Top Things to Do when Visiting in Phuket Thailand
I adore Phuket, the Thai paradise-like island where the most picturesque beaches meet the turquoise waters of the Andaman Sea, rainbow colored fishing boats line the coastlines, elephants walk along the side of the roads, the sun seems to endlessly shine and the locals are always smiling. There are plenty of things to do in Puket - outdoor activities such as snorkeling, scuba diving, and boating; more exotic attractions such as elephant rides and safaris; Sightseeing with lots of breathtaking viewpoints and pink and purple sunsets, visiting the Big Buddha statue atop a mountain that can be seen from many parts of the island, checking out Phuket town, or visiting the Buddhist temples. Hour-long full body massages for $5 - $10, and of course partying all night long in Patong. Or just basking in the sun, in the island commonly referred to as the “Pearl of the Andaman”.
Beaches in Phuket
Phuket’s most popular beaches are on the central western coast, they are: Patong Beach, Karon Beach, and Kata Beach. Each beach offers something different. Patong Beach is the most popular beach of them all. It’s always packed with people basking in the sun during the day and partying hard at night. The nightlife is centered around Bangla Road which stretches along the beach and is full of restaurants, bars, GoGo bars, and clubs. Karon Beach is a bit less hectic than Patong and is more family and couples friendly. It’s just a 10-minute drive from Patong. My boyfriend and I stayed in Kata Beach, which is one of the most popular for families. We loved it for its quietness, spectacular palm-lined beach, and restaurants and bars that are all close to the beach.
Getting Around Phuket
Tourists are usually warned about traffic on Phuket island and to be extra cautious if driving a motorcycle. My boyfriend and I disregarding the warning and still went ahead and rented a motorcycle on our second day in Phuket. We loved the experience so much that we continued renting until our last day. Motorcycles are the cheapest and most common way to get around in Phuket. We paid 250 Baht ($8) for a day rental. Helmet laws are strictly enforced in Thailand.
You can also get around on tuk tuks, song taews, get a car rental or catch a motorbike taxi. Tuk tuks can be seen all over the island. They are small, brightly-colored pick up trucks with covered benches as seats in the back. It’s important to negotiate prices before heading to your destination. Song taews are bus small buses that pick up and drop off passengers along routes. It’s important to know the route before getting on. Motorbike taxis are a cheaper and quick alternative for short trips since they quickly move around traffic.
Things To See in Phuket
Wondering what to do in Phuket besides baking in the sun and partying all night? You have tons of options! Below is a list of the top attractions.
- Visit Big Buddha, a giant Buddha statue at the top of Nekkerd Hills offering panaromic views of Phuket, Chalong Bay, Patong Beach, Old Town, and the Andaman Sea. The statue itself is a 150-foot white marble structure that’s still under construction and has been completely funded from donations. We drove up to the Big Buddha on a motorcycle but initially missed the exit to take since the sign isn’t very clear.
- Watch the gorgeous pink and purple sunset in Promthep Cape, the furthest south end of Phuket with amazing panoramic views.
- Stop by beautiful Wat Chalong, the most visited Buddhist temple in Phuket.
- Go into town, Phuket Town is a great mix of old and new. My boyfriend and I enjoyed driving around and enjoyed going to the night markets off Ranong Road.
- Visit Islands Near Phuket. The most popular islands to visit are Koh Phi Phi (AKA Phi Phi Island), Phang Nga Bay, and Similian Islands. Read about my experience and about Phi Phi Islands.
- Take part in Phuket's festivals and events such as the famous Vegetarian Festival which will be held in September 2012 for nine days. The celebration has Chinese roots and it is believed that those who stick to a strictly vegetarian diet during this time, will be bestowed with good luck and good health. Check out this calendar of events for 2012 for additional festivals and events going on in Phuket.
Weather in Phuket
Most travel guides recommend visiting Phuket between November and April since the monsoon rains come from May to October but Phuket’s climate is pretty moderate all year long. My boyfriend and I visited Phuket for over a week in June and the weather was just perfect with warm temperatures and clear skies. We did experience some setbacks though on our first attempt to Koh Phi Phi, when the high winds didn’t permit the boat to leave and we had to reschedule for another day. Bottom line, don't let monsoon season refer you from coming to Phuket!