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What 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 attractions, 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 they can be a little crowded. The 45 meters high Big Buddha of Phuket is also on everyone’s list, and this attraction 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.

Phuket Tours

We recommend planning 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 attraction.

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 into one holiday. So to make your travel planning a lot easier, we listed here a long list of must-do in Phuket sorted by popularity. Some are on the island, and some are around the island but easily accessible in one day.

1. Explore Phang Nga Bay

Phang Nga Bay by Sea Canoe

The incredible scenery of Phang Nga has always been at the top of our list of places to visit. 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 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 the 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 rainy season. The sea is never rough, so you won’t have to worry about seasickness.


2. Take a Trip to Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi is a beautiful archipelago made of fantastic beaches and immense cliffs over two bays you can admire from a 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 in 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. The 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 a blue sky during the high season (December to May). During the low season, the ride can be bumpy, so take some pills if you are prone to seasickness.

Note: The famous Maya Bay has reopened after being closed for several years!


3. Climb to Big Buddha of Phuket

Big Buddha Phuket

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 tile and signing your name on it. It’s a great thing to do; 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 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 steep but well-paved, and the panoramic view from the top is worth the climb. To the north, you can see the whole of Chalong Bay to Phang Nga; 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. 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


4. Party in Bangla Road

Bangla Road

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, bars and dancing girls. If you want to know more, enter these famous Go-Go bars and see 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 or 10 pm.


5. Visit Chalong Temple

Wat Chalong Phuket

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 illustrations 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)

Phuket Town

It’s hard to resist those old Sino-Portuguese streets with beautiful shophouses and magnificent mansions. Phuket’s old town is perfect for a half-day, with many small cafes, bakeries, and eateries along the way. You can reach there by tuk-tuk, or even with the local blue bus that stops at the city market, then walk to Thalang road, the most popular of the old streets of Phuket Town. Visit 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.


7. Explore the many Night Markets!

Phuket has a lot of night markets, but on any day of the week, 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. The Sunday Walking Street Market on the old Thalang road of Phuket Town is the most creative.


8. Enjoy Sunset Drinks and Dinner

Phuket Best Sunset Bars

When weather permits, Phuket sunsets can be pretty impressive, especially during the low season, because clouds reflect the red hues in remarkable ways. You will be able to enjoy sunsets from most of the beaches on the west coast, but the best way is to share the moment with a cold drink in hand! Here is a list of sunset spots we love in Phuket.


9. Help the Elephants

Tree Tops Elephant Reserve Phuket

Phuket now has a lot of elephant sanctuaries and retirement 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 bathe in a lake on their own. Learn about them, and understand a little more about 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 pickup 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


10. Be Amazed at Similan Islands

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 are a bit far, 100 km northwest 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. A van will usually 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.


11. Samet Nangshe viewpoint

Samet Nangshe Viewpoint - View of Phang Nga Bay

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.


12. Karon Viewpoint

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 the far is Karon Beach. The place is well-known and frequently busy, but people don’t stay long. Apart from taking a couple of photos and maybe buying some drinks, snacks 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 to take a photo with the bird for a small fee. Remember that wildlife is protected, and you should not encourage this practice, no matter how cool the picture looks on your Instagram. Read more

Price: free


13. Plane Spotting on Mai Khao Beach

Plane landing over the beach at Phuket Airport

Plane Spotting has become a viral phenomenon since the day it became forbidden. The more it’s forbidden, the more people go there, and this once deserted beach has become a permanent Instagram 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 cars 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 the high season (November to May) when the wind blows east to west! During the low season, planes will land from the other side, over the main road. And this is just an indication; that wind can change according to weather.

Can you go?: Technically, it is not allowed to be under the plane’s path, but no one seems to care.


14. Go on an Instagram Photo Spree!

Naithon beach stairs

The island is an Instagrammer’s paradise! Between the many natural wonders, the beaches and islands, the beautiful Sino-Portuguese architecture of Old Phuket Town and the Instagram dedicated photo playgrounds, Instagrammers will find endless opportunities to shine. Several spots are on this list already, but we keep adding new ones on the dedicated page!


15. Relax or Party in a Beach Club

There is a growing list of superb beach clubs all around Phuket. Most are open all day for customers to enjoy food and drinks on comfortable sofas or beach beds, some turn into party clubs at night.


16. Discover the little-known island of Maiton

Maiton Island Resort

There are a lot of islands near Phuket, but because Maiton was a very exclusive private island for a long time, 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.


17. Watch a sunset at Prompthep Cape

Prompthep Cape


Promthep Cape is not as grand as you might expect, but it still attracts busloads of tourists every evening at sunset. The elevated location at the very south of the island offers beautiful views of the bay and the few nearby islands. You can enjoy local shopping 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 much more impressive during the 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!

Price: free


18. Koh Panyi

Koh Panyi


Koh Panyi is a surprising small fishermen’s 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 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 offers this tour with James Bond island. You could also drive to one of the many Phang Nga piers and then ride a longtail boat.

When to get there: There are no waves all year round, as Phang Nga is a bay.


19. James Bond Island

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? or 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. This tour can usually be booked the day before.
When to get there: all year round


20. Bamboo Rafting in Phang Nga

Bamboo rafting in Phang Nga is a fun and relaxing experience, a chance to discover an activity that has always been popular in Chiang and Chiang Rai. Glide gently in the green tropical jungle.

Komol’s Corner Bamboo Rafting
Location: Phang Nga
Address: 17/18 Moo. 1 Tumbon. Lamkaen, Petchakaseam Rd, Thaimuang Ban Khao Lak, Phangnga 82210
Phone​: 095 410 1988
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KomolCorner/

21. Chalong Bay Rum Distillery

Chalong Bay Rum Distillery

Did you know that Phuket produced its 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 the Chalong area. It’s a lot of fun (and great if it rains!) Read more

Location: Chalong, near Phuket Zoo
: 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


22. Get wet at one of the Phuket Waterparks

Water Parks in Phuket

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! Those theme parks offer a great alternative when the sea is rough, with slides, ziplines and paddleboards.


23. The Upside Down House

Baan Teelanka - Phuket Upside Down House

The Upside Down House, also known as Baan Teelanka, is a fun place for 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
: 10 am – 6 pm
Phone: 076 376 245
Price: 350 Baht, (Kids 4 to 11: 190 Baht)


24. Black Rock Viewpoint

Black Rock Viewpoint

Black Rock is not as hard to reach as Samet Nangshee listed higher on this page, but it still requires a 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. Read more


25. Have dinner on Rang Hill

Rang Hill in Phuket Town

Rang Hill is a beautiful viewpoint above Phuket town, with the city lights and a good view both daily and at night. 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 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).


26. Learn About Phuket in a Museum

Thai Hua Museum in Phuket Town

There is a surprising amount of museums here, and while they might not be jaw-dropping, they offer an interesting view of how Phuket island became what it is today, starting with the arrival of the first Chinese immigrants who brought wealth with tin mining long ago.


27. Watch the Simon Cabaret Show

Phuket Simon Cabaret

Simon Cabaret on Patong beach is a show with a Las Vegas atmosphere but with a twist. The stage is magnificent, and the sets and costumes are glittering and colourful, but what people come to see are the stunning 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. It can usually be booked late, even on the same day.
: 800 baht for a VIP seat and 700 for a regular chair.



28. Snorkeling

Snorkelling is an easy and fun activity anyone can enjoy, young or old. During the high season, the water is crystal clear, and the island has many great bays where you can easily admire tropical sea life and enjoy beach time.


29. Scuba Diving

Phuket Diving


Scuba diving has always been a big attraction in Phuket, and the dive sites in the Andaman sea made it to the top 10 best dive sites in the world, especially Richelieu Rock. Diving is easy and affordable, and many advanced courses are available. There are many dive clubs for all nationalities, languages, specialities and budgets.


32. Scare yourself at Flying Hanuman

Flying Hanuman Phuket

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 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-year-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).


33. Adventure Mini Golf

Adventure Mini Golf in Phuket, Bangtao Beach

Adventure Mini Golf is an 18 holes miniature classic championship golf course surrounded by palm and bamboo trees and a large restaurant on Bangtao Beach.

Location: Bangtao Beach
: 72/44 Moo 3, Bangtao Beach Road, Soi 2 Cherngtalay, Talang Phuket, Phuket 83110
Hours: 11 am – 11 pm
Phone: 076 314 345
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/phuketadventureminigolf/

34. Volunteer at Soi Dog

Dog lovers who spend long enough on the island can dedicate a day or two to doing a good deed. Visit the surprisingly large and well-organised Soi Dog on Maikhao beach, and you will make some dogs happy by walking them around and interacting with them; they love it! And for those who worry, all the animals are in good shape, and you will not have to see anything scary!


36. Join a Yoga Session

Best Yoga Studios in Phuket

Many yoga classes are available around the island, some in beautiful tropical surroundings and at reasonable prices. Yoga is a also a perfect activity for one of those occasional rainy days.


37. Race a Go Kart

Go Kart Phuket

Go Kart Phuket is a fun, fast and exciting way to compete with friends while on holiday in Phuket. There are several Go-Kart tracks on the island, two of which are near Patong, just passed the hill and close to Kathu. Patong Go-Kart Speedway is easy to spot and has been a long-time favourite.


38. Play Golf in Phuket

Phuket Golf Courses

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.


39. Visit Phuket Aquaria

Phuket Aquaria at Central Floresta

Phuket now has two aquariums: the original Phuket Aquarium in Cape Panwa, on the southeast coast, and the newly built Aquaria in Phuket Town. Cape Panwa Aquarium is 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.


40. Bathe with Elephants

Phuket Elephant Jungle Sanctuary

Phuket now has a lot of elephant sanctuaries and retirement camps. The island is finally shifting from 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 to the most is 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 pickup from your hotel.
Price: 2,500 baht for adults and 1,900 baht for children


See all Phuket Maps!

FAQs about Phuket Must-Do

What are the most popular things to do on the island of Phuket?

a. The most popular things to do on the island of Phuket include:
Phuket Big Buddha
Wat Chalong Temple
Old Phuket Town
Karon Viewpoint
Promthep Cape

What are the most popular things to do around Phuket?

a. Among the best things to do around Phuket are:
Phang Nga Bay
James Bon Island
Koh Panyi

What are the best islands to explore near Phuket?

a. There are many incredible islands to visit near Phuket:
Phi Phi Island
Similan Islands
Maiton Island
Coral Island
Koh Khai Noi
Koh Racha

Should I book a tour in advance or once in 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)

Other Top 10s you might want to look at

20 Amazing Hidden Places People Always Miss in Phuket

17 Best Things to Do in Phuket When it RAINS! ☔

11 Fun Ways to PARTY in Patong – Where to Party in Phuket?

Willy Thuan
Born in France a long long time ago, I started to travel the world early and never stopped until I settled in Thailand in 1994. Then for the past 27 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 Phuket101.net and manage large international online travel guides.