Let yourself be seduced by one of the most spectacular corners of the planet: the Thai island of Phuket. Its white beaches of coral sand and turquoise waters invite you to spend whole days relaxing in front of the sea.
Once here, you can discover its lush green landscapes, beautiful bays and impressive religious temples, take exotic elephant rides and enjoy a lively nightlife.
- Top 5 reasons to visit Phuket
- What to do in Phuket
- When to visit Phuket
- How to get to Phuket
- Where to stay in Phuket
- Getting around Phuket
- Cost of living in Phuket
- Where to eat in Phuket
Top 5 reasons to visit Phuket
The beautiful island of Phuket boasts some of Thailand’s best beaches, including Kata Beach, Freedom Beach and Banana Beach, where you can relax and unwind with all kinds of water sports from scuba diving to snorkeling, kite surfing and skating.
This idyllic island is home to miles of lush virgin forests, endless beaches with rich underwater flora and fauna, mountains carved by centuries of tropical rain, caves with rock paintings, such as Wat Suwan Kuhay Cave, and picturesque waterfalls, such as Bang Pae, considered the largest and most beautiful in Phuket.
The world-wide fame of Phuket’s beaches shares prominence with its millenary gastronomic traditions. Get ready to discover its rich and unique cuisine where each dish seems a small work of art for its exquisite presentation and that comes to combine up to 5 different flavors: salty, sweet, bitter, hot and sour. You cannot miss the tod mun goong, a delicious shrimp dish with plum sauce, or the gaeng keaw waan gai, which combines chicken, aubergine and green curry.
Phuket has 29 spectacular Buddhist temples, decorated with dragon statues and covered with multicoloured tiles. The most prominent shrine is Wat Chalong, whose large central pagoda houses fragments of the Buddha’s bones and contains impressive murals depicting his life.
Intense and varied nightlife
The centre of Phuket’s nightlife is Patong Beach and its Bangla Road, which becomes pedestrianised at night and is full of pubs, cabarets, restaurants, clubs, karaoke and bars with live music.
What to do in Phuket
Get to know the capital of the island
The city of Phuket is one of the oldest in Thailand. Its old town has spectacular Portuguese colonial style mansions and Chinese temples, among which the Wat Putta Mongkon Monastery stands out. The Khao Rang Hill urban lookout offers panoramic views of the capital and its surroundings.
Escape to the Phi Phi Islands
Don’t miss a speedboat trip to the Phi Phi Archipelago, formed by several paradisiacal islands, virgin until recently, and known worldwide for its idyllic beaches. One of them, Maya Bay, was the location of the film The Beach, starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
Surround yourself with cute monkeys at Monkey Hill
Monkey Hill It is the highest hill in the city of Phuket and home to hundreds of macaques who spend the day playing and eating fruit brought by the locals. Monkey Hill has an observation platform from which you can enjoy magnificent views of the city.
Visit the Phuket Trickeye 3D Museum
Have a fun time in this unique museum of optical illusions. Once here, you will be able to become part of its impressive 3D paintings, distributed in five thematic areas.
Have fun at the Phuket FantaSea theme park
A small zoo with albino animals, an amusement park, fun elephant rides and an impressive 70-minute evening show full of illusionism techniques and special effects await you.
When to visit Phuket
Phuket’s climate is stable throughout the year, with temperatures that do not fall below 24-31 ºC. The best time to visit Phuket is the dry season from November to April. During this period the largest influx of tourists corresponds to Christmas and New Year’s Eve. From May to October is the monsoon season; September is the rainiest month.
How to get to Phuket
From Europe, Aeroflot, Singapore Airlines and Qatar Airways operate daily flights to Phuket with a stopover in Moscow, Singapore or Doha. The total flight time is 15-17 hours.
Phuket airport is located 32 kilometers from the island’s capital and has bus and taxi services. Buses linking the airport to Phuket city depart every 60 minutes from terminal D and cost ฿ 100 per passenger.
The Smart Bus service runs all along the coast to Rawai beach at ฿ 50-79. The fastest and most comfortable transport option is the taxi. Depending on the destination, the trip would cost between ฿ 500 and ฿ 1000.
There are no train lines in Phuket. However, it is possible to reach Surat Thani city, located 3.5 hours from the island, by train from other parts of Thailand. The rest of the way you can travel by bus. If you travel from Bangkok, a combined train plus bus route would take about 16 hours and the ticket would cost you from ฿ 1144.
From Bangkok, the companies Phuket Travel, Bus Express, Jolly Travel and Thai Sriram operate direct routes to Phuket. The duration of this trip is 15 hours and the ticket costs from ฿ 675.
If you choose to travel by car, avoid driving at night because of the risk of meeting wild animals on the road. If you are coming from Bangkok, follow Highway 4 for about 11 hours until you reach your destination. From the southern provinces, such as Yala or Pattani, drive along Highway 4 or 408 for about 8 hours to Phuket.
Airports near Phuket City
(HKT) Phuket International Airport
(KBV) Krabi International Airport
Where to stay in Phuket
The island has a wide range of accommodation suitable for all budgets. The cheapest offers are found in youth hostels and pensions, such as the Hotel Lub d – Phuket Patong, where rooms cost from ฿ 416 per night; or the Talang Guest House, where you can stay by ฿ 378 per night.
If you are looking for more sophisticated options, opt for the 3-star Sino Imperial Phuket, where a night costs from ฿ 908; the 4-star Royal Phuket City Hotel (from ฿ 1135 per night); or a private villa with 5-star amenities in places like Villa Paradiso Phuket or Villa Padma Phuket.
Interesting neighborhoods in Phuket
The southwest coast is the most popular district on the island of Phuket. This is where the tourist towns of Patong, Karon and Kata are located, famous for their comfortable beaches, luxurious restaurants, countless shopping options and extensive nightlife.
Phuket city’s historic quarter is home to the 19th century Serene Light Sanctuary, the Philatelic Museum and the ancient streets of Thalang, Phang-Nga, Krabi, Dibuk and Yoawarat, which are full of shops, massage parlours and restaurants.
The Chalong district is famous for hosting numerous diving centres, boat and yacht rental points, karting tracks, paintball facilities and shooting ranges. It is also home to the giant statue of the Great Buddha, 45 meters high and 135 tons in weight, made of white marble. You can visit it for free. From the mountain where the statue is located, you will enjoy unforgettable views of Phuket.
Getting around Phuket
By public transport
Local public transport is reduced to the songthaews, small vans that circulate all over the island. They are extremely slow and take almost two hours to cover the distance a car travels in just 20 minutes. Their main advantage is that you can get off or on anywhere along the route. A single ticket costs ฿ 30.
In addition to conventional taxis, the island has some peculiar three-wheeled vans called tuk-tuks that compete with the former. These colorful and fast tricycles are not cheap and lack meters, so before starting your trip negotiate the price with the driver. A short ride on a tuk-tuk usually costs from ฿ 200-300, but by haggling you can cut it in half. To visit several places on the same day, it is best to hire a taxi: about 8 hours of this service would cost you ฿ 800.
Given the inefficiency of public transport, a rental car is the best option for getting around Phuket. You can book a compact or medium size car for about ฿ 1500 a day from companies such as Argus Car Hire or Easy’Auto.
Cost of living in Phuket
The central streets of Phuket city are full of shops and craft markets, where you can buy typical Thai products. These include antiques, wooden and ivory items, bronze sculptures and precious and semi-precious stones. The most popular shopping centers are Central Festival Phuket and Jungceylon Shopping Mall, where you can find many shops of national and international brands.
Groceries and others
The price level in Phuket is similar to that of Europe. As a price reference, consider that a three-course meal for two people in a restaurant would cost about ฿ 800; a cup of coffee, ฿ 78; and a 0.5 litre beer, ฿ 70. In supermarkets, for a litre of milk you would pay ฿ 40; for a loaf of bread, ฿ 35; and for a dozen eggs, ฿ 51. It is followed by 7 Eleven and FamilyMart, where you will find a variety of products at a good price.
Where to eat in Phuket
The local gastronomy is very varied, with a strong and spicy taste. In addition to the typical Thai cuisine, the island has Chinese, Korean, Indian and Filipino restaurants.
Among the restaurants best rated by travelers for their excellent value for money are the Thong Dee The Kathu Brasserie, where you pay from ฿ 290 for each dish; and the Green Tamarind Kitchen, where a lunch or dinner for two would be worth ฿ 750.
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