheaper and can be booked directly from your hotel, in the street or one of the many travel agencies. We added information on each item.
Note that some tours may look more expensive than others, but those usually offer a better experience: less crowded, better service and overall: a better experience.
With so much to choose from, it may be challenging to fit everything in once holiday. So to make your travel planning a lot easier, we listed here a list must-do in Phuket sorted by popularity. Some of them are on the island itself, some of them are around the island, but easily accessible in one day.
The incredible scenery of Phang Nga has always been at the top of our list of places to visit absolutely. There are many ways to explore it. You can take a lazy sunset cruise on a Chinese Junk or explore Phang Nga by canoe through caves and enclosed lagoons. If you can afford it, a full day on a customised private cruise around Phang Nga is the most relaxing and enjoyable experience. Similar to the famous Halong Bay in Vietnam, these landscapes will leave you with unforgettable memories. Read more
How to get there: Phang Nga can be booked even one day before once in Phuket, at your hotel or street booth. However, everyone agrees that the best way to do it is with John Gray Seacanoe which should be booked in advance online, especially during high season (December to May)
When to get there: Thanks to its sheltered geography, Phang Nga is accessible and beautiful all year round, even during the raining season. The sea is never rough, so you won’t have to worry about being seasick.
Phi Phi is a beautiful archipelago made of fantastic beaches and immense cliffs over two bays you can admire from the famous viewpoint. Phi Phi is also renowned among young crowds for those legendary beach parties lasting all night long, reminding a bit of the Full Moon Parties on Koh Phangan. But this fame comes with a price and Phi Phi may have become too popular. The crowds, greed and developments have severely affected the island, so don’t go imagining yourself walking alone on the deserted beach of the movie ‘The Beach’. Read more
How to get there: Book it in advance if you plan to stay overnight. You can book a ferry or speedboat once in Phuket if you only want to go for the day, but day trips usually allow you such a short time on Phi Phi, you won’t have much time for exploration. Price starts as cheap as 375 baht for a ferry ticket + hotel transfer.
When to go there: Phi Phi island is open all year round, but of course, it’s more beautiful with blue sky during high season (December to May). Note that during low season, the ride can be bumpy, so if you are prone to seasickness, take some pill.
Note: The famous Maya Bay remains closed for another couple of years, but the main island is open. You can take a boat ride all around the archipelago.
Number 3 on our list of best things to do in Phuket is the Big Buddha, an iconic 45-meter tall white marble statue sitting at the top of Nakkerd hill in the south of the island. The construction of this statue, entirely from donations, started in 2002. You can contribute too by sponsoring one small white marble tiles and sign your name on it. It’s a great thing to do, and your name will be there forever. Remember that Big Buddha is more than just a landmark; it is a religious place. You should respect it by dressing appropriately: if you wear shorts or skirts above the knee, you will need to wear a sarong provided by the security at the entrance. It would be best if you also tried to keep your voice down, which unfortunately is not very well understood by tourists.
The road to get up there is a little steep but well-paved, and the panoramic view from the top is worth the climb. To the north, you can see the whole Chalong Bay to Phang Nga, and in the south, you will see Kata Beach. On the way down, stop at one of the many little panoramic bars to get a bird view of Karon Beach. Read more
How to get there: you can easily reach the Big Buddha with your motorbike or car. Tuk-tuks will happily take you there too and wait for you once up there. Keep in mind that most tours include a visit to the Big Buddha.
When to get there: all year round
Price: free entrance, but donations are appreciated
Bangla road might not be to everyone’s taste, but judging by the enormous crowd walking up and down Patong walking street every night, Bangla is on many people’s must-see list. Unlike what most people believe, Soi Bangla is not a ‘Sin City for Single Men’. It’s a colourful and vibrant street full of life, restaurants, shops, and bars and of course, dancing girls. Now, if you want to know more, enter these famous Go-Go bars and see for yourself what a go-go bar is. You will often see couples tourists having a drink, Patong is a lot easier going than Bangkok or Pattaya. Read more
When to go there: Bangla is lively all year round. Nothing happens during the day, and the street closes to traffic around 7 pm. However, the party atmosphere only kicks in after 9 pm or 10 pm.
Chalong Temple (locally called Wat Chalong), built at the beginning of the 19th century, is the largest and the most visited Buddhist temple in Phuket. The most iconic building on the temple grounds is a 60 meters tall stupa sheltering a fragment of bone from Buddha. Inside, beautiful paintings and illustration on the walls and ceilings narrate the life of Lord Buddha, and each floor is full of donated golden statues. You can also climb stairs to reach a terrace and enjoy a panoramic view of the place. Just like in any temple in Thailand, remember to dress appropriately: no shorts or skirts above the knee, no sleeveless shirts. Remember to remove shoes and caps when entering the temple itself. Read more
How to get there: easy to reach by car or motorbike. Most tours will include Wat Chalong, usually combined with a visit to the Big Buddha.
When to get there: the temple is open from 7 am to 5 pm, but you can walk around the property anytime
Price: free entrance but donations are appreciated
6. Explore Old Phuket Town (updated)
It’s hard to resist those old Sino-Portuguese streets with their beautiful shop houses and magnificent mansions. With many small cafes, bakeries, and eateries along the way, Phuket’s old town is perfect for a half-day. You can reach there by tuk-tuk, or even with the local blue bus that stops at the city market, then walk from there to Thalang road, the most popular of the old streets of Phuket Town. Visit also the local markets near the bus station and explore the little streets here and there to discover some incredible abandoned mansions. Don’t miss the Phuket Walking Street on Sunday, a chance to try a lot of local food you cannot find easily! Read more
How to get there: Tuk-Tuk or Grab taxi are the standard options. Then the cheapest way apart from driving there yourself is to ride the local blue bus.
Phuket has a lot of night markets but at any day of the week and the line between a night market and a night bazaar is relatively thin. Some markets only open during the weekend and some during the weekdays, so there should always be one open on any given day. The most famous and most creative is the Sunday Walking Street Market in the old Thalang road of Phuket Town.
Phuket now has a lot of elephant sanctuaries and retirements camps, but very few of them are genuinely ethical. It might come to you as a big surprise, but bathing with elephants is not as ethical as people think, not to mention it’s unhealthy or potentially dangerous. Elephants don’t particularly enjoy being surrounded by large groups of humans. Tree Tops Elephant Reserve is a true sanctuary where you can admire animals rescued from hard labour as they roam around a vast land, or bath in a lake on their own. Learn about them, and understand a little more why trekking has to stop. Read more
How to get there: You can book once in Phuket via your hotel or ask an agency but make sure you specify Tree Top Reserve! The best is direct with them. The tour includes a pick up from your hotel. (read more)
When to go there: open all year round. It’s an excellent activity to keep for a cloudy day
Price: 2,900 baht for adults and 1,500 baht for children
Similan Island is the most impressive set of Islands accessible from Phuket, blessed with incredible white sand and clear blue waters. But these are only open from November to May and a bit far, 100 km north-west of Phuket in the Andaman Sea. If you get a chance, you should go. If you are not confident, go to Phi Phi Island, but it’s crowded. More accessible and closer is Racha Island or nearby is also Coral Island. Read more
How to get there: you can book this tour from your hotel or a local agent once in Phuket. In most cases, a van will pick you up from your hotel and drive to Tap Lamu pier outside the island. From there you will ride a speed boat.
When to get there: Similans are only open between October to May.
Price: starts around 2,350 baht. Just remember that cheap tickets may mean overcrowded boats.
Samet Nangshe is quite a recent discovery, and the view from up there is jaw-dropping. As it is just outside Phuket island, it takes some dring to reach it, but the beauty of this natural wonder is well worth the effort! It used to be quite a challenge to climb the hill to one of the viewpoints, but there is now a pickup truck taking you up there, for a small fee.
11. Karon Viewpoint
Next on our list of best things to do in Phuket is the famous Karon Viewpoint, where you can enjoy a panoramic view of three magnificent bays. The closest is Kata Noi Beach, further is the beautiful bay of Kata with its small iconic island, and in the far is Karon Beach. The place is well-known and therefore frequently busy, but people don’t stay long. Apart from taking a couple of photos and maybe buying some drinks, snack and ice creams, there is not much to do up there. You will often see a Thai guy on his motorbike with a big eagle offering you to take a photo with the bird, for a small fee of course. Just remember that wildlife is protected and you should not encourage this practice, no matter how cool the photo will look on your Instagram. Read more
Plane Spotting has become a viral phenomenon the day it became forbidden. The more it’s forbidden, the more people go there, and this once deserted beach had become an Instagram mad playground. And why not? Seeing these enormous flying machines approaching from far and getting closer to you in a roar is jaw-dropping. As they are about to land, they fly so low above the turquoise water; you could almost touch their wheels! Read more
How to get there: most people use their car or bikes to get to Maikhao beach. It seems that some local agencies offer a ride there. Read how to go there by yourself.
When to go there: Please remember that planes land over the beach only during high season (November to May) when the wind blows east to west! During low season planes will land from the other side, over the main road. And this is just an indication; wind can change according to weather.
Can you go?: Technically, it is not allowed to be under the path of the plane, but no one seems to care.
There are a lot of islands near Phuket, but because for a long time Maiton was a very exclusive private island, it has remained a little mysterious. Even though Maiton is only 15 minutes from Phuket by speedboat, not many people visit it. To add to this surreal atmosphere, 60 of the once luxurious 70 villas are now just standing wrecks. It’s a very peaceful and beautiful island, great to relax, snorkel and take photos and there are no loud watersports here.
Promthep Cape is not as grand as you might expect, but it still attracts busloads of tourists every evening at sunset time. The elevated location at the very south of the island offers beautiful views on the bay and the few nearby islands. You can enjoy a bit of local shopping around and even an excellent Thai dinner at the local ‘Promthep Restaurant‘. Read more
How to get there: usually people ride their car or motorbikes.
When to go there: sunsets are a lot more impressive during low season (June to November) but some days might be cloudy. Need to know when to arrive to see the sunset? Check the time on Google!
15. Koh Panyi
Koh Panyi is a surprising small fishermen village built entirely on stilts in the middle of Phang Nga Bay. What used to be a remote place is now more of a tourist attraction, but it is still a real village with a sizeable Muslim community, a mosque and a school. You can explore the narrow ‘streets’ and see the water through the interstices of the floor, do some local shopping and enjoy a tasty seafood lunch. Take a longtail boat early to reach there before tourists arrive, and you get a completely different feel for the place. Continue to the James Bond Island if you feel like seeing the shooting set of this old movie ‘The man with the golden gun’. Read more
How to get there: almost every tour agent offer this tour, together with James Bond island. You could also drive to one of the many Phang Nga piers, then ride a longtail boat from there.
When to get there: all year round, as Phang Nga is a bay, there are no waves at all.
James Bond island is one of those bucket list items many people want to tick-off their list. There are many positive and negative opinions about James Bond Island, and most are justified. Before that old 1974, James Bond movie ‘The Man With The Golden Gun’ with Roger Moore and Christopher Lee (remember Count Dracula? Saruman in Lord of the Ring?) no one talked about this island. The movie wasn’t even good (45% on Rotten Tomatoes). Read more
How to get there: Check with your hotel or a local agent. Can usually be booked the day before.
When to get there: all year round
There are 3 or 4 Ziplines around the island, and we tried Flying Hanuman, in the forest near Patong Beach. Zipline is a great way to do something fun and exciting with friends and even family. You can do something active, fun and unforgettable in the dense forest in Kathu. It’s enormous, impressive and safe and anyone can do it, even a four years old kid! Read more
How to get there: book directly with them or check a local travel agent
Price: starts at 2,300 baht (16 platform) and 3,250 baht (28 platforms).
Simon Cabaret on Patong beach is a ‘Las Vegas’ kind of show, but with a twist. The stage is magnificent, the sets and costumes are glittering and colourful, but what people came to see are the amazingly beautiful ladyboys! Perfect bodies with cute faces, most of them would fool you! Read more
How to get there: Check with your hotel or a local agent. Can usually be booked late, even the same day.
Price: 800 baht for a VIP seat and 700 for a regular chair.
Black Rock is not as hard to reach as Samet Nangshee listed higher in this page, but it still requires a little bit of climbing. It’s not too difficult to find as the path is not well defined as you can see on our page. The view from up there is fantastic, offering a superb birdview of Nai Harn Beach and the islands around. Read more
Phuket now has two big water parks: Splash Jungle and Blue Tree Phuket and a new one under construction called Andamanda. You can have just as much fun on the beach but remember that the sea can be rough during the low season! When the sea is rough, those theme parks offer a great alternative, with slides, ziplines and paddleboards.
The Upside Down House, also known as Baan Teelanka, is a fun place for both kids and adults on a rainy day. This unusual photo playground built on three floors is on the outskirt of Phuket town. Read more
Location: near Phuket Town
Address: 51/11 Chalermprakiet Ratchakan Thi 9 Road, Phuket 83000
Open: 10 am – 6 pm
Phone: 076 376 245
Price: 350 Baht, (Kids 4 to 11: 190 Baht)
Did you know that Phuket was producing its own rum, made of pure sugar cane juice instead of molasses? You can visit the factory, do some rum tasting and even take a cocktail class in their beautiful setting in Chalong area. It’s a lot of fun (and great if it rains!) Read more
Location: Chalong, near Phuket Zoo
Address: 14/2 Moo 2, Palai, Soi 2, Chalong, Amphur Muang, Phuket 83130
Open: 11 am – 11 pm
Phone: 093 575 1119
Price: Visit: 450 baht, Cocktail Class: 1,700 baht
23. Siam Niramit
Siam Niramit is also a stage performance and a park recreating small local villages from around Thailand. The show about Thai history and mythology involves a hundred very skilled actors and dancers in a large theatre with a fantastic setting and sounds system. The show starts at 8 pm, so this is a great way to spend an evening out in Phuket Town, away from Patong party! Read more
How to get there: Check with your hotel or a local agent. You can book Siam Niramit on the same day.
Price: starts at 1,500 baht, gold seats: 1,700 baht
Phuket now has two aquariums: the original Phuket Aquarium in Cape Panwa, on the south-east coast, and the newly built Aquaria in Phuket Town. Cape Panwa Aquarium is more of a marine biological centre that often rescues dolphins, dugongs and turtles. Aquaria, the latest and largest aquarium in Phuket, is a tourist attraction built under the immense Central Floresta Shopping Mall and it even includes a restaurant. Read more about Aquaria or the Aquarium in Cape Panwa.
Rang Hill is a beautiful viewpoint above Phuket town, with a good view both by day and by night with the city lights. Enjoy the view from the panoramic platform and stay for lunch or dinner at the beautiful Tunk Ka Cafe or Khaorang Breeze Restaurant next to it. If you drive down the other side of the mountain, stop for a photo at the giant golden sitting Buddha of Wat Kao Rang. Read more
How to get there: you will need your transportation or ride a tuk-tuk (or grab).
You are spoilt for choice if you intend to play golf in Phuket with seven golf courses on the island and several more just across the border in Phang Nga province. Most of the golf courses in Phuket are in the northern half of the island.
Phuket now has a lot of elephant sanctuaries and retirements camps. The island is finally shifting from the old fashioned trekking to this great new way to play with elephants in a fun way. In those camps, you will prepare food for the animals, but the part everyone is looking forward the most is the bathing, where you scrub the elephants with mud. Kids love the experience, especially playing with baby elephants. Read more
How to get there: usually, you can book once on the island via your hotel or ask an agency. You can book the day before (maybe two days early in the high season, Dec to May). The tour includes a pick up from your hotel.
Price: 2,500 baht for adults and 1,900 baht for children
FAQs about Phuket Must-Do
a. The most popular things to do on the island of Phuket include:
a. Among the best things to around Phuket are:
a. There are many incredible islands to visit near Phuket:
a. You can book most tours once in Phuket, but book private cruises and John Gray Seacanoe in advance, especially during peak season (December and January)